Football Season Guide

Arsenal

In


Nicolas Pepe (att) Lille; William Saliba (def) Saint-Etienne; Gabriel Martinelli (mid) Ituano; Dani Ceballos (mid) Real Madrid – on loan; Reiss Nelson (mid) Hertha Berlin – end of loan;

Out


William Saliba (def) Saint-Etienne – on loan; David Ospina (sp) (gk) Napoli – loan made permanent; Petr Cech (sp) (gk) end of career; Stephan Lichtsteiner (sp) (def) released; Aaron Ramsey (sp) (mid) Juventus; Denis Suarez (sp) (mid) Barcelona – end of loan; Danny Welbeck (sp) (att) released; Takuma Asano (att) Partizan;

Arsenal showed very little improvement in the first season past Wenger’s era, with new coach Emery unable to find consistency and to resolve issues that have been with the Gunners in recent times. Ozil continued to decline and the German seems to be no longer a major factor, Emery also struggled to fit both Lacazette and Aubameyang on the pitch at the same time until the latter was moved to play wide on the left wing. This is expected to be the case again, with Arsenal building a very strong front line if nothing else. The recent big-money transfer of right winger Pepe means that Pepe-Lacazette-Aubameyang front 3 is likely to cause havoc regularly. Ceballos was loaned in to replace Ramsey in the heart of the midfield, where Xhaka remains a key figure, while young Guendouzi should be getting more and more involved with every passing month. Arsenal’s major weaknesses last season remained the dreadful away form and the pathetic defending, with no transfer moves made so far to resolve the latter. In fact if as expected rebelling captain Koscielny leaves the back line will be weakened. This means that only if the Gunners find a miraculous way to become more solid defensively they could realistically challenge the best teams in the land. Scoring goals at the other end shouldn’t be a problem.

Target


Top 4 is the target and another year without Champions League football will be simply unacceptable from Arsenal’s point of view.

Aston Villa

In


Kortney Hause (def) Wolves – loan made permanent; Anwar El Ghazi (mid) Lille – loan made permanent; Tom Heaton (gk) Burnley; Bjorn Engels (def) Reims; Ezri Konsa (def) Brentford; Tyrone Mings (def) Bournemouth; Douglas Luiz (mid) Man City; Marvelous Nakamba (mid) Club Brugge; Trezeguet (mid) Kasimpasa; Jota (mid) Birmingham City; Wesley (att) Club Brugge;

Out


Alan Hutton (r) (def) released; Mile Jedinak (r) (mid) released; Albert Adomah (r) (att) Nottingham Forest; Ritchie De Laet (sp) (def) Antwerp; Tommy Elphick (sp) (def) Huddersfield; Gary Gardner (sp) (mid) Birmingham City; Andre Green (sp) (mid) Preston NE – on loan; Glenn Whelan (sp) (mid) released; Micah Richards (def) released; Mark Bunn (gk) released; Ross McCormack (att) released; Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (att) Tranmere – on loan;

After making the play-offs thanks to a last-gasp push, then winning them to gain promotion, Aston Villa went on a spending spree this summer. Appointed only in late spring coach Dean Smith was obviously not satisfied with the squad he inherited and he revamped the entire team this off season. Already spent £130million and counting, which makes Villa the highest spenders ever for a newly promoted team. Also this bold statement brings pressure as the expectations suddenly got high. The arrival of 12 new players means that Villa will have a very different look this season, and not many of those that helped for the promotion last term seem likely to see much playing time in the top flight. Signing experienced goalkeeper Heaton and 4 new centre-backs, plus a highly rated left-back makes it clear that Smith wants much better defensive stability. It is yet to be seen what look Villa will have as the season starts, with the gaffer mixing 5 different formations in pre-season and constantly testing different things. What seems likely is to see the Villains using 5 at the back against the Big 6. Naturally the early weeks are expected to be difficult as all the new faces would need time to build synchrony and start playing as a unit. The other thing concerning some pundits is that on all their spending Villa didn’t sign a big star, and all the players that arrived are solid, but far from anything more.

Target


Heavy investment ups the expectations, but simply avoiding immediate relegation will be enough to rate the season as a success.

Bournemouth

In


Arnaut Danjuma (mid) Club Brugge; Jack Stacey (def) Luton Town; Lloyd Kelly (def) Bristol City; Philip Billing (mid) Huddersfield; Harry Arter (mid) Cardiff City – end of loan; Jermain Defoe (att) Glasgow Rangers – end of loan;

Out


Nathaniel Clyne (sp) (def) Liverpool – end of loan; Tyron Mings (sp) (def) Aston Villa; Lys Mousset (sp) (att) Sheffield United; Connor Mahoney (mid) Millwall; Marc Pugh (mid) QPR; Emerson Hyndman (mid) Atlanta United – on loan;

