Fri. Sep 25th, 2020

Man Utd

News

Premier League 2020/21 Guide: Who is in the title race and who is set for a relegation battle?

24 min read

It may have come round a lot faster than usual but the excitement levels as we prepare to welcome back the Premier League is no different to any other season.

Although they have had weeks rather than months to prepare, Premier League clubs have made the most of the small window to whip their squads into shape for the new season.

There has been plenty of activity in the transfer market too with several big-name players making the switch to England.

And with anticipation bubbling and this feeling like it could be one of the most competitive top-flight seasons ever, Sportsmail turn the magnifying glass on each team and predict how they are likely to fare.

Liverpool were crowned the Premier League champions after a long campaign last season

Liverpool were crowned the Premier League champions after a long campaign last season

Liverpool were crowned the Premier League champions after a long campaign last season

Pre-season is almost over already though with the Premier League returning on September 12

Pre-season is almost over already though with the Premier League returning on September 12

Pre-season is almost over already though with the Premier League returning on September 12

ARSENAL 

What they did well last season: 

Up until Mikel Arteta’s appointment, very little.

The Spaniard is slowly and steadily remoulding Arsenal into a team who can compete with the big boys again and it was evident from fairly early into his reign the impact he was having as performances improved towards the backend of last season.

One of the most important factors of last season for Arsenal was that they finished it on a high. Even Arteta couldn’t escape the fact that finishing eighth in the Premier League translated to a horrific campaign – which even an FA Cup triumph could not mask.  

But finishing it off with a trophy would have raised morale and help to establish a winning culture in the squad – which would’ve been further ingrained after they won the Community Shield – not to mention key in helping to ensure Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would stay put for at least another year.

Mikel Arteta is establishing a winning culture at Arsenal but still have a lot they can improve on

Mikel Arteta is establishing a winning culture at Arsenal but still have a lot they can improve on

Mikel Arteta is establishing a winning culture at Arsenal but still have a lot they can improve on

What they need to improve:

Arsenal were not without their problems at both ends of the pitch last season but their summer business tells you what Arteta felt needed addressing more urgently.

The Arsenal boss was planning for a big rebuild this summer but was given a smaller budget than expected after the club’s finances fell foul to the coronavirus pandemic.

It speaks volumes then that he spent at least half – if not the majority – of that budget on signing centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille.

Arsenal conceded more times than any other club in the top 10 last season bar Burnley and Arteta will need his team to be much more resilient if he is to crack the top four this term.

Arsenal have been over-reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and need others to step up

Arsenal have been over-reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and need others to step up

Arsenal have been over-reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and need others to step up

Biggest challenge:

Keeping Aubameyang fit/ finding an alternative source of goals.

The 31-year-old striker is by far their most valuable player and without him in the team, Arsenal are a significantly weaker force. 

Aubameyang scored 22 of their 56 goals in the league last season and Arteta will be mindful of the need for others to contribute.

Prediction: Arsenal are a better side then they were last season and should secure a spot in the Europa League at the minimum. 

Aston Villa

What they did well last season: 

Aston Villa proved they have the mentality to survive in this league.

What was most impressive about them last season was when their backs were up against the walls and people had already consigned them to the Championship, they never gave up hope.

They grafted and grinded and at times played some pretty stuff. There’s no way Dean Smith will want his side to leave their escape that late again this season though.

Jack Grealish played an instrumental role in helping Aston Villa beat the drop last season

Jack Grealish played an instrumental role in helping Aston Villa beat the drop last season

Jack Grealish played an instrumental role in helping Aston Villa beat the drop last season

What they need to improve:

Undoubtedly their away form.

How they stayed up with just two wins away from home all season boggles the mind.

The key to beating the drop is always good home form but Smith will know they must do better on the road this term.

Villa face newly-promoted Fulham in their first away game of the new season – a good opportunity for them to start strong.  

Villa struggled on the road last season and will want a better away record this term

Villa struggled on the road last season and will want a better away record this term

Villa struggled on the road last season and will want a better away record this term

Biggest challenge: 

For any team fighting for survival, scoring goals is always a problem.

