Why your team will let you down in the 2016/17 season: Part One

Here's why disappointment awaits for Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea and Crystal Palace

Why your team will let you down in the 2016/17 season: Part One

Image: PA Images/Premier League/composite

The Premier League season is just around the corner and optimism for every team has never been, and will never be as high as it is right now. 

Before a single ball is kicked and a point is won, fans still believe they can avoid relegation, claim that elusive European spot or even pull a Leicester and get an unlikely title win. Well, there's a time and a place for naïveté and joy, but it ain't when assessing the chances of your team ahead of a Premier League season, so here's a much-needed dose of reality for your team. 


Last year was worse than you remember:

Oddly enough, second place in 2015-16 was Arsenal’s best Premier League finish in over a decade, but there was recognition that they only finished that high because Tottenham imploded in the final stretch.

The fact that the Gunners failed to take advantage of instability at all of their usual rivals means frustration from the fanbase continued to grow.

Manager’s biggest problem:

Arsene Wenger is in his 20th year in charge, but while his team building tactics of the first half of his reign worked spectacularly on the cheap, the effect has not been the same in an era when they are competing with some teams that can throw cash around for fun.

But, it’s not like Arsenal don’t have money to spend. The issue seems to be that Wenger is not very quick to land targets and can be slow to address problem areas like central defence or the dearth of talent up front. Tactical shortcomings in the biggest games reared their heads and cost them a proper title challenge.

Player that is guaranteed to let you break your heart:

Theo Walcott wanted to be a striker, but he has now accepted that he is a right-winger...even though he isn't guaranteed ample game-time in that role.

He has now been at Arsenal for over a decade, and while he certainly has developed, the sometime England international still appears one-dimensional. Olivier Giroud is frustrating, sure, but Walcott's early promise coupled with his occasional flashes of form mean you might as well set your face to disappointed now and save yourself some time.

One thing that might be OK: 

They still have one of the most talented squads in the Premier League and on their day can be fearsome when they get their system right.

They have Santi Cazorla back, having missed his playmaking influence in the second half of last season, and new signing Granit Xhaka provides a potential mix of fortitude and class in midfield. If they can pull their system together and prove more resolute at the back, then they can challenge for the title.

And now, a word from the fans:


Last year was worse than you remember:

Staying up in the league was a huge achievement, given the sheer size of Bournemouth and the budget available to Eddie Howe, but to a certain extent they were blessed by just how terrible some of the other teams were. Aston Villa’s tragic displays meant there were only two relegation spots up for grabs, and Steve McClaren helped to ensure that Newcastle filled one of them too, despite Rafa’s last ditch efforts. They were marginally better than Sunderland, who were crap for the majority of the season. Injury was a huge problem for them too, and they need to hope that the same doesn’t happen again this term.

Manager's biggest problem:

With a bigger budget and a second season at the top flight, there are heightened expectations on Eddie Howe this season. He has been backed by the board and there’s a chance that there may be dwindling patience in light of the money spent. Sticking to his principles of playing football the “right way” if they don’t progress up the table will be a real test of his character this season.

Player that is guaranteed to break your heart:

They’ve broken their transfer record to sign Jordon Ibe, and having impressed for Derby as well as shown flashes for Liverpool, all of which means he’s perfectly poised to let people down. The 20-year-old has bags of talent and needs first team football, but might be one that fails to quite spark to life in a team where he might be expected to produce a lot more than he has to date.

One thing that might be OK:

There are some exciting young players in the team, and Eddie Howe has shown an ability to man manage really well (see the words of Harry Arter in that fascinating Guardian interview). With a system based on playing attacking football, the whole thing could click for Howe this season with spectacular results, but they would need to show a higher degree of quality than they did last season to achieve that.

And now, a word from the fans:


Last year was worse than you remember:

Burnley’s victory in the Championship may have proven why exactly they belong in the Premier League. They were convincing against the majority of teams in the league and did enough to clinch the title.

However, their record against Middlesbrough and Hull - the two other promoted sides - isn’t exactly awe inspiring. One victory over Hull at home (1-0) was met with a defeat in the reverse fixture (3-0). Middlesbrough also seem to have an edge of Sean Dyche’s men. An away loss (1-0) and only a draw at Turf Moor (1-1) may be viewed as a weakness in his side.

Image: Nigel French / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Dyche knows there are no easy games in the Premier League, so he’ll have to demand massive performances from his team, even against their closest rivals. Points won and lost here could prove detrimental.

