Football Season Guide

Arsenal

In


Alexandre Lacazette (att) Lyon; Sead Kolasinac (def) Schalke 04; Joel Campbell (att) Sporting Lisbon – end of loan;

Out


Yaya Sanogo (sp) (att) Toulouse; Wojciech Szczesny (gk) Juventus;

Arsenal defied expectations and instead of looking for new horizons after their umpteenth mediocre season they extended Arsene Wenger's contract and the French maestro will lead the team in his twenty-first season in charge. Last year was hardly any different for the Gunners from many previous campaigns so in order for this to change and for Arsenal to return to serious contention in the title race, Wenger must find a way to shake up his squad. So far it seems that this will be another summer of low transfer activity and in terms of personnel nothing much will be different at the start of the new season. Tactically, Wenger is expected to use a new formation with three at the back which he started employing back in April with great success, and if nothing else he is at least trying to refresh things. Big money was paid for Alexandre Lacazette so he could lead the attack but the French striker will need time to adapt to life in England, which is not exactly ideal considering the fact that the fans will be edgy and ready to jump on Wenger the moment results drop a bit. Many disagree with the Frenchman remaining in charge and he knows that serious pressure targeting him or the players might affect the entire campaign, so Arsenal will be looking for a strong start in the first few months. The only other new arrival is that of the talented left-back, Sead Kolasinac, who is a perfect fit for the new formation with aggressive wing-backs. With nobody major departing the squad yet, the Gunners are showing once again that they trust their players. However, a lot will depend on the futures of the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who have both been heavily linked with moves away before the transfer window shuts. Arsenal will certainly struggle to mount a title challenge especially if the Chilean star leaves as he has been their best player for the past couple of seasons.

Target


Arsenal are hoping for a strong season but it is hard to predict which way things will sway for them. A top six finish looks certain, but realistically any placement from first to sixth won’t surprise as the Gunners have the talent but based on previous campaigns, not the consistency.

Bournemouth

In


Asmir Begovic(gk) (Chelsea), Jermain Defoe(att) (Sunderland), Nathan Ake(def) (Chelsea), Connor Mahoney(mid) (Blackburn Rovers)

Out


Mark Travers(gk) (Weymouth- Loan), Ryan Allsop(gk) (Blackpool - Loan), Jordan Lee(def) (Torquay United - Loan), Lewis Grabban(att) (Sunderland - Loan), Sam Surridge(att) (Yeovil Town - Loan), Ben Whitfield(mid) (Port Vale - Loan)

Last season proved to be a historic one for Bournemouth as they once again defied expectations to finish in the top half of the Premier League table for the first time in their history. While it was not exactly all smooth sailing for Bournemouth and Eddie Howe, they stuck to their principles and finished in ninth place, well clear of the relegation battle that they were expected to be involved in. Howe will be looking for a repeat of their excellent season in the upcoming campaign and the Bournemouth coach has been busy plugging the gaps in his squad. Nathan Ake has been their biggest outlay so far and, after the defender impressed in his short loan stint last season, Howe managed to sign him on a permanent move after failing to break into the Chelsea first team. Asmir Begovic will be replacing the error prone Artur Boruc as the first choice keeper while Jermain Defoe will offer a more reliable option in the attack for Howe who will be without Callum Wilson in the opening month of the campaign. There is very little that Bournemouth will need to change heading into the new season. However, with teams reportedly interested in a couple of their players, Howe will be aware that retaining the core of the squad will be crucial for their fortunes this term. There are a couple of question marks with regards to the depth of the squad, especially in the centre of the midfield where Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling are clearly at a level below the first choice pairing of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman. Jordan Ibe had started last season as the first choice on the right flank but failed to score a goal or bag an assist and was pushed out by the good form of Junior Stanislas. Bournemouth do need a couple more bodies in the squad but they will be heading into the new campaign confident of once again upsetting the odds.

Target


Howe will be looking to at least match their top half finish from last season and, while they do have the quality, a place in the bottom half of the table looks to be a more realistic prospect for Bournemouth

Brighton and Hove Albion

In


Pascal Gross(mid) (Ingolstadt), Josh Kerr(def) (Celtic), Mathew Ryan(gk) (Valencia), Markus Suttner(def) (Ingolstadt), Mathias Normann(mid) (FK Bodo/Glimt), Izzy Brown(att) (Chelsea - Loan), Steven Alzate(mid) (Leyton Orient), Ales Mateju(def) (Viktoria Plzen)

Out


David Stockdale(r)(gk) (Released), Chris O'Grady(att) (Released), Elvis Manu(mid) (Genclerbirligi SK), Jordan Maguire-Drew(att) (Lincoln City - Loan), Christian Walton(gk) (Wigan Athletic - Loan), Rob Hunt(def) (Oldham Athletic), Oliver Norwood(mid) (Fulham - Loan), Ben White(def) (Newport County - Loan), Tom Dallison(def) (Accrington Stanley - Loan), Tyler Forbes(def) (Accrington Stanley - Loan)

Brighton enjoyed another excellent campaign under Chris Hughton last season as they returned to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1983 after finishing 2nd in the Championship. Hughton had taken over a Brighton side struggling to maintain their status as a Championship side before leading them to a third placed finish in his first full season in charge of the club. Brighton were favorites to clinch the Championship title last season as well but a late slump in form saw them collect a solitary point from their last three games and they ended up ceding top spot to Newcastle United on the final day of the season. Regardless at having missed out on the trophy, Hughton will be delighted to have led his side to the Premier League but faces a huge fight on hand if he is to help Brighton remain in the top flight beyond this season. Brighton have avoided the temptation of splurging the extra cash on new players and are willing to give their existing squad a chance to show that they can compete at the highest level of English football. With regards to transfer dealings, Mathew Ryan has been their biggest acquisition so far and the former Valencia keeper will be taking over first team duties from David Stockdale who has left the club for Birmingham City. Markus Suttner and Pascal Gross impressed for Ingolstadt in their doomed bid to stay in the Bundesliga last season so they will provide quality, though it remains to be seen how quickly they will adapt to the style of football in England. The Brighton squad is lacking Premier League experience with new signing Izzy Brown managing just two substitute appearances for Chelsea while Glenn Murray, Steve Sidwell and Liam Rosenior are the other players who have featured in the top flight. While Brighton were impressive at both ends of the pitch last season, the Premier League will represent a far tougher challenge and Hughton will be aware that a complete team effort over the course of the campaign will be needed if they are to avoid the drop back into the Championship.