Jack Grealish underlined his importance to the team with eight goals from midfield last season while Wesley chipped in with five.

Smith will want the Brazilian forward to play a bigger role this season and will have his attacking ranks strengthened with the arrival of Ollie Watkins from Brentford.

Prediction: Villa are in for another season spent hoovering perilously close to the drop zone but will ultimately stay up again.

Brighton

What they did well last season: 

One thing that stood out about Brighton last season was their fearlessness to get on the ball and play.

Over the years previous managers at Brighton had encouraged a more long-ball and crude approach – and had success doing it mind – but Graham Potter came in and immediately stamped his brand of football on the team.

Considering sweeping changes were made last summer, Brighton adapted well and now stand in good stead to push on this season.  

Graham Potter got Brighton playing an attractive brand of football last season

Graham Potter got Brighton playing an attractive brand of football last season

Graham Potter got Brighton playing an attractive brand of football last season

What they need to improve:

Turning draws into wins.

Brighton are one of the teams most would expect to be involved in a relegation battle at one point or another this season and they cannot afford to squander two extra points as often as they did last term.

No team in the Premier League drew more games than Brighton did last season and they must improve on that if they have any ambitions of finishing higher up the table.

Brighton haven't got the finances to spend big but signing Adam Lallana looks good business

Brighton haven't got the finances to spend big but signing Adam Lallana looks good business

Brighton haven’t got the finances to spend big but signing Adam Lallana looks good business

Biggest challenge:

Competing financially.

Adam Lallana was a huge coup for them this summer but Brighton have only been able to spend little over £1million on new additions.

Newly-promoted sides have benefited from large prize money pots from last season and have strengthened significantly with Leeds demonstrating their new-found wealth in the transfer market.

Should Brighton find themselves in a hole come the turn of the year, they will struggle to scrape together the resources needed to dig them out. 

Prediction: Brighton are at a crossroad, one way is up the other spells trouble, not sure which path they are going to take yet.  

Burnley

What they did well last season:

Being Burnley.

By now you’d think the surprise at how good a team Burnley are would have wore off, but no.  

Once again, after they somehow won as many games as Wolves, finished the season tenth and only five points behind Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, there was shock and cries that they were by some means unworthy of reaching such heights. 

But what Burnley have established over the past few seasons is that they are the ultimate overachievers who see no value in limiting themselves. 

Aside from having one of the best managers in the league, the club’s success has been built on hard work, doing the fundamentals well and strong home form – as they showed again last season.

Burnley outdone themselves again last season with a finish inside the top 10

Burnley outdone themselves again last season with a finish inside the top 10

Burnley outdone themselves again last season with a finish inside the top 10

What they need to improve:

Burnley can at times be very one dimensional going forward.

They have a squad full of tall and physical players and understandably play to their strengths.

But it would be beneficial for them to have another way of posing a danger aside from out wide and at set pieces. 

Biggest challenge:

Keeping Sean Dyche happy.

No manager is ever totally content. They always want a little more. More money, more players, more freedom, more power. They push constantly at the boundaries.

Dyche has worked wonders at Turf Moor but indicated a shift in his plans of the future when he publicly spoke out about his dissatisfaction with his club’s policy on player contracts last season.

There is only so far you can take a team and it feels like Dyche is reaching that point. 

Prediction: It’s true that Burnley are one of the hardest teams to guess what’s next but if Dyche stays for the duration of the season, they’ll have another campaign to enjoy.

Sean Dyche has done a marvellous job but looks to have done all he can at Burnley

Sean Dyche has done a marvellous job but looks to have done all he can at Burnley

Sean Dyche has done a marvellous job but looks to have done all he can at Burnley

Chelsea 

What they did well last season: 

Finishing in the top four and reaching an FA Cup final in his first season in charge was a huge success for Frank Lampard – especially considering he was prohibited from signing any players. 

Chelsea played some lovely stuff that was nice on the eye but occasionally lacked conviction in their play. 