Bournemouth had an interesting last season that saw them surviving relatively easily but constantly mixing good home displays with dreadful away ones. The inability to defend hurt the Cherries on the road, and for several years now way too many cheap goals have been conceded, which many worry eventually might prove costly. The fact that at least 3 of the current defenders in the squad start the season injured and are expected to miss long periods hardly gives reason for optimism. Coach Howe added 2 new full-backs to the ranks, but both of them are coming from the Championship and there is no certainty they will be very useful at this level. To compensate for their defensive frailties Bournemouth need to be aggressive at the other end of the pitch and with all of Fraser, Brooks, King and Wilson staying, the high scoring form, at least at home, should continue. Solanke also hopes to be much more involved after joining for a large fee last January. Lerma will remain the heart and soul of the midfield and despite being ugly to watch at times, the Colombian holding midfielder is practically indispensable, even after the recent signing of Billing. Howe is not likely to change much in his approach, and with none of the new names seen as regular starters, Bournemouth should be playing very similar football to last season.

Target


Staying out of trouble is the task, but in order to do that, they will need to be at least as good as last season, if not better.

Brighton and Hove Albion

In


Leandro Trossard (att) KRC Genk; Adam Webster (def) Bristol City; Matt Clarke (def) Portsmouth; Ezequiel Schelotto (def) Chievo – end of loan; Tudor Baluta (mid) Viitorul – end of loan;

Out


Bruno (sp) (def) end of career; Anthony Knockaert (sp) (mid) Fulham – on loan; Markus Suttner (def) Fortuna Dusseldorf – on loan; Alexis Mac Allister (mid) Boca Juniors – on loan; Viktor Gyokeres (att) St. Pauli – on loan; Percy Tau (att) Club Brugge – on loan; Matt Clarke (def) Derby – on loan;

After 2 consecutive seasons of dramatically avoiding the drop, Brighton decided to part ways with defensive-minded manager Houghton, and instead appointed the more aggressive and attack-orientated ex-Swansea boss Graham Potter. The new boss kept everyone important in the squad, at least for now, plus he signed exciting winger Trossard from Belgium champions Genk, with the very aggressive Hazard-like player racking up goals and assists both in Belgium and in Europe last season. Potter is expected to improve the forward actions of the team which could mean veteran Murray, to be 36-years-old come September, seeing less playing time. Andone had good contributions the few times he was involved last season and the Romanian is the likely new main striker. The Seagulls have been poor travellers ever since returning to the top flight, and improving the away form is a must if Potter wants to steer his team away from danger. To do that Brighton must become more open away from home: they have been sitting way too deep under the previous boss, which could mean more goals at both ends of the pitch when Brighton travel this season. Playmaker Gross was not used very well last season; he was asked to play in a deeper position, but Potter has already confirmed that the German will play in his favourite number ten role this term, and this could mean Gross having his best ever campaign since arriving in England.

Target


Securing safety much earlier is the ultimate goal, but whether the Seagulls will have enough class to achieve that remains to be seen.

Burnley

In


Erik Pieters (def) Stoke City; Ryan Cooney (def) Bury; Jay Rodriguez (att) WBA; Bailey Peacock-Farrell (gk) Leeds;

Out


Tom Heaton (r) (gk) Aston Villa; Stephen Ward (sp) (def) Stoke City; Peter Crouch (sp) (att) end of career; Anders Lindegaard (gk) Helsingborg; Aiden O'Neill (mid) Brisbane Roar;

Burnley flirted with danger for most of last season, but in the end 2 short winning streaks in spring were just about enough to keep Dyche’s team in the top flight. The Clarets are known for their ruthless and uncompromising style of play that includes regular use of brutal force, with Dyche not making any excuses and preaching this type of football. Recent analyses of Burnley from last season revealed that if VAR was used Dyche’s men would have been punished with 5 more red cards and would have been awarded 11 more penalties against them. All this suggests that with the overdue arrival of VAR this term Burnley will start struggling if they don’t change their ways. No sign of such thing happening and Dyche continues signing and using players that fit his philosophy. Youngster McNeil had breakthrough spring, helped by injuries to Brady and Gudmundsson, which is likely to see him retaining starting role in the team. Up front giant Wood is the main source of goals, while Defour hopes to be much better health-wise after ruined last season. Departure of captain Heaton means that Pope and Hart will be battling it for the right to start between the posts, with the former seen as Burnley’s new number one in the long term. Not likely to change much their style and even if not pleasant to watch Burnley always guarantee to try and compensate for their lesser technical abilities with hard work, dedication and the odd ruthless tackle!

Target


Staying in division is the goal, but old-fashion style of play unlikely to sit well with introduction of VAR and avoiding relegation will be seen as surprise.