Target


Survival is the main aim for the club but a laid back approach in the transfer window and a lack of Premier League experience could prove to be major kinks in their quest to avoid relegation.

Burnley

In


Jack Cork(mid) (Swansea City), Jonathan Walters(att) (Stoke City), Phil Bardsley(def) (Stoke City), Charlie Taylor(def) (Free)

Out


Michael Keane(r)(def) (Everton), George Boyd(r)(mid) (Released), Michael Kightly(sp)(mid) (Released), Paul Robinson(gk) (Retired), Joey Barton(sp)(mid) (Released), Tendayi Darikwa(def) (Released), Rouwen Hennings(att) (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Jon Flanagan(sp)(def) (Liverpool - End of Loan)

Burnley enjoyed a successful campaign in their return to the Premier League last season, managing to secure their safety from relegation with a few games to spare thanks largely to an excellent record at Turf Moor. Sean Dyche would have been happy with the overall performances last season but having seen teams around them strengthening by spending big during the transfer window, the Burnley coach will be aware that his side are up against another tough fight if they are to extend their stay in the top flight for another season. Burnley will be kicking the new season off without their standout player from the last campaign after the club accepted a bid from Everton for Michael Keane. Dyche has not yet signed any direct replacements for Keane so it looks as if Kevin Long and James Tarkowski will be fighting it out for a place alongside Ben Mee in the centre of the defence. Joey Barton has been released after the midfielder was banned by the FA while George Boyd has also left the club with Burnley deciding not to renew his contract, leaving the squad a bit short in terms of Premier League experience. Dyche has tried to compensate by bringing in Swansea City midfielder Jack Cork while Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley represent solid business so far in the summer for Burnley. Dyche has been tinkering with the lineup and the formation during pre-season but is unlikely to change too much once the Premier League kicks off. However, he will be aware that his side will have to score more goals in order to enjoy another comfortable season, with Burnley having ended the last campaign with the lowest goals tally among the teams who stayed out of the relegation zone.

Target


Dyche will be aiming to better last season's points tally and the 16th place finish but safety from relegation remains the main aim for the club once again this season

Chelsea

In


Alvaro Morata (att) Real Madrid; Tiemoue Bakayoko (mid) Monaco; Antonio Rudiger (def) Roma; Willy Caballero (gk) Man City; Kenneth Omeruo (def) Antalyaspor – end of loan; Lewis Baker (mid) Vitesse – end of loan; Nathan (att) Vitesse – end of loan; Mario Pasalic (mid) Milan – end of loan; Wallace Oliveira (def) Gremio – end of loan; Abdul Rahman Baba (def) Schalke 04 – end of loan; Matt Miazga (def) Vitesse – end of loan; Andreas Christensen (def) Borussia M’gladbach – end of loan; Matej Delac (gk) Mouscron – end of loan; Cristian Cuevas (def) Sint-Truiden – end of loan;

Out


Nathan Ake (def) Bournemouth; Juan Cuadrado (mid) Juventus; Asmir Begovic (gk) Bournemouth; Bertrand Traore (att) Lyon; Christian Atsu (att) Newcastle United; Nathaniel Chalobah (mid) Watford; John Terry (sp) (def) Aston Villa; Dominic Solanke (att) Liverpool; Danilo Panitc (mid) Partizan – on loan; Todd Kane (def) Groningen – on loan; Ola Aina (sp) (def) Hull City – on loan; Kurt Zouma (sp) (def) Stoke City – on loan; Tammy Abraham (att) Swansea – on loan; Ruben Loftus-Cheek (sp) (mid) Crystal Palace – on loan; Lucas Piazon (mid) Fulham – on loan; Tomas Kalas (def) Fulham – on loan; Michael Hector (def) Hull City – on loan;

Antonio Conte’s first season in charge saw Chelsea playing some near perfect football on the way to the domestic title back in the spring, but the Italian specialist is having a bit of a turbulent summer so far. Despite the title, Conte is unhappy with the lack of quality signings that were completed, although he already added Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger to boost every area of the pitch. Chelsea will start the new season trying to use the same formation and tactics as last year, but the depth of the squad will be tested this time around as they will have Champions League football to think about, plus new main figures up front will need to be found. Top goalscorer Diego Costa is destined to leave the club, while both Eden Hazard and Victor Moses are starting the season injured, which seriously limits the threat coming from the wings. Morata was signed to replace Costa as the leader of the attack, but he might need some time to adapt to the Premier League and there aren’t many expecting fireworks from him in the first few months. The first-choice options for Conte are definitely very good but there are not many supporting options for some positions, mainly on the wings, and the gaffer knows that in a long season with many different fronts to fight on, this might be the downfall if injuries to key players happen along the way. Of course, Conte is actively looking to sign more players and knowing Chelsea’s financial power, this can be expected before the end of the transfer window. At least they look very strong defensively, with the backline bolstered by Antonio Rudiger’s arrival. This suggests that the Blues will be relying mainly on solid defending and keeping clean sheets this season but everybody knows that they can also be devastating going forward if all first-choice players are fit and feeling well.

Target


Chelsea will be looking to defend their title, but this might prove a bit hard with Manchester City threatening to mount a major challenge. A top three finish looks likely anyway.