They looked irrepressible at times last season but then disorderly at others – and that is to be expected with a new boss trying to embed his way of playing.

It was refreshing to see Lampard show so much trust in young players and he deserves huge amounts of praise for that. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham were two who repaid his faith with interest. 

Chelsea have made a number of exciting additions including prolific striker Timo Werner

Chelsea have made a number of exciting additions including prolific striker Timo Werner

Chelsea have made a number of exciting additions including prolific striker Timo Werner

What they need to improve:

Two things: consistency and their defence.  

Last season, Chelsea shipped far too many goals and allowed far too many points to slip through their fingers.

Their season felt very stop-start. They would win at Tottenham one week and then lost at home to Southampton the next.

Lampard is an ambitious manager and will be well aware his team need to be more focused and tight at the back.

Biggest challenge:

Integrating the new signings.

Chelsea have spent big but they have spent wisely.  

Every new signing has been a quality addition but as with any move complications are inevitable.

Chelsea’s new boys are in new surroundings now, and in some cases, have a new language and league to get accustomed to.

Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz are all expected to play a significant role in the first team this season but have not had long to gel with the squad who have had to welcome a lot of fresh faces this summer. 

Prediction: With the squad Chelsea have, there is no reason why they can’t make a good run for the title.

Frank Lampard's Chelsea could be a real forced to be reckoned with next season

Frank Lampard's Chelsea could be a real forced to be reckoned with next season

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea could be a real forced to be reckoned with next season

Crystal Palace

What they did well last season: 

Coped well considering Wilfried Zaha was not at his best last season. 

Jordan Ayew stepped up to the plate on more than one occasion and was a huge reason why they avoided being dragged into the relegation mix.

Palace were brilliant at the turn of the year but their form dramatically dropped off at the end of the campaign, which would have concerned Roy Hodgson.

Considering they made little investments last summer, a 14th place finish was a decent outcome for them.

Crystal Palace must improve their attacking play but face losing Wilfried Zaha this summer

Crystal Palace must improve their attacking play but face losing Wilfried Zaha this summer

Crystal Palace must improve their attacking play but face losing Wilfried Zaha this summer

What they need to improve:

Their cutting edge.

Eberechi Eze is a smart buy and gives Palace more creativity and another attacking threat – but he is inexperienced at this level and it is not clear if he’ll be as effective in the Premier League as he was in the Championship.

Zaha looks set to leave as well so Palace will need to find other players who can pose a danger to the opposition. 

Biggest challenge:

Goals.

Only Norwich scored fewer than the 31 they managed in the Premier League last season.

Sorry to use the old cliche, but goals win games. 

Prediction: Could be a tough season for Palace. They’ll probably find themselves closer to trouble this time around.

Eberechi Eze was a clever signing but is inexperienced at Premier League level

Eberechi Eze was a clever signing but is inexperienced at Premier League level

Eberechi Eze was a clever signing but is inexperienced at Premier League level

Everton

What they did well last season: 

There wasn’t too much to shout about on the blue half of Merseyside last season.

Getting Carlo Ancelotti in as manager was a bold and shrewd move though and the club deserve credit for showing such ambition.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s fine form was also something positive that Everton can take away from last season. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's carried on his fine form from last season and scored in recent friendly

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's carried on his fine form from last season and scored in recent friendly

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s carried on his fine form from last season and scored in recent friendly

What they need to improve:

Ancelotti will not have highlighted one specific element that needs improving but more several.

Everton weren’t really at the races and with their squad and the money they have spent, certainly underachieved last season.

Ancelotti however clearly felt he needed more oomph in his midfield with new signings Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure offering more physicality and defensive insurance.

Carlo Ancelotti has convinced some world-class players to join Everton this summer

Carlo Ancelotti has convinced some world-class players to join Everton this summer

Carlo Ancelotti has convinced some world-class players to join Everton this summer

Biggest challenge: 

Tempering expectations.

Everton have signed some exciting players this summer – no more so than James Rodriguez from Real Madrid – but other clubs around them have strengthened too and spending money has not always been the formula for success. 

