Premier League 2015-16 Season Preview

Wenger

The 2015-16 Premier League season kicks off later today, when Manchester United face Tottenham at Old Trafford from 12:45 pm. Chelsea are the reigning champions, and they will meet Swansea in today’s evening fixture. With less than a month until the close of the transfer window, at the start of this week the Premier League’s clubs collectively passed the £500 million spending mark for the summer. From next year, the league’s television rights deal will increase, from £3.018 billion to £5.136 billion over three seasons.

Still as things stand, some of the league’s top clubs – both Chelsea and Arsenal, who met over last weekend’s Community Shield, with Arsenal emerging the 1-0 victors; lower down the table Tottenham and Everton; and even by their standards Manchester City – have so far refrained from spending big money. This may change; but regardless, their squads are already such that we face an increasingly stratified top tier. The best six or seven sides in the league are some distance from the rest, with a brief mid-table, before a host of clubs concern themselves primarily with the fight against relegation. What follows provides the incomings and outgoings, predicted finishes, key players, and comments for all twenty Premier League clubs.

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Arsenal

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Incomings: Petr Cech (Chelsea, £10 million), Jeff Reine-Adelaide & Yassin Fortune (Lens, Combined £3 million)

Outgoings: Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray, £1.8 million), Abou Diaby (Marseille, Free), Ryo Miyaichi (St Pauli, Free), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham, Loan), Serge Gnabry (West Brom, Loan), Yaya Sanogo (Ajax, Loan)

Last Season: 3rd

Predicted Finish: 1st

Key Player: Alexis Sanchez

Comments: With the purchase of Petr Cech likely to strengthen Arsenal’s defence, there seems a genuine belief – radiating from Arsene Wenger throughout the side and beyond – that they are ready to challenge for the Premier League title, last won by the club back in 2003-04. Arsenal possess the best array of attacking talent in the league, and remain capable of playing the most attractive, one-touch football in the final third of the pitch. Last season they also rediscovered the way to play incisively on the counter attack. It’s tempting to think that they’ll just fall short – they still arguably lack a ball-winning midfielder and strength in the full-back positions – but it would be rejuvenating for the game if they were to become champions.

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Aston Villa

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Incomings: Idrissa Gueye (Lille, £9 million), Jordan Ayew (Lorient, £8.4 million), Jordan Veretout (Nantes, £8 million), Jordan Amavi (Nice, £7.7 million), Rudy Gestede (Blackburn, £6 million), Scott Sinclair (Manchester City, £2.5 million), Jose Angel Crespo (Bologna, £500,000), Micah Richards (Manchester City, Free), Mark Bunn (Norwich, Free)

Outgoings: Christian Benteke (Liverpool, £32.5 million), Fabian Delph (Manchester City, £8 million), Andreas Weimann (Derby, £2.5 million), Matthew Lowton (Burnley, £1 million), Yacouba Sylla (Rennes, £1 million), Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg, Free), Darren Bent (Derby, Free), Shay Given (Stoke, Free), Antonio Luna (Eibar, Free), Aly Cissokho (Porto, Loan), Ron Vlaar (End of contract)

Last Season: 17th

Predicted Finish: 12th

Key Player: Idrissa Gueye

Comments: Despite losing their talisman in Christian Benteke, and their captain in Fabian Delph, Aston Villa have bought well over the summer and should stay out of the relegation scrap. Rather than going for a few big-money replacements, they have acquired depth and options. Jordan Ayew doesn’t have the reputation of his older brother, but he’s a capable all-round striker; while Rudy Gestede is perhaps a poor man’s Benteke, but should still prove effective at the head of the attack. Gueye and Veretout are highly regarded young midfielders, and Jordan Amavi a dynamic left-back who could prove one of the signings of the season if the new players gel. It will be interesting to watch Micah Richards in the centre of the Villa defence, given his entrenched reputation for thoughtlessness.

