Consolidating the 3-4-2-1 with Lacazette:
Arsene Wenger's belated discovery of the 3-4-2-1 formation dramatically recalibrated their 2016/17 campaign and could trigger a Premier League title challenge in the coming season. The third centre-back adds stability to a shaky defence; the midfield two find it easier with wing-backs in close support; and the use of dual playmakers helps Arsenal's naturally narrow attacking lines.
Alexandre Lacazette could be one of the most important signings of the Wenger era, largely because his playing style is well suited to this formation. With both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the number ten space, threaded through balls for a quick and agile striker like Lacazette could work wonders.
Improving central midfield to strengthen mentality:
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey found consistency in the 3-4-2-1, but this is still a seriously weak area for the Gunners. A haphazard pressing system and back-peddling defence create an over-stretched formation and isolate the central midfielders. Without a commanding box-to-box midfielder in the team you simply cannot win titles - which explains why Naby Keita, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Renato Sanches have been on the radar of so many top English teams this summer.
The psychological fragility at the Emirates is partly due to this one fatal flaw. When heads drop, they simply cannot take hold of a game. Wenger needs to buy someone before the end of the month.
Back Arsenal to finish higher than Spurs at 1/1.
The evolution of the 3-4-2-1:
Antonio Conte is acutely aware that his revolutionary formation will not suffice in 2017/18; constant adaptation is a necessity in football, and the Italian's work-ethic ensures he will not be resting on his laurels. The most likely tweak will be to a 3-5-2, and indeed Alvaro Morata should combine nicely with Michy Batshuayi - who had the best goals-per-90-minutes score (1.9) in the division last year.
Cesc Fabregas being converted into an advanced playmaker in place of Pedro is another possible development, while replacing Nemanja Matic with Bakayoko is a good move. The Frenchman is considerably more nimble and energetic, helping to create even quicker transitions on the counter.
John Terry's departure, shortly to be followed by Diego Costa's, leaves a huge hole in the dressing room. Costa's tenacity helped create a relentless fighting spirit and without him they may struggle for leaders on the pitch. We shouldn't forget how quickly Chelsea collapsed after their 2015 title triumph.
Tactical flexibility will be the key to avoiding something similar, while Conte must ensure he uses his entire squad - including those young players who are ready to make the step up.
Back Chelsea to be the top London club at 4/6.
Raising the tempo from deeper areas:
Liverpool struggled to break down deep-lying opponents last year because their gegenpressing football only works against high lines and clumsy centre-backs. Jurgen Klopp has found two solutions to this problem that should dramatically improve their form in 2017/18.
Firstly, keep an eye on Philippe Coutinho's redeployment as a false-eight - providing he doesn't go to Barcelona of course - something we saw at the end of last season. Liverpool can pick apart more defensive teams with the Brazilian playing deeper and launching through-balls from seemingly harmless positions, as shown in their 3-0 defeat of Middlesbrough on the final day. Secondly, Naby Keita can slalom through central midfield, significantly raising the tempo of their build-up play and breaking through those compressed opposition lines. His addition before September is crucial to the Klopp project.
Mohamed Salah could be the signing of the summer. Sadio Mane was the only direct footballer in the Liverpool attack last season, and when he was absent they struggled to pierce the defence. Salah's arrival means Liverpool can now play two wingers at the same time (especially since Coutinho has dropped deeper), relieving pressure from Mane and inevitably stretching their opponents.
Salah and Mane, with Coutinho feeding from deep, is a frightening prospect.
Back Liverpool to finish in the top four at 10/11
Pep Guardiola seemed awfully confused last season, frantically changing tactics and moaning publicly about the unpredictable nature of English football. The result of his obsession with "second balls" appears to be a reconfiguration of his playing style; Man City are stockpiling quick, nimble-footed young wingers who can instigate a direct, gegenpressing style that is unfamiliar to the Catalan.
Watch out for Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Bernardo Silva bursting onto long vertical passes this season as Guardiola evokes memories of Fergie's Tevez-Ronaldo-Rooney partnership. Guardiola's belief in gradual 15-pass build-ups and central-midfield-focused attacks is fading fast.
Pragmatism in defence:
The second part of Pep's rethink could be to simplify defensive instructions, or at least request that his players contribute to fewer phases of play. City were woefully open at times last season, and this seems certain to change - as long as they add at least once centre-back to the squad before September.
A three-man back line might be the most obvious course of action following the arrivals of Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, both of whom are better in attack than defence. Fernandinho might find himself in a more disciplined defensive role, too.
Back Man City to win the title at 15/8
Slow and clunky build-up:
Signing Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof, and Nemanja Matic - three lumbering giants - will do nothing to speed up the United attack or allow these players to break free from the suffocating tactics instilled by Louis van Gaal. United are achingly slow at times, struggling to beat mid-table clubs because they are too cautious in their positioning.
Jose Mourinho must afford greater positional freedom to the likes of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, or risk his team becoming far too predictable to consistently win away from home. The success of their Premier League campaign rests largely on the relationship between Paul Pogba and Lukaku, which is a big gamble given their respective inconsistencies.
Mourinho has never moved away from a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, but in pre-season has noted that Lindelof gives them the option to play three at the back. There is a reason why Conte's system was copied by 16 of the 20 Premier League clubs last season, and it is time Jose follows suit.
Using two number tens would loosen some of the arthritic limbs at Old Trafford while unshackling Pogba to play in the meandering up-and-down fashion we saw at Juventus. A dramatic shift in formation might just save Mourinho from sinking into irrelevance.
Back United not to lose a home match at 17/2
Upgrade their attack:
Mauricio Pochettino is clearly frustrated by the club's lack of transfer activity this summer, and he's right to feel concerned. If Spurs do not add significant quality in attack this summer they simply will not compete with the other five clubs for the title.
Ross Barkley would be a welcome addition, although Pochettino wants to convert him into a deep-lying Mousa Dembele type. Daniel Levy needs to bring in at least three high-quality players.
Wembley changing Spurs' tactics:
White Hart Lane was among the most narrow pitches in the Premier League while Wembley is quite possibly the widest, and longest, in the country. In theory, this will help Tottenham - who like to narrow the pitch with their-build up play to draw opponents in, before suddenly hitting them with sweeping passes to the full-backs.
It could also make things an awful lot harder, both physically and psychologically. Pochettino may use a deeper line this season and be less expansive, particularly if early results go against them.
Back Harry Kane to finish top goalscorer at 3/1
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