Crystal Palace

In


Jairo Riedewald (def) Ajax; Ruben Loftus-Cheek (mid) Chelsea – on loan;

Out


Mamadou Sakho (sp) (def) Liverpool – end of loan; Loic Remy (sp) (att) Chelsea – end of loan; Steve Mandanda (sp) (gk) Marseille; Fraizer Campbell (sp) (att) Hull City; Kwesi Appiah (att) AFC Wimbledon; Luke Croll (def) Exeter City; Zeki Fryers (def) Barnsley; Mathieu Flamini (sp) (mid) released; Joe Ledley (mid) released; Jonathan Benteke (att) released;

After steering the Eagles to safety with a decisive push in the spring, Sam Allardyce surprisingly retired and Palace were left without a choice but to look for a replacement. They chose Frank de Boer, the former Dutch captain who had a very disappointing spell as the manager of Inter last season, and he will have to improve his team’s action at both ends of the pitch. De Boer seems to be favouring the widely popular 3-4-3 formation as his preferred choice but in some friendlies he also used 4-3-3 and it seems that things will differ for Palace depending on who their opponents will be. The Dutchman added his countryman Jairo Riedewald to the squad in search of improved stability at the back, plus he seems to favour Jeff Schlupp on the left flank in front of Patrick Van Aanholt and this is likely to be another change compared to last season. Crystal Palace’s forward actions are likely to be heavily focused on what Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha can do. The main duo up front are capable of delivering enough goals but the Eagles need to be strong hosts and this could be possible only if they defend better. Luka Milivojevic arrived in January to quickly become a key figure and he will be massively important again. De Boer uses him in midfield when he plays with three at the back, but he also likes the Serbian as a right-back in a 4-3-3 formation. Ruben Loftus-Cheek comes in for a loan spell with the promise to get lots of playing time and together with Milivojevic and the newly signed Dutch defender, he is the main hope of improving Palace’s defensive resilience. Jason Puncheon seems to have a guaranteed starting spot under De Boer too, while it is yet to be seen how involved veteran Yohan Cabaye will be. Palace don’t have adequate cover if something happens to Benteke or Zaha and for them to survive it will be imperative their main attacking weapons remain fit and healthy.

Target


Crystal Palace hope to enjoy a calm mid-table existence but the lack of depth up front suggests that another season of a hard battle for survival can be expected.

Everton

In


Jordan Pickford(gk) (Sunderland), Davy Klaassen(mid) (Ajax), Michael Keane(def) (Burnley), Henry Onyekuru(mid) (Eupen), Sandro Ramirez(att) (Malaga), Cuco Martina(def) (Free), Wayne Rooney(att) (Manchester United), Shani Tarashaj(att) (Eintracht Frankfurt - End of Loan), Nathangelo Markelo(def) (FC Volendam), Lewis Gibson(mid) (Newcastle United)

Out


Romelu Lukaku(k)(att) (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley(sp)(mid) (Watford), Russell Griffiths (Motherwell), Conor McAleny (Fleetwood Town), Henry Onyekuru(mid) (Anderlecht - Loan), Gerard Deulofeu(sp)(mid) (Barcelona), Brendan Galloway(def) (Sunderland - Loan), Tyias Browning(def) (Sunderland - Loan), Aiden McGeady(sp)(mid) (Sunderland), Matthew Pennington(sp)(def) (Leeds United), Joe Williams(mid) (Barnsley - Loan), Kieran Dowell(mid) (Nottingham Forest - Loan), Antonee Robinson(def) (Bolton Wanderers - Loan), Arouna Kone(att) (Released)

Ronald Koeman's first season in charge of Everton proved to be a successful one as the Toffees comfortably achieved their minimum aim of returning to Europe and had even emerged as late challengers for a top four finish. Everton have not sat back on their success though as they spent a busy summer strengthening their squad. Jordan Pickford was the first major arrival and is expected to take over as the first choice keeper after Koeman rotated Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles last season. Other arrivals include Davy Klaassen and Michael Keane, with the duo expected to kick the season off as the first choice in midfield and defence respectively. Wayne Rooney's arrival was a nod towards the club's past but the striker is only expected to play a supporting role heading into the season. Everton have not yet finished spending though, with the club still in the race to sign Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. They are a bit light up front following Romelu Lukaku's departure and while Koeman has brought in Sandro Ramirez, the striker will need to get acclimatized to the more physical nature of the Premier League. Everton will also be without two of their key players in Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman, with the duo out for long term, while Ross Barkley is also expected to leave the club before the transfer window shuts down. The heavy spending has raised expectations among the fans who will be hoping for another fight for a place in the top four of the Premier League table. Key for Everton's fortunes though will be how soon the new signings settle down and gel together, something which they are still short of with performances during the pre-season not being too impressive. Everton have progressed to the play-off round of the Europa League after being made to work hard by Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok and Koeman will be aware that there is still a lot of work to do in order to prepare his side for a genuine tilt at a Champions League qualification spot.

Target


A repeat of their top six finish from last season will be the bare minimum expected once again though Koeman will hope to close down the gap to the top four

Huddersfield Town

In


Steve Mounie (att) Montpellier; Lauren Depoitre (att) Porto; Tom Ince (mid) Debry County; Aaron Mooy (mid) Man City – loan made permanent; Scott Maloney (def) Fulham; Zanka (def) Copenhagen; Elias Kachunga (att) Ingolstadt –loan made permanent; Danny Williams (mid) Reading; Jonas Lossl (gk) Mainz 05 – on loan; Kasey Palmer (mid) Chelsea U23 – on loan; Jason Davidson (def) Groningen – end of loan;

Out


Joe Murphy (sp) (gk) Bury; Kyle Dempsey (mid) Fleetwood Town; Jordi Hiwula (att) Fleetwood Town – on loan; Tareiq Holmes-Dennis (def) Portsmouth – on loan; Jack Payne (mid) Oxford United – on loan; Flo Bojaj (att) released;