Chelsea

In


Mateo Kovacic (mid) Real Madrid – loan made permanent; Christian Pulisic (mid) Borussia Dortmund – end of loan; Kourt Zouma (def) Everton – end of loan; Kenneth Omeruo (def) Leganes – end of loan; Abdul Baba (def) Reims – end of loan; Tiemoue Bakayoko (mid) Milan – end of loan; Mason Mount (mid) Derby – end of loan; Danilo Pantic (mid) Partizan – end of loan; Lucas Piazon (mid) Cheivo – end of loan; Kenedy (mid) Newcastle – end of loan; Tammy Abraham (att) Aston Villa – end of loan; Michy Batshuayi (att) Crystal Palace – end of loan;

Out


Eden Hazard (k) (att) Real Madrid; Gonzalo Higuain (r) (att) Juventus – end of loan; Eduardo (gk) Braga; Ola Aina (def) Torino – loan made permanent; Tomas Kalas (def) Bristol City – loan made permanent; Matt Miazga (def) Reading – on loan; Ethan Ampadu (def) RB Leipzig – on loan; Lewis Baker (mid) Fortuna Dusseldorf – on loan; Robert Green (gk) released; Garry Cahill (def) released; Todd Kane (def) released;

Chelsea had a solid first campaign under Sarri – finished in top 4 in the Premier League, reached league Cup final and won Europa League – but there were issues with the managerial style of the Italian, and in the summer he was released. With Chelsea failing to overturn their one-year transfer ban, unable to sign new players until summer of 2020, a top class manager was impossible to be recruited and club legend Frank Lampard was given the job. Left with no other choice, Lampard will have to work with the army of loanees and youngsters in order to provide depth and rotation options as the season progresses. At least Kovacic’s loan was allowed to be made a permanent move, plus Pulisic finally arrives after being signed for a large fee in January. Without a doubt the major loss of the summer was the inevitable departure of Eden Hazard, with Chelsea hugely reliant on the Belgian for some years now and expected to struggle in hard situations without him. So far based on pre-season, Lampard shows no fear in using many of the younger players and this might be a transition year for Chelsea with many of the youngsters given a chance so it is seen which of them have a long-term future at the club. Still the Board expects Champions League qualification, and even a legend like Lampard must not feel safe at a job that has proven hard to keep in the past, even for coaches who were very successful in their short spells in charge.

Target


Finish in the top 4 will be seen as solid achievement, but whether it will be possible is yet to be seen.

Crystal Palace

In


Jordan Ayew (att) Swansea – loan made permanent; Stephen Henderson (gk) Nottingham Forest; Jaroslaw Jach (def) Sheriff – end of loan; Alexander Sorloth (att) KAA Gent – end of loan;

Out


Aaron Wan-Bissaka (r) (def) Man United; Michy Batshuayi (r) (att) Chelsea – end of loan; Jason Puncheon (sp) (mid) released; Julian Speroni (gk) released; Lucas Perri (gk) Sao Paulo – end of loan; Bakary Sako (mid) Denizlispor;

The oldest manager in the Premier League, Roy Hodgson, made Palace play some solid football last term, and without being hugely impressive, the Eagles had a calm campaign that saw them stay out of trouble throughout. Hodgson’s ways are likely to continue bringing stability on the pitch no matter what happens on the transfer market, but at the time of writing it seems as if the group of players will be weaker this season. Main right-back Wan-Bissaka left for Man United, while Palace’s talisman Zaha seems destined to join another team too. Investing some of the money on new players could still happen, but even without doing so Palace continue to have a decent squad. Last season the main issue was the low conversion rate, scored with only 4.2% of the shots attempted, and doing a better job with their chances is a must. If Zaha leaves, Benteke could be restored as the main target man in attack, with the Belgian coming off a difficult few years, but with proven qualities, and capable of scoring 20+ goals in the Premier League if used well. Townsend should get much more freedom up front, plus German wonderkid Meyer could become very important too after a year of settling. Milivojevic is as solid a holding midfielder as they come. Palace will continue relying on the wins achieved at home, and if they are able to convert more of their chances they should enjoy another calm year under the supervision of wise-man Hodgson.

Target


Crystal Palace aim to finish around 10th–12th place, and even if they don’t achieve it, the Eagles should have enough in themselves to stay out of trouble.

Everton

In


Moise Kean (att) Juventus; Andre Gomes (mid) Barcelona – loan made permanent; Fabian Delph (mid) Man City; Jean-Philippe Gbamin (mid) Mainz 05; Jonas Lossl (gk) Huddersfield; Cuco Martina (def) Feyenoord – end of loan; Kevin Mirallas (att) Fiorentina – end of loan; Yannick Bolasie (att) Anderlecht – end of loan; Henry Onyekuru (att) Galatasaray – end of loan; Oumar Niasse (att) Cardiff – end of loan;

Out


Kourt Zouma (r) (def) Chelsea – end of loan; Idrissa Gueye (r) (mid) PSG; Nikola Vlasic (sp) (mid) CSKA Moscow – loan made permanent; Ademola Lookman (sp) (att) RB Leipzig; Jonjoe Kenny (sp) (def) Schalke – on loan; Phil Jagielka (def) Sheffield United; Brendan Galloway (def) Luton; Luke Garbutt (def) Ipswich – on loan; Sandro Ramirez (att) Real Valladolid – on loan;

