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After a three month offseason, The Premier League is back. The summer was packed with intrigue but now the serious business begins, so who signed who this summer and what are the prospects for each club in 2019-20?
Arsenal (Last Season 5th)
Offseason Summary: Yet another summer of unrest appeared to be engulfing the Emirates Stadium with fans accusing owner Stan Kroenke of being asleep at the wheel. Arsenal appointed former player Edu as Technical Director, then made an optimistic bid for Wilfried Zaha, dithered over Kieran Tierney, saw Aaron Ramsey depart on a free and made no progress in moving on expensive misfit Mesut Ozil. Then things rapidly improved as Uani Emery broke the club transfer record for Nicolas Pepe, loaned in Dani Ceballos to replace Ramsey and may yet land Tierney. Being Arsenal it couldn’t all go well with club captain Laurent Koscielny refusing to go on a preseason tour, however preseason did hint at the potential of young striker Eddie Nketiah who looked stellar in form.
Season Prospects: The addition of Pepe gives Emery a fearsome frontline alongside Aubameyang and Lacazette and Ceballos will provide a box to box threat. However even if they do sign Tierney, Arsenal’s defence looks shaky. Emery appears to have a lot of faith in youngster Rob Holding who could be set for a major role this term, but Arsenal looked incredibly brittle on the road and more hefty away defeats look likely. They’ll be in the hunt for fourth but Arsenal may again be dependant on winning the Europa League to make it back to Europe’s top table. Prediction 5th
Aston Villa (5th in The Championship, promoted via playoffs)
Offseason Summary: One of English football’s grand old clubs returns after three years in the EFL wilderness. Villa have spent big this summer to capitalise on their late season promotion surge. However £28million was on retaining loan stars Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi and last seasons top scorer Tammy Abraham has returned to Chelsea. Abraham has been replaced by young Brazilian forward Wesley who arrive from Club Brugge for £22million. Tom Heaton is a much needed addition in goal with Douglas Luis, Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa and Jota looking the best of Villa’s other signings who number 12 and cost a combined £133 million.
Season Prospects: Dean Smith’s side invested a lot this summer but the focus was more on quantity than quality. Villa won just 10 of their first 34 league games last season prior to their record breaking end of season run, begging the question can they recover if they go through a bad spell, whilst memories of Fulham’s disastrous spending spree loom large. Signing strikers from Europe’s smaller leagues can be risky particularly in their first season, how quickly Wesley adapts will be critical to Villa’s season. Defensively they look solid and Heaton is a shrewd buy. In John McGinn and Jack Grealish Villa do posses guile and craft in midfield and they’ll be paramount at Villa Park this season. Playoff winners often struggle in the Premier League and although Villa are a club with bigger ambitions, staying up would be a success this season Prediction 17th
Bournemouth (Last Season 14th)
Offseason Summary: Eddie Howe continued Bournemouth’s recent trend of buying young homegrown talent. In come Left back Lloyd Kelly, centre half Jack Stacey, midfielder Philip Billing and imported winger Arnaut Danjuma arriving from Club Brugge .More importantly Callum Wilson has signed a long term deal and the precocious David Brooks hasn’t been lured away. However they didn’t buy a goalkeeper despite Arthur Boruc’s awful season and the midfield looks a little light with Lewis Cook edging towards full fitness after his cruciate ligament injury.
Season Prospects: Outside the top six nobody has a better attack than Bournemouth in Wilson, Josh King, Brooks and Ryan Fraser.Bournemouth finished last season poorly with 8 defeats from their last 14 games with a worryingly leaky defence, although young goalkeeper Mark Travers showed some promise. Bournemouth’s firepower should keep them clear of danger but they must tighten defensively if they are to get into the top half. Prediction 12th
Brighton (Last Season 17th)
Offseason Summary: Last season was supposed to see Brighton establish themselves in the middle of the Premier League pack, but an abysmal second half of the season saw The Seagulls just avoid relegation. The summer started with the sacking of Chris Hughton and arrival of Graham Potter, a manager with a good reputation from Swedish football and who stabilised Swansea in the face of cost cutting owners. Potter has three times broken the club transfer record this summer with the additions of Neal Maupay, Adam Webster and Leandro Trossard but the club may come under pressure from Leicester for Lewis Dunk.
