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Premier League 2019/20 - EPL Discussion

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Arsenal

The post-Arsene Wenger era got off to a pretty rough start.

A third consecutive season in the Europa League beckons for the Gunners after they once again failed to finish inside the top four, something they were once mocked for being so consistent about.
However, given their dreadful finish to the season, it’s easily forgotten that only two points separated them from Chelsea in third, while one regrettable Europa League final defeat to the Blues stopped them from sealing their return to Europe’s elite club competition.

Toxicity is never far from the Emirates and supporters’ groups have already penned a strongly worded letter to owner Stan Kroenke – so expect protests directed at the club’s hierarchy throughout the season.

But out of nowhere, fans suddenly have genuine reason to be excited following the excellent acquisitions of Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos. Unai Emery still has some job on his hands this season, given the loss of Aaron Ramsey and potentially Laurent Koscileny. And just for a laugh, it seems, the Premier League have handed them yet another horrible run of fixtures to start with.

Star player 
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

One to watch
Eddie Nketiah

First five games
Newcastle (A), Burnley (H), Liverpool (A), Tottenham (H), Watford (A)

Odds 40/1

Aston Villa

Nothing says welcome back to the Premier League like a trip to Tottenham on the opening weekend of the new season.

The Villains have left no stone unturned in the summer transfer window as they prepare for their return to the top flight, with 12 new additions to the squad. But neither did Fulham when they spent more than £100million last summer, and look what happened to them.

Villa will hope they have invested smarter than the Cottagers – and crucially they have kept star players Jack Grealish and John McGinn. They will need to replace the goals of Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, who has returned to Stamford Bridge after netting 26 times in the Championship for Villa last season.

So there will be high hopes for record signing Wesley Moraes, the Brazilian striker who has arrived from Club Brugge for £22million.

Star player
Jack Grealish

One to watch
Wesley

First five games
Tottenham (A), Bournemouth (H), Everton (H), Crystal Palace (A), West Ham (H)

Odds 1500/1

Bournemouth

Eleven years ago, Bournemouth were fighting for their very existence, languishing on minus-three points in League Two after being handed a 17-point penalty.

Now they’re an established Premier League force. The Cherries even threatened the Champions League places at one point last season. A dip in form saw them stumble to a mediocre 14th-place finish, but they were never truly threatened by relegation, thanks largely to the form of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. The pair combined more than another other duo in the league last year and, crucially, they look set to stay at the Vitality this summer despite much interest from elsewhere.

However, they will be without David Brooks for the first three months. The 22-year-old took the Premier League by storm last season, but suffered an ankle injury during pre-season.

Star player
Callum Wilson

One to watch
Chris Mepham

First five games
Sheffield United (H), Aston Villa (A), Manchester City (H), Leicester City (A), Everton (H)

Odds 1000/1

Brighton

The Seagulls avoided relegation by just two points last season following a closing run of ten games without a single win.

During that rotten spell, they also went six matches without scoring. Despite guiding the club to safety, Brighton’s poor form cost manager Chris Hughton his job, and Graeme Potter has arrived from Swansea to take the reins.

The appointment certainly raised a few eyebrows – Potter’s only real success has come in the Swedish league with Ostersunds and the Swans secured a tenth-place finish in his debut season at the Liberty Stadium. One thing the Englishman does bring, however, is an attacking philosophy, which could inject some much needed life into Brighton, who were painfully dull to watch at times last season.

Goals are the real problem at the Amex, with Glenn Murray turning 36 in September, but they could be about to sign a real gem in Brentford’s Neal Maupay – a young, budding Diego Costa.

Star player
Mat Ryan

One to watch
Yves Bissouma

First five games
Watford (A), West Ham (H), Southampton (H), Manchester City (A), Burnley (A)

Odds 1500/1

Burnley

On reflection, Europa League qualifying did Burnley more harm than good last season.

The Clarets never truly recovered from a couple of grueling trips across Europe before the season even began. Sean Dyche’s men staggered to a 15th-place finish, six points clear of the drop, but it could’ve been significantly worse following a dreadful start to the campaign. However, it has always been substance over style at Burnley, and while their astonishing seventh-place finish in 2017/18 may have raised expectations, survival is the priority.

With precious little to be excited about based on last season’s showing, fans can at least be optimistic about the return of Jay Rodriguez, who bagged 22 goals for West Brom in the Championship last season.

Star player
James Tarkowski

One to watch
Dwight McNeil

First five games
Southampton (H), Arsenal (A), Wolves (A), Liverpool (H), Brighton (A)

Odds 2000/1

Chelsea

The latest episode in the Stamford Bridge soap opera has seen the club’s all-time leading goalscorer return as manager with a transfer embargo to deal with. Get the popcorn.