Fans have endured some tough seasons in recent years but they will do well to remember that this is a fairly new manager with a squad that hasn’t been playing together for long. 

Prediction: Everton should crack the top 10 this season but it may be a year early for a Europa League challenge.

Fulham

What they did well last season: 

Bouncing back at the first time of asking shows real character especially considering they had to go through the playoff route after narrowly missing out on automatic promotion.  

In Scott Parker, Fulham have a progressive coach with huge potential and the players seem to have bought into his methods after he guided them back to the big time.

They will believe they are better prepared to stave off relegation this time around than two years ago. 

Scott Parker has got the full backing of his players and the club after winning promotion

Scott Parker has got the full backing of his players and the club after winning promotion

Scott Parker has got the full backing of his players and the club after winning promotion

What they need to improve:

Recruitment was their downfall last time but Fulham appear to have learned their lesson.

They have been much more reserved in the transfer market this summer and money has been saved for a rainy day – or in this instance, January.

Fulham have still added bodies and landing Antonee Robinson for just £1.9million could prove to be one of the signings of the summer. 

Parker will also want his team to show more discipline than last season having earned more joint yellow cards and red cards than anyone else in the Championship.  

Biggest challenge: 

Abolishing the ghosts of the past.

This is largely the same group of players who suffered relegation with Fulham two years ago and there will be question marks over whether some of them are good enough for this level.  

They must ignore any of those concerns, concentrate on the job at hand and trust that this time the outcome will different.

Prediction: Fulham will make a fist of it but can’t see them beating the drop.

Those who were there two years ago must use painful experience of relegation as motivation

Those who were there two years ago must use painful experience of relegation as motivation

Those who were there two years ago must use painful experience of relegation as motivation

Leeds   

What they did well last season: 

Leeds had been there the year before – having promotion in their hands – and choked, but they showed last season they had the courage, class and confidence in abundance to get over the line and seal their return back to the promise land. 

Under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have transformed into a relentless force of nature and they were worthy champions last season.

They played some eye-catching flowing football and were consistently performed. 

Leeds showed strength of character to finally win promotion back to the promise land

Leeds showed strength of character to finally win promotion back to the promise land

Leeds showed strength of character to finally win promotion back to the promise land

What they need to improve:

The leap from the Championship to the Premier League is bigger than some may think.

Norwich were brilliant when they won the title in the 2018-19 season but were in for a rude awakening when they failed to adapt to the pace of the top-flight.

Leeds seem much more suited to cope with life in the Premier League with their fast and aggressive brand of football but won’t have it all their own way this term. 

They spent much of last season dominating possession but won’t enjoy that luxury in the Premier League and will need to be ready to spend long spells without the ball.

Biggest challenge: 

Coping without their fans.

Leeds supporters are rightly viewed as some of the best in the country and always make Elland Road a nightmare place to play as a visiting player.

Fans are expected to be allowed back into grounds in October but not in the droves that once entered through the gates at Elland Road. 

That bouncing atmosphere that so often drived the team on suddenly won’t feel so special when there’s just 7,000 people scattered around the ground.

Prediction: Should comfortably avoid the relegation battle but don’t expect much more than low mid-table.

Leeds dominated most of their games last season but the Premier League will be different

Leeds dominated most of their games last season but the Premier League will be different

Leeds dominated most of their games last season but the Premier League will be different

Leicester

What they did well last season: 

Brendan Rodgers’ men at one point last season were the closest challengers to runaway leaders Liverpool.

Aside from their miracle season, last term was the club’s greatest ever as they secured European football once again.

Leicester were a magnificent attacking force and often a great watch for the neutral – though they struggled massively after the coronavirus interruption.

Just a shame they couldn’t give their season the finish it really deserved.  

Leicester couldn't cap off an amazing season as Man United pipped them to a top-four finish

Leicester couldn't cap off an amazing season as Man United pipped them to a top-four finish

Leicester couldn’t cap off an amazing season as Man United pipped them to a top-four finish

What they need to improve:

Level of performances. 