Strong end to last season saved Marco Silva’s job, with Everton matched only by Man City and Liverpool from February onwards in defensive efficiency. The heavy investment in the squad over recent years is yet to bring the desired results though, and tension is mounting as this is seen as the season in which Everton need to start mixing it with the Big 6. Silva will hope that the injury-prone centre-back Mina will be much fitter as reliable Zouma returned to his parent club Chelsea, exposing a hole in the heart of the defence. The other important player that left was main holding midfielder Gueye, but with Gomes making his stay permanent and the recent signing of Delph from the champions, plus the addition of Gbamin, Everton look to have covered this area of the pitch well. Main issue last season was the absence of a proven goalscorer and typical target man, but on the eve of the new season hugely talented Italian teenager Kean was signed from Juventus and he is seen as the new Lukaku by the Toffees. The squad looks very solid though, and with Sigurdsson one of the best playmakers in the league, the 2 full-backs Digne and Coleman modern, attack-minded flyers forward, a rock-solid holding midfielder in Gomes, and very flexible forward line, Everton look like a team ready to test themselves against the best in the land. Silva also knows that his team needs to make the most of the early months, with the kind schedule in the opening 10 rounds a great chance for Everton to establish themselves at the top end of the table, and have something to build on after that.

Target


Top 6 finish is the goal minimum, with the ambitions of the Toffees going even higher as they dream of Champions League football.

Leicester City

In


Youri Tielemans (mid) Monaco – loan made permanent; Ayoze Perez (att) Newcastle; James Justin (def) Luton; Filip Benkovic (def) Celtic – end of loan; Andy King (mid) Derby – end of loan; Adrien Silva (mid) Monaco – end of loan; Fousseni Diabate (att) Sivasspor – end of loan; Islam Slimani (att) Fenerbahce – end of loan;

Out


Danny Simpson (def) released; Shinji Okazaki (sp) (att) Malaga;

Leicester’s tragic last season, the team’s Thai owner died in a helicopter crash right after one of the games in October, is hopefully behind everyone. The appointment of Brendan Rodgers in late spring was so he could get to know the squad and then have positive transfer activity in the summer. Rodgers did just that, spending over £100million on 3 players. Making Tielemans a permanent signing was a major success for the club as they beat big teams to obtain his services. Perez also looks to be a great piece of business, with the Spaniard already forming an impressive partnership in attack with Vardy. Leicester are expected to play modern football with fast ball movement, but the main issue that many tend to overlook is the defensive instability. Scoring goals has never been a problem, but at the back they constantly get exposed. Full-backs Pereira and Chilwell are not always tracking back once caught out of position, plus individual errors in the heart of the defence resulted in 8 goals conceded last season, with only relegated Fulham and Huddersfield conceding more after direct mistakes. Rodgers has options to test in defence though, and even if Maguire leaves this summer, the returning from loan Benkovic could emerge as the player to build around at the back. For most of last season Rodgers managed the young Croat at Celtic and was really pleased with him. Only if Leicester can improve defensively they can challenge for Europe again. Going forward the Foxes shouldn’t have problems scoring goals.

Target


Qualifying for Europe is a must, but for the Foxes to achieve that, they will need others to make mistakes and also to keep all their key players fit and healthy all season.

Liverpool

In


Sepp van den Berg (def) PEC Zwolle; Nathaniel Clyne (def) Southampton – end of loan;

Out


Alberto Moreno (sp) (def) Villareal; Daniel Sturridge (sp) (att) released; Adam Bogdan (gk) released; Connor Randall (def) released; Marko Grujic (mid) Hertha Berlin – on loan; Sheyi Ojo (mid) Glasgow Rangers – on loan; Danny Ings (att) Southampton – loan made permanent;

Despite having their best ever Premier League season, Liverpool’s wait for a domestic title went on (30 years and counting), with the Reds unable to earn enough in the direct matches vs. City last season. Still, winning the Champions League final was a very nice consolation for Klopp’s men. Apart from a 17-year-old defender, no other signings are made, or expected to be made, and the squad remains pretty much the same as last season. That said, useful back-up options Moreno and Sturridge have left, which could cause depth issues if injuries hit the main players. Many analyses have been made on Klopp’s coaching style, and after 3 years of positive progression at Dortmund he started falling backwards due to his inability to change personnel or tactics. Some worry that this could happen now with Liverpool, as the way the Reds approach games is well known already and opponents can prepare much better. Also it is very likely that the 2 big starts on the wings, Mane and Salah, have had their best ever seasons already, the former shone last year, while Salah was a major star 2 years ago. If they are unable to at least replicate their productivity there might be problems. Still with a rock solid back line and amazing home record, Liverpool remain a force to be reckoned with. Also after a year out injured, Oxlade-Chamberlain hopes to have a strong season, and he could be the new emerging Red star this campaign.

