2017/2018 English Premier League Preview

The 2017/2018 English Premier League season kicks off today! From the south coast, to Wales, to Merseyside, to the Northwest, to the Northeast, to the Midlands, to the capital of England, and even to Yorkshire, 20 clubs will compete for one of football’s greatest prizes.

Who will come out on top? Here is a breakdown of all twenty clubs.

ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB

Arsenal supporters believe that their team should contend for the Premier League title every season. However, the Gunners have not won the title since 2003/2004 and finished outside of the top four last season for the first time under manager Arsene Wenger. Provided he can get a strong enough squad to work with, Wenger can definitely get Arsenal back into the title race.

The potential title hopes would all but evaporate if the transfer rumors surrounding Alexis Sánchez are true. The Chilean forward has been, by far, the club’s best player since arriving in 2014/2015. The Gunners must do everything they can to keep Sánchez and avoid taking a tremendous step in the wrong direction.

They did bring in striker Alexandre Lacazette to become the main goal scorer. Every Premier League title contender needs a player who can put up 20 or more goals in a season, and Lacazette has the potential to do that right away.

But even if Arsenal were to keep Sánchez and get 20 goals from Lacazette, it will still be tough to contend for the title considering the improvements made by both Manchester clubs and Liverpool as well. If Arsenal miss out on the top four again, Wenger will likely be shown the door.

ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL CLUB BOURNEMOUTH

After a top-half finish in just their second Premier League season, Bournemouth have proved that they truly belong in the top flight.

Instead of quantity, manager Eddie Howe opted for quality in the transfer window. The Cherries made permanent moves for Chelsea’s Nathan Ake, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with the club last season, and Asmir Begovic. Bournemouth also brought back Jermaine Defoe, who led Sunderland in scoring in the last two seasons. The 34-year-old striker also scored 10 goals in 10 games for the Cherries back in 2000/2001. One of his teammates from that team? Eddie Howe.

Bournemouth forged a successful attack last season, but struggled at times on defense. With Manchester City and Arsenal looming in their first four matches, the Cherries will find out how much help they still need at the back.

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION FOOTBALL CLUB

Brighton are back in England’s top flight for the first time in 34 years after knocking on the door of the Premier League in four of the last five seasons, and what a journey it has been for the Seagulls.

In 1996/1997, Brighton needed one point against Hereford to stay in the Football League. They did get the draw, but unfortunately, the sale of the Goldstone Ground in Hove meant that the Seagulls would be forced to play their home matches 70 miles away at the grounds of Gillingham. After two seasons, Brighton returned home to play at Withdean Stadium, an old athletic complex with a 8,850-seat capacity. In October 2005, the supporters and board of directors received planning permission to build the now-30,750 seat Falmer Stadium, a.k.a the Amex, which opened in December 2011.

As for squad, manager Chris Hughton has done a fantastic job of building a team that plays together. However, they will likely be underdogs in almost every match simply because of the talent gap and lack of Premier League experience. While avoiding relegation is the goal, both players and supporters should take everything in and just enjoy this season.

The battle has just begun, but Brighton have already won the war.

BURNLEY FOOTBALL CLUB

Burnley, led by manager Sean Dyche, defied expectations and avoided relegation for the first time in club history. They picked up 33 of their 40 points at their home venue of Turf Moor, a foundation the Clarets will need to build on to stay in the Premier League.

With defender Michael Keane sold to Everton in the summer, Burnley have brought in Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, and Jack Cork as defensive reinforcements. Striker Jonathan Walters should also offer firepower to an attack that scored just 39 goals last season. But even with those additions, Dyche’s squad is only at 25 players, so more additions are likely.

CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB

After their 3-0 loss at Arsenal in late September, no one expected Chelsea to then rip off 13 straight wins. After that loss, the Blues did not drop points in consecutive matches for the rest of the season and clinched the Premier League title with two matches remaining.

The squad is still loaded with talent at every position and made some great signings in summer, such as striker Alvaro Morata. In 26 league appearances for Real Madrid, the 24-year-old scored 15 goals, the second-most of any player on the club. It will be interesting to see how he copes to the Premier League. The quicker he can adapt, the better it will be for the entire team.

With that being said, losing Diego Costa, who is spending time in Brazil at the moment, will be a huge blow for Chelsea. On top of Eden Hazard’s ankle injury that will keep him out for a few weeks, Chelsea have some big holes to fill in their starting XI right away. In the meantime, players like Michy Batshuayi, Pedro and Willian will need to step up.