Huddersfield were really excited back in May when they achieved a slightly unexpected promotion to the top flight and despite the serious difficulties predicted for them this season the Terriers are preparing to fight hard for their elite status. The team’s German coach, David Wagner, built a nice style of football last season and this term Huddersfield will continue to rely on quick one-touch passing as well as solid counter-pressing in the middle of the park. However, the only way for Huddersfield to survive will be to improve their attack as they were one of the lowest scoring sides in the Championship last season. This is yet to be addressed properly despite the signing of two new strikers in the summer. Both Steve Mounie and Lauren Depoitre are centre forwards that can be effective in certain games, but both of them lack Premier League experience, or any decent run in any of the other top leagues. After impressing last season while on loan both Aaron Mooy and Elias Kachunga made their moves permanent, while the signing of Tom Ince is seen as an interesting one as the young winger has been shining brightly in the lower divisions for several years. However, just like the strikers that were signed, none of these three players have Premier League experience. Kasey Palmer is a very similar player that will be trying his best to impress his parent club, Chelsea, this season as his loan spell with Huddersfield is expected to give him lots of playing time. All this means that in order for Huddersfield to stand a chance of surviving they must be really solid defensively and at the back. A lot will depend on how influential their most solid player, Michael Hefele, will be. He is not just the rock of the back four, the Terriers favour 4-2-3-1 formation, but is also known for possession and a serious aerial presence at the other end of the pitch. Realistically, only if the German has an outstanding season, Huddersfield will stand a chance of staying up. The newly signed centre-back Mathias Zanka could become a regular quickly because of his Champions League experience.

Target


Avoiding immediate relegation is the target but this might prove easier said than done - as things stand, Huddersfield are the main candidates for finishing in the bottom three.

Leicester City

In


Vicente Iborra (mid) Sevilla; Harry Maguire (def) Hull City; Eldin Jakupovic (gk) Hull City;

Out


Ron-Robert Zieler (sp) (gk) Stuttgart; Bartosz Kapustka (mid) Freiburg – on loan; Michael Cain (mid) released; Marcin Wasilewski (def) released; Molla Wague (def) Granada FC – end of loan;

After their storming spring under Craig Shakespeare Leicester expectedly offered him the managerial job permanently but many pundits think that his lack of experience means that he isn't the best possible candidate for the Foxes. Anyway, Shakespeare seems to have built a happy dressing room and so far no major names have left the club, leaving Leicester with many of their heroes from the historic title-winning 2015/16 campaign. However, the two big stars Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are targeted by top clubs and if they are to depart before the end of August it will be hard for Leicester to replace them. Shakespeare already made three new signings and at least two of the newcomers, Vicente Iborra and Harry Maguire, are expected to get lots of playing time. The latter is a versatile defender who fits easily in a back three, or can execute nicely the role of right-back. Iborra comes with vast international experience to his name and he will be supporting Wilfred Ndidi in the heart of the midfield. Shakespeare likes to use the wings a lot to create chances. This makes sense with the great aerial threat that Islam Slimani carries inside the box. A lot will depend on how influential the likes of DemaraiGray and Marc Albrighton will be from the wide positions. Leicester have a tough few opening months in terms of their schedule and a series of defeats will quickly build pressure on the inexperienced gaffer, which could easily unsettle the entire campaign for the Foxes. In order to prevent that, Leicester will try to be as effective as they can be on home turf. However, they'll need to improve their poor away form if they want to finish comfortably in the top half of the table. Experienced centre-back Robert Huth is sidelined for the first three to four months of the campaign and this will put extra pressure on the newcomer Maguire to fit into the line-up quickly.

Target


Eyeing a top ten finish, but if Mahrez and Vardy are to leave before the end of the transfer window, they might find it hard to even stay in the top flight.

Liverpool

In


Dominic Solanke (att) Chelsea; Mohamed Salah (att) Roma; Andrew Robertson (def) Hull City; Mamadou Sakho (def) Crystal Palace – end of loan; Lazar Markovic (mid) Hull City – end of loan;

Out


Lucas Leiva (sp) (mid) Lazio; Kevin Stewart (mid) Hull City; Andre Wisdom (def) Derby County; Connor Randall (def) Hearts – on loan; Alexander Manninger (gk) end of career;

Jurgen Klopp’s revival project on Merseyside took its first positive step last season with Liverpool securing a top four finish and now the German specialist is targeting even greater things. Just two weeks before the start of the new season, voting from football writing journalists from all over Europe declared Klopp as the best specialist working in the Premier League and he is definitely a manager who can inspire the Reds to achieve greatness again. In the summer Klopp splashed the cash to bring Mohamed Salah into his squad and the explosive Egyptian will add even more pace and sharpness to the already impressive attack. Liverpool will continue relying on aggressive counter-pressing, constant change of positions and quick passing. If they improve even a little on their showings from last season, they will be serious title contenders. Many forget that back in 2016/17 Liverpool were the only team undefeated in the ten league tests against the other teams that finished in the top six and the Reds definitely mean business. Currently the main question is if Philippe Coutinho will stay at the club. Barcelona made a massive bid for him at the end of July but even if he leaves, Klopp can rely on the likes of Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum to play behind the explosive attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Salah so the Reds should remain one of the most pleasant teams to watch. The signing of Andy Robertson might give more options for James Milner’s use and the experienced player could easily partner captain Jordan Henderson in the midfield pivot. Liverpool’s main concerns remain in defence. This is why their title challenge was lost last season but Klopp is optimistic after seeing both Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan performing much better in the pre-season. They were a bit insecure in their first season in England, but now both of them are expected to do better.

Target


Liverpool will be looking to finish higher than last term and a top three place looks very likely for the Reds, with their chances for the title rated as very good.