Target


Liverpool are desperate for the Premier League title, with all the efforts expected to go in that direction. Top 4 finish seems guaranteed anyway.

Manchester City

In


Rodri (mid) Atletico Madrid; Angelino (def) PSV; Zack Steffen (gk) Columbus Crew; Erik Palmer-Brown (def) NAC Breda – end of loan; Aleix Garcia (mid) Girona – end of loan;

Out


Vincent Kompany (sp) (def) Anderlecht; Fabian Delph (sp) (mid) Everton; Douglas Luiz (mid) Aston Villa – loan made permanent; Pablo Mari (def) Flamengo; Anthony Caceres (mid) Sydney FC; Luke Brattan (mid) Sydney FC; Philippe Sandler (def) Anderlecht – on loan; Zack Steffen (gk) Fortuna Dusseldorf – on loan; Arijanet Muric (gk) Nottingham Forest – on loan; Patrick Roberts (mid) Norwich – on loan; Ante Palaversa (mid) Oostende – on loan;

In another historic last season the Sky Blues collected all 4 domestic trophies on offer, with Guardiola’s men maintaining the high levels they had set a year earlier. Bitter disappointment was suffered in the Champions League though, and after 2 years of total dominance in England, the big effort this coming season will be focused on that competition. Still, Guardiola’s perpetual hunger to win every match and the indisputable talent in the squad leave City as the main favourites domestically too. After a year ruined by injuries the team’s main creative engine De Bruyne will be hungry to get back to his finest form this season, while Rodri was signed from Atletico Madrid to provide a much-needed alternative for the aging Fernandinho. Now with both of them in the ranks City are well covered for the pivotal anchor-man role. Mahrez is another player expected to shine at least in the Premier League this season after having minimal impact in his first year at the Etihad. The Algerian hopes to get lots of playing time domestically, especially after the Champions League campaign begins. With all the talent in the squad and the great depth, City really don’t have many weaknesses, and the only thing that could affect their domestic dominance this season will be the Champions League campaign. If as expected the Sky Blues go deep in that competition, mostly supporting players are likely to be used domestically come next spring.

Target


Main goal is the Champions League final, but as always would want as many domestic trophies as possible too. The have the squad to earn third consecutive Premier League title.

Manchester United

In


Aaron Wan-Bissaka (def) Crystal Palace; Daniel James (mid) Swansea; Joel Pereira (gk) Kortrijk – end of loan; Harry Maguire (def) Leicester City;

Out


Ander Herrera (r) (mid) PSG; Antonio Valencia (sp) (def) LDU Quito; James Wilson (att) Aberdeen;

After an expectedly poor last season that saw Mourinho sacked and hastily replaced by the inexperienced and unproven Ole Solskjaer, Man United continue to struggle finding identity. Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left, the displays and results have been poor, with the Red Devils unable to win a major trophy in the last 5 years. Solskjaer is finding it as difficult this summer as his predecessor to strengthen the squad, with the absence of Champions League football deterring most of the top players from even considering joining. On top of that, both Pogba and Lukaku are heavily linked with moves away once more, and even if they stay they are unlikely to be very happy squad members. The big issue that needs addressing is the poor defending, and Solskjaer must find a way to deliver better stability. The arrival of right-back Wan-Bissaka and De Gea’s extended contract are helpful news in that department. The departure of Herrera in the summer leaves a gap to be filled in midfield, and all indications are that the young Scot McTominay could become a regular starter. Solskajer is keen on trusting several more youngsters from the Academy, and his preferences are to use both Rashford and Greenwood much more in attack. However, none of them has shown yet that they have what it takes to be prolific goalscorers. There are many pundits that worry the forward threat is not enough to really trouble the top defences. Harry Maguire finally signed from Leicester City after a prolonged negotiation. His addition to the back line is predicted to see the number of goals conceded by United reduce significantly.

Target


Top 4 is the big goal, but to achieve it they will have to exceed expectations, both as a team and as individuals.

Newcastle United

In


Joelinton (att) Hoffenheim; Allan Saint-Maximin (mid) Nice; Jetro Willems (def) Eintracht Frankfurt – on loan; Kyle Scott (mid) Chelsea U23; Henri Saivet (mid) Bursaspor – end of loan; Dwight Gayle (att) WBA – end of loan;

Out


Mohamed Diame (r) (mid) Al Ahli; Ayoze Perez (r) (att) Leicester; Salomon Rondon (r) (att) WBA – end of loan; Joselu (sp) (att) Alaves; Kenedy (sp) (mid) Chelsea – end of loan; Antonio Barreca (def) Monaco – end of loan; Freddie Woodman (gk) Swansea – on loan;