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Bournemouth

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Incomings: Tyrone Mings (Ipswich, £8 million), Max Gradel (Saint-Etienne, £7 million), Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough, £3.5 million), Sylvain Distin (Everton, Free), Josh King (Blackburn, Free), Artur Boruc (Southampton, Free), Christian Atsu (Chelsea, Loan)

Outgoings: Brett Pitman (Ipswich, Undisclosed), Mohamed Coulibaly (Racing Santander, Free), Josh McQuoid (Luton, Free)

Last Season: Championship (1st)

Predicted Finish: 18th

Key Player: Harry Arter

Comments: While Bournemouth haven’t added vastly to their squad – Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel should prove solid additions, though Jose Mourinho’s claim that Gradel could play for Chelsea must be one of the most spurious of the summer; while Lee Tomlin is talented but inconsistent – they’ll hope to build on their excellent performances in the Championship last season, and they have a reasonable chance of staying up. A passing side, Gradel, Atsu, and King should complement their quick attack, built last term around the pace of Callum Wilson. Harry Arter will be key in the midfield. But Bournemouth may prove weak in the centre of defence, with Sylvain Distin once an excellent player, but now 37 years old and arriving on the back of a struggling season with Everton.

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Crystal Palace

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Incomings: Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain, £10 million), Connor Wickham (Sunderland, £7 million), Alex McCarthy (Reading, £3 million), Bakary Sako (Wolves, Free), Patrick Bamford (Chelsea, Loan)

Outgoings: Lewis Price (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Kyle De Silva (Notts County, Free), Hiram Boateng (Plymouth, Loan), Ryan Inniss (Port Vale, Loan)

Last Season: 10th

Predicted Finish: 16th

Key Player: Yohan Cabaye

Comments: After the second half of last season, Crystal Palace supporters will understandably look forward with optimism to the coming campaign. However while manager Alan Pardew can ride waves of good form, over the longer term he tends to wilt once a few results go against his side, showing a lack of ideas and retreating towards a reactionary style of play. In his first full season with the club, securing sufficient points to avoid relegation will remain the priority. Yohan Cabaye is a very good player in the right team: a fantastic passer of the ball, a driven competitor, and with the ability to score goals in an advanced position, although he lacks the footwork and the speed to be top class, while played deeper in the midfield his positional play can be poor. Palace’s pacy wide players should complement him well. On the other hand, as of writing they still lack a goalscorer, and look vulnerable at the back.

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Chelsea

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Incomings: Asmir Begovic (Stoke, £8 million), Nathan (Paranaense, £3 million), Danilo Pantic (Partizan, £1.25 million), Radamel Falcao (Monaco, Loan)

Outgoings: Petr Cech (Arsenal, £10 million), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, £11 million), Josh McEachran (Brentford, £750,000), Didier Drogba (Montreal, Free), Mohamed Salah (Roma, Loan), Marco van Ginkel (Stoke, Loan), Patrick Bamford (Crystal Palace, Loan), Mario Pasalic (Monaco, Loan), Danilo Pantic (Vitsse, Loan), Christian Atsu (Bournemouth, Loan), Gael Kakuta (Seville, Loan), Isaiah Brown (Vitesse, Loan), Nathan (Vitesse, Loan)

Last Season: 1st

Predicted Finish: 2nd

Key Player: Eden Hazard

Comments: A peculiar summer for Chelsea. They will still be the team to beat, and Jose Mourinho must be content with his squad and his powers of manipulation. But with Radamel Falcao surely only signed to appease Mourinho’s agent, Diego Costa looking like damaged goods, and Cesc Fabregas yet to prove he can perform over the duration of a season, they will remain heavily reliant on Eden Hazard for success. Loic Remy could take the opportunity to establish himself.

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Everton

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Incomings: Gerard Deulofeu (Barclelona, £4.3 million), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United, Free)

Outgoings: Chris Long (Burnley, Undisclosed), Sylvain Distin (Bournemouth, Free), Antolin Alcaraz (Las Palmas, Free), Luke Garbutt (Fulham, Loan)

Last Season: 11th

Predicted Finish: 8th

Key Player: Romelu Lukaku

Comments: A quiet transfer window so far for Everton, who will surely look to strengthen further – especially at the back – but they have been hampered by the unwanted attention lavished on John Stones. Deulofeu returns to the club permanently and for an excellent price, and his pace and willingness to take players on was lacking last season. Cleverley too could come good playing for a manger who trusts him, and whose style of play he well suits. Work is needed defensively, even if Stones stays; while the season could see the emergence of Tyias Browning. But to get back towards the top of the table, Everton will need to see much more from Romelu Lukaku, who may be given more of an opportunity to forge a coherent partnership with Kevin Mirallas, who has just signed a new contract.

