The 2015/16 season will go down in the history books as one of the greatest Premier League campaigns ever. In a year Leicester City went from a team that narrowly escaped from relegation into the champions of England, while 2014/15 league winners Chelsea spent much of the season floundering in the middle of the table, and not infrequently flirting with the relegation zone.
Before now, the 2013/14 season was seen as an unusually unpredictable and turbulent season, as Brendan Rodger’s Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning, before slipping at the final hurdle. Now, that season seems dull and predictable after the feats that both Leicester and Spurs have achieved.
While most Premier League fans remain focused on the final moments of this season’s campaign, many are wondering if 2015/16 was simply a one off, a glitch in the football matrix, and if it will be business as usual at the top of the table next season.
The big question is whether Leicester can capitalise on their accomplishments, and how they will balance the Premier League and Champions League next season.
The biggest issue facing The Foxes is the summer transfer window, not because of who they can buy, but who they could lose.
After mesmerising campaigns, Jamie Vardy, Riyadh Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté will all be high on a lot of bigger team’s wish lists. Even before the title was wrapped up, Mahrez was being linked to Barcelona and Vardy to a whole host of teams.
Dreamers, romantics and football lovers will hope that the team’s stars resist the call of other clubs and stay with Ranieri, to see just how far this incredible team can go. But the bitter reality is that the allure of a big team is often too much.
Germany’s Borussia Dortmund are a good example of this, despite massive domestic success and a Champions League final, they could not stop Mario Götze leaving for Bayern Munich.
If the core of Leicester’s team sticks with the club, they will strong contenders for a top 4 finish, if not, a freefall into mid table or worse could be a very real possibility.
Tottenham seem in many respects more stable, and better equipped to build on this season. While their star players will certainly be targets for their rivals over the summer, it seems unlikely that they would move to a league rival, especially considering the fact Spurs are an established top of the table club.
While the likes of Vertonghen, Lloris, Kane and Eriksen have been tipped to leave the club on a number of occasions, all have stayed with the team in tougher times, and abandoning ship now would be an unusual move to say the least.
With experience in the Europa League, Tottenham’s European adventures will not be so much of a culture shock. Pochettino’s famous intensity and fitness regimes will put them in a good position to stay on top of the inevitable fixture congestion.
In many ways they seem the better equipped for next season, over the newly crowned Leicester.
With Conte the man to lead Chelsea in 2016/17 we can expect the fallen champions to be a very different beast next season. His success in Italy made Juventus not just champions, but totally dominant, and whether he can haul Chelsea back to winning ways will be one of the most interesting elements of next season.
His renaissance of Juventus garnered him a lot of respect and praise, and he was likened to former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho on a number of occasions.
Considering the turmoil of this season, and the expected revolving door of transfers to and from the club over the summer instant success is highly unlikely, but a Champions League qualification spot will be an expectation.
It has been a strange season for City, and one would expect that the guarantee of an imminent manager change has caused some turmoil behind the scenes. Next season the Sky Blues will be a very different proposition.
In 7 seasons as a top flight manager, Guardiola has claimed 6 domestic league titles and two Champions League titles. His fastidiousness and tactical ability will make City a very different team, but it remains to be seen whether his style will be as effective in the English game.
Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp will go into next season in a fantastic position. The summer will give the German a chance to oversee transfers and further mould the team into his own.
Under Klopp Liverpool have already made huge progress, and the likes of Origi and Firmino have flourished under his tutelage. There is every indication that the Reds will be right up there next season.
Of all the big teams to struggle this year, it’s Manchester United future seems the least clear. City and Chelsea have already assigned new managers, while Liverpool in the middle of a promising rebuild.
At Old Trafford, despite persistent rumours of the arrival of Jose Mourinho, it seems that for the time being Louis van Gaal is going nowhere. The emergence of Martial, Rashford and Lingard hint at a prosperous new generation at the club, but the club have often been uninspiring on the pitch and never looked like title challengers.
It’s been another frustrating season for Arsenal, and wholly typical of the club under Wenger. Flashes of brilliance and a swing for the title that predictably fade into a 4th place finish. The club seem to be in their very own Groundhog Day, and under Wenger they seem to destined to repeat the process.
It remains to be seen whether the success of their arch rivals Tottenham spurs any action within the club, but with their other rivals likely to improve over the summer, Arsenal have to change or 4th could easily become 5th, 6th or even 7th next time around.
While the status quo might not be fully restored next season, we can expect that the likes of Chelsea, City, Liverpool and Manchester United will perform much better than they have in 2015/16.
For Leicester, they will continue to shake up the established order, but only if they can keep the key components that got them here. In the meantime, Spurs will continue to thrive under the stability and determination that Mauricio Pochettino has instilled.