Manchester City

In


Bernardo Silva(mid) (AS Monaco), Ederson(gk) (Benfica), Kyle Walker(def) (Tottenham Hotspur), Douglas Luiz(mid) (Vasco De Gama), Danilo(def) (Real Madrid), Benjamin Mendy(def) (AS Monaco)

Out


Pablo Zabaleta (Released), Gael Clichy(r)(def) (Released), Jesus Navas(sp)(mid) (Released), Willy Caballero(sp)(gk) (Released), Bacary Sagna(r)(def) (Released), Enes Unal(att) (Villarreal), Angus Gunn(gk) (Norwich City - Loan), Aaron Mooy(mid) (Huddersfield Town), Bersant Celina(mid) (Ipswich Town - Loan), Angelino(def) (NAC Breda - Loan), Ruben Sobrino(att) (Alaves), Joe Coveney(def) (Nottingham Forest), Bruno Zuculini(mid) (Hellas Verona), Olivier Ntcham(mid) (Celtic), Nolito(r)(att) (Sevilla), Joe Hart(sp)(gk) (West Ham United - Loan), Aleksandar Kolarov(sp)(def) (Roma), Aleix Garcia(mid) (Girona - Loan), Douglas Luiz(mid) (Girona - Loan), Marlos Moreno(att) (Girona - Loan), Kelechi Iheanacho(sp)(att) (Leicester), Fernando(sp)(mid) (Galatasaray)

Manchester City needed a late surge in form in the final weeks of the campaign to secure a Champions League spot last season and coach Pep Guardiola has pulled out all the stops, at least in the transfer market, to ensure a more sustained challenge for silverware in the upcoming campaign. City finished a respectable 3rd in the Premier League but suffered an early exit from the Champions League, somewhat denting Guardiola's invincible aura. While they had one of the most lethal attacks in Europe, City's problems were rooted at the back and Guardiola has tried to address the problem by spending more than £200 million in overhauling the squad. Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Fernando and Nolito have all left the club on a permanent basis while Joe Hart has been loaned out to West Ham United. Claudio Bravo will have to settle for a backup role this season after Guardiola spent big on Benfica's Ederson while Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy will be taking over on either side of the central defense. Bernardo Silva will also strengthen what was already a formidable attack but despite the heavy spending, City continue to remain weak in the center of the defense with question marks persisting on Vincent Kompany's fitness while Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones were not exactly convincing last season. Guardiola has admitted that his side has not yet finished spending and are searching for a central defender while reports continue to link them to a mega deal that could bring Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe to the club. City will be kicking the new season off as favorites to win the Premier League and may well start the campaign on a blistering pace similar to the last year. However, Guardiola will be aware that key to the title will be consistency over the course of the campaign and another dip in form midway through could see them miss out once again.

Target


It will be the title or bust for Guardiola who has seen his credentials questioned both amongst the media and the fans. He will be keen to prove his critics wrong by leading City to glory, both domestically and in Europe.

Manchester United

In


Victor Lindelof(def) (Benfica), Romelu Lukaku(att) (Everton), Nemanja Matic(mid) (Chelsea)

Out


Josh Harrop(mid) (Preston North End), Regan Poole(def) (Northampton - Loan), Wayne Rooney(sp)(att) (Everton), Dean Henderson(gk) (Shrewsbury - Loan), Adnan Januzaj(sp)(mid) (Real Sociedad), Sam Johnstone(gk) (Aston Villa - Loan), Devonte Redmond(mid) (Scunthorpe United - Loan)

Another busy summer in the transfer window will see Manchester United heading into the new campaign with renewed belief that they will be able to challenge for the Premier League title this season. United finished outside the top four of the Premier League for a third time in the last four seasons but Jose Mourinho's first season in charge of the club proved to be the most successful following Sir Alex Ferguson's departure as he led his side to the League Cup and a Europa League triumph. Success in Europe meant that United have qualified directly to the group stages of the Champions League, sparing them the trouble and uncertainty of the qualifying rounds. Mourinho though will not be too happy with how the campaign unfolded last season and will be hoping for a better finish this time around, with fans expecting their club to put up a better fight for both the league title as well as in the Champions League. Unlike the previous campaign, United have struggled to complete their transfer activity before the season kicks off but they have addressed a couple of major issues to the squad. Wayne Rooney has been sold to Everton as part of the deal which brought in Romelu Lukaku, who has been their biggest signing and will be leading the attack in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose injury meant that the club decided not to exercise the option of extending his contract. Victor Lindelof has also arrived from Benfica to boost what was an injury hit defence from the last campaign while Nemanja Matic reunited with Mourinho and will be providing the physicality needed in the midfield. United have enjoyed a fairly successful pre-season with their only defeats coming against Barcelona and then Real Madrid in the European Super Cup Final. Lukaku has been amongst the goals but Lindelof is yet to settle into the team and Matic has been a late arrival while Mourinho is looking to bring in at least another player to provide an option on the flanks. The new signings will be eased into the campaign with United enjoying a fairly easy start, with just two of their opening seven games coming against teams that finished in the top half last season.

Target


Will be aiming for glory both in the Premier League and Europe but will have to hit the ground running if they are to challenge for silverware

Newcastle United

In


Christian Atsu (att) Chelsea – loan made permanent; Jacob Murphy (mid) Norwich; Florian Lejeune (def) Eibar; Javier Manquillo (def) Atletico Madrid; Mikel Merino (mid) Borussia Dortmund – on loan; Siem de Jong (mid) PSV Eindhoven – end of loan; Emmanuel Riviere (att) Osasuna – end of loan; Henri Saivet (mid) Saint-Etienne – end of loan; Tim Krul (gk) AZ Alkmaar – end of loan;

Out


Florian Thauvin (sp) (att) Marseille; Daryl Murphy (att) Nottingham Forest; Sammy Ameobi (sp) (att) Bolton; Vurnon Anita (sp) (mid) Leeds; Haris Vuckic (mid) Twente; Yoan Gouffran (sp) (mid) Goztepe; Lubomir Satka (def) Dunajska Streda; Kevin Mbabu (def) Young Boys; Adam Armstrong (att) Bolton – on loan; Ivan Toney (att) Wigan – on loan; Matz Sels (r) (gk) Anderlecht – on loan;