Leicester had it in them last season to go through the motions. Rodgers will demand they’re at it each every time they step out on to the pitch this season.

Their squad, for ability, is almost as good as any in the league, but there were times last season where some team and individual performances were not up to scratch.

Rodgers said it himself on several occasions last season. He is a good man manager who often gets the best out of his players and will be looking to get that right for this term.

Brendan Rodgers called for more consistent performances multiple times last campaign

Brendan Rodgers called for more consistent performances multiple times last campaign

Brendan Rodgers called for more consistent performances multiple times last campaign

Biggest challenge: 

Trying to break the big six again.

Tottenham had a horrible season last year, so did Arsenal while Chelsea and Manchester United were still finding their feet as they went through a transformation.

Leicester have bought well in the past few summers and capitalised but they could struggle to emulate that this term.

Mourinho has had time to embed his ideas at Tottenham, Arsenal look like a different beast altogether, United have come on leaps and bounds in recent months and Chelsea have spent big on recruitment.  

Prediction: Certainly envision Leicester finishing in the top 10 and possibly challenging for a Europa League place again.

Liverpool  

What they did well last season: 

Pretty much everything.

Their football was enchanting, their shooting ruthless and their energy unparalleled.   

Any side who can finish 18 points above a Manchester City team run by Pep Guardiola is a very special one. 

Liverpool were practically perfect last term and the challenge will be to continue in same vein

Liverpool were practically perfect last term and the challenge will be to continue in same vein

Liverpool were practically perfect last term and the challenge will be to continue in same vein

What they need to improve:

It’s hard to be critical at all of Jurgen Klopp’s men.  

One observation Klopp may have made was their record against some of the bigger teams towards the end of the season but that is a stretch.

In July they were thumped by City and lost to Arsenal though they did manage to beat Chelsea.

The month before, Liverpool also failed to beat Everton in the Merseyside derby. 

They haven’t had the dream pre-season either, losing the Community Shield to Arsenal and drawing with Salzburg, though Klopp won’t be too concerned.

Liverpool haven't had the best of pre-seasons and lost the Community Shield against Arsenal

Liverpool haven't had the best of pre-seasons and lost the Community Shield against Arsenal

Liverpool haven’t had the best of pre-seasons and lost the Community Shield against Arsenal 

Biggest challenge: 

They always say that winning a title is the easy part and retaining it is the real challenge.

Last season, they were spurred on by the club and city’s lust for their first title in 30 years.

This term they’ll just have to rely on the sheer desire to be better than anyone else – not that that wouldn’t be enough motivation.

But now they’ve won the title, things are different. Liverpool are the one everyone is gunning for now. Clubs around them have invested to try and topple them while they’ve barely spent a penny. 

Only time will tell if that was a mistake or not.

Prediction: No doubt that Liverpool will be in the frame for the title but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if they were to fall short this time around.

Manchester City

What they did well last season: 

81 points for most teams is normally indicative of a remarkable season. Not for this City side.

Guardiola’s men let their eye off the ball and their standards slip last season.

That’s not to say at times they weren’t captivating and exceptionally brilliant but Guardiola and his team are serial winners and finishing that far off the pace has to be viewed as a failure.

They will be chomping at the bit to put things right this campaign. 

Pep Guardiola will be chomping at the bit to get going after a disappointing campaign last time

Pep Guardiola will be chomping at the bit to get going after a disappointing campaign last time

Pep Guardiola will be chomping at the bit to get going after a disappointing campaign last time

What they need to improve:

What City need more than anything is a real leader on the pitch.

They lost not only a great centre-back when Vincent Kompany left last summer but also a commanding presence in the dressing room.

Kevin de Bruyne has become City’s most influential player on the pitch and is a big voice on the pitch.

He looks best suited to take over the captain’s armband after David Silva left for Real Sociedad though Guardiola has said he will leave the decision down to his players. 

Biggest challenge: 

Last season it was a two-horse race for the title from the get go.

This season looks different.

Chelsea and Manchester United have closed the gap on City and Liverpool this summer and Guardiola will have more than just one team to think about.