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Leicester

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Incomings: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz, £7 million), N’Golo Kante (Caen, £5.6 million), Yohan Benaloune (Atalanta, £5.6 million), Robert Huth (Stoke, £3 million), Christian Fuchs (Schalke, Free)

Outgoings: Chris Wood (Leeds, Undisclosed), Anthony Knockaert (Standard Liege, Free), Tom Hopper (Scunthorpe, Free), Matthew Upson (MK Dons, Free), Paul Konchesky (QPR, Loan), Ben Hamer (Nottingham Forest, Loan), Esteban Cambiasso (Olympiakos, End of contract)

Last Season: 14th

Predicted Finish: 19th

Key Player: Robert Huth

Comments: Not a good summer for Leicester, who sacked Nigel Pearson, the manager who rallied his players to safety last season, and lost Esteban Cambiasso, the pivotal figure in their midfield. Claudio Ranieri was once a highly competent coach, but age and pressures and repeated criticisms appear to have taken their toll. Shinji Okazaki at 29 years old seems an uncertain addition to an attack short on goals. Robert Huth will lead a new-look defence, but Leicester appear set for a struggle.

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Liverpool

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Incomings: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5 million), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim, £29 million), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton, £12.5 million), Joe Gomez (Charlton, Free), James Milner (Manchester City, Free), Danny Ings (Burnley, Free), Adam Bogdan (Bolton, Free)

Outgoings: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, £44 million), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo, £3.5 million), Rickie Lambert (West Brom, £3 million), Sebastian Coates (Sunderland, £2 million), Glen Johnson (Stoke, Free), Steven Gerrard (Los Angeles, End of contract), Luis Alberto (Deportivo, Loan), Andre Wisdom (Norwich, Loan), Sheyi Ojo (Wolves, Loan)

Last Season: 6th

Predicted Finish: 5th

Key Player: Philippe Coutinho

Comments: In January 2013, when Brendan Rodgers added Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to an attack already featuring Luis Suarez, it seemed like a gamble. All three were quick, technically accomplished, but slight players who had often been played – against their wishes – in wide positions. However Liverpool began attacking with pace and pressing with intensity high up the pitch, and the following season they almost won the title. They continue to lack today the same sort of clarity. Christian Benteke is a fantastic forward, fully worth his fee: more than a target man, he has good feet, he can drop off to link the play, and he is an exceptional finisher. But it’s not easy to see how he will link with Sturridge and Firmino – an enticing prospect, but one who didn’t have a great season last term with Hoffenheim. And can Danny Ings and James Milner really add a level to Liverpool’s game to help them back towards the Champions League?

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Manchester City

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Incomings: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool, £44 million), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa, £8 million), Enes Unal (Bursaspor, £2 million), Patrick Roberts (Fulham, Undisclosed)

Outgoings: Alvaro Negredo (Valencia, £19 million), Karim Rekik (Marseille, £3 million), Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa, £2.5 million), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic, £1.5 million), James Milner (Liverpool, Free), John Guidetti (Celta Vigo, Free), Micah Richards (Aston Villa, Free), Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan, Loan), Enes Unal (Genk, Loan), Seko Fofana (Bastia, Loan)

Last Season: 2nd

Predicted Finish: 3rd

Key Player: Sergio Aguero

Comments: It feels like Manchester City are treading water, perhaps not wholeheartedly trusting in Manuel Pellegrini, but also pursuing a perverse transfer policy that only seems to bear the home-grown quota in mind. Fabian Delph won’t offer anything to their team – his usefulness ended upon the conclusion of the most unedifying but still entertaining transfer saga yet witnessed in the modern game – and Raheem Sterling came grossly overpriced at £44 million. Perhaps Kevin De Bruyne will arrive, rendering Sterling obsolete, and he could forge a devastating partnership with a fit Sergio Aguero. But Manchester City could still use a couple of substantial additions up front and at the back.

