Three Premier League managers to keep an eye on this season

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 09 August 2016, 14:53

With the dawn of the 2016/17 Premier League season just days away we take the opportunity to look at three clubs and their respective managers who are well worth keeping an eye on throughout the campaign.

Aitor Karanka

  • Club: Middlesbrough
  • Sack Race Odds: 10/1 (Sky Bet)
  • Manager of the Year Odds: 66/1 (Betfair)
  • Best Bet: Middlesbrough top promoted team @ 11/10 (Betway)

Aitor Karanka

Only time will tell whether Middlesbrough will thrive or dive this season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the upcoming campaign will certainly be an intriguing one on Riverside.

On Saturday Boro make their long-awaited return to the Premier League after a seven-year absence. The Teesiders have already proved their intent in the transfer market, luring over the likes of Alvaro Negrado, Vicktor Fischer, Marten de Roon and Victor Valdes to the North East, which in turn has heightened expectation levels.

Boss Aitor Karanka is one of five managers making their Premier League debut in the dugout, however it could have been so different had he left the club last term.

Back in March the uncertainty over Karanka’s future - the Spaniard was placed on gardening leave for the defeat at Charlton - could have seen the club completely crumble, but quite the opposite happened as his return triggered off a 10 game unbeaten run through to the end of the season - including six wins - as Boro went on to secure automatic promotion on the final day.

Boro’s transfer activity makes them an intriguing prospect, and they definitely look the strongest of the three promoted teams, making them a decent bet at 11/10 to finish above Burnley and Hull.

Karanka’s troops will look to make the most of a favourable start, which sees the club avoid any of last season’s top-8. If things really go their way then a top-10 finish (8/1) could well be on the cards, although avoiding the dreaded drop is the main priority (8/15 Betfair).

However, should Boro’s new-look side fail to gel early on then the cracks will start to show, making a repeat of last March’s controversy likely.

Last week Karanka was installed as the 5/1 favourite to be the Sack Race, but he has since drifted out to 10/1 - a price he could be worth backing at.

Hit or miss, Middlesbrough and Karanka will surely be an interesting, yet potentially unpredictable, partnership next term.

Arsene Wenger

  • Club: Arsenal
  • Sack Race Odds: 50/1 (UniBet)
  • Manager of the Year Odds: 8/1 (BetVictor)
  • Best Bet: Olivier Giroud top arsenal goalscorer @ 11/8 (Bet Victor)

Arsene Wenger

The upcoming season could be a defining one for both Arsenal and Arsene Wenger as there is a very realistic possibility that this could be the Frenchman’s final season in the Gunners dugout.

Wenger, who is approaching the 20-year mark in charge of the North London club, enters into the final year of his contract, and both parties may have a pact to see how the season pans out before deciding on the future.

To the surprise of absolutely no one it’s largely been another flat summer in the transfer market for Arsenal. For reasons that have long baffled fans and pundits alike Wenger has once again simply refused to significantly bolster his squad.

Yes, Granit Xhaka has been brought in from Borussia Monchengladach for £35, but that’s simply not enough. N’Golo Kante, now at Chelsea, would have been the perfect addition, while supporters have long been craving a top notch striker who can boost their chances of ending their painful 13-year wait for the title….

There is no doubt that Wenger has a high quality squad at his disposal - Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and Aaron Ramsey to name a few – but history tells us they are a couple of ingredients short of a title winning team.

Consistency and experience means a 21st successive top-4 finish, but with the season so open what a story it would be for Wenger to hoist the title in what could possibly be his final campaign.

Jurgen Klopp

  • Club: Liverpool
  • Sack Race Odds: 50/1 (Ladbrokes)
  • Manager of the Year Odds: 17/2 (Betfair)
  • Best Bet: Liverpool to win the FA Cup @ 10/1 (Betfred)

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool’s ability to stun and frustrate in equal measure was clearly demonstrated over the weekend when they hammered Barcelona 4-0, before slumping to a 4-0 defeat to Mainz the following day.

This inconsistency was evident last season. On one hand the Reds conjured up a brace of memorable three-goal margin victories over Man City, along with a staggering come-from-behind 5-4 thriller against Norwich.

However, the Merseyside outfit would often fail to raise their game against teams down at the wrong end of the table, dropping valuable points in the process.

In the end Liverpool’s inconsistency cost them a proper stab at the top-4, instead ending up down in 8th - their joint-worst Premier League standing - however, finishing outside of the European places could well be a blessing in disguise for Klopp and his troops.

When Liverpool last started a season (2013/14) without European football they came agonisingly close to winning their first Premier League title, only to falter in the closing stages.

The upcoming campaign promises to be one of the most open ever, and the extra rest days could well help Liverpool’s cause in the long haul.

Klopp has spent the summer bringing in his own players, and on paper he’s strung together a pretty decent looking side.

But, you get the feeling that the opening handful of matches could be make or break - face Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea in their opening five games - but if they can negotiate their way through this tricky period they could flourish.

A first title may just be out of reach (9/1) - it’s worth remember that it took Klopp three seasons to transform Borussia Dortmund into the champions Germany - but only a second top-4 finish in eight years has simply got to be the target. And with Klopp at the helm they are also likely to challenge in the domestic cup competitions, with the club priced at 9/1 to win the League Cup and 10/1 to hoist the FA Cup.

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