Chelsea are the defending champions. The pressure will be on to show that they can do it again.

CRYSTAL PALACE FOOTBALL CLUB

Crystal Palace secured Premier League safety last season thanks to Sam Allardyce, but his resignation just two days after the season threw the club into turmoil. To replace him, chairman Steve Parish opted for Frank de Boer, who won the Dutch League title four years in a row at Ajax. However, his most recent spell at Inter Milan lasted just 85 days.

As just the second foreigner ever to manage Crystal Palace, de Boer has looked to bring a more international flair to the pitch. However, attempts to play a more attractive style last season ultimately ended in a relegation battle and Alan Pardew’s sacking in December. Expect de Boer to carry out a more pragmatic approach to gradual improvement, as opposed to constantly switching the styles of football and going from zero to one hundred in a short time span.

de Boer’s early transfer activity was especially revealing. Chelsea’s 21-year-old loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek and 20-year-old star Dutch defender Jairo Riedewald are both young players that de Boer can shape to fit his style of football.

EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB

Everton’s seventh-place finished under manager Ronald Koeman suggests that the club on the rise. There is no denying that the loss of prolific striker Romelu Lukaku was a huge blow, but that void was filled by seven new signings, headlined by the return of Wayne Rooney.

Last season’s reliance on Lukaku was obvious. Behind his 25 goals, the next-highest scorer was Ross Barkley with just five goals. Koeman’s mission will be to build a squad which provides a threat from all angles.

The Toffees spent big money on goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Dutch attacking midfielder Davy Klaasen, and defender Michael Keane. With spending already at unprecedented levels, Everton have made it clear that they want to crack the top six this season. If they can overtake Liverpool and prove themselves as the top dog on Merseyside, then it could be a huge first step towards a very bright future.

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL CLUB

Last season, Huddersfield jumped up 14 spots in the Championship table to fifth place and went on to defeat Reading in the Playoff final to seal promotion to the top flight for the first time in 45 years.

Manager David Wagner deserves a ton of credit for transforming the Terriers from top to bottom. Expect a lot of passion on the sideline, similar to fellow German manager and good friend Jurgen Klopp. As the former manager of Borussia Dortmund II, Wagner worked with Klopp for four seasons before taking over Huddersfield in 2015/2016. In those two seasons, Wagner has emphasized a high-intensity, counterattacking style of football that should transition well into the Premier League.

The signings that Huddersfield have made show that they intend to stay in the Premier League. The Terriers signed Montpellier striker Steven Mounie, who scored one less goal in Ligue 1 than Monaco superstar Kylian Mpabbe last season, as well as FC Copenhagen captain Mathias Jorgensen. Add them to Aaron Mooy and Christopher Schindler, and Huddersfield may give some top teams a scare this season.

Of course, survival is the mission for Huddersfield this season.

LEICESTER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB

Now freed from the pressure of being champions and no European football to drain their resources, Leicester City enter this season with optimism. Manager Craig Shakespeare saved the club from relegation, winning seven of their last 13 matches after the sacking of Claudio Ranieri. Shakespeare will aim to make his own mark on the squad, but he will likely have to do it without star midfielder Riyad Mahrez.

Shakespeare’s first signing as permanent manager was Hull City’s promising defender Harry Maguire. The 24-year-old will offer fresh blood for an aging backline, providing competition for the likes of Robert Huth and captain Wes Morgan. Up front, the arrival of striker Kelechi Iheanacho adds firepower to the first-team squad. Deprived of first-team starts last season, the 20-year-old should relish the prospect of regular football.

LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB

Compared to where Liverpool were 18 months ago, the club is way ahead of schedule. Last season, manager Jurgen Klopp got the Reds back in the Champions League for the first time since 2009.

Now, the focus will be on maintaining their top four status and solidifying the squad, especially at the back. Expect Liverpool to only bring in players that will improve the first team, as opposed to signing players in bulk for the sake of expanding the squad. For instance, new signing Mohamad Salah should go straight into the starting XI and compete with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane every week.

Another concern with this Liverpool squad is their lack of a twenty-goal striker similar to the likes of Aguero, Kane, Lukaku, and Sánchez. It will be interesting to see if a player like Firmino can step up and have that type of impact for Liverpool.

