With the Premier League set to kickoff this Friday when Arsenal welcomes Leicester City to the Emirates it seemed like a good time to give a little taste of what’s to come. We’re going to breakdown the teams into tiers, discuss their summers and outlooks going forward and then at the end of this post list our final standings preview. For stats we’re going to rely on WhoScored.com and transfer fees are courtesy of transfermarkt.com.
Let’s get it started with the Title Contenders:
This tier is what makes the English Premier League the very best in the world, the only league where you’ll see six teams that you can legitimately make a case for lifting the trophy at the season’s end. Let’s start with the current champions:
CHELSEA (Last Year: 1st)
Key Additions: Antonio Rudiger (€35m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (€40m), Alvaro Morata (€65m)
Key Departures: Nemanja Matic (€44.7m), John Terry (Free), Diego Costa (in limbo)
The best team last year, a whopping 30-wins in Antonio Conte’s first season with the Blues that started off rocky before the switch to the 3 in the back formation set the league on fire.
Led by statistically the league’s best player, Eden Hazard (7.81 rating) and multiple Player of the Year award recipient, N’Golo Kante, the team flourished in all aspects. They were fourth in terms of open play offense, but lead the league in both counter attack and set piece goals on their way to title.
But, this summer has been a rollercoaster. They’ve seen over 25 players leave Stamford Bridge and after clamoring for signings they brought in some key pieces before once again going silent. With a shockingly small squad and an additional workload of European competition, this season will be a struggle for the boys from SW6 unless reinforcements come and soon.
TOTTENHAM (Last Year: 2nd)
Key Additions: None
Key Departures: Kyle Walker (€51m)
Oh, the Spurs, very Spursy the last two years, they’ve lead the league in points over that period and have collected a second and a third place finish to show for it.
And this summer they have nothing to show either, no additions and lost arguably one of the best right backs in the league to title rivals, Manchester City. But, with that said the Spurs have the best young nucleus in the league with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and a defense which surrendered the fewest goals last term.
It may be do or die time for Tottenham, with added difficulty as a result of playing at Wembley, as their key players are making relatively low wages in comparison to their production and with the amount of powerhouses eyeing them it’ll be hard to keep this group together beyond this campaign.
MANCHESTER CITY (Last Year: 3rd)
Key Additions: Kyle Walker (€51m), Benjamin Mendy (€57.5m), Bernardo Silva (€50m), Ederson (€35m), Danilo (€30m)
Key Departures: Kelechi Iheanacho (€15m)
Year two of the Pep Guardiola experiment and this year they brought in defensive reinforcements to the tune of over €140m and no longer need to rely on Gael Clichy and Sagna in his signature inverted wing back roles. Now they have two of the most athletic backs in the world at their disposal and an embarrassment of offensive riches, especially with Gabriel Jesus coming back from an injury-shortened season.
Easily the title favorites at this point and expected to make considerable noise in Europe, if Pep can’t get it done this year people will begin to worry.
MANCHESTER UNITED (Last Year: 6th)
Key Additions: Romelu Lukaku (€84.7m), Victor Lindelof (€35m), Nemanja Matic (€44.7m)
Key Departures: Wayne Rooney (Free)
Oh, another team with pressure to win the league you say? Yes. Year two of Jose Mourinho is typically when his teams click and go on to triumph before the wheels fall off in year 3. And after the mega money move for one of the league’s most prolific goal scorers in Lukaku to pair with last year’s mega money signing, Paul Pogba (who was sneaky the third highest rated player in the league, 7.72) it’s go time.
The addition of his former Chelsea compatriot, Matic, will open the midfield up for Pogba and Herrera to spearhead the attack from the midfield and give the Red Devils decent odds to win the league.
LIVERPOOL (Last Year: 4th)
Key Additions: Mohammed Salah (€42m), Andrew Robertson (€9m), Dominic Solanke (?)
Key Departures: None
Jurgen Klopp and his pressing style is notorious to wearing out his players and leading to injuries after fast starts and with only a few additions and the pressure of Champions League play, this season may be much of the same. But, with three players inside the top ten statically last season (Coutinho, Firmino, Mane) and the additions of Salah and Solanke who have looked very sharp this preseason the fans at Anfield should be in good spirits.
But, and this is a €100+ million but, if Philippe Coutinho heads to Barcelona to help fill Neymar’s void, with a limited amount of time to buy new players, Liverpool may drift towards mid-table mediocrity.
ARSENAL (Last Year: 5th)
Key Additions: Alexandre Lacazette (€53m), Sead Kolasinac (Free)
Key Departures: None
Arsenal missed out on the Champions League for the first time in decades this past year and it may be a blessing in disguise as it gives them a chance to finally break through domestically.
The Gunners went quality over quantity and finally brought in a striker for Arsene Wenger and Kolasinac looked like an absolute tank against Chelsea in the Community Shield last weekend. And it looks like they will get at least one more year out of Alexis Sanchez (second highest rated player last season) and Mesut Ozil (23rd) and pairing those two with Lacazette looks like an offensive force to be reckoned with.
However, there are still concerns with the Arsenal defense going into this year and the performance of that unit and how it sets up the offensive juggernaut in front of them will determine how far they can go.
This group has a mix of potential to break up this status quo, both in terms of finish and the ability to cause the top teams fits week in and week out.
EVERTON (Last Year: 7th)
Key Additions: Jordan Pickford (€28.5m), Michael Keane (€28.5m), Davvy Klaassen (€27m), Wayne Rooney (Free), Sandro Ramirez (€6m)
Key Departures: Romelu Lukaku (€84.7m), Gerard Deulofeu (€12m)
Well, this was a surprise. Everton has been splashing the cash this summer to the tune of €107m with eyes on additional reinforcements (namely Gylfi Sigurdsson) and if things gel the right way there could be fairytale return to Merseyside for Wayne Rooney.