Season Prospects: Trossard must click quickly along with last season’s disappointing record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh who fans will hope can form an effective partnership down the flanks. The defence looks concerning with a lot of responsibility falling on Shane Duffy to form a partnership with Webster in front of Matt Ryan. Top scorer Glenn Murray turns 36 next month meaning Maupay needs to settle quickly and add some punch up front. Potter should prove a good fit in the long run but it may be a tough first season at the Amex Stadium. Prediction 19th
Burnley (Last Season 15th)
Offseason Summary: Sean Dyche has stuck with his tried and trusted transfer policy of taking players from The Championship and adding them to his mostly British and Irish squad of hardworking players. This summer saw the return of striker Jay Rodriguez from West Brom seven years on from his departure. The reliable Erik Peters arrived from Stoke to bolster a defence that was uncharacteristicly generous last season. In goal Tom Heaton departed for Villa whilst Northern Ireland number one Bailey Peacock-Farrell arrived from Leeds. The most newsworthy change at Turf Moor this summer was the retirement of the popular Peter Crouch after the gangly striker called time on his nomadic career.
Season Prospects: Dyche has done incredibly well to establish Burnley in the middle of the Premier League. However much like Tony Pulis at Stoke the issue is becoming how much longer can his backs to the wall rhetoric continue to work with his players? Burnley looked much more like their old selves after Tom Heaton was recalled last season, but now Dyche must decide who replaces Heaton in goal with fit again Nick Pope the favourite. Despite the efforts of Ashley Barnes much still depends on target man Chris Wood to carry a goal threat. If Wood can grab 15 goals Burnley should settle in the middle of the pack, if not it could be a season of struggle. Prediction 15th
Chelsea (Last season 3rd)
Offseason Summary: A new beginning for at Stamford Bridge? After sixteen years of short-termism Chelsea find themselves having to take a longer view after the departures of Eden Hazard and Mauricio Sarri and crucially the upholding of their transfer ban. In comes Chelsea legend but management novice Frank Lampard to rebuild with Chelsea’s highly successful academy system. Lampard will give first team opportunities to Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham all of whom enjoyed successful campaigns in The Championship, the former pair with Lampard at Derby. One new arrival Lampard can welcome is £57million Christian Pulisic, but the American star is coming off a disappointing campaign with Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea have also made Mateo Kovacic’s loan a permanent deal despite an underwhelming first season in London. Preseason has also seen Lampard offer a fresh chance to previously discarded trio Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi.
Season Prospects: There’s plenty of promising talent at Chelsea and there’s plenty of depth to the squad. Callum Hudson-Odoi should enjoy a breakout season and Olivier Giroud is a reliable goalscorer, but Hazard contributed 16 goals and 15 assists in the league alone last season, that’s too bigger void to fill. Lampard’s year with Derby was notable for good cup results but a mixed league campaign, it could be a similar story at Chelsea, will that be enough to keep Abramovich happy? Prediction 7th
Crystal Palace (Last Season 12th)
Offseason Summary: It’s been a strangely quiet summer at Crystal Palace, and that may come as a relief to Roy Hodgson. Palace as expected lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United but Hodgson will be confident he can coach up a replacement and the defence is boosted by the signing of Hodgson’s old England favourite Gary Cahill. The more important news for Hodgson is it appears Wilfried Zaha will be staying after Palace saw off the interest of Arsenal. Palace struggled to find a prolific centre forward last season and Jordan Ayew doesn’t seem likely to change that. Other than that it’s been a case of as you were at Selhurst Park.
Season Prospects: Zaha would be as bigger loss to Palace as Hazard was for Chelsea making keeping the exotically talented forward beyond deadline day the top priority for Palace. Hodgson is renowned as a good defensive manager and Palace should be able to cope without Wan-Bissaka, particularly with Cahill onboard. In attack Andros Townsend proved a useful foil to Zaha, but Christian Benteke has been a bust and Palace lack a prolific number nine. If Zaha stays Palace will be fine, if he goes it will be a long tough season at Selhurst Park. Prediction 14th
Everton (Last Season 8th)
Offseason Summary: A season into Marco Silva’s reign and a new identity is being established at Goodison Park as Everton continued to buy promising young talent. To that end Andre Gomes has made his loan spell into a permanent move to Merseyside whilst young Italian international Moise Kean arrived from Juventus for a fee of £27million. Elsewhere as expected Idrissa Gueye left for PSG and was replaced by another water carrier in Fabian Delph. Ademola Lookman departed on permanent deal to Leipzig whilst Jonjoe Kenny, Kieran Dowell and Sandro Ramirez lead the list of promising young players going out on loan. One player Everton didn’t manage to bag was Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma who spent a successful season on loan at Everton. That could mean a second chance for Yerry Mina after the Colombian defender struggled last season.