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Manchester United

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Incomings: Memphis Depay (PSV, £25 million), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton, £25 million), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, £14 million), Matteo Darmian (Torino, £12.7 million), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria, Free)

Outgoings: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain, £44 million), Nani (Fenerbahce, £4.25 million) Robin Van Persie (Fenerbahce, £3.84 million), Rafael (Lyon, £2.5 million), Angelo Henriquez (Dynamo Zagreb, £1.2 million), Reece James (Wigan, Undisclosed), Tom Cleverley (Everton, Free), Ben Amos (Bolton, Free), Will Keane (Preston, Loan)

Last Season: 4th

Predicted Finish: 4th

Key Player: Pedro

Comments: Manchester United are heading into the new season in disarray. Completing the signings of Depay, Darmian, and then Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin, they looked in such a strong position: adding excitement and functionality, and finally resolving their longstanding issues in the centre of the park. But then they sold Robin van Persie and Rafael: two players still with plenty to offer, but who left, along with Nani, for absurdly small fees. And most damaging, the David de Gea saga, involving Real Madrid and implicating Sergio Ramos, has intensified to the point that Louis van Gaal has left De Gea out of his opening squad. The issue needs to be resolved at once, because Sergio Romero is no replacement. Meanwhile Pedro’s arrival is imminent, and he could prove vital to the success of Manchester United’s season, because otherwise they look short on goals.

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Newcastle

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Incomings: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV, £14.5 million), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Anderlecht, £13 million), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht, £7 million)

Outgoings: Davide Santon (Inter Milan, £2.8 million), Ryan Taylor (Hull, End of contract), Jonas Gutierrez (End of contract), Sammy Ameobi (Cardiff, Loan), Adam Armstrong (Coventry, Loan)

Last Season: 15th

Predicted Finish: 10th

Key Player: Georginio Wijnaldum

Comments: Newcastle have focused their spending on three ostensibly young, highly-rated talents. With a much improved coaching staff, they should have enough to finish mid-table and eschew what has become a routine second-half-of-the-season collapse. But their squad remains unbalanced: sorely short in the wide areas; possessing an abundance of centre-backs, but with only two or three – at a push – who are worth playing in a competitive match in the Premier League. If Steve McClaren and his fellow coaches manage to organise the defence, there is enough ability higher up the pitch for Newcastle to do reasonably well, but opportunities must be given to the youngsters Rolando Aarons and Ayoze Perez.

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Norwich

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Incomings: Robbie Brady (Hull, £7 million), Graham Dorrans (West Brom, Undisclosed), Youssouf Mulumbu (West Brom, Free), Jake Kean (Blackburn, Free), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool, Loan)

Outgoings: Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, Free), Javier Garrido (Las Palmas, Free), Ignasi Miquel (Ponferradina, Free), Luciano Becchio (End of contract), Carlos Cuellar (End of contract)

Last Season: Championship (3rd)

Predicted Finish: 20th

Key Player: Youssouf Mulumbu

Comments: While Alex Neil and his players did a superb job last season, achieving promotion through the playoffs, it is hard to see how this squad betters the markedly similar one relegated from the Premier League little over a year ago. Youssouf Mulumbu will add steel to the midfield, and Robbie Brady can provide assists from his position down the left flank. But there are no top-flight goalscorers in this side, and Andre Wisdom won’t sufficiently bolster their defence.

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Southampton

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Incomings: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord, £8 million), Juanmi (Malaga, £5 million), Cedric Soares (Sporting Lisbon, £4.7 million), Cuco Martina (FC Twente, £1 million), Steven Caulker (QPR, Loan), Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham, Loan)

Outgoings: Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United, £25 million), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool, £12.5 million), Dani Osvaldo (Porto, Free), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth, Free), Jack Stephens (Middlesbrough, Loan), Jordan Turnbull (Swindon, Loan), Sam Gallagher (MK Dons, Loan)

Last Season: 7th

Predicted Finish: 6th

Key Player: Jordy Clasie

Comments: Southampton look eminently capable of repeating last season’s feat: namely, one of excelling and even improving despite losing some of your prominent players. Jordy Clasie and Cedric Soares have the potential to effortlessly replace Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne. After missing out on Toby Alderweireld, Southampton are perhaps light in the centre of defence; but on the other hand they will welcome back Jay Rodriguez, to an attack already enhanced by the young Spanish international Juanmi. Hopefully Southampton can also refute the notion that a Europa League run is ruinous to a team’s Premier League campaign.

