One of the common narratives for the new Premier League season has been how wide-open the new campaign might be. There are plenty of strong teams, plenty of new managers; an influx of even more cash, meaning what usually is a fairly crazy league might be even more unpredictable. But after Leicester City won the title, can the league get any crazier? Because when one looks closer at this new season, what many of us expect could well happen and “normal service,” so to speak, could resume.
Most projections have either Manchester City or Manchester United winning the title, and after the two sides have spent nearly 300 million pounds on transfers, that doesn’t seem all that odd. Chelsea and Liverpool will be competitive again for top four spots, and that too seems fairly normal. And at the other end of the table, the teams many expect to be relegated likely will (Burnley and Hull), and there isn’t too much disagreement on who is a contender for that final spot through the trap door too. Sure most of the bottom half of the league could finish anywhere in the standings as 12th through 17th is pretty fungible, but the expected table for most pundits jibes pretty well with what common expectations are. That doesn’t mean there won’t be shocks, though.
As in every Premier League season, there will be new stars that emerge, dramas that come out of nowhere, shock upsets when the minnows take down the big fish, etc. But after Leicester City of all teams won a Premier League title, our collective shock sensors will take a lot more to be tripped than they used to. “New Leicester” might be a common phrase in punditry this year, but it doesn’t seem like there are any clubs that could come anywhere close to what the Foxes did a season ago (to be fair, not many thought the Foxes would survive relegation last season anyway). Thanks to what Claudio Ranieri’s side did a season ago, what it would take to shock the Premier League world at large has changed dramatically, and rightfully so. This means that even when upsets happen, they won’t feel as grand as they might have before.
And so when it feels as if the inevitable comes to pass, some of the Premier League’s juice may have gone, despite what may come in the lead up to the inevitable. There will be spats between Pep and Jose which will certainly dominate the back pages, and there will be drama at Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and the like as there always is, and the carousel of managers will spin furiously as it always does, but the lead-up to this Premier League feels somewhat muted even in this brave new world of free spending for all clubs.
Does that mean Leicester’s title win has taken some of the joy out of what will be a fascinating season ahead? No, but what it does mean is that the Premier League’s trademark parity, or that any given week you can see something amazing, might be muted somewhat. That doesn’t mean that the soap opera style dramas that have defined the Premier League as the world’s most intriguing won’t be present, or feel as if they’re overpowering, but what could happen this year that would top Leicester City winning the Premier League?
The Premier League always serves up something crazy, and that won’t ever change. But even with it feels like the pendulum swinging back to the big boys, the drama and feeling that any given weekend anything can happen feels somehow a bit distant now. Leicester has forced us all to recalibrate what might constitute a shock in this league, and while the ride they took us on was amazing, we’re all going to start to feel the “consequences”, so to speak.
While the common narrative might be that we’re all in for the most wild Premier League season ever, it feels that the re-correction after last season might give us all a bit of whiplash.
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