THE CROP

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - Ot­tawa­sun.com dbil­icki@post­media.com @dan­bil­icki blogs.ca­noe.ca/nose­bleeds

be­ing side­lined for vary­ing stretches. The other was Liver­pool couldn’t cap­i­tal­ize against weaker teams, with all six of their losses com­ing against teams far be­neath them in the ta­ble. Big­gest news: While chases of Naby Keita and Vir­gil van Dijk didn’t bear fruit, the Reds did sign winger Mo­hamed Salah from Roma. Big ques­tion: Will it be able to hold on to Philippe Coutinho with Barcelona call­ing af­ter the sale of Ney­mar? Key ar­rivals: Mo­hamed Salah, An­drew Robertson, Do­minic Solanke Key de­par­tures: Lu­cas Leiva Pre­dic­tion: Fifth and more of the same in­jury is­sues due to Klopp’s de­mand­ing style. 2016-17: Sec­ond place, 86 points The skinny: Through smart in­vest­ments in young play­ers with po­ten­tial and its own youth sys­tem, Tot­ten­ham has built it­self one of the top teams in the Premier League with­out break­ing the bank. Other than swap­ping out Kyle Walker for Kieran Trip­pier, this sec­ond-place team is un­changed from last year and should be near the top of the ta­ble again. But can it reach the apex? Big­gest news: Moved from White Hart Lane — Spurs’ home since 1899, and where they went un­de­feated last sea­son — to Wem­b­ley for the com­ing sea­son while their new sta­dium is be­ing built. Big ques­tion: Can they take the next step and bring the cham­pi­onship to North Lon­don? Key ar­rivals: None Key de­par­tures: Kyle Walker, Fed­erico Fazio Pre­dic­tion: Sixth and some set­backs at their tem­po­rary home at Wem­b­ley. 2016-17: points The skinny: The start of the Foxes’ im­prob­a­ble ti­tle de­fence couldn’t have gone much worse, hang­ing just about the rel­e­ga­tion zone for longer than they were com­fort­able with, for sure. That led to the fir­ing of beloved man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri and huge turn­around un­der Craig Shake­speare. Now, as a full-time man­ager, he must pen an equally im­pres­sive sec­ond act. Big­gest news: Signed Manch­ester City striker Kelechi Iheana­cho, with a slight hold-up be­ing a le­gal clash be­tween his cur­rent and former agents. Big ques­tion: Will they be able to hang on to Riyad Mahrez, as the star winger 12th place, 44 faces trans­fer spec­u­la­tion yet again? Key ar­rivals: Kelechi Iheana­cho, Vin­cente Iborra, Harry Maguire Key de­par­tures: Ron-Robert Zieler Pre­dic­tion: Sev­enth, a fight for a Europa League spot and a de­cent Cup run. 2016-17: points The skinny: Though the Tof­fees fin­ished 15 points up on eighth-place Southamp­ton, they didn’t re­ally threaten the top six clubs last sea­son. Romelu Lukaku’s re­ward for fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Golden Boot race while also be­com­ing Ever­ton’s top scorer of all time was a $122-mil­lion move to Old Traf­ford. Big­gest news: Rein­vested the money from sell­ing Lukaku into sev­eral new play­ers, in­clud­ing Wayne Rooney, who re­turns to his first club from Man U. Big ques­tion: Will Ever­ton be able to push higher in the ta­ble with a deeper team and Lukaku gone? Key ar­rivals: Wayne Rooney, Jor­dan Pick­ford, Davy Klaassen, San­dro Ramirez, Michael Keane Key de­par­tures: Romelu Lukaku, Sev­enth place, 61 Tom Clev­er­ley, Ger­ard Deulofeu Pre­dic­tion: Eighth and per­haps an­other sign­ing or two com­ing in. 2016-17: 11th place, 45 points The skinny: The Irons’ first sea­son at Lon­don’s Olympic Sta­dium had a lot of grow­ing pains. The worst, though, was that star mid­fielder Dim­itri Payet out­grew the club and de­manded a trans­fer in Jan­uary. Not sur­pris­ingly, West Ham strug­gled, fin­ish­ing 17 points worse than the pre­vi­ous sea­son and lead­ing to some changes in East Lon­don. Big­gest news: Bought proven goalscorer Javier (Chi­car­ito) Her­nan­dez from Bayer Lev­erkusen to lead the line dur­ing Andy Car­roll’s in­evitable in­jury ab­sences. Big ques­tion: What ver­sion of West Ham will we see: The one that reached Europa League in 2014-15 or the one that was win­less for two months in early 2017? Key ar­rivals: Marko Ar­nau­tovic, Javier Her­nan­dez, Joe Hart, From left: Man U broke the bank to ac­quire Romelu Lukaku; how much longer does Vir­gil van Dijk have with Southamp­ton?; and Kyle Walker joined Manch­ester City. Pablo Za­baleta Key de­par­tures: Dar­ren Ran­dolph, Gokhan Tore, Havard Nordtveit, En­ner Va­len­cia Pre­dic­tion: Ninth and fewer dis­trac­tions this sea­son. 2016-17: Eighth place, 46 points The skinny: Af­ter an­other summer of bleed­ing away top tal­ent, the Saints’ per­for­mance suf­fered, fall­ing to eighth in the ta­ble and now get­ting a re­prieve from the tax­ing Europa League. In­juries up front to Char­lie Austin and Manolo Gab­bia­dini greatly sti­fled the at­tack, with no player reach­ing dou­ble-dig­its in goals. Big­gest news: Played hard­ball with Liver­pool over van Dijk, lead­ing to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion over an “il­le­gal ap­proach” by the Reds. Big ques­tion: How will new man­ager Mauri­cio Pel­le­grino, who was passed over by Palace, in­flu­ence the team’s de­fen­sive style? Key ar­rivals: Jan Bednarek, Mario Lem­ina Key de­par­tures: Jay Ro­driguez Pre­dic­tion: 10th and cap­tain van Dijk is sold ei­ther this summer or in Jan­uary.

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