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Stoke

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Incomings: Joselu (Hannover, £5.75 million), Philipp Wollscheid (Bayer Leverkusen, £2.5 million), Jakob Haugaard (Midtjylland, £400,000), Glen Johnson (Liverpool, Free), Shay Given (Aston Villa, Free), Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona, Free), Moha (Barcelona B, Free), Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea, Loan)

Outgoings: Asmir Begovic (Chelsea, £8 million), Steven Nzonzi (Seville, £7 million), Robert Huth (Leicester, £3 million), Jamie Ness (Scunthorpe, Free), Wilson Palacios (End of contract), Thomas Sorensen (Retired)

Last Season: 9th

Predicted Finish: 11th

Key Player: Mame Biram Diouf

Comments: Stoke have had an interesting transfer window, spending little money, and losing some of their most established players in Asmir Begovic, Steven Nzonzi, and Robert Huth. They have taken something of a risk, hoping to rejuvenate the careers of a number of free transfers. Ibrahim Afellay is an exceptional creative talent, but very injury-prone; and though Mame Biram Diouf is a dynamic striker and Joselu a tall and technical centre forward, Stoke may require Bojan to provide their creative spark. Steven Nzonzi’s departure leaves loanee Marco van Ginkel with big shoes to fill.

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Sunderland

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Incomings: Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kyiv, £8 million), Ricky Alvarez (Inter Milan, £7.5 million), Younes Kaboul (Tottenham, £3 million), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool, £2 million), Adam Matthews (Celtic, £2 million), Yann M’Vila (Rubin Kazan, Loan)

Outgoings: Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace, £7 million), El Hadji Ba (Charlton, Undisclosed)

Last Season: 16th

Predicted Finish: 13th

Key Player: Younes Kaboul

Comments: Sunderland’s first big task of the summer was completed when they belatedly persuaded Dick Advocaat to stay on as manager. And since then they have bought fairly well: Jeremain Lens offers directness to their attack, and if the signing of Ricky Alvarez is authorised and the player gets fit, he has the ability to supply the side’s strikers. A fit Younes Kaboul will significantly enhance Sunderland’s defence; while Yann M’Vila represents a risk on the basis of his temperament. Fitness problems and a misfiring front-line could still see Sunderland towards the low end of the league.

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Swansea

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Incomings: Eder (Braga, £5 million), Franck Tabanou (Saint-Etienne, £3.5 million), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Heerenveen, £600,000), Oliver McBurnie (Bradford, Undisclosed), Andre Ayew (Marseille, Free)

Outgoings: Ashley Richards (Fulham, £500,000), Kenji Gorre (Den Haag, Loan), Gerhard Tremmel (End of contract)

Last Season: 8th

Predicted Finish: 9th

Key Player: Andre Ayew

Comments: With Andre Ayew – a hardworking attacking midfielder who can play out wide and behind a forward, and a real coup for Swansea on a free transfer – and Gylfi Sigurdsson, Swansea shouldn’t be short on workrate and creativity in the attacking third. But in their first full season without Wilfried Bony, goals could prove problematic. Eder has often flattered to deceive for Portugal, and Swansea will be reliant on Bafetimbi Gomis if they are to match last season’s good showing. They remain one of the Premier League’s most likeable sides.

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Tottenham

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Incomings: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid, £11.5 million), Kevin Wimmer (Cologne, £4.3 million), Kieran Trippier (Burnley, £3.5 million)

Outgoings: Paulinho (Guangzhou, £9.9 million), Benjamin Stambouli (Paris Saint-Germain, £6 million), Etienne Capoue (Watford, £5.7 million), Vlad Chiriches (Napoli, £4.5 million), Lewis Holtby (Hamburg, £4 million), Younes Kaboul (Sunderland, £3 million), Channing Campbell-Young (Bolton, Undisclosed), Souleymane Coulibaly (Peterborough, Undisclosed), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Saint-Etienne, Free), Cristian Ceballos (Charlton, Free)

Last Season: 5th

Predicted Finish: 7th

Key Player: Harry Kane

Comments: Offloading a host of players whose careers never quite took off with the club, it is surprising that Tottenham haven’t yet invested in their attack. The impact of the ongoing speculation regarding the futures of Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris has been minimised, and at the moment, both look likely to stay for the season. With the signings they have made, Tottenham have quality and competition for places throughout the defence; and they already possess and a wealth of promising young midfielders. They will be looking for more still from Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela. But they need some competent back-up for Kane not to put their season at risk.