Prediction: After last season’s disappointment, Guardiola will be more determined than ever to regain the title. Think we will see an improved version of City this year.

Kevin De Bruyne is a hugely influential player and would be ideal skipper to galvanise City

Kevin De Bruyne is a hugely influential player and would be ideal skipper to galvanise City

Kevin De Bruyne is a hugely influential player and would be ideal skipper to galvanise City

Manchester United

What they did well last season: 

Looked like they rediscovered their identity a little bit.

Obviously this Manchester United team is still a far cry from the ones who dominated the Premier League landscape under Sir Alex Ferguson for so long but a similar style of entertaining football is slowly being re-established at Old Trafford.

United are once again a team capable of playing fast, decisive attacking football and in-keeping with tradition, their progress is being spearheaded by a number of academy products and young stars.

Solskjaer may have said at the end of last season that finishing third was the bare minimum requirement for a club their size but it felt like a massive achievement for him and United.

Manchester United have built a thrilling team and were a much better watch last season

Manchester United have built a thrilling team and were a much better watch last season

Manchester United have built a thrilling team and were a much better watch last season

What they need to improve:

Although United enjoyed a decent campaign last season, there is a general feeling that some individuals are not performing as well as they could be.

Solskjaer must endeavor to get the best out of what is a talented bunch of players.

United went deep into every cup competition last season but fell at the last hurdles.

Success breeds success and so for United to become a real force again, they need to also start developing a winning culture and should be targeting a piece of silverware next season.

Donny van de Beek is a great acquisition but could give Solskjaer some selection headaches

Donny van de Beek is a great acquisition but could give Solskjaer some selection headaches

Donny van de Beek is a great acquisition but could give Solskjaer some selection headaches

Biggest challenge: 

In some ways picking the team.

Solskjaer is blessed with real attacking quality but tinkered a lot last season and will have a problem trying to fit everyone into the same XI again. 

A midfield of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek sounds incredible but in reality there is a danger of overkill. 

And if Jadon Sancho signs who drops out? Mason Greenwood? Anthony Martial? Or Marcus Rashford? 

Prediction: Top four again and this time will finish much closer to the top two.

Newcastle

What they did well last season: 

Say what you want about Steve Bruce – and some Newcastle fans have – but he done fantastically well last season.

With the squad he had, finishing 13th and way out of sight of the bottom three was a job well done. 

It wasn’t pretty at times, but points are what really matters at the end of the day. 

Steve Bruce deserves huge amounts of credit for the job he done at Newcastle last season

Steve Bruce deserves huge amounts of credit for the job he done at Newcastle last season

Steve Bruce deserves huge amounts of credit for the job he done at Newcastle last season

What they need to improve:

Attacking play.

When your top scorer in the league is Jonjo Shelvey – who by the way wasn’t always a guaranteed starter – then there’s something wrong.

Newcastle were warned about spending as much as they did on Joelinton and with hind sight you imagine they would have never done the deal.

Andy Carroll is currently their only fit striker so it’s no surprise Bruce is desperately trying to get Callum Wilson who would go someway to solving their problems in front of goal.

Newcastle need to sign a striker with Andy Carroll currently their only fit and available one

Newcastle need to sign a striker with Andy Carroll currently their only fit and available one

Newcastle need to sign a striker with Andy Carroll currently their only fit and available one

Biggest challenge: 

Getting over their takeover hangover.

Newcastle fans spent their summer drawing up a shortlist of dream signings for next season when a Saudi Arabian-led consortium were in talks to buy the club for £300m.

So it must have been pretty crushing when it all collapsed. 

Now Newcastle must pick themselves up and dust themselves off as they are in for another hard grind.

Prediction: Expect Newcastle to have a similar season to last.

Sheffield United

What they did well last season: 

Nobody expected Sheffield United to do as well as they did in their first season back in the top-flight.

At one stage it looked as if they were destined for European football.

The Blades were a well organised and disciplined outfit who were capable of giving any side a run for their money on their day last season.

