Can a Premier League Team Make a Run in the Champions League?
English teams have historically done very well in UEFA Champions League. From the 2004-'05 season to the 2011-'12 season eight English teams made the Champions League final and three of these teams came out victorious.
However, Premier League teams have experienced a little bit of a drought in Champions League play in recent years. In fact, an English team has not even made the Champions League Final since Chelsea miraculously won the title in the 2011-'12 season.
Will any Premier League teams be able to make a run in the 2016-'17 Champions League or will the drought continue? Let's take a look at each team's chances this season.
Let's start with the league champions.
The Foxes stole the hearts of neutral fans everywhere with their completely unexpected road to the title last season, but they can't possibly match their Premier League title from last season with a Champions League title this season -- can they?
There are a few factors working against Leicester City making much noise in Champions League this season. For starters, they have already lost N'Golo Kante, who was the sixth-best overall player in the Premier League last season, according to the WhoScored.com rating system.
Losing Kante is a huge blow for Leicester, but to make matters even worse, Riyad Mahrez is reportedly on his way to Arsenal. Mahrez was even more important to Leicester last season than Kante. The Algerian winger was rated as the best player in the entire Premier League, per WhoScored.com, as he scored 17 goals with 11 assists.
On top of losing Kante and (possibly) Mahrez, Leicester City will also have to deal with a much more rigorous schedule than last season due to the additional Champions League games they will be playing in this year. This will test the depth of Leicester's squad, and make it much more difficult for them to repeat what they did last year.
Unfortunately, due to the tougher schedule and the loss of Kante and possibly Mahrez, the Foxes do not appear to be poised for a Champions League run this season.
Arsenal has had a difficult time in Champions League, as they have been eliminated in the Round of 16 for the past six seasons. Will anything change for Arsene Wenger's side this year?
The Gunners came in second place in the English Premier League last season, and they appear to be heading into the 2016-'17 season with a very similar squad to the one they had a year ago. They have been able to keep all of their key players so far this transfer window, but the only major signing Arsenal has made up to this point in the offseason was acquiring midfielder Granit Xhaka -- -- although if the breaking news regarding Mahrez proves true, they will be adding an elite playmaker to the side.
With the way the team is currently constructed, Per Mertesacker is penciled in as one of Arsenal's starting center backs, and he could prove to be a liability, especially against players with pace. Mertesacker is 31 and clearly in decline as shown by his mediocre 6.86 WhoScored rating from last season.
While the potential move for Mahrez would certainly add some punch to the attack, the Gunners could use another out and out striker to help Olivier Giroud.
Tottenham came in third place last year, earning them a spot in Champions League for the first time since the 2010-'11 season, but much like Leicester City, the question for Spurs now becomes how will they follow up on the success of last year.
Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele led the way for Tottenham last season. Dembele led the team with a WhoScored rating of 7.69, and Harry Kane paced the Premier League in goals with 25.
Tottenham also bolstered their roster by adding defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama from Southampton and striker Vincent Janssen from AZ Alkmaar.
Janssen scored a league-leading 27 goals in the Dutch League (Eredivisie) last season, and he could help take some of the pressure off Harry Kane. Wanyama figures to help provide a steady defensive presence due to his great tackling abilities (he averaged 3.1 tackles per game last season).
There is no doubt that Tottenham is a solid, improving team, but they probably aren't on the level of Europe's best. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and others have star-studded rosters that are, quite frankly, out of Tottenham's league. Could Spurs make a surprise run in Champions League this year with a little luck and a defensive-oriented style? Maybe. But the much more likely scenario is that they will be eliminated before the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Manchester City underachieved in league play last season, finishing in fourth place, but they might be the English team that has the best chance of making a run in Champions League.
For starters, Manchester City brought in one of the best managers in the world in Pep Guardiola. The legendary gaffer won the Champions League twice with Barcelona, and he has won six combined league titles with Barcelona and Bayern. He is definitely bringing a winning track record to Manchester City.
Although City did not perform as well as they would have hoped last year, they still have a great group of players. Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany are one of the best central defending duos in the world, with Otamendi posting a 7.47 WhoScored rating last season while Kompany recorded a 7.28 rating.
Sergio Aguero is a world-class striker, and he scored 24 goals in league games last season. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne combined for 20 assists last year, so there should be no shortage of service for the Argentinian striker.
In addition to the talented players already on the roster, Manchester City has the resources and willingness to further improve their team during the transfer window. They have been connected to many top players, including 20-year-old German winger Leroy Sane.
Whether it's getting Sane or another high-priced player, City seems poised to make a major transfer before the window closes, which will only increase their chances of doing well in Champions League. Out of all the Premier League teams, Manchester City seems like the best bet to make a run at the Champions League title. They have the players, the manager and the resources to advance far in this year's tournament.