Premier League 2017-18 Preview

The Premier League returns this weekend. As always the preseason has been dominated by transfers, managerial changes and speculation as to what will happen in the coming season.

Without further ado let’s begin this Premier League preview!

The Teams
Arsenal

This could be a landmark season for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger remains manager but he is in charge of a team that will compete in the Europa Legaue, not the Champions League after last season’s fifth place finish. May’s FA Cup Final success is unlikely to keep the fans happy for long especially if they lose star man Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners have strengthened their squad by signing full-back Sead Kolasinac and striker Alexandre Lacazette.

Arsenal will hope to challenge for the title but a top four finish is a must to secure a Champions League place.

First game: Friday August 11th at home facing Leicester City.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 5th
  • Top scorer – Alexis Sanchez 24
  • FA Cup – Winners
  • League Cup – Quarter-finals
Bournemouth

Anybody still referring to “plucky little Bournemouth” should hang their heads in shame. Last season saw Eddie Howe’s men record a best-ever league finish (ninth) and this summer there has been some serious transfer activity on the south coast, with Jermain Defoe arriving from Sunderland and keeper Asmir Begovic and defender Nathan Ake joining from Chelsea.

Bournemouth will again prioritize retaining their Premier League status anything after that is a bonus but a mid-table finish is certainly a reasonable prediction.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to West Brom.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 9th
  • Top scorer – Josh King 16
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Brighton

Brighton are back in the top flight for the first time in 34 year. In that time, they almost dropped out of the Football League but with the backing of Tony Bloom they have clawed their way back up the divisions. Chris Hughton’s men came second in the Championship last season to secure automatic promotion. The Seagulls face a tough task this season as they face opposition of a different caliber.

They have strengthened their side with a number of signings most recently acquiring PSV Eindhoven’s Davy Pröpper who will add to the sides midfield.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home to Manchester City.

Last season:

  • Championship – 2nd
  • Top scorer – Glenn Murray 23
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Burnley

Burnley continued to make steady progress last season under Sean Dyche. Their outstanding home form laid the foundations for a successful first season back in the Premier League, with virtually the same side that won promotion from the Championship. The signing of Jonathan Walters from Stoke will certainly add to the Clarets attacking prowess. They avoided getting drawn into a relegation battle last season and the impressive Dyche earned more plaudits for his no-nonsense style.

They will look to improve on last season but will of course be more concerned with avoiding the relegation battle.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Chelsea.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 16th
  • Top scorer – Sam Vokes 10
  • FA Cup – 5th round
  • League Cup – 2nd round
Chelsea

Antonio Conte brought an exciting dynamism to Chelsea last season and delivered an unexpected but impressive title success. The Blues now face the challenge of being back in European competition, with the added pressure of fixture congestion, while last season’s star performer Eden Hazard will miss the opening weeks of the season through injury/

The champions have added to their squad in bringing in centre back Antonio Rudiger from AS Roma and defensive midfielder Tiémoué Bakayoko from AS Monaco. The biggest addition to the squad has been striker Alvaro Morata who joins the Blues from Real Madrid.

Conte’s men certainly look prepared for a testing title defence and will no doubt look to retain their title. Anything other than a top four finish will be seen as a failure.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Burnely.

Last season:

  • Premier League – Champions
  • Top scorer – Diego Costa 20
  • FA Cup – Runners-up
  • League Cup – 4th round
Crystal Palace

The shock departure of Sam Allardyce a few days after the end of last season left Palace in limbo. The former England boss restored his reputation by saving Palace from the drop but then opted for retirement. The hiring of Frank De Boer as Allardyce’s replacement is a bold statement of intent by a Palace board that is keen to avoid the relegation struggles of recent seasons. De Boer says he wants to see Palace play a more possession based game.

The Dutch man will need striker Christian Benteke to replicate his fine form from last season and will hope Wilfried Zaha can continue to both create and score goals

The main priority will be to avoid relegation and hope De Boer can introduce his style of play without too many hiccups.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Huddersfield.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 14th
  • Top scorer – Christian Benteke 15
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Everton

Even with the loss of Romelu Lukaku and the future of Ross Barkley in doubt, Everton fans are living in exciting times. Clever summer signings – including goalkeeper Jordan Pickord, defender Michael Kane, midfielder Davy Klaassen and forward Sandro Ramirez – will improve the squad, while promising youngsters including a number who starred in England’s Under-20 World Cup victory are ready to be deployed by Ronald Koeman.

The return of Wayne Rooney adds further excitement for Everton fans. It remains to be seen if Rooney still has what it takes but he will surely score a few for his boyhood club.

Koeman will look to rub shoulders with the big boys and will certainly aim to finish in a Europa League position.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Stoke.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 7th
  • Top scorer – Romelu Lukaku 25
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Huddersfield Town

After their dramatic Wembley play-off triumph over Reading on penalties, Huddersfield are back in the top flight for the first time since 1972, some 42 years ago.