After achieving a quick return to the top flight, Newcastle United will look to establish themselves as a solid mid-table team this season. Rafa Benitez is a world-famous manager that has won the highest prizes in football in his career and he definitely knows how to make teams work, plus the common opinion is that the Championship winners from last season have plenty of talent in their ranks. Of course, Benitez is strengthening the squad this summer due to the much higher class of the opponents to be faced and he already added three of his countrymen to the group. Florian Lejeune also comes to Newcastle to provide a third solid option for the heart of the defence and the Magpies are expected to use an aggressive 3-4-3 formation against weaker opponents as a result of that. Javier Manquillo is a useful full-back that can operate equally well down both flanks, while the bright and very talented midfielder Mikel Merino hopes to form a solid partnership with Jonjo Shelvey. Newcastle also made Christian Atsu’s move permanent this summer and the addition of Jacob Murphy provides them with options down the wings, where Matt Ritchie is the big star and main creator. Just like every newly promoted side the key will be the home fixtures, but Benitez is very experienced and he knows that if the defensive displays are stable, the Magpies can enjoy solid away displays too. Newcastle’s main problem seems to be in attack at the minute where Aleksandar Mitrovic has not been as good as was expected ever since he joined the club three years ago. Dwight Gayle was the best striker in the squad last season but his past experience in the top flight is hardly convincing anyone that he could score 15+ goals. Despite his under-performing on many occasions most pundits still think that Mitrovic is the team’s best striker so if the tall and very good in the air Serbian finds his mojo, Newcastle might avoid difficulties in front of goal.

Target


Establishing in the middle of the table is the goal and with the expected signing of one-two experienced players by the end of August this should be achievable.

Southampton

In


Jan Bednarek(def) (Lech Poznan)

Out


Cuco Martina(sp)(def) (Released), Jay Rodriguez(sp)(att) (West Bromwich Albion), Harrison Reed(mid) (Norwich - Loan), Harry Lewis(gk) (Dundee United - Loan), Ryan Seager(att) (MK Dons - Loan), Jason McCarthy(def) (Barnsley), Martin Caceres(sp)(def) (Released), Harley Willard(mid) (Released), Lloyd Isgrove(mid) (Released)

Claude Puel enjoyed a fairly decent first season in charge of Southampton last time around, guiding them to a top half finish while only a harsh refereeing decision in the League Cup final prevented them from staying in the hunt for their first major trophy in over five decades. While an 8th placed finish represents a good campaign for Puel, the Saints were 15 points short of Everton who finished seventh. The League Cup loss also sapped the morale from the squad as Southampton limped over the finish line with just six points from their final eight games. The club reacted by relieving Puel of his job and have brought in Mauricio Pellegrino as his replacement as they look for a far more successful campaign this time around. Pellegrino's job though will be difficult and while Southampton have avoided selling their key players so far in the transfer window, Virgil van Dijk's head looks to have been turned with the defender angling for a move away as Chelsea and Liverpool hover. While rivals who finished both below and above them in the league table have splashed the cash, Southampton have brought in just one player so far with Jan Bednarek arriving from Lech Poznan while Jay Rodriguez and Cuco Martina have both left the club. Pellegrino will be hoping that the club becomes more active in the market and will be aware that further reinforcements are needed before the transfer window shuts down. One of the major complaints with Puel was the cautious approach of the side and Pellegrino will be expected to adopt a more adventurous outlook. Pre-season has been pretty decent for Southampton, barring their heavy defeat to Augsburg, and with the club facing a fairly easy set of opening fixtures, Pellegrino will be hoping to quickly win over the supporters as well with a good start to the campaign.

Target


Southampton will do well to repeat their eighth-placed finish from last season though the lack of transfer activity means that much will depend on how quickly Pellegrino adapts to his players and the league.

Stoke

In


Darren Fletcher(mid) (Free), Josh Tymon(mid) (Free), Kurt Zouma(def) (Chelsea - Loan), Joselu(att) (Deportivo La Coruna - End of Loan), Philipp Wollscheid(def) (Wolfsburg - End of Loan), Bojan Krkic(att) (Mainz - End of Loan)

Out


Shay Given(sp)(gk) (Released), Marko Arnautovic(k)(att) (West Ham United), Jonathan Walters(sp)(Att) (Burnley), Glenn Whelan(sp)(mid) (Aston Villa), Phil Bardsley(r)(def) (Burnley), Dominic Telford(att) (Bristol Rovers - Loan), Ryan Sweeney(def) (Bristol Rovers - Loan), George Waring(att) (Released), Joel Taylor(def) (Released), Liam Edwards(def) (Released), Daniel Bachmann(gk) (Released)

Stoke City endured their worst campaign under Mark Hughes as they finished well outside the top half of the table, registering the least number of goals and points in the last four seasons. Hughes admitted at the end of the campaign that his side fell short of expectations as they were not able to achieve the minimum aim of a top half finish. Performances across the board left much to be desired with no single player really able to stand out in an ordinary campaign and any hopes of strengthening the team during the summer was dashed even before the campaign ended with the club confirming that they will not be splashing the cash on new signings. It has been a poor transfer window so far for Stoke who have seen one of their key attacking forces in Marko Arnautovic leave for rivals West Ham United while three of their experienced players in Jonathan Walters, Phil Bardsley and Glenn Whelan have also been sold. Darren Fletcher has arrived on a free transfer while Stoke saw off the challenge from other clubs to bag Kurt Zouma on a loan deal. Stoke have not been able to address the key issues from last season, including a poor attack though Hughes will be hoping that Saido Berahino will find form. The striker is still searching for his first goal for Stoke after completing a move in January. Stoke have struggled during the pre-season, suffering defeats to teams plying their trade in lower divisions such as Crewe Alexandria, Sheffield United and German club FC St. Pauli. Unless Hughes manages to bring in new players before the end of the transfer window, it will be a weaker Stoke squad that will be heading into the new campaign and they will face a tough fight if they are to finish in the top half of the table.