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Watford

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Incomings: Jose Manuel Jurado (Spartak Moscow, £6 million), Etienne Capoue (Tottenham, £5.7 million), Steven Berghuis (AZ Alkmaar, £4.6 million), Valon Behrami (Hamburg, £2.5 million), Jose Holebas (Olympiakos, £1.8 million), Juanfran (Real Betis, £1 million), Matej Vydra (Udinese, Undisclosed), Sebastien Prodl (Werder Bremen, Free), Giedrius Arlauskis (Steaua Bucharest, Free), Miguel Britos (Napoli, Free), Allan-Romeo Nyom (Udinese, Free)

Outgoings: Lewis McGugan (Sheffield Wednesday, £300,000), Jonathan Bond (Reading, Undisclosed), Juanfran (Deportivo, Loan), Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough, Loan), Uche Ikpeazu (Port Vale, Loan), Marco Motta (End of contract)

Last Season: Championship (2nd)

Predicted Finish: 14th

Key Player: Troy Deeney

Comments: Though they secured automatic promotion last season and narrowly missed out on becoming Championship champions, over the summer Watford have pushed ahead with a thorough overhaul. Slavisa Jokanovic has been replaced as manager by the experienced Quique Sanchez Flores, and the club has brought in a mass of new players. It’s a very different tactic to that typically utilised by promoted clubs these days: most look to keep a core group of successful Championship players intact. But Watford appear to have bought sensibly: Etienne Capoue, Sebastien Prodl, and Miguel Britos boast top-flight experience across Europe, Jose Jurado and Steven Berghuis offer an exciting line of supply, and Matej Vydra has finally signed with the club.

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West Brom

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Incomings: James Chester (Hull, £8 million), Rickie Lambert (Liverpool, £3 million), James McClean (Wigan, £1.5 million), Serge Gnabry (Arsenal, Loan)

Outgoings: Graham Dorrans (Norwich, Undisclosed), Youssouf Mulumbu (Norwich, Free), Chris Baird (Derby, Free), Alex Jones (Birmingham, Free), Donervon Daniels (Wigan, Free), Jason Davidson (Huddersfield, Free)

Last Season: 13th

Predicted Finish: 17th

Key Player: Saido Berahino

Comments: Although Tony Pulis’ ability to organise stern defences is at this point beyond question, West Brom could still find themselves dragged into a relegation fight this season. Their squad is small, and their summer purchases uninspiring: James McClean has hitherto looked far from a Premier League player, direct but one-dimensional, lacking in intelligent movement and tricks; and Rickie Lambert offers a different option with his physicality up front, but he is slow and needs service. West Brom must keep Saido Berahino, and hope for improvement from record signing Brown Ideye. Serge Gnabry, on loan from Arsenal, will add energy through the midfield.

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West Ham

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Incomings: Dimitri Payet (Marseille, £10.7 million), Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus, £8 million), Pedro Obiang (Sampdoria, £4.3 million), Stephen Hendrie (Hamilton, £1 million), Darren Randolph (Birmingham, Free), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, Loan), Manuel Lanzini (Al-Jazira, Loan)

Outgoings: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough, £5.5 million), Dan Potts (Luton, Free), Guy Demel (End of contract), Jussi Jaaskelainen (End of contract), Carlton Cole (End of contract), Nene (End of contract)

Last Season: 12th

Predicted Finish: 15th

Key Player: Dimitri Payet

Comments: West Ham are fumbling into the Premier League season, having tumbled out of the Europa League in its qualifying stages, playing dismally and picking below-strength sides which suggest the sole concern – a year away from their move to the Olympic Stadium – will be retaining Premier League status. Slaven Bilic has thus far underwhelmed as the replacement for the highly obnoxious but still harshly treated former manager Sam Allardyce. Still, West Ham have made some good purchases: Ogbonna and Obiang should add bite in the centre of the pitch; while Dimitri Payet doesn’t score many goals, but the Frenchman, who starred for Marseille last season, is one of Europe’s top providers of assists. Andy Carroll is also reportedly close to fitness – however long it lasts.

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