Season Prospects: Consistency must be Everton’s watchword this season, they were unplayable at times last season as Manchester United discovered. But too many of Everton’s star players were erratic with Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Richarlison the most obvious culprits, but if they find consistency Everton could challenge the top six. Prediction 8th
Leicester City (Last Season 9th)
Offseason Summary: Since their stunning title win three years ago it’s been a muddled few years for Leicester, however the arrival of Brendan Rodgers has seen momentum build again at the King Power Stadium. Leicester’s squad of bright young attacking talent looks a perfect fit for a coach renowned for improving young players. Harry Maguire has gone and a replacement needs to be found with Lewis Dunk the favourite. Crucially Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi look like the best midfield pair The Foxes have had since Kante & Drinkwater whilst upfront Ayoze Perez will take some of the goalscoring pressure off Jamie Vardy’s shoulders.
Season Prospects: Leicester look to be the challenger most likely to break into the top six this term. They need to replace Maguire urgently but if Rodgers does the side has attacking potential in Harvey Barnes, Demarai Gray and James Maddison. Fans should remember what Rodgers did for the careers of Coutinho, Henderson and Sterling back in 2014. Europe beckons and perhaps more. Prediction 6th
Liverpool (Last Season Runners Up)
Offseason Summary: A quiet summer from the Champions League Winners. However they still start this season stronger than last now Naby Keita and Fabinho are bedded into the midfield and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from a season long injury. Elsewhere it’s been a nip and tuck job with veterans Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno leaving. Meanwhile Dutch teenager Sepp van Den Berg along with Fulham youngster Harvey Elliott have been added with Adrian taking over reserve goalkeeping duties from Simon Mignolet. The shortage of incomings should present first team opportunities to promising youngster Rhian Brewster who excelled at the 2017 U-17 World Cup, but Liverpool’s best eleven looks settled and another title challenge beckons.
Season Prospects: The start of the season could be difficult given Liverpool’s fabled front three were all away this July on international duty and the December fixture run has been complicated by Liverpool’s participation in the World Club Cup. However the biggest challenge could prove holding their nerve through the run in, as the ’30 years without a title’ headlines will snowball around Anfield if they’re top after Christmas. It’ll be close again but Liverpool only took 1 point from there showdowns with City last season, they need at least 3 this time. Prediction: Runners Up
Manchester City (Last Season Champions)
Offseason Summary: A summer of evolution for The Champions as they aim for the threepeat. Pep Guardiola secured his principle transfer target in Rodri who in the long term will replace Fernandinho and more immediately Fabian Delph. The departure of the inspirational Vincent Kompany leaves a hole in the squad as much for his leadership qualities as his play with Guardiola not buying a direct replacement. City have needed to fend off the interest of Bayern Munich in Leroy Sane but all seems calm in the blue half of Manchester. One trophy has already been added this season with the Community Should win over title rivals Liverpool, it’s unlikely to be their last of the season.
Season Prospects: City are the team to beat and looked devastating for the final third of last season. Maybe there are chinks in their armour, how many more great seasons can 31-year-old Sergio Aguero produce is questionable and defensively both Kyle Walker and John Stones have a mistake in them. That said City managed to win the title with Kevin De Bruyne largely absent and now have him and Rodri bolstering midfield. City look nailed on for at least 90 points and if the defence holds without Kompany it’s hard to go see past them. Prediction: Champions
Manchester United (Last Season 6th)
Offseason Summary: Not for the first time Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has taken a leaf out of his mentor’s book by signing up young British talent this summer. England star Harry Maguire provided a summer long transfer saga but he gives a much needed presence in central defence and will probably form a new centre-back pairing with the improving Victor Lindelof. Aaron Wan-Bissaka provides a huge upgrade on Ashley Young at right back whilst Daniel James has shown promise in preseason down the left. The Paul Pogba soap opera will inevitably hog the headlines should United struggle and there’s little doubt United need much more from him on a consistent basis if they are to be contenders. United’s pre-season form was excellent with youngster Mason Greenwood primed for a first team role.
