The new Premier League season is well underway and Oliver Rickwood, Sport Editor, has taken a detailed look at what to expect, team by team.
Scott Parker’s newly promoted side have to adapt quickly to life back in the Premier League, hosting Arsenal and taking his team away to Manchester City and Liverpool within the opening month. Recognisable players who featured in the club’s last stint in the top division such as Jefferson Lerma, Philip Billing, Chris Mepham and Dominic Solanke should feature heavily, providing some experience to the Premier League newcomers. Despite this, a lack of squad depth and new signings mean they are expected to be battling the drop come the end of the season.
Arsenal look strong this season. Off the back of an impressive goal-filled pre-season campaign they continued this in the Premier League, winning their opening two games scoring six goals. The signing of proven PL goalscorer Gabriel Jesus seems to be a no-brainer to succeed, with Oleksander Zinchenko providing flexibility on the left side of defence and midfield. The question lies in their consistency, but if they continue to attack this dangerously, they will surely be amongst the top 4 this season.
Steven Gerrard continues to build a squad that can challenge higher up the table. Their business in the transfer window seemed sensible, sealing Phillipe Coutinho on a permanent deal and bringing in Brazilian international Diego Carlos to seemingly (and controversially) replace former captain Tyrone Mings at the back. However, a long-term injury to Carlos already casts doubts over their ambitions to improve their defensive records. If Gerrard can sort this problem they should be sitting comfortably around mid-table this season.
Already seeming adapted to life in the top flight, Thomas Frank has his team playing high pressing, flexible and expressive football. Adding a few new signings, Brentford are expected to continue their impressive performances; can they cement their status as a Premier League team this season?
Graham Potter is a manager for the future. His Brighton side are on a huge high after an impressive campaign, and his side look well-drilled and confident in their dynamic wing-back system. However, the departure of two key players, Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma could change this drastically. The question of a striker could be key also: Can Danny Welbeck successfully lead the line for the entirety of the season, and can Neil Maupay score enough goals (he scored nine last season) to keep them at this level?
This is a new era for Chelsea under the ownership of Todd Bohely. Their transfer policy has been erratic but they have secured some key players: Kalidou Koulibaly to replace Antonio Rudiger and Raheem Sterling to contribute to a more direct approach up front. The question of a striker is relevant here also: Can Kai Havertz lead the line? It is hard to know if they can close the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City, but their quality and squad depth means they should certainly be around the top 4 at the end of the season.
Patrick Viera is hoping he can finally boost this side from mid-table regulars to something more. Attacking intent and fearless possession of the ball were evident in his change in style last season and an abundance in young forwards compliments this style. Players such as Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze will be relied upon to reproduce the energy of Connor Gallagher following his departure, and the centre back pairing of Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi look stronger every game they play. Exciting times for Eagles fans.
Frank Lampard has a lot of work to do in rebuilding this Everton side, and he has begun by relying on the youth. Losing Richarlison was an expected blow, but the signings of young talents Dwight McNeil and Demari Gray to add to the already popular Anthony Gordon show they are moving in the right direction. Their fate this season lies in the stability of their defence, as it was continuously chopped and changed last season, and it also depends upon whether Dominic Calvert-Lewin can stay fit and find the goalscoring form of a few seasons prior.
Alekansdar Mitrovic is on fire. The Serbian scored an astounding 43 goals in the Championship last season, but Fulham face the same dilemma as they have done in previous campaigns- it seems that they cannot replicate these numbers of attacking returns in the top flight. Fulham fans will be hoping that Marco Silva continues his attacking style, allowing free-flowing service into the target man. Fulham need to start the season well to boost their chances of staying up.
Leeds battled bravely to stay up last season and losing Raphinia will be significant in assessing their chances this season. Jesse Marsch has added some bright young talents including American starlet Brenden Aaronson who looks to impress from the off but if their inconsistency continues they could be facing a battle towards the bottom once again this season.
