Challenging the Champions – Can anyone go toe-to-toe with the seemingly unstoppable Manchester City next season?

It’s been an undoubtably incredible season for Manchester City, with the Citizens becoming the first ever Centurions to grace the English top-flight. These record makers didn’t just win the Premier League, they dominated it. On top of their incredible hundred-club feet, Pep Guardiola’s men managed 32 wins, 16 away wins, 18 successive wins, 106 goals, a positive 79 goal difference and a gaping 19-point gap to second; astonishingly all Premier League records.

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But will anyone be capable of at least making it a title race next season and challenging the blue side of Manchester, or will it be a period of Premier League dominance for the record breakers? I believe there are only a few teams capable of even getting near….

Manchester United 

José Mourinho’s men were condemned to second this season and probably would have considered it a good one if it wasn’t the other half of Manchester that were the ones setting the Premier League alight.

However the Red Devils did deny the would-be Champions their moment of glory after a comeback at the Etihad put their celebrations on hold, only for a loss to bottom-placed West Brom at Old Trafford next time out confirming the inevitable anyway. And this was very much the story of an inconsistent season for United.

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But the fact is this underwhelming side still were the closest challengers to the Champions, and in any normal season probably would’ve been up there in a two-horse race for the title.

De Gea has again proved himself to be world class winning the golden glove with 18 clean sheets and he is the key man needed to be retained and not lured abroad if there’s any hope of a duel.

Many have criticised the Red Devil’s style of play, being very flat and dull at times, and this is something that needs to change if they’ve got a title chance next season. It’s a big transfer window ahead also, and with their finances available even the world’s most expensive player of Neymar is not out of reach. If this came to fruition, and big-money names such as Pogba and Sanchez start living up to their undoubted potential, then it could be exiting times at the Theatre of Dreams.

With these few areas addressed, maybe it will be Mourinho’s time to spoil Pep’s party next campaign.  

Tottenham Hotspur

It’s been a very successful season for Spurs, being led by Mauricio Pochettino to a third season in a row of Champions League qualification also being the highest-placed club in London for the first time since 1995. But can the bar be lifted even higher with silverware in their scope?

Harry Kane has again led from the front and with 30 goals in the Premier League this time out and is quickly becoming one of the best strikers in the world. Of course the problem for Tottenham with this is the inevitable interest from elsewhere, with Champions League finalists Real Madrid’s name sticking around like an unwanted bug. It will be essential that they keep their golden boy for next time out if there’s any hope of progress.

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Worryingly for them it is not only Kane that could be out of the door, their Argentinian leader loved by many Lilywhite players and fans alike has been linked with a move away to London rivals Chelsea.

As well as this it can be said that on many big occasions it has been a shy Spurs outfit on display who frustratingly haven’t lived up to these big games- a time where champions have to come alive.

If they can keep hold of their stars with a few more additions, maybe they can announce their debut season in the new White Hart Lane in style with some Premier League silverware.

Liverpool

With a Champions League final still to look forward to the season is far from over for Jurgen Klopp’s side who managed to clinch fourth place for consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it four times in a row from 2005/06 to 2008/09. But can they do one better and claim a long awaited first ever Premier League title?

Despite City’s domination this year, the Reds have beaten them three times with a frantic 4-3 result in the Premier League being accompanied by two crucial Champions League wins 3-0 and then 2-1, showing themselves to be more than capable of smothering the runaway leaders.

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And praise has been heaped upon the way they did so too, with many saying they were one of only a few sides this season that didn’t change from their style of football and showed City up in certain areas.

In terms of transfers, the addition of Van Dijk has proved to be worth the money already, with only nine Premier League goals conceded by the Red’s since his arrival at the turn of the year. Naby Kieta is soon to join up with the squad too, with midfield being the next area to be addressed. The front three will not need any improvement with nothing needed to be said about the dynamic Mane, Firmino and Salah other than world class.

With a possible sixth Champions League under their belt, I predict it could be Liverpool in a very strong and confident position to seriously challenge next campaign.

Chelsea

It has been a very underwhelming season for Chelsea, with uncertainty over Antonio Conte’s future brewing and casting a shadow over a murky time at the club.

However it is easy to forget how polished his side were last season as he led them to glory, and with largely the same contingent of players why can’t they reproduce their previously red-hot form?

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It is perhaps a case of the players they did let go not being replaced properly, with Matic being an error in judgement as the Serbian has gone on to help Manchester United to second whilst Tiémoué Bakayoko just hasn’t lived up to the promise so far.

If they are going to get back to anywhere near where they were in the 2016/17 season they need to work out who is going to be leading them next season, and fast.

Manchester City (Retain)

Even if all the improvements are made by other sides, City are one-step ahead of their rivals. With the financial power and group of young players only just hitting their prime, they are still in a great position to assert some dominance to English football, something Pep Guardiola is used to doing.

If they can bring in a couple more players and carry on their beautiful football then there is no reason they can’t do the same thing again next campaign.

Who do you think will win the league next year? Can Pep keep the title at the Etihad stadium? Let me know in the forums who you think will win the Premier League next year?

Images within the article courtesy of Getty Images

Featured Image courtesy of Charlie Pumfrey

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