After defying the odds in 2 consecutive seasons, coach Rafa Benitez got tired of all the issues at the club and left in the summer. The Spaniard who was adored by the fans had had enough of it. Vastly experienced Steve Bruce took charge recently, but on all his experience he is seen as a bit of an old-fashioned coach whose last job at this level was with Hull City the season they got relegated. They have already lost 3 regulars this transfer window, including the 2 main strikers that in 2018/19 were directly involved in 68% of Newcastle’s league goals. The departures of Perez and Rondon are likely to be felt, but if nothing else owner Ashley opened the coffers, and Newcastle broke their transfer-record to bring to the squad Joelinton from the Bundesliga. The Brazilian is expected to carry the burden of the attack on his shoulders. So far there are no indications that the 5-3-2 shape used a lot by Benitez will be changed, but after adjusting last spring, the big winter signing Almiron must have a much better campaign now if Newcastle are to survive. Longstaff is another player that started appearing for the senior squad a lot last term, and with departure of Diame, now it seems that the youngster will be given a regular role in the heart of the midfield. Another player hoping to have a much better second year at the club is versatile forward Muto, who has been a prolific goalscorer in Japan and Germany, but was sparsely used last season.

Target


Survival is the only thing on the agenda, but the departure of fan-favourite Benitez is likely to destabilise the club, and a season of great struggle to avoid the drop looks inevitable.

Norwich City

In


Ralf Fahrmann (gk) Schalke – on loan; Sam Byram (def) West Ham; Patrick Roberts (mid) Man City – on loan; Daniel Adshead (mid) Rochdale; Josip Drmic (att) Borussia M’gladbach;

Out


Felix Passlack (sp) (def) Borussia Dortmund – end of loan; Marcel Franke (sp) (def) Hannover; Ivo Pinto (sp) (def) Dinamo Zagreb; Nelson Oliveira (sp) (att) AEK Athens; Matt Jarvis (mid) released; Steven Naismith (att) released; Yanic Wildshut (mid) Maccabi Haifa; Tristan Abrahams (att) Newport County; Rocky Bushiri (def) Blackpool – on loan; James Husband (def) Blackpool – on loan; Sean Raggett (def) Portsmouth – on loan; Josh Coley (mid) Dunfermline – on loan; Carlton Morris (att) Rotherham – on loan;

Norwich were very convincing champions of the Second Tier last season. With their German manager, many technically gifted players and some great support at home, Norwich are playing some pleasant to watch and modern counter-pressing football. Coach Farke believes in his methods and most importantly the players also trust his decisions. With no regulars leaving this summer Norwich didn’t overspend, and the few new signings made were carefully selected. Goalkeeper Fahrmann and striker Drmic arrive from the Bundesliga to bring some experience at both ends of the pitch, while the extension of Roberts’s loan was very pleasing for the gaffer as the aggressive winger is used a lot down both flanks. Norwich have 10 German players in their ranks at the minute, which helps Farke to use the tactics he has learnt so well to utilise during his understudy years back in the Bundesliga. Many compare Norwich to a German club, or Liverpool, and the high intensity and exemplary workload from everyone involved are never in doubt. Using lots of penetrating passes and also overlapping runs makes Norwich hard to contain. There were defensive issues last season though, and only if the back line shows much more will the Canaries will be able to generate enough wins. In all other areas of the pitch Norwich look solid, but the concerns about their defence are major, especially if no new defenders are signed in the few days left of the transfer window.

Target


Aim is to establish in the top flight and despite that not likely to be easy, the Canaries should be able to just about survive.

Sheffield United

In


Oliver McBurnie (att) Swansea; Lys Mousset (att) Bournemouth; Callum Robinson (mid) Preston NE; Luke Freeman (mid) QPR; Phil Jagielka (def) Everton; Ben Osborn (mid) Nottingham Forest; Ravel Morrison (mid) Ostersunds; Dean Henderson (gk) Man United U23 – on loan;

Out


Danny Lafferty (sp) (def) released; Martin Cranie (sp) (def) Luton; Paul Coutts (sp) (mid) Fleetwood; Conor Washington (sp) (att) Hearts; Caolan Lavery (att) released; Jake Eastwood (gk) Scunthorpe – on loan; Nathan Thomas (mid) Carlisle – on loan;

Sheffield United were the surprise package of last season, with the old-fashioned style of play preached by coach Wilder somehow giving the Blades enough sharpness so they get promoted. Wilder is a very controversial person, openly confessing that he is a ‘mild racist’, with the football he preaches very similar to what Burnley have been using for some years now. Physical presence on the pitch, hard tackles, bumps and hits, threat from set pieces and general aggression even when it’s not needed are all typical features of United’s displays. All of the new players signed this summer were selected to fit this style, and it’s clear Wilder is not planning to change a thing. The squad looks incomplete only a week before the end of the transfer window though, with lots of the players hardly having any top flight experience under their belts. Big money was paid for the 2 new strikers Mousset and McBurnie, but neither has a great scoring record, and both are yet to shine much at this level. Same can be said about all other signings, apart from veteran centre-back Jagielka. He has other issues, with most of the last 2 years spent on the sidelines taking away his speed and agility already. One thing the Blades will certainly do is work extremely hard in every home match, but the lack of technically gifted players and the introduction of VAR are factors that most likely will see United punished regularly if they get over aggressive.

