Chelsea face a tough battle to retain Premier League crown

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This season the Premier League has been dominated from start to finish by Chelsea. By May 13th they will have been in top spot for 274 days - the longest ever in the League.

The only team to wrest the top spot away from them was Tottenham and even then, that was on goal difference. There is no denying that Chelsea have been the best team in the league with Manchester City limping to yet another weak and lacklustre title defence, Arsenal doing their usual of starting poorly but finishing well and Manchester United lacked consistency to challenge at the top.

Despite this, and Chelsea's dominance, it seems all three of these teams are but a few signings away from being serious contenders come May next year.

City's challenge

Let's start with City, Manuel Pellegrini said after the victory over Swansea that whilst they were playing good football, defence needed some work. This has been something that has been abundantly clear to City fans all season.

Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta have not performed to their usual high standards, Eliaquim Mangala has been far too inconsistent and Aleksandar Kolarov has been largely anonymous. They've been bailed out by Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero far too often this season.

Whilst there is a great deal of truth to Pellegrini's assertion, the Citizens also need to look at the midfield. Yaya Toure has been turned into something of a scapegoat for City's troubles this year and whilst he hasn't performed to last seasons standards, neither has anyone in the midfield bar David Silva who even on a bad day is still a sublime footballer.

So who should they go for? Keeping hold of James Milner is a must, a vastly underrated footballer, he is a key part of the squad. Furthermore, bring in some youth. Players like Karim Rekik and Jason Denayer - who have had great seasons at PSV and Celtic respectively - should be brought into the defence.

In Midfield, they should get rid of Fernando and Samir Nasri, break the bank for Paul Pogba and again, give a couple of youngsters the chance. They should keep hold of Toure for now, he may have had a bad season but can still be a driving force in the team.

Goals won't be a problem, with one of the best strikers in the world in Sergio Aguero and with the addition of Wilfried Bony, City should be able to score goals. They should use this summer to get rid of Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, bring back Marco Lopes from loan at Lyon and give youngsters like Jordi Hiwula and Devante Cole their chances.

The main thing for City is bringing some youth and fresh legs into the squad, do this and they could be a real force next season.

Arsenal always a threat

A similar argument can be made for Arsenal, who like City are not that far away from being genuine contenders. Yet again they started slowly but since the turn of the year have picked up their performances, a highlight being that 2-0 win at Manchester City where they were on the back foot for most of the game, but still got a result.

They did a decent bit of business in January, bringing in Gabriel Paulista, who given a pre-season could turn out to be a good acquisition. Hector Bellerin has been a revelation at right back and Kieran Gibbs is as solid as ever, they do however need another centre half, someone who can play the ball better than their current pairing.

In midfield, they need a solid defensive midfield, a Matic-type player who can break up play and move the ball forward.

Finally, they need a world class striker, someone who will consistently put the ball in the back of the net, Alexis Sanchez has been a great buy but has been burnt out by an over-reliance on him for goals. Olivier Giroud is simply too inconsistent at this level to be a real threat.

The youth system at Arsenal has produced some quality players in the past and Wenger has always had a keen eye for potential, however, if they are to succeed properly next season he needs to buy proven quality as well as potential. Arsenal have some real talent in their team and with a couple of good singings plus Arsene Wenger learning that sometimes it's ok to grind out a result, they could pose a real threat.

United continuing to improve

When considering the outcome of the Premier League next season, it is impossible to ignore Manchester United. This season has been a largely frustrating one for United fans, with glimpses of what could be, coupled with defensive frailties and serious inconsistency.

A prime example is the way they dismantled Manchester City and Liverpool but then went on to lose to West Brom and Leicester. Out of all the three potential challengers to Chelsea's crown, they have the biggest job in the summer.

With David De Gea, who has saved his side on countless occasions, now looking certain to leave, a replacement goalkeeper is needed. This, however, is the least of Louis van Gaal's concerns.

United need a new centre half as for all the physicality and enthusiasm Phil Jones puts into his game, his ball playing skills and positional awareness are not good enough for a top team. A classy centre half is needed, as well as decent right back.

The Red Devils have quite a bloated midfield as well but if LvG can get a good rotation system working and settle on his best formation then, Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Daley Blind and Marouane Fellaini can all cause problems.

United look odds on to complete the signing of Ilkay Gundongan from Dortmund and with Memphis Depay coming in, it could be an exciting midfield line-up for fans of the Old Trafford club next season.

Don't forget about Angel Di Maria as well, if he gets a good pre-season under his belt then he could really turn it on next year. Upfront though, is where the real issues lie. Wayne Rooney has shown this season that he simply has to play centre forward but with Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie set to leave, United need at least two strikers to fill the gaps.

James Wilson is good but not proven enough at Premier League level. Everyone knows how good United's youth system is and they will continue to produce quality so they should have no problems there. A world class centre half and striker could make the Reds truly feared again, and give Chelsea a run for their money.

Can anyone catch Chelsea?

Finally, we come to Chelsea. Little needs to be said - as league champions and with a manager like Mourinho at the helm, they will defend their title fiercely, plus with the spending power they have, don't bet against them bringing some world class talent to Stamford Bridge next season.

Chelsea need another proven centre forward to help Diego Costa and if they can acquire Raphael Varane from Madrid, they could be all set to dominate the league once again.

Next season then, could be one of the best we have seen in the Premier League, with City looking to mount a better campaign than this one and Arsenal and United hungry for success, Chelsea could be in for a real fight. Hopefully it lives up to expectation and the so called 'best league in the world' delivers an exciting, competitive and fierce title fight. Expect fireworks.

Who do you think will win the Premier League next season? Have your say in the comments below!

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Premier League
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United

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