The biggest compliment to their season was that Chris Wilder was a close challenger to win the Premier League Manager of the Season over Jurgen Klopp. That’s how good they were.

Sheffield United have given themselves a tough act to follow after last season's exploits

Sheffield United have given themselves a tough act to follow after last season's exploits

Sheffield United have given themselves a tough act to follow after last season’s exploits

What they need to improve:

Not necessarily an improvement but they could do with an injection of pace in their squad 

This window has been fairly quiet for the Blades but Reading’s John Swift and Yakou Meite and Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster have been linked and Wilder admitted he expects three new signings to arrive before the start of season.

Those three feel like smart moves for what Sheffield Untied need and how Wilder likes to play. 

Biggest challenge: 

Replicating last season.

Wilder is a driven individual and is always wanting more but improving on last term is going to be a hard ask.  

Prediction: Will easily stay up but may have to settle for a finish outside the top 10.

They could do with an extra yard of pace in the team and Rhian Brewster would offer them that

They could do with an extra yard of pace in the team and Rhian Brewster would offer them that

They could do with an extra yard of pace in the team and Rhian Brewster would offer them that

Southampton

What they did well last season: 

The Saints’ season was like a tale of two halves.

The first one was terrible and almost cost Ralph Hasenhuttl his job. But the second part was inspiring.

Southampton could have gone down a dark path after that 9-0 hammering against Leicester but it turned out to be the watershed moment of their season.

They used the humiliation as their driving force and ended up finishing strongly and almost cracked the top half of the table. 

Being hit for nine by Leicester turned out to be the turning point in Southampton's season

Being hit for nine by Leicester turned out to be the turning point in Southampton's season

Being hit for nine by Leicester turned out to be the turning point in Southampton’s season

What they need to improve:

This is more something Southampton should keep doing rather than change but pressing has been key to their change of fortunes.

At the start of the season, they didn’t press and went a bit more route one. 

But Hassenhuttl reverted his team back to what he had instructed them to do when he first came in, which was a high press.

Hassnhuttl calls it the red zone and since then Southampton have been a different kettle of fish to handle.

Keeping Danny Ings in esteem condition will be key to their ambitions for next season

Keeping Danny Ings in esteem condition will be key to their ambitions for next season

Keeping Danny Ings in esteem condition will be key to their ambitions for next season

Biggest challenge:  

Keeping Danny Ings fit and in form.

The striker has had his fair share of injury problems through the years but enjoyed a full season last term and showed how good he can be when he is fighting fit with 25 goals in all competitions 

Ings’ sensational form in front of goal saw him recalled to the England setup and he will again be vital for Southampton next season. 

Prediction: Another good season, might be able to breach the top 10 this time around.

Tottenham

What they did well last season: 

Last season was one to forget for Tottenham. 

There were some slight improvements under Jose Mourinho but they will be eager for a better showing this campaign.

Some concerns were raised how Harry Kane would be affected when Mourinho came in – given his pragmatic style – but the England striker was as deadly as ever towards the end of last season and seems to be forming a strong relationship with his boss. 

That will please fans and Daniel Levy upstairs. 

Jose Mourinho has had time to implement his ideas and will have his first full season in charge

Jose Mourinho has had time to implement his ideas and will have his first full season in charge

Jose Mourinho has had time to implement his ideas and will have his first full season in charge

What they need to improve:

Their record against the bigger clubs.

Aside from one win over Manchester City and Arsenal, Tottenham either lost or drew their other matches against those two, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea last season.

If Mourinho wants to be a winner again then he needs to beat the nearest competition.  

Biggest challenge: 

Keeping up in the race for the top four 

You sense if Tottenham don’t make a good start then things could turn sour and very quickly. 

Prediction: This could be the season Spurs miss out on European football altogether.

Tottenham must put last season to the back of their minds and look to start this term fast

Tottenham must put last season to the back of their minds and look to start this term fast

Tottenham must put last season to the back of their minds and look to start this term fast

West Brom

What they did well last season: 

The Baggies were a wonderful team going forward last season and scored the joint-highest number of goals in the whole Championship. 