Their promotion was a just reward for manager David Wagner’s high tempo pressing game – and was achieved by a team with one of the smallest wage bills in the Championship. The club have a rich pedigree though; they were champions of England three times in a row in the 1920s and previous players include Denis Law and 1966 World Cup winner Ray Wilson.

Wagner plans to stick with most of the players that won promotion. They include Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy, with the club having converted his loan deal into a permanent transfer from Man City.

Huddersfield fans will dream of staying up but the club looks certain to be involved in the relegation battle. You can’t however rule them out taking a few scalps along the way as they relish the challenge of Premier League football.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Crystal Palace.

Last season:

  • Championship – 5th
  • Top scorer – Elias Kachunga 12
  • FA Cup – 5th round
  • League Cup – 1st round
Leicester City

The 2016 Premier League champions are hoping for a season of stability after the highs and lows of last year: a Champions League run coupled with a relegation battle and the sacking of title-winning coach Claudio Ranieri. The Foxes swooped for a young defender Harry Maguire, paying relegated Hull City £12m, but mercurial winger Riyad Mahrez could yet depart. If he does Craig Shakespeare has added Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho to his front line costing £25m.

Leicester will look for a top ten finish and will hope to avoid a repeat of the bad start they endured last season.

First game: Friday August 11th away to Arsenal.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 12th
  • Top scorer – Jamie Vardy 13
  • FA Cup – 5th round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Liverpool

Champions League football returns to Anfield this autumn as Liverpool continue to make steady progress under Jurgen Klopp. Record signing Mohamed Salah, a £34m capture from AS Roma, will bring pace and trickery to an already talented front line where Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho shone last season. Coutinho’s future remains uncertain as FC Barcelona eye up the Brazilian but should he stay Liverpool will be a force to be reckoned with.

The return of European football could have a negative impact on The Reds title challenge but a top four finish is will within their reach.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Watford.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 4th
  • Top Scorer – Philippe Coutinho 13, Sadio Mane 13
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – Semi-finals
Manchester City

 After last season’s trophyless campaign – the first of Pep Guardiola’s coaching career – City have had a busy summer, with major new arrivals including midfielder Bernardo Silva from AS Monaco, goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica and full-backs Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy all joining from Tottenham, Real Madrid and Monaco respectively. These additions will help Guardiola overhaul City’s ageing defence.

Guardiola is starting to build the team he wants and this seasons should see City challenge for the title. Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus will all play crucial roles as The Citizens look to battle for European glory as well as the league title.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Brighton.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 3rd
  • Top scorer – Sergio Aguero 20
  • FA Cup – Semi-finals
  • League Cup – 4th round
Manchester United

Have United finally moved on from Alex Ferguson? David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal both struggled to live up to expectations but Jose Mourinho has raised hopes once again and Old Trafford. Mourinho’s Premier League record was no better than Moyes or Van Gaal – United missed out on the Champions League places again last season – but the “Special One” delivered a League Cup success and the Europa League triumph in Stockholm.

New signing Victor Lindelof could form a powerful central defensive partnership with Eric Bailly, while United have already replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was released after just one season with Romelu Lukaku who cost the Red Devils £75m. Mourinho has also strengthened his midfield by bringing in Nemanja Matić for £40m who he coached at Chelsea.

United are on the rise once again and will now look to establish themselves as title contenders once again.

First game: Sunday August 13th at home facing West Ham.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 6th
  • Top scorer – Zlatan Ibrahimovic 17
  • FA Cup – Quarter-finals
  • League Cup – Winners
  • Europa League – Winners
Newcastle United

Newcastle are back in the Premier League after just one season away. Manager Rafa Benitez was justified in his decision to stay on Tyneside following relegation in 2016. Despite the sale of players such as Andros Townsend and Mousa Sissoko, the new signings – Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Mo diame and Isaac Hayden – quickly gelled. Frome October 2016 the Magpies were never out of the Championship’s top two and deservedly won the league and promotion.

Benitez will focus on keeping Newcastle in the Premier League and will hope for a mid-table finish. If Newcastle are involved in the relegation battle the Spaniard could end up packing his bags.

First game: Sunday August 13th at home facing Tottenham.

Last season:

  • Championship – 1st
  • Top scorer – Dwight Gayle 23
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – Quarter-finals
Southampton

It’s been all change at Southampton this summer, with Mauricio Pellegrino replacing Claude Puel after just one season in charge. Puel guided the team to the League Cup final and a comfortable eight place in the Premier League,but fans were not completely appreciative of his conservative tactics.

The other major story involving the Saints this summer has surrounded centre back Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutchman has attracted attention from Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. He has reportedly requested a transfer but he remains at the club. Time is ticking and the longer this saga drags on the more damage will be done to the team’s unity.