Season Prospects: For all the continuing problems in the boardroom this does feel and look a lot more like Manchester United than anything we’ve seen in the last six years. United overpaid for their new look defence but it should work in the long term. Midfield looks a problem area with Ander Herrera’s departure and Nemanja Matic looking a shadow of his former self. United’s late season slump under Solskjaer is another cause for concern, this season will be better but this looks like a stepping stone year as Solskjaer reshapes his team. Prediction 4th
Newcastle United (Last Season 13th)
Offseason Summary: A summer that started with hopes of a takeover comes to an end with Mike Ashley still at the helm and Rafa Benitez in China. In comes Newcastle native and former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce. Having managed both Birmingham clubs and both Sheffield clubs, Bruce was never going to be put off by the Sunderland tag and sees this as an opportunity to manage his boyhood club even if it is on Ashley’s watch. With forwards Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon departing, Bruce added Brazilian striker Joelinton for a record fee along with winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Previous record signing Miguel Almiron is still around and needs to find his best form if Newcastle are to score enough goals to stay away from trouble. Some good cheer has been provided by promising midfielder Sean Longstaff staying on Tyneside.
Season Prospects: It looks like being another season of struggle for the Toon Army. Survival hopes are pinned on Joelington scoring enough goals but he managed just 7 in 27 Bundesliga games with Hoffenheim last season. At the other end of the pitch Martin Dubrabka was at times erratic in goal but saved Newcastle a lot of points last term. Newcastle were comfortable in the Premier League with a Champions League manager in charge of a Championship squad, now they have a Championship manager and a weakened squad. Prediction 20th
Norwich City (Last Season 1st in Championship)
Offseason Summary: Daniel Farke’s Norwich shocked everyone by dominating The Championship last season and return to the Premiership for the third time since 2005. Farke has been relatively quiet in the transfer window adding goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann to compete with Tim Krul, young Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts and Sam Byram who underwhelmed at West Ham.
Season Prospects: Norwich may not have big names but they were one of the best coached sides in the country last season. Krul, Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons are solid at the back whilst Onel Hernandez, Emiliano Bunedia and Marco Stiepperman offer creativity and Teemu Pukki bagged 29 goals last season. A top class manager, an unheralded team and a prolific striker, are all the ingredients needed for a promoted team to adapt and flourish at the next level. They’ll take a few rough results along the way but Norwich should comfortably stay up and establish themselves in lower mid table. Prediction 13th
Sheffield United (Last Season 2nd in Championship)
Offseason Summary: The Blades are back in the big time for the first time since 2007. Despite not being amongst the preseason favourites, Chris Wilder successfully plotted a course to the Premier League and in doing so picked up the manager of the year gong. By his own admission Wilder has needed to be creative to improve his side with limited resources, that approach has brought veteran defender Phil Jagielka back to Bramall Lane twelve years after he left for Everton. The highly gifted Ravel Morrison is another interesting gamble after a troubled time. However Wilder was able to push the boat out to bag forwards Ollie McBurnie and Callum Robinson for a combined £26million.
Season Prospects: Much like Cardiff last season, Sheffield United have plenty of proven Championship performers in the likes of Ollie Norwood, Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick who have never quite made it in the top division. New boy McBurnie could prove vital and United won’t roll over like Fulham or Huddersfield did last term but they might come up just short. Prediction 18th
Southampton (Last Season 16th)
Offseason Summary: Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first summer in charge has seen Southampton continue to reshape their squad. Danny Ings joined on a permanent deal after his successful year on loan and he’ll be joined in the frontline by Che Adams who enjoyed an excellent season in The Championship with Birmingham. On the left wing Moussa Djnepo comes in with hopes he can exceed last season’s dud Mohamed Elyounoussi. The outgoings saw veteran Steven Davis depart along with discards Matt Target, Jordy Clasie and Sam Gallagher, with Charlie Austin and Alex McCarthy likely to join them.