But, the problem is even with all the players brought in and cash spent, Everton didn’t bring in any players (aside from maybe Pickford) that could crack a starting XI for any of the teams above them. And Rooney’s return likely a let down (he is 31 and made all of 15 appearances last year), the loss of Lukaku, and the sale of Ross Barkley imminent, things might not be as sweet for Everton as fans would hope, or it could go like this:
Just hit me how this season plays out: Everton will run away with Title. On morning of last game, North Korea launch Nukes. Proper Everton
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) August 9, 2017
SOUTHAMPTON (Last Year: 8th)
Key Additions: Mario Lemina (€17m), Jan Bednarek (€6m)
Key Departures: Jay Rodriguez (€13.7m)
Southampton has always been looked at fondly around the league, often the home for the league’s most promising youngsters (Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw, half of Liverpool’s team), but this year they’ve pivoted from feeder team to serious players when they put their foot down when it came to the exit of Virgil van Dijk.
With a formidable defense (assuming van Dijk stays and actually plays) flanked by Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares, they really have a chance to shake things up this term if the attacking prowess of some of their young outfield players (Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Redmond, etc.) come into their own and have teams more nervous about visiting St. Mary’s than excited to scout their next buys.
WEST HAM UNITED (Last Year: 11th)
Key Additions: Marko Arnautovic (€22.3m), Javier Hernandez (€17.8m), Joe Hart (Free)
Key Departures: Enner Valencia (?), Havard Nordtveit (€8m), Ashley Fletcher (€7.3m)
The backline of West Ham lead the league in interceptions per game last year, but surrendered the sixth most goals in the process on their way to a -17 differential and if Joe Hart is the blunder-proned keeper we’ve come to know him as that could spell trouble.
However, playmaker Manuel Lanzini and winger Michail Antonio are now getting legitimate threats at the forward spots in front of them and it may lead to a potent attack to help steal games from the league’s elite.
Worth The Watches
We’re going to pick up the pace now for the rest of the preview. These teams may not be challenging for places in Europe, but they have put together a collection of talent that will be worth checking in on week in and week out.
SWANSEA CITY (15th) (shoutout to part owner Barstool BigCat) are looking for a bounce back campaign after their 15th place finish that saw American, Bob Bradley, manage the club for all of 85 days. If they manage to hold onto Sigurdsson, which seems likely due to their wildly insane evaluation (€50m) and with the addition of Chelsea loanee, Tammy Abraham, paired with Fernando Llorente the team may not shock the world, but they’ll be a hell of a watch.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (N/R) has returned to the top tier after running through the Championship with former Champions League winner, Rafael Benitez, at the helm. Despite the fact the team hasn’t been spending to their manager’s expectation this summer (€36.8m) they still have a chance to get one of the best party cities in the UK very excited about their first year back in the top flight.
WATFORD (17th), Elton John’s favorite club, has had a stellar transfer window. First
they basically steal Chelsea midfielder, Nathaniel Chalobah, for a preposterous €5m, then they signed Brazilian starlet, Richarlison, from under the noses of England’s elite clubs and most recently they broke their club transfer record to bring in Andre Gray from Burnley for €20m.
This was all after they had already brought in Will Hughes from Derby to help bolster their midfield. If nothing else Watford will have a collection of young talent worth keeping an eye on.
We’ll See You In 2018/19
This group may not excite you, but they’ll do enough to ensure they have another campaign in England’s top flight come 2018.
LEICESTER CITY (12th) the darlings of 2015/16 struggled mightily in the follow up to their shocking title-winning campaign. The departure of N’Golo Kante and apparent loss of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez’s magic touch doomed the Foxes and former manager, Claudio Ranieri. The team has brought in Kelechi Iheanacho, Vicente Iborra and Harry Maguire to inspire a bounce back season, but mid-table is their destiny yet again.
CRYSTAL PALACE (14th) Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke ranked 16th and 18th respectively last season and give the Eagles a formidable attacking duo that can turn nothing into goals relatively quickly. But inconsistency doomed Palace to a 14th place finish and while I expect improvement, it won’t be a fairytale season for the Londoners.
WEST BROM (10th) ahh, Tony Pulis, the Jeff Fisher of English football, will pull another mid-table finish out of the bag and keep owners happy by enabling them to cash another Premier League check. The club brought in Jay Rodriguez in a steal from Southampton, which will certainly help their cause, but it’s another 10th place finish at best.
Safety Not Guaranteed
These are the clubs that aren’t quite doomed before the campaign starts, but will need to be wary of their standing throughout the forthcoming season.
BOURNEMOUTH (9th) I know, I know, the lovable little guys and next superstar manager, Eddie Howe, have won the hearts of Premier League fans with unexpectedly high finishes and a few giant slayings to their name. And even with the additions of Nathan Ake, Asmir Begovic and Jermain Defoe it won’t be enough to counteract the regression to the mean that will occur for the Cherries next year. Despite a 9th place finish last year stats suggest they were close to a bottom quarter club and I fear their luck could run out this time around.
STOKE CITY (13th), unlike Bournemouth, actually underperformed last season with performance stats slotting them as the 10th best team in the league. However, they have seen Marko Arnautovic move on and haven’t brought in anyone in to fill that void.
Enjoy It While You Can
New boys Brighton and Hove Albion (N/R) and Huddersfield (N/R) along with the corpse of a Michael Keane and Andre Gray-less Burnley (16th) will be holding on for dear life.
So, now it’s time… drum roll please… the Two Buttons Deep Premier League table prediction:
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- West Ham United
- Swansea City
- Crystal Palace
- West Brom
- Newcastle United
- Leicester City
- Stoke City
- Brighton and Hove Albion
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