Target


Top half remains the minimum expected out of Hughes but a lack of signings could see Stoke once again finish in the lower end of the table.

Swansea City

In


Tammy Abraham (att) Chelsea – on loan; Roque Mesa (mid) Las Palmas; Erwin Mulder (gk) Heerenven;

Out


Jack Cork (sp) (mid) Burnley; Bafetimbi Gomis (sp) (att) Galatasaray; Liam Shephard (def) Peterborough; Jordi Amat (sp) (def) Betis – on loan; Borja Baston (sp) (att) Malaga – on loan; Gerhard Tremmel (gk) end of career; Marvin Emnes (att) released; Franck Tabanou (def) released;

Swansea survived a turbulent last season and with coach Paul Clement bringing definite improvement in the displays since his arrival in January, now the Whites will be hoping to enjoy a trouble-free campaign in the middle of the table. Clement was very active back in January when he signed several players that helped their push for survival a lot but so far this summer, he has been a bit passive in strengthening the squad. The main new arrival is playmaker Roque Mesa, who is expected to possibly replace Gylfi Sigurdsson in the number ten role. The Icelander is eager to leave Swansea and Clement only demands the right amount of money to be offered to let him go. Even with Mesa in the squad Swansea will struggle in the creative part of the game if their main playmaker leaves and with this very likely to happen before the end of August, it will be important to monitor how Clement will spend the money his transfer will bring. The gaffer used the off-season to offload some players that were not featuring in his plans, amongst which Jordi Amat, Bafetimbi Gomis, Jack Cork and Borja Baston. The departure of Borja means that Clement is happy to trust his giant striker Fernando Llorente and his January signing Jordan Ayew to provide the goals, although he also added the bright young talent Tammy Abraham, who has tremendous speed. Luciasno Narsingh is also expected to play an important role down the wings after scoring some crucial goals in the spring. Swansea had serious problems defensively last term, but Clement is yet to sign a new player in that part of the pitch and he is obviously happy to trust those in hand and see if they can do better this year. Alfie Mawson flourished under the new manager and he will be the pillar at the back, with Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton tipped to be the preferred options at full-back.

Target


Swansea hope to stay out of trouble this season, but even if they do that a finish in the bottom half of the table is the likely outcome.

Tottenham Hotspur

In


Out


Pau Lopez(sp)(gk) (Espanyol - End of Loan), Kyle Walker(r)(def) (Manchester City), Nabil Bentaleb(sp)(mid) (Schalke), Clinton N'Jie(att) (Marseille), Federico Fazio(sp)(def) (AS Roma), Josh Onomah(mid) (Aston Villa - Loan), Luke McGee(gk) (Portsmouth), Connor Ogilvie(def) (Gillingham - Loan)

Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed another successful campaign last season, finishing above arch rivals Arsenal for the first time in more than two decades as they ended the season as runners-up. The campaign marked their continued improvement under coach Mauricio Pochettino who was praised for his willingness to give a chance to youth players with a number of youngsters breaking into the team last season. Having finished third and second in his first two seasons in charge of the club, Pochettino will be hoping to be involved in another title challenge this time around but the season is taking the shape of being a transitional one for Spurs who will be playing their home games at Wembley Stadium as the construction of their new ground gathers pace. Spur have a poor record at Wembley, winning just two times and losing seven of their 10 previous games at the hallowed ground. Spurs had played their European home games at Wembley last season and managed to win just once in four matches while also suffering a defeat against Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal. Pochettino will be aware that things will have to change if they are to mount a title challenge this season but Spurs will be heading into the campaign without a new face, with the club yet to sign a player this summer. Kyle Walker has been their most high profile departure while Nabil Bentaleb, Federico Fazio and Clinton N'Jie have also left the club. Kieran Trippier has been promoted as the first choice right-back for the upcoming season but they will be kicking the campaign off with a few injury concerns as Erik Lamela, Danny Rose and Heung-Min Son will be missing the start of the season. While Pochettino has managed to hold on to most of his key players despite interest from other clubs, the Spurs coach will be aware that with their rivals spending big and strengthening themselves during the summer, it will take another big effort for his side to stay in the hunt for the title over the course of the campaign.

Target


Pochettino will be aiming for the title once again but a lack of reinforcements during the summer means that Spurs will do well to finish in the top four.

Watford

In


Nathaniel Chalobah (mid) Chelsea; Tom Cleverley (mid) Everton; Will Hughes (mid) Derby County; Kiko Femenia (def) Alaves; Daniel Bachmann (gk) Stoke City; Juan Paredes (def) Olympiacos – end of loan;

Out


Sven Kums (mid) Anderlecht; Steven Berghuis (sp) (att) Feyenoord; Uche Agbo (mid) Standard Liege; Rene Gilmartin (gk) Colchester; Mario Suarez (sp) (mid) GZ Zhicheng (CHN); Obbi Oulare (att) Antwerp – on loan; Mathias Ranegie (att) released; M’Baye Niang (r) (att) Milan – end of loan; Camilo Zuniga (sp) (mid) Napoli – end of loan;

Watford were never in real danger of relegation last season, despite finishing the campaign just above the drop-zone. However, the expectations were much higher and logically coach Walter Mazzarri was released once the campaign was over. After impressing in his short spring spell at Hull, Marco Silva was appointed in charge and the Portuguese, famous for his amazing home record as a manager, is expected to deliver a top ten finish. Silva felt that Watford needed more options in the middle of the park and he already signed three new central midfielders, with Tom Cleverley making his loan move permanent. Watford should be able to take much better care of the ball this season because of that. On top of that, the talented playmaker Roberto Pereyra is fit again after missing most of his first year in England due to a knee injury and he is without a doubt one to watch. The new gaffer is yet to settle on a formation. He has experimented with five different shapes during the pre-season but what seems certain is that up front he will be trusting captain Troy Deeney as a lone striker. When he decides to use two forwards, Stefano Okaka will likely be involved. Mauro Zarate and Isaac Success are quicker options for the games in which Watford will be using counter-attacks. Silva added an extra right-back to his squad from the second best defensive formation in La Liga last term and with all the injured centre-backs fit now he has a rich choice for his backline. Last season, Watford were definitely abandoned by luck with the problems occuring for many players operating in the same defensive position and Silva is hoping to avoid a similar thing happening again. The main weakness that Watford need to address before the end of the transfer window is the lack of options for the left flank. The only natural left footer is the full-back Jose Holebas and realistically Silva needs to sign more players that can operate successfully in that part of the pitch.