Despite a slow finish they showed enough composure to see off Fulham and Brentford to go up in second behind Leeds. 

West Brom secured automatic promotion on the final game of the season last term

West Brom secured automatic promotion on the final game of the season last term

West Brom secured automatic promotion on the final game of the season last term

What they need to improve: 

Clean sheets.

West Brom aren’t going to get as many chances to score this season as they did last so they need to keep games tight to give themselves the best opportunity to win games.

Last season they only managed 14 shut outs in 46 games – just one more than Sheffield Wednesday who finished 16th and two less than Wigan who were eventually relegated after being handed a points deduction. 

Biggest challenge: 

Finding a prolific striker.

West Brom have missed out on targets this summer and are now scrambling to sign a striker they believe will score the goals to keep them up.

Huddersfield’s Karlan Grant is highly rated by boss Slavan Bilic though he is expected to cost in excess of £20m. 

Prediction: West Brom have a decent squad with experienced players who know this league well and that might be enough to save their skin.

They'll need a goalscorer to stay up and have been linked with Huddersfield's Karlan Grant

They'll need a goalscorer to stay up and have been linked with Huddersfield's Karlan Grant

They’ll need a goalscorer to stay up and have been linked with Huddersfield’s Karlan Grant

West Ham

What they did well last season: 

After a long and tough season, they dug deep and found the reserves to finish strongly – and they deserve some credit for that.

West Ham had a very good record against teams in and around them last season as well, which was a big factor to their survival.

They seem to be settled under David Moyes now and it will be interesting to see if they can kick on this term as they undoubtedly have the players to do so.

West Ham have the squad to avoid the relegation battle completely this time around

West Ham have the squad to avoid the relegation battle completely this time around

West Ham have the squad to avoid the relegation battle completely this time around

What they need to improve: 

Home form could have been much better. 

West Ham only won six from 19 games on their own patch last season – the fifth worst in the Premier League.  

Moyes will also want a stronger showing from his team during the crucial midway point of the season. 

West Ham flew out of the blocks last season but struggled around Christmas time and the in new year and had to turn it on late in the day to escape the relegation battle.

If Sebastien Haller can hit some form, that could prove to be important to their season

If Sebastien Haller can hit some form, that could prove to be important to their season

If Sebastien Haller can hit some form, that could prove to be important to their season

Biggest challenge: 

Getting Sebastien Haller firing.

The Frenchman showed glimpses of his quality last season but wasn’t the hit most were expecting him to be. 

The striker has proven himself in Germany and will be a huge asset for the Hammers if he can rediscover that kind of form he showed at Frankfurt. 

Prediction: Expect the Hammers to fare slightly better this term and finish in and around mid-table.

Wolves 

What they did well last season: 

Given their relatively small squad, to venture deep into the Europa League and still be competing for the top six was impressive from Wolves.

They have built an exciting team and were a great watch last season.

A key component of their success last term was their ability to soak up pressure and launch lethal counter attacks at the push of a button. 

Wolves enjoyed an excellent campaign last season but haven't strengthened this summer

Wolves enjoyed an excellent campaign last season but haven't strengthened this summer

Wolves enjoyed an excellent campaign last season but haven’t strengthened this summer

What they need to improve: 

Wolves have spent well in recent windows but have stood still this summer.

It’s important to keep building and Wolves may come to regret not freshening up their squad – especially considering they have had a quick turnaround after a draining season.

Biggest challenge: 

Keeping hold of their stars.

They have already lost Matt Doherty to Tottenham and could yet lose more key men.

Adama Traore and Raul Jiminez have both been linked with other clubs and losing either would be hugely detrimental to their plans for the season.  

Ruben Neves is instrumental in Wolves’ midfield and has understandably attracted interest from elsewhere too. 

Prediction: May drop down the league this year but should still finish inside the top half.

Adam Traore (R) was sensational last season and Wolves cannot afford to lose him

Adam Traore (R) was sensational last season and Wolves cannot afford to lose him

Adam Traore (R) was sensational last season and Wolves cannot afford to lose him

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.