Predicting the Premier League 2017 Top Four
Champions: Manchester United
Manchester United have struggled with a serious case of identity crisis ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. The swashbuckling brand of attacking soccer that fans expect never really re-materialized, the squad itself was revealed to be threadbare thin in some positions, and even marquee signings failed to impress, all the way from Fellaini to Radamel Falcao.
But after an indifferent first season in charge, Jose Mourinho seems to have developed a team capable of throttling most any team in the Premier League. In Romelu Lukaku, United have secured a striker that can lead the line for the club for the next six years or more. And he is just what United needed last season, a powerful forward to bully small clubs and come away with three points from most games. Sure, his track record against big clubs may not be as good, but he also never had Mikhitaryan supplying him with an endless barrage of through-balls and crosses.
The inclusion of Zlatan Ibrahimovic gives United a powerful option off the bench, or a starter to rest Lukaku and the team has genuine depth in attack, with Lindand and Martial often starting on the bench.
The club seems to have rediscovered defensive solidity as well, with Bailly and Jones ahead of the indomitable David de Gea.
Runner Ups: Tottenham Hotspurs
Although one could potentially see the vivid attack of Liverpool or Manchester City providing stiff competition for United, Liverpool's defensive frailties and City's tendencies to under-perform may just allow Spurs to sneak in ahead of them. Harry Kane is THE complete striker, and fueled by Alli and Eriksen, there's every chance he'll get the Golden Boot yet again.
An already powerful defense has been bolstered by Sanchez, and Llorente provides a nice attacking option off the bench. A solid, solid team, even if they did drag their feet in the transfer market.
I still have no idea how they have managed to keep Kane. Not only keep him, but incredibly, it seems like there are almost never rumors about him leaving. The man is a machine, good in the air, on the ground, holding up play, involving others, and seems like a nice guy to boot.
3rd Place: Manchester City
The combination of Aguero and Jesus, bolstered by de Bruyne and the maestro that is David Silva, should just see City beat out Liverpool for third place. Danilo and Benjamin Mendy have been in fine form for City, and once Bernardo Silva starts exerting his powers, you can see City being very, very dangerous.
A five-zero mauling of Liverpool aptly demonstrates their attacking prowess, but you can sense that there are perhaps some weaknesses in the squad, such as their tendency to be clumsy in a 3-5-2 formation sometimes.
Fourth Place: Liverpool
This hurts to type as an Everton fan, but I really can see Liverpool getting in the top four above Arsenal this season. Sadio Mane is absolutely electric, Roberto Firmino is a workhorse of a false-nine, Salah is a speed demon, and Coutinho is a creative, dangerous midfielder.
Really, they may well have the best offensive power in the league, with the ability to rip opposing teams to ribbons with their wing play. Fortunately for me, however, their defensive frailties should prevent them from posing too much of a title challenge.
You really have to wonder what Liverpool could do with a good defense, though. If they manage to keep Coutinho and upgrade their defense, they could challenge for the title next year.