The new TV deal has seen a number of high-profile signings join Premier League clubs for record figures. One might wonder that this will increase the competitiveness of the league. However, the reality is completely different.
In the 2015-16 season, Manchester United finished 6th with 69 points and Everton finished 7th with 61 points. If the 8-point gap looks huge, then Southampton finished 8th and amassed just 46 points. Thus, the gulf between Premier League elite and the rest is huge as well.
If the teams outside top six are investing more, then the top six are spending much more every summer. Thus, it is almost impossible for the rest of the league to crack the elite consisting of champions Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.
However, just like Leicester showed by winning the league in 2016 against all odds, football always gives a chance. Therefore, one or two teams have a chance of cracking the top 6 and upsetting the apple cart.
Now, a truly surprising season can lead to any team outdoing themselves. Nevertheless, there are a few teams who have a genuine chance with the quality at their disposal to have a fabulous season. Everton are not considered as dark horses for they are relatively regular contenders who fight for a top six spot.
Here are those 6 dark horse teams who can challenge for the top 6 next season.
#6 AFC Bournemouth
If pundits and media are to be believed, Eddie Howe is the next big manager in English football. His Bournemouth side has won many plaudits for their attacking style of play in the past seasons. Howe deserves merit because most of the promoted teams get relegated playing an attacking style or adopt a defence-first approach to stay up.
Howe has built a terrific unit with a strong youth core that can take the attack to any team in the league. So far, the Cherries have been unable to crack the top 10. However, if there is any season they have a good chance, then it is now. The team is now experienced in the league with the spine of the team unchanged.
Joshua King had a season to remember with his goals and young winger Ryan Fraser broke through as well. Harry Arter has signed a new contract while the defence remains unchanged.
Further, the summer signings are bound to give the side a real lift. Jermain Defoe is a PL veteran and if his goals for relegated Sunderland are any indication, he will thrive with better support at the Vitality stadium. Asmir Begovic from Chelsea is another league veteran with his experience at Stoke.
Another Chelsea player and last season’s loanee Nathan Ake has been signed on a permanent basis. His performances for Bournemouth were promising till the loan was cut short by Chelsea last season.
The Cherries are bound to add a few more players and each of their signings strengthens the team. Thus, Bournemouth are genuine dark horses for the top six with their quality and manager gives them an outside chance.