Manager’s biggest problem:

Recruitment. The money may have gotten bigger because of the new television rights deal, but that’s no secret. Teams will be looking to exploit Premier League clubs and get every cent out of clubs who are desperately looking to bring in new players. Players have returned on loan and one or two have come through the youth system. But for the new season, and considering that big name players and coaches have come to the league, players who won the Championship might not be enough. Sean Dyche has already had a bid for Ireland’s Jeff Hendrick rejected and Jon Flanagan has been brought in on a season-long loan.

Player that is guaranteed to break your heart:

Sam Vokes was part of Wales’ European Championships campaign that saw them reach the semi-final of the competition, and while he may have not played an integral role, he will be seen as one of the shining lights returning to the squad this summer.

Sadly for Burnley they don’t have players the calibre of Aaron Ramsey and certainly not Gareth Bales to drag them through tough games and inspire players around them. There may be an awful lot of pressure on Vokes to deliver on his own this year, which is a tough ask.

One thing that might be OK:

On the flip side of the transfers issue, there hasn’t been a seismic shift in the squad. Dyche has managed to hang on to a lot of the key players who were relegated two seasons ago and have stuck around long enough to help them to return.

Sam Vokes, Michael Keane, Tom Heaton and Andre Gray will all be key to ensuring they avoid the drop this year as they all contribute to a battle-hardened side, which will be massively important in staying in the Premier League this year.

And now, a word from the fans:


Last year was worse than you remember:

Chelsea’s Premier League title-defence was the worst in recent years. In November, it looked like the team may be in a relegation battle, such was their awful form. In what may be a picture into Manchester United’s 2018/19 season, Chelsea’s players seemed to give up on Jose Mourinho, and performer only slightly better once Guus Hiddink took charge.

Manager's biggest problem:

Antonio Conte has not managed a club team in two years. While he was able to guide Italy to the quarter-finals of the European Championships, how will he cope with not being able to spend weeks preparing for games? Conte has also never had to deal with somebody like Roman Abramovich who is...well, let's say hands on, and the Italian is not known for his easy-going style.

Player that is guaranteed to break your heart:

Diego Costa looks set to stay at Chelsea and remains an irritant to opposition players and fans alike. The Brazilian-born Spanish international has yet to replicate his early form at Stamford Bridge when it looked as though he was a perfect fit for the Premier League, and has spent more time terrorising the referee than opposition defences recently.

One thing that might be ok:

A lack of European football worked in Leicester’s favour last season, and almost helped Liverpool win the league in 2014. Antonio Conte was great in the league at Juventus, and being able to put all his eggs in a Premier League basket, he could get the most out of a very talented squad.

And now, a word from the fans:

Crystal Palace

Last year was worse than you remember:

Early in the season, it looked as though they were going to push for a European spot, but the bottom fell out of their campaign entirely and they failed to really put together a string of results of any note in the second half of the season. There aren't a whole lot of explanations that can be provided for that collapse (manager Alan Pardew chose to blame injuries), but mainly the team suffered from the fact that they simply couldn't find goals up front, as all their strikers refused to find the back of the net.

Manager's biggest problem

Alan Pardew can’t stop a slide once it starts, and that is a problem that has plagued him for the last few jobs in management. It cost him his gig at Newcastle and it looks to have started again at Crystal Palace. Between Christmas Day and the end of the season, they won two games. That doesn't inspire confidence in the squad.

He would also have seriously fancied himself for the England job, and not getting it might see him check out of this one mentally.

Player that is guaranteed to let you down/break your heart

Wilfried Zaha continues to show flashes of real brilliance, but hasn’t yet managed to combine the tricks with any level of consistency. Once again, at just 23-years-old there’s still time for him to be great, but there’s equally as much time for him to be frustratingly flakey for the rest of his career, following up a great performances with one where he can’t seem to hang on to the ball.

One thing that might be OK:

To say that they’ve cleared out some dross would be a fair assessment, given they’ve parted ways with 19 players (and counting) this transfer window. The addition of Andros Townsend and the likely signing of Christian Benteke should give them the cutting edge they have lacked in the attacking third meaning there might be someone for Yohan Cabaye to pass to this season.

And now, a word from the fans:

If your team isn't featured here, then don't worry, they'll still let you down. Find out why here:

Part Two: Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City

Part Three: Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland

Part Four: Swansea, Tottenham, Watford, West Brom and West Ham