The Reds played well in the preseason, winning the Asia Trophy and defeating Bayern Munich, 3-0, at the Allianz Arena. With the improvements of the other top clubs combined with the grind of Champions League football this season, keeping hold of their place in the top four will be a tough task for Liverpool.

MANCHESTER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB

Expectations were high among Manchester City supporters when manager Pep Guardiola arrived last summer. However, problems with the fullbacks and goalkeepers ultimately led to a disappointing third-place finish.

This summer, the club has brought in players that will not only help their defense, but also play the style of football that Guardiola wants to play. Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy will stretch the field and offer speed down the flanks. If Vincent Kompany can stay healthy, City will be better defensively in terms of organization and experience.

One of the most exciting players to watch out for this season will be forward Gabriel Jesus. The 20-year-old Brazilian hit the ground running in limited action last season, scoring seven goals in ten league matches. Now entering his first full season, Jesus has the potential to become one of the best players in the Premier League.

Based on the money Guardiola has spent since his arrival, City should win the title. Not only is the squad extremely talented, but manager is arguably the best in the world. For Guardiola to keep that reputation, he must win the Premier League within the next two seasons.

MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Considering that he has coached Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, manager Jose Mourinho is running out of clubs to prove himself. Unlike last season, the Portuguese will have less excuses because he now has a side that better fits his style of play as opposed to the mish mash of players from last season.

Goal-scoring was a problem at times for United last season, but striker Romelu Lukaku could be the solution. Mourinho’s better teams often feature a big, powerful target man to lead the attack such as Didier Drogba. Lukaku can hold the ball up and occupy two to three opposing defenders. He’s young, hungry, and most importantly, a proven goal scorer in the Premier League.

But perhaps United’s most important signing this summer was midfielder Nemanja Matic. The 29-year-old Serbian midfielder has played under Mourinho at Chelsea and gives United strength, stature and protection in front of the backline. Over the last three to four seasons, there have been few defensive midfielders in the Premier League as good as Matic.

Mourinho will need to unleash his tactical genius this season and propel United back into the title hunt. If he does not win the Premier League or Champions League at United, his run will ultimately go down as a failure.

NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

The famous black and white of Newcastle is back in England’s top flight. The passion and pride of the club was restored last season under manager Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard brought a stringent level of professionalism into the dressing room and made sure to let the supporters know that both the manager and players care about playing for Newcastle United.

The relationship between Benitez and owner Mike Ashley seemed strong last season, but Benitez has not been shy about his frustration of not sealing players early in the transfer window. Ashley must give Benitez the control and the money he promised at the end of last season to prevent another trip back down to the Championship.

One of the main areas of concern for Newcastle is the attacking midfield. During Jonjo Shelvey’s five-game suspension last season, the Magpies struggled mightily, losing to the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers. The 25-year-old is so important to the squad that without him, the team have trouble creating scoring chances. Benitez could use another creative midfielder to create chances should Shelvey suffer an injury or suspension.

But when Newcastle did create chances, they had some trouble scoring goals. Dwight Gayle did score 23 goals in 32 appearances last season, but the Magpies struggled finishing in the box when he was out. Adding another striker, specifically a physical target man who can finish in the box, would go a long way to preventing another relegation fight this season.

Realistically, Newcastle should expect to finished around the 13-15 range for the next year or two, with an eye on the top ten. If last season was any indication, the top ten is not that difficult to break into as long as the club can be consistent. Looking at the big picture, if Benitez does stay on board and Ashley gives him the money he promised, Newcastle should return to their glory days within the next five years.

SWANSEA CITY ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL CLUB

It’s a shame that Swansea City will likely have to move on from star midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who appears likely to join Everton in the near future. While the sale could go upwards of 50 million pounds, it’s still a huge loss for the Swans.

Manager Paul Clement unloaded sixteen players over the summer, including Borja Baston and Jack Cork, possibly to keep Sigurdsson. Among the new additions are midfielder Roque Mesa and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, who knows Clement from his time in the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge. The Swans would be wise to add some more attacking options if Sigurdsson does leave.

SOUTHAMPTON FOOTBALL CLUB

For months, the big story surrounding Southampton has been the situation surrounding Virgil Van Dijk. The defender wants out, but the club seem unwilling to sell him.