Target


Staying in the division is the dream, but achieving it is very unlikely with the squad available.

Southampton

In


Danny Ings (att) Liverpool – loan made permanent; Che Adams (att) Birmingham City; Moussa Djenepo (mid) Standard Liege; Cedric Soares (def) Inter – end of loan; Wesley Hoedt (def) Celta Vigo – end of loan; Sofiane Boufal (mid) Celta Vigo – end of loan; Guido Carrillo (att) Leganes – end of loan;

Out


Matt Targett (sp) (def) Aston Villa; Jordy Clasie (sp) (mid) AZ Alkmaar; Sam Gallagher (att) Blackburn; Steven Davies (mid) Glasgow Rangers; Jack Rose (gk) Walsall – on loan;

Two consecutive years the Saints flirted with danger and narrowly avoided the drop. Last season the appointment of Hasenhuttl in charge was what transformed the campaign, with over 80% of the points collected after the Austrian took the reins in December. Hasenhuttl has already proved that he could be a very good manager for the talented youngsters in the squad, with all of Bednarek, Valery and Ward-Prowse establishing as regulars and expected to continue being used a lot into the new season. With no major departures this summer and several good signings, the Saints look determined to do better. Focusing on the displays at home will be the likely first step as in the last 2 years only those sides that got relegated earned fewer points in front of their own fans. Signing the most prolific striker from last season, Ings, permanently was great piece of business, but to prepare for possible injuries to the fragile forward, young goalscorer Adams also was added to the squad. Djenepo is the third major new arrival at the moment of writing, with the winger impressive in Belgium’s top flight, but not expected to be as effective in racking up assists in the Premier League. Saints are expected to invest in youth this season, with Hasenhuttl already having a proven record of developing young players very well. If the intensity on the pitch is as high as the gaffer always wants it to be, Southampton should have better campaign than the previous one.

Target


Staying out of trouble is the target, with any finish higher than 12th likely to be seen as great achievement.

Tottenham Hotspur

In


Tanguy Ndombele (mid) Lyon; Jack Clarke (mid) Leeds; Georges-Kevin N'Koudou (att) Monaco – end of loan;

Out


Kieran Trippier (r) (def) Atletico Madrid; Fernando Llorente (sp) (att) released; Vincent Janssen (att) Monterrey; Jack Clarke (mid) Leeds – on loan; Michel Vorm (gk) released;

For yet another year Tottenham were competitive with the best for only half a season, Spurs kept up the pace of Man City and Liverpool in the league up until Christmas, but lack of depth and injuries to key players once again saw the campaign turning into a solid, but far from brilliant one. Reaching the Champions League final for the first ever time in their history was a major success though, and after the new gem of a stadium was finally completed, the Lilywhites hope to establish as one of the main players in England for years to come. Keeping hold of likes of Eriksen, Alli, Son and Kane at the time of writing is important, but it is also important to find a way to keep the fragile Alli and Kane fit all season, an unachievable goal in the past 3 years. Signed holding midfielder Ndombele for a large fee this summer and he is expected to form the new backbone of the midfield. However, the departure of Trippier and recent injury of Aurier exposes weakness on right flank of defence, with Spurs still needing signings at both ends of the pitch. Coach Pochettino knows that at least 3-4 new signings are needed, particularly in attack where departures of Llorente and Janssen mean that Kane is the only typical centre forward. As things stand at the minute if everyone important stays fit Spurs can beat anyone, but this is major if.

Target


Earning silverware is a must for Spurs this season, with the league title an unlikely goal, but challenging for the League Cup or FA Cup a more realistic target. Top 4 in the league remains the Holly Grail though.

Watford

In


Craig Dawson (def) WBA; Tom Dele-Bashiru (mid) Man City U23; Sam Dalby (att) Leeds; Marvin Zeegelaar (def) Udinese – end of loan; Dimitri Foulquier (def) Getafe – end of loan; Stefano Okaka (att) Udinese – end of loan; Cucho Hernandez (att) Huesca – end of loan; Filip Stuparevic (att) Vozdovac – end of loan;

Out


Miguel Britos (sp) (def) end of career; Tommy Hoban (def) released; Ben Wilmot (def) Swansea – on loan; Jerome Sinclair (att) VVV Venlo – on loan; Obbi Oulare (att) Standard Liege – loan made permanent; Kwasi Sibo (mid) Ibiza – on loan; Dodi Lukebakio (mid) Hertha Berlin;