This is a pivotal season for Leicester, either pushing onto European places after narrowly missing out last season or falling back into a mediocre finish come the end of the season. No outfield incomings and frustrated fans forebode that it could be the latter, and it seems Brendan Rodgers would have to produce something of a miracle for them to imporve on last season. This is especially if they lose one or both of their star players Youri Tielemans and James Maddison, as transfer reports continue to suggest could still happen.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are expected to continue their challenge of Manchester City this season. However, a few changes on Merseyside may impact things a little more than fans might have imagined. The loss of Sadio Mane is significant, shifting the pressure onto new young talent Darwin Nunez. Some might say it is a risk to introduce a player so inexperienced but to others, this is simply another asset to add to the always threatening Livepool attack. Is it possible that Mo Salah could step up once again in the space that Sadio Mane has left behind? Only time, and the top goalscorers list, will tell.
Erling Haaland is a born goalscorer and it is impossible to imagine the attacking quality of Kevin De Bruyne and co. not providing City with hatfuls of goals this season. The question is whether other teams have raised their level to challenge that of Pep Guardiola’s. They enter the season as favourites to retain their title, the only thing that may impact this title charge is the distraction of an elusive UCL trophy. However, this did not distract them last season.
Erik ten Haag has a lot of work to do. There is no denying that there is talent in this Manchester United squad, but the issues facing them are too distracting. What will happen with Cristiano Ronaldo? Is Maguire good enough to build a defence around? Is the ownership of the club fully supporting this new era? Their start to the season has been nothing short of abysmal and United fans are frustrated and angry; it will be interesting to see if these emotions are as strong by the conclusion of this very long season.
The rebuild is well underway at St James Park, and the trust of Saudi Arabian owners is evident in the awarding of Eddie Howe with a contract extension. The signings of Premier League stalwarts seem sensible, with Matt Targett and Nick Pope shaping up to be consistent regulars in the side. This season is extremely hard to predict for the Magpies, but fans are excited by their potential, does this potential extend as high as challenging for Europe?
15 new signings and still counting. We have seen this before from newly promoted sides and there is no guarantee whatsoever that these players will gel. Is it a mistake replacing those that did so well to get this historic club back where it belongs? Only time will tell. Jesse Lingard is one to watch as fans will be hoping he use his Premier League experience to be the one Steve Cooper builds his new team around. This could be a shock success story, or unfortunately for those fans who have waited so long to see their team promoted back into the top flight, an expensive disaster that sees them swiftly return to the Championship.
The South-coast side are expected to struggle this season. They can best be described as a Jekyll and Hyde team, who seem to fluctuate between extremities. Failing to replace Danny Ings last season is even more relevant now with the loss of Armando Broja- he returns to Chelsea. Ward-Prowse was their top goalscorer last season, and his fitness and form seem to determine a lot of how they perform, Saints fans will be hoping he can keep them well away from the drop, but it is hard to ignore that they are very much fighting an uphill battle.
On paper, Tottenham have a squad worthy of challenging the top two of last season. Some very smart business in the market leaves Conte with a roster bursting with attacking talent that perfectly complements his trademark system and playing style. It is still unclear whether Conte has sorted their defensive inconsistencies, but if Kane and Son are firing it is impossible to rule them out of challenging this season.
West Ham United
Reaching the Europa League semi-finals and challenging for top 4 was a huge success for David Moyes’ men last season, and this season they should be aiming to replicate this. They did seem to struggle with their squad depth at points last season, but the signing of Gianluca Scamacca should reduce the pressure placed on injury-prone forward Michail Antonio. However, defensively they are still sparse, with new £30 million man Nayef Aguerd requiring surgery ruling him out for months. This will be an interesting season for the Hammers.
With only two points from their last seven games of last season, Bruno Lage will want to get his team firmly back on track. They are defensively rigid and do not concede many goals, but their issues have lied at the top end of the pitch. Can Raul Jimenez return to his pre-injury form? His six goals last season was Wolves’ most of a single player; fans will be looking to Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence to contribute on the scoresheet more often to boost their chances of returning to a European challenge.