Target


Watford hope to finish much higher than last season and knowing Silva’s managerial success rate on home turf, the Hornets are strong contenders for the positions just outside the top six.

West Bromwich Albion

In


Jay Rodriguez (att) Southampton; Ahmed Hegazy (def) Ahly – on loan; Yuning Zhang (att) Vitesse;

Out


Craig Gardner (sp) (mid) Birmingham City; Darren Fletcher (r) (mid) Stoke City; Sebastien Pocognoli (def) Standard Liege; Yuning Zhang (att) Werder Bremen – on loan; Jack Rose (gk) released; Marc Wilson (sp) (def) Bournemouth – end of loan;

Last term, the Baggies enjoyed their best ever season since the start of the Premier League and coach, Tony Pulis, will hope to see more of the same this time around. In the summer the fans saw the team’s captain Darren Fletcher leaving, which was somewhat expected after the arrival of Jake Livermore back in January. West Brom were very effective from set pieces last term, only champions Chelsea scored more goals from dead-ball deliveries, and this is likely to be the case again as Pulis works really hard on the training ground at achieving that. The most important summer signing so far seems to be that of striker Jay Rodriguez, who is likely to be the new preferred choice up front, leaving Jose Rondon with a supporting role. Rodriguez already scored two beautiful goals in the pre-season and if he hits top form, West Brom could be really dangerous going forward as he will have for support Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips. Last season West Brom enjoyed constant comfort because they were very effective against everyone outside the top six but Pulis was unhappy with the amount of goals that were conceded and over the summer he was seen working really hard with his backline to improve things defensively. He also added a tall centre-back in Ahmed Hegazy to his squad and against the top sides, West Brom are likely to use a formation with five at the back. The Egyptian will also be important as an option to replace the 37-year-old veteran Gareth McAuley when required, as the Irish defender might not have another season of regular starts left in his legs. West Brom are a team that prides in being a very tough nut to crack and without a doubt the Baggies will be playing to their strengths again this season, while trying to frustrate opponents and punish them on fast breaks or from a set piece.

Target


WBA are hoping for another top ten finish and they most likely will be there or there about, although without their sold captain it might be a bit harder for them to be consistent. A finish between 11th and 15th place is probably where they will find themselves.

West Ham United

In


Pablo Zabaleta(def) (Free), Javier Hernandez(att) (Bayer Leverkusen), Marko Arnautovic(att) (Stoke City), Joe Hart(gk) (Manchester City - Loan)

Out


Jonathan Calleri(att) (Deportivo Maldonado - End of loan), Gokhan Tore(mid) (Besiktas - End of loan), Alvaro Arbeloa(sp)(def) (Released), Havard Nordtveit(sp)(mid) (Hoffenheim), Reece Oxford(def) (Borussia Monchengladbach - Loan), Enner Valencia(sp)(att) (Tigres UANL), George Dobson(mid) (Sparta Rotterdam), Darren Randolph(r)(gk) (Middlesbrough), Ashley Fletcher(att) (Middlesbrough), Reece Burke(def) (Bolton Wanderers - Loan), Josh Cullen(mid) (Bolton Wanderers - Loan)

West Ham United had a season to forget last time around as they stumbled their way through the campaign and, while they did finish in a respectable position just outside the top half of the table, it was well below their expectation of challenging for a European spot. Dmitri Payet's transfer saga cast an unwanted shadow over West Ham's campaign right from the start last season but there have been no such problems this time around as West Ham went into the transfer window with a clear view of the type of players needed to be signed. The Hammers look to have finally found their replacement for Payet by splashing the cash for Stoke City's Marko Arnautovic while Javier Hernandez could prove to be one of their key signings of recent seasons with the former Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen striker having shown that he will be amongst the goals if handed regular starts. Joe Hart arrives on loan from Manchester City and is expected to take over as the first choice keeper after both Adrian and Darren Randolph failed to make the spot their own last season, with the latter being sold off to Middlesbrough. Pablo Zabaleta's arrival means that Michail Antonio will be able to focus on the attacking aspect of his game. Slaven Bilic has looked to cull his large squad as Havard Nordtveit, Ashley Fletcher and Enner Valencia were sold and Reece Oxford was sent out on loan. The Hammers did not exercise their option to make Jonathan Calleri and Gokhan Tore's loan moves permanent while Alvaro Arbeloa has also been released following a disappointing campaign last season. Injuries and poor form had forced Bilic to chop and change both the formation and personnel on regular basis last season but the West Ham coach will be hoping for a bit more luck in terms of injuries to key players. Nevertheless, they will be heading into the new season without Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Cheikhou Kouyate who will be missing the start of the campaign. Bilic will also be seeking to improve their form at the London Stadium, with West Ham finishing fifth from the bottom in terms of points collected in front of their home fans. With West Ham facing a tough start to the season, with four of their first five games coming on the road, Bilic will be aware that his side needs to avoid another poor start if they are to have any hopes of challenging for a place in the top seven of the Premier League.

Target


Bilic will be aiming to comfortably finish in the top half of the table and while the quality is there, injuries and consistency could play a key role in their fortunes this season.