Before you know it, a new Premier League season will be upon us.
There’ll be plenty of time to discuss title challenges and relegation battles, but here we’re looking at that midfield pack trying to muscle in on the top-six domination.
Will it be done this season? Time will tell. Can it be done? Of course it can. Who might do it? Now that’s the question.
The Ladbrokes News team run you through the sides most likely to break up the Premier League’s all-conquering sextet…
We have to start with Everton. The Toffees have achieved a top-six finish six times since 2004. That’s the best of anyone outside of that established heavyweight group.
But the blue half of Merseyside are on the back foot a touch this season. New boss Marco Silva is highly regarded but will need time to stamp his authority at Goodison Park.
There is a good spine to the squad, with Jordan Pickford in goal, Idrissa Gueye in the holding role and Gylfi Sigurdsson in attacking midfield.
Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Theo Walcott and Yannick Bolalise ensure Everton are covered on the flanks too.
But they lack a top-line centre-half the right side of 30-years-old, and though Cenk Tosun is decent, a heavyweight goalscorer is still lacking.
While Everton need to find their way under a new manager, Burnley and Sean Dyche know each other inside out.
The Clarets were the only side to get close to the top six last season, finishing a superb seventh.
But can they achieve such heights again? It’ll be a tall order with one of the smallest budgets in the division.
Plus, they enter the Europa League this season and it’s hard to see the Lancashire club’s league form not suffering should they get into the group stages and beyond.
On the positive side, Turf Moor is an absolute fortress these days.
Leicester City’s squad is largely unchanged from that which sensationally won the title in 2016. So of course they can break the top six again.
But they’ve suffered plenty of managerial instability since that 5,000/1 success, and that hasn’t helped.
It looks like Riyad Mahrez is nearing a summer exit too, and it will be difficult for the Foxes to replace the talismanic Algerian.
The Foxes blow hot and cold too, and that inconsistency is always likely to hinder their efforts. The squad is arguably the seventh-best in the Premier League, but they don’t always show it.
The Toon Army are no strangers to a top-six Premier League finish. They’ve done so on eight occasions.
And in Rafael Benitez, they boast a manager many of the league’s big sides would be happy to call their own.
But the squad remains limited. Owner Mike Ashley hasn’t given Benitez the funds to improve the squad which won the Championship in 2017.
Based on stadium size and fanbase alone, the Magpies would be a top-six operation every season. But they need the funding. That’s what stands in their way.
West Ham United
Nobody enjoys yo-yoing up and down the Premier League like West Ham United.
The Irons finished seventh in 2016, and now boast a stadium befitting a top-six outfit.
And in Manuel Pellegrini, they’ve got the manager too.
It will take some time, but if the Hammers continue to be linked with players such as Javier Pastore, who knows what they can achieve in the near future.
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