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  • The big moves in Manchester have United and City at the top–at least on paper–entering the new season, while defending champ Leicester looks up at a handful of sides.
By Jonathan Wilson
August 10, 2016

After last season’s under-performance from the wealthiest sides in the Premier League and Leicester City’s surprise triumph, this campaign is shaping up to be the most open one in two decades with six sides–not including the reigning champion–harboring realistic hopes of the title.

Following Leicester's rise to the top, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all made high-profile managerial changes and spent big on reinforcements. Liverpool has a full year of Jurgen Klopp, while Tottenham's young core has a year of experience with a title chase under its belt.

The talk last season of a rising middle class makes it harder for those at the top, but it also makes it more difficult for those at the bottom.

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As a new dynamic opens up with three distinct tiers, here are Premier League power rankings entering the new season:

1
Manchester City
Last season: Fourth
Pep Guardiola will have to adapt his style for the Premier League, everybody seems to agree, but he has proved astute enough in the past to do that and in terms of depth, he has the best squad in the league. Nolito, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus add pace and penetration to an attack that last season was too often reliant on Sergio Aguero, while Ilkay Gundogan, when he returns to fitness, should give City the sort of midfield control it has so often lacked in the recent past. John Stones could blossom into the counterpart and cover that City has needed in the event Vincent Kompany's injury woes continue.
2
Manchester United
Last season: Fifth
3
Chelsea
Last season: 10th
With Diego Costa’s future unresolved, Chelsea is perhaps still lacking a center forward, despite the promise of Michy Batshuayi, but N’Golo Kante should add solidity to the center. Chelsea is also perhaps short of a central defender, but Antonio Conte has proved in the past that he doesn’t need a perfect squad to produce excellent results.
4
Liverpool
Last season: Eighth
5
Arsenal
Last season: Second
6
Tottenham
Last season: Third
Was last season Spurs’ best chance? In theory, another year of development and another couple of signings–Vincent Janssen, Victor Wanyama–should improve Mauricio Pochettino’s young squad, but the manager has yet to prove he can counter the fatigue his hard pressing style prompts late in the season, and the Champions League will be a distraction.
7
West Ham
Last season: Seventh
Much depends on how West Ham adapts to its new home at the Olympic Stadium, but Andre Ayew and Sofiane Feghouli add to the attacking options.
8
Everton
Last season: 11th
Transfer activity has been underwhelming so far, but Ronald Koeman had a highly impressive two years as Southampton manager, and after signing Ashley Williams from Swansea, more moves appear to be in the offing.
9
Leicester CITY
Last season: Champions
10
Stoke City
Last season: Ninth
Big spending has secured Stoke’s status as a mid-table regular. Progress should continue for Mark Hughes's squad.
11
Southampton
Last season: Sixth
Southampton has been a master of prospering after off-loading its best players (and a previous manager), but life after Ronaldo Koeman and Victor Wanyama–and possibly Jose Fonte–could be tough.
12
Middlesbrough
Last season: Promoted from Championship
13
West Brom
Last season: 14th
Tony Pulis sides are never that attractive and never get relegated. Expect more of the same.
14
Swansea City
Last season: 12th
Francesco Guidolin steadied the ship towards the end of last season and although the losses of Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams will hurt, the signing of Fernando Llorente is intriguing.
15
Watford
Last season: 13th
16
Sunderland
Last season: 17th
It lost only four games in the second half of last season, buoyed by smart January signings, but Sam Allardyce has been lured away by England and it may take David Moyes time to settle.
17
Bournemouth
Last season: 16th
Matt Ritchie and Tommy Elphick have both gone and, although Jordon Ibe has arrived, Eddie Howe faces a major task to repeat last season’s finish.
18
Crystal Palace
Last season: 15th
At every club where he has spent any length of time, Alan Pardew has suffered a slide he has never escaped. Palace won just two of its final 21 games of last season. The signings of Steve Mandanda, James Collins and Andros Townsend may not be enough to avoid that fate again.
19
Burnley
Last season: Promoted from Championship
Sean Dyche’s capacity to organize and motivate offers some hope, but the squad is ordinary and the only two permanent signings have come from Charlton.
20
Hull City
Last season: Promoted from Championship
This has been an awful summer for Hull. Its chairman, Assem Allam, is seriously ill, its manager has walked out over a lack of signings, and Mohamed Diame has left for Newcastle.

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