Season Prospects: Hassenhuttl revived Southampton last season and fits closely with the likes of Pochetinno and Koeman who brought relative success to St Mary’s. The emergence of young talents like of Angus Gunn and Yan Valery gives the side a freshness, whilst Hasenhuttl has turned around the careers of James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond both of whom were rewarded with an England call up. This season should see The Saints move away from the relegation pack and back up into mid-table Prediction 11th
Tottenham (Last Season 4th)
Offseason Summary: Tottenham finally broke their self imposed transfer embargo when they signed Leeds youngster Jack Clarke, who they promptly sent back to Elland Road on loan. Spurs then broke their transfer record to bag Tanguy Nbombele from Lyon, out went England World Cup hero Kieran Trippier along with forwards Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente. Daniel Levy likes a late trolley dash so the last days of the transfer window could see Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld depart with the later two in the final year of their current deals. Ryan Sessegnon is expected to replace Rose with Bruno Fernandes or Giovani Lo Celso possible replacements for Eriksen. On the pitch Spurs looked very sharp in preseason, with their World Cup stars greatly benefiting from a summer’s rest, in particular talisman Harry Kane.
Season Prospects: Mauricio Pochettino has improved the squad this summer and playing a full season in their new home should also provide a boost to Tottenham. Nbombele gives Spurs the replacement they desperately needed for Mousa Dembele who should form a strong midfield pairing with Harry Winks. The Eriksen situation needs resolving quickly at the creative fulcrum of the team. Tottenham seems far more stable than their top four adversaries but still a distance behind the top two, they should narrow the gap but third place and ending their trophy drought would represent a great season. Prediction 3rd
Watford (Last Season 11th)
Offseason Summary: Last season couldn’t have ended on a worse note for Watford after their 6-0 thrashing in the FA Cup Final, leaving Javi Gracia to pick up the pieces. Gracia will be working with a largely unchanged group after a relatively quiet summer. He did however add Defender Craig Dawson represents one of the safest deals of the summer after a £5.5million switch from West Brom. Other than that Watford signed a pair of young forwards in Joao Pedro and Sam Dalby neither of whom is likely to challenge for a first team place this season.
Season Prospects: How quickly Watford recover from that Cup Final beating will shape their season, if things start well they should consolidate in mid table, if not relegation nerves will start to jangle. The summer window was uninspiring but importantly Watford didn’t lose Abdoulaye Doucoure. In attack Garcia needs to get more out of the erratic Gerard Deulofeu with old faithful Troy Deeney starting to get up in years. Prediction 16th
West Ham (Last Season 10th)
Offseason Summary: After last summer’s spending spree, this summer has seen West Ham concentrate on quality over quantity. Young Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals looks a shrewd purchase after impressing at the Euro Under 21s this summer. Upfront it’s been all change with Marko Arnautovic forcing through a move to China, Lucas Perez heading to Spain and Andy Carroll departing on a free. In comes record buy Sebastien Haller who enjoyed a fruitful season partnering Luka Jovic last season with Eintracht Frankfurt, West Ham are hopeful they’ve finally found that 15+ goals a season striker that for so long eluded them. However Manuel Pellegrini surprisingly didn’t add a proven centre back.
Season Prospects: Things haven’t looked so rosy for West Ham since they moved to The London Stadium. Felipe Anderson, Fornals and Andrey Yarmolenko should form a dangerous creative trio whilst Declan Rice provides a solid anchor behind them. The form of Lukas Fabianski in goal will be key again as will Haller’s form up front with 15 goals a minimum requirement if West Ham are to challenge for Europe. Prediction 9th
Wolves (Last Season 7th)
Offseason Summary: These are exciting times for Wolves who are in Europe for the first time since 1980. Unsurprisingly Wolves made Raul Jimenez’s move permanent at a cost of £34million after his hugely impressive season on loan. The same applied to Belgian international Leander Dendoncker who became a permanent addition for a further £12million. Helder Costa, so pivotal in Wolves’ promotion campaign departed for Leeds whilst young winger Ivan Cavaliero also heads for The Championship with Fulham. Wolves saved their most ambitious move until last with the capture of 21 year old striker Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan, preseason showed Wolves’ intent as they pipped Manchester City to The Asia Trophy.
Season Prospects: On their day Wolves are a handful for anyone, but their squad doesn’t have the depth of the top six and they now face the added burden of Europe on Thursday nights. Ruben Neves is arguably the best player outside the big six and Morgan Gibbs-White could prove the breakout star of the season after spending most of last season on the bench. Wolves should avoid the plummet down the table that accompanied West Ham, Everton and Burnley’s European adventures but they may struggle to better last season’s seventh placed finish.Prediction 10th
Featured Image: Getty