Watford had very successful last season with the top half finish in the league accompanied by a memorable FA Cup campaign that saw the Hornets reaching the final for the first time in nearly 30 years. In the end no silverware was won, but nonetheless the results and displays were impressive. Coach Gracia hasn’t lost anyone important so far in the transfer window, and the interesting partnership Deeney-Deulofeu in attack is promising to be causing all sorts of problems to defences again. Defender Dawson is the only notable new arrival, with his signing suggesting that in some matches Watford might be tempted to go for 5 at the back. Especially against the Big 6, the Hornets were way too exposed last term, and a more defensive approach could only improve their results in such fixtures. Watford played some modern football last season and this should continue with the abundance of talent in midfield all gifted passers, plus the full-backs are all aggressive attack-minded players. The Hornets have a big squad and targeting another long run in the 2 cup competitions is likely, with Watford also looking well covered for pretty much every position on the pitch if injuries occur. Gracia is also known for his extra work on set pieces, with most of the defenders proven goalscorers from dead-ball deliveries, and Holebas one of the most accurate crossers from such situations. Last season only Liverpool, Chelsea and Crystal Palace registered more shots on goal from set pieces.

Target


To seek another top 10 finish, but in order to achieve it they will have to maintain the levels of performance from last season. Targeting long runs in the cup competitions also expected.

West Ham United

In


Sebastien Haller (att) Eintracht Frankfurt; Pablo Fornals (mid) Villarreal; Roberto (gk) Espanyol; David Martin (gk) Millwall;

Out


Marko Arnautovic (r) (att) Shanghai SIPG; Lucas Perez (sp) (att) Alaves; Edmilson Fernandes (sp) (mid) Mainz 05; Pedro Obiang (sp) (mid) Sassuolo; Samir Nasri (sp) (mid) Anderlecht; Adrian (sp) (gk) released; Andy Carroll (sp) (att) released; Sam Byram (def) Norwich; Jordan Hugill (att) QPR – on loan; Reece Oxford (def) Hertha Berlin;

West Ham made a modest improvement in Pellegrini’s first season in charge, and despite collecting more points and improving their home form dramatically in 2018/19, the Hammers were still nowhere near European qualification. With the money invested over the last 2 years and the additional signings of playmaker Fornals and prolific goalscorer Haller this transfer window, West Ham really need to challenge for Europe this term. Haller’s arrival will likely see change in the approach up front as he will serve as a target man, and livewires Fornals, Anderson and Lanzini are likely to be making lots of runs in pockets of space around him. Pellegrini hopes to have Wilshere fit this campaign, with Yarmolenko another player hardly used last year after his injury, but now hoping to be able to help much more. Centre-back Reid also missed the entire last season injured, but he is back now and providing alternative for the back line. With very good depth to the squad, a vastly experienced manager, and fans finally on board with their unconditional support, West Ham are a team to watch this season. Being much more competitive against the Big 6 is likely to be the main priority; if this is achieved the Hammers could be a major factor in the league.

Target


Top 6 finish is the target, and the Hammers have all the tools to feel they can achieve that; whether they will have the consistency too is yet to be seen.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In


Patrick Cutrone (att) Milan; Raul Jimenez (att) Benfica – loan made permanent; Leander Dendoncker (mid) Anderlecht – loan made permanent; Flavio Cristovao (mid) Aves U23; Jesus Vallejo (def) Real Madrid – on loan; Bruno Jordao (mid) Lazio; Pedro Neto (mid) Lazio;

Out


Kortney Hause (sp) (def) Aston Villa – loan made permanent; Helder Costa (sp) (att) Leeds – on loan; Ivan Cavaleiro (sp) (att) Fulham – on loan; Jack Ruddy (gk) Ross County; Will Norris (gk) Ipswich – on loan; Ethan Ebanks-Landell (def) Shrewsbury; Michal Zyro (mid) Korona Kielce; Rafa Mir (att) Nottingham Forest – on loan;

Wolves enjoyed a memorable return to the top flight with the team by far the most successful side against the Big 6 last season, which eventually led to qualification for the Europa League and a memorable trip to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final. The fact that the squad stayed healthy pretty much the entire campaign helped a lot too, with coach Santo and his fitness understudies obviously doing a great job with the physical part of the preparation. Now Wolverhampton will have to think about European games too, which inevitably led to transfer activity targeting a larger squad. Signing permanently Jimenez and Dendoncker was very pleasing, while Cutrone comes as a back-up centre forward that most likely will be used a lot in Europe. Vallejo adds extra depth in defence, with the Spaniard comfortable in the traditional 3-5-2 shape Wolves are using, but also very solid as part of a back 4. Coach Santo started playing Jota as a striker last spring, and this is likely to continue. Wolves shouldn’t have synchrony issues, and are expected to hit the ground running straightaway as it is very likely that the entire starting XI for round 1 will be of players who played at the club last season. Change of the style that brought successes is unlikely, and using fast breaks, while leaving plenty of bodies behind the ball at all times, should remain the trademark approach for Wolves.

Target


Another top 8 finish will be ideal, with Wolves definitely having the squad to even think of more if commitments in Europe are managed well.