New manager Mauricio Pelligrino replaces Claude Puel, who led the Saints to an eighth-place finish and EFL Cup Final last season. The only notable signing for Southampton was Poland U-21 defender Jan Bednarek from Lech Poznan. Time will tell whether he will replace or play with Van Dijk.

The Saints scored just 41 goals in 38 league matches, so it will be nice to have Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabiaddini full healthy this season. Pelligrino has played both players together in preseason to carry out a more attack-minded style of football.

STOKE CITY FOOTBALL CLUB

Last season was a disappointment for manager Mark Hughes and Stoke City. After three consecutive top half finishes, the Potters finished in 13th place last season, picking up just two wins in their last 11 matches.

Only the bottom five teams scored fewer goals than Stoke last season, so Hughes will need to address their goalscoring woes. In the meantime, Stoke added experience in the form of midfielder Darren Fletcher and defensive energy in Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma.

Stoke took eight games to record their first league win last season, so Stoke will look to hit the ground running this season.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FOOTBALL CLUB

Tottenham were the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League last season. After a sixteen-point improvement, which would have won them the title in 2015/2016, Spurs are more hungry than ever to achieve Premier League glory.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has done a fantastic job in his two years at the helm of bringing young players such as Harry Kane and Danny Rose through the system and turning them into valuable players. While Spurs have yet to make any signings, chairman Daniel Levy tends to wait until the last few weeks of the transfer window to conduct his business. They could certainly use a quality striker behind Harry Kane if he goes down with an injury.

Spurs also sold Kyle Walker, which is not that big of a loss compared to past Tottenham players such as Gareth Bale and Luca Modric. That’s no slight to Walker, but with Kieran Trippier ready to step in, Tottenham should not lose much at right back, if anything at all.

The biggest concern for Spurs will be adapting to playing their home matches at Wembley Stadium. Every player has dreamed about playing at Wembley, so visiting teams will definitely raise their level of play against Spurs over the next two seasons. It will be interesting to see whether Spurs can do the same.

If Tottenham do not start winning major trophies in the near future, the supporters will begin to question the club’s direction, similar to what fans are doing now at Arsenal.

WATFORD FOOTBALL CLUB

Another season, another new manager for Watford. Marco Silva is the eighth appointed manager since the Pozzo family bought the team in 2012. The Portuguese impressed last season at Hull City, but their heroic turnaround was not enough to save them from relegation. This year, Silva will have another challenging season ahead of him.

Striker Troy Deeney will miss the first one or two games due to a groin injury. so don’t be surprised if Brazilian wonderkid Richarlison sees time during Deeney’s absence. As for other signings, Kiko Femenia, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah are all expected to get playing time this season.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION FOOTBALL CLUB

Last season, West Brom finished in the top half for just the second time in club history, but that highlight was matches by lowlights. The Baggies ended last season on a nine-match winless streak, and to make matters worse, the club has brought in little reinforcements to make sure that the streak will not continue into this season. Outside of forward Jay Rodriguez and Egyptian international Ahmed Hegazi, West Brom have not spent the money to further improve the squad under manager Tony Pulis.

Despite the disappointing finish to last season, the Baggies proved that they are one of the more dogged, driven teams in the Premier League. They will have to operate under that state of mind once again they hope to finish in the top half.

WEST HAM UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

In their first season at the London Stadium, the bright future of West Ham seemed to have dissipated, with the team winning just seven home matches. Manager Slaven Bilic will hope new signings such as Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta will help the Hammers improve not just their home form, but last season’s tenth-place finish as well.

Last season, West Ham forwards scored just 15 goals between them, which means all eyes will be on striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to rectify that problem. The “Little Pea” averaged about one goal every three matches during his time at Manchester United from 2010 to 2014. If he can buck West Ham’s trend of underperforming strikers, West Ham have the talent to return to the top seven for the second time in three seasons.

Of course, as fate has it, Chicharito’s first game back in the Premier League will be at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

2017/2018 English Premier Table

1. Chelsea
2. Tottenham Hotspur
3. Manchester City
4. Manchester United
5. Liverpool
6. Arsenal
7. Everton
8. West Ham United
9. Bournemouth
10. West Bromwich Albion
11. Leicester City
12. Southampton
13. Crystal Palace
14. Swansea City
15. Newcastle United
16. Stoke City
17. Burnley
18. Brighton and Hove Albion
19. Watford
20. Huddersfield Town

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