The Saints will hope to replicate last season and will be excited to see how new boss Pellegrino gets the team playing.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Swansea

Last season:

  • Premier League – 8th
  • Top scorer – Charlie Austin 9
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – Runners-up
Stoke City

Stoke are the Steady Eddies of the Premier League, rarely leaving the mid-table places. Manager Mark Hughes has moved the club on from the safety-first tactics of the Tony Pulis era but big name signings such as Shaqiri, Bojan and Imboula have all failed to sparkle on a consistent level. Veteran midfielder Darren Fletcher was the first signing of the summer joining on a free from West Brom. The sales of Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters should hurt The Potters too much but the loss of Marko Arnautovic to West Ham is a major blow.

It is unlikely Stoke will move too far up or down the table so expect yet another mid-table finish with a few scalps taken along the way.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Everton.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 13th
  • Top scorer – Peter Crouch 10
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Swansea City

Swansea are looking forward with confidence to the new campaign after the ups and downs of last season when three different managers (Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley and Paul Clement) took charge at the Liberty Stadium. Hopes will be further raised following a deal for Spanish midfielder Roque Mesa and a loan for Chelsea teenager Tammy Abraham. The one dark cloud hanging over the club is the future of Gylfi Sigurdsson. The midfield maestro is crucial to the Swans success and should he leave they will be certain to be drawn into the relegation scrap.

A lot depends on how the squad gels in the opening weeks. If things don’t get off to a smooth start the Swans could be facing the drop.

First game: Saturday August 12th away to Southampton.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 15th
  • Top scorer – Fernando Llorente 15
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – 3rd round
Tottenham Hotspur

After their highest league finish since 1963, last season’s Premier League runners-up are back in the Champions League and will be playing all their home games – league,Europe and cup – at Wembley while a new home is built at White Heart Lane. The big question is whether Spurs can adapt to the challenge of playing at the national stadium.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has been extremely quite this summer with no new signing to date. The only departures have been defenders Federico Fazio and Kyle Walker who left for AS Roma and Manchester City respectively.

Harry Kane, Delle Alli, Heung-min Son and Christian Eriksen will push Spurs towards the title once again but they face a tough task with all their rivals strengthening their squads this summer. A top four finish should be achievable for Pochettino’s men.

First game: Sunday August 13th away to Newcastle United.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 2nd
  • Top scorer – Harry Kane 29
  • FA Cup – Semi-finals
  • League Cup – 4th round
Watford

It’s all change again at Vicarage Road as the Hornets start the new season with a new manager for the fifth successive year. Following the sacking of Italian Walter Mazzarri, in comes Portuguese boss Marco Silva, fresh from his battle against relegation with Hull City. The new man will be expected to play a more attack minded game. With that in mind, England Under 21 midfielder Will Hughes has been snapped up from Derby.

If Silva can get the Hornets playing his style of football a mid-table finish is not unattainable. The first battle he faces is keeping the side out of the relegation scrap.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Liverpool.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 17th
  • Top scorer – Troy Deeney 10
  • FA Cup – 4th round
  • League Cup – 2nd round
West Bromwich Albion

Last season, Tony Pulis delivered a top-10 finish, improving on the previous season’s 14th place, but his safety-first approach continued to frustrate fans, especially with the Baggies suffering early exits in the cups. An ageing squad is in need of refreshment, with veteran midfielder Darren Fletcher the first to depart the Hawthorns this summer joining Stoke on a free transfer.  The capture of Jay Rodriguez from Southampton will give the Baggies an extra bite in attack as he joins Salomon Rondon.

West Brom are unlikely to improve on a tenth place finish so fans will hope for the same as last season and in the worst case not to drop too far down the table.

First game: Saturday August 12th at home facing Bournemouth.

Last season:

  • Premier League – 10th
  • Top scorer – Salomon Rondon 8
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – 2nd round
West Ham United

West Ham are slowly adapting to life at the London Stadium. The first season at the former Olympic arena was not without its problems, with the previous season’s hero, Dimitri Payet quickly turning into a villain and leaving in a huff for Marseille. There was criticism of Slaven Bilic but he was backed by the owners and West Ham began the summer by chasing a number of big transfer targets. Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta was first to arrive on a free transfer after leaving Manchester City.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph was sold to Middlesbrough in order to make room for the loan signing of Joe Hart from Man City. Marko Arnautovic has joined from Stoke but the marquee signing has been that of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. The Mexican joins the Hammers from Bayer Levekusen for £16m and his proven goal scoring record in the Premier League will certainly excite fans.

Bilic will hope for a more stable season after the drama of last year. A top ten finish and a cup run is a reasonable expectation of this squad.

First game: Sunday 13th August away to Manchester United

Last season:

  • Premier League – 11th
  • Top scorer – Michail Antonio 9
  • FA Cup – 3rd round
  • League Cup – Quarter-finals

As the Premier League returns so too does Marking The Spot’s match coverage. You can expect to find match reports and all the latest news from the English top flight as it happens but on the site and on our social media platforms.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.