If someone told you Chelsea finished third and won the Europa League last season, you would probably say they had a successful year, but that’s not how it felt under Maurizio Sarri. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen this season, but one thing’s for sure, Frank Lampard will lift the mood. The transfer ban presents the Blues with a chance to build something more long-term, giving academy graduates such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount an opportunity under a young, budding manager.

Questions linger over Lampard’s experience, but he brings a staunch belief in youth, an exciting philosophy and a deep connection with the fans. It could be a match made in heaven. But the club’s hierarchy are notoriously impatient – and a top-four finish will be the minimum requirement. Failure could tarnish his legacy. Oh yeah, and they’ve lost Eden Hazard, perhaps their most gifted player of all time. Christian Pulisic, who arrives from Borussia Dortmund after signing in January, has some big boots to fill.

First up? Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Star player
N’Golo Kante

One to watch
Callum Hudson-Odoi

First five games
Manchester United (A), Leicester City (H), Norwich City (A), Sheffield United (H), Wolves (A)

Odds 25/1

Crystal Palace

The Eagles will be desperate for the transfer window to slam shut on August 8.

It’s been a summer of unwanted saga at Selhurst Park, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s drawn-out switch to Manchester United, plus Arsenal and Everton’s pursuit of Wilfried Zaha. Palace, who finished 12th last season, received £50million for Wan-Bissaka and reports claim they want around £80million for Zaha. The winger has carried them to a large extent in recent years and you can’t place a value on his importance to the club. Even more worryingly, the club haven’t done much business at all this summer. However, following the arrival of Nicolas Pepe at Arsenal and Everton’s statement that they won’t make any further bids, it looks like Zaha has run out of potential suitors.

Much could depend on whether he stays or goes.

Star player 
Wilfried Zaha

One to watch
Luka Miivojevic

First five games
Everton (H), Sheffield United (A), Manchester United (A), Aston Villa (H), Tottenham (A)

Odds 1000/1

Everton

Everton finished eighth again last season, with five points less than they got under Sam Allardyce the campaign before. So it was slightly underwhelming, particularly following a number of high-profile signings and the addition of an exciting new manager.

But despite a sticky middle, Marco Silva’s men started to look the part as the season went on, and after another impressive summer of business, they look set to bang on the door of the top six.

Fabien Delph has joined from Manchester City and Everton fended off interest from Tottenham and Manchester United to land Andre Gomes from Barcelona, following an eye-catching season on loan at Goodison Park, plus they have pulled off one the biggest coups of the window by landing Italian starlet Moise Kean from Juventus. The Toffees will miss Idrissa Gueye, who left for Paris Saint-Germain, but they still have all the ingredients.

And without any of last season’s top six in their opening six fixtures, they will hope to avoid the sluggish start which has plagued recent campaigns.

Star player
Gylfi Sigurdsson

One to watch
Bernard

First five games
Crystal Palace (A), Watford (H), Aston Villa (A), Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A)

Odds 150/1

Leicester

See above. Like Everton, there’s no reason why Leicester shouldn’t be trying to break into the top six this season.

Their 2018/19 season was drifting towards obscurity before Brendan Rodgers arrived at the end of Febraury. With only ten games to stamp his authority on the club, the Foxes won five of them and finished in a respectable ninth-place. And they mean business this season. The club have already broken their transfer record TWICE to land Ayoze Perez from Newcastle and complete the permanent signing of Youri Tielemans from Monaco. Even with the loss of Harry Maguire to Manchester United, there aren’t many stronger squads than the one Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal outside the top six.

Leicester for the title, anyone? No, that could never happen.

Star player
Jamie Vardy

One to watch
Youri Tielemans

First five games
Wolves (H), Chelsea (A), Sheffield United (A), Bournemouth (H), Manchester United (A)

Odds 300/1

Liverpool

No team has ever gathered more points without winning the Premier League title than Liverpool did last season. The footballing gods just can’t bear the thought of it.

Nonetheless, fans will still think it’s ‘their year’, and with good reason. The champions of Europe boast the Premier League’s best defence, with the majestic Virgil van Dijk at its core, while two of their front three shared the Golden Boot last season.

Liverpool have been quiet in the transfer market and a poor run of form in pre-season may be a slight concern to some supporters. Meanwhile, Manchester City have got even stronger with the signing of Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Tottenham and Manchester United have also made significant moves this summer to close the gap.

But then if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They’re sure to be a force again this season.

Star player
Mohamed Salah

One to watch
Rhian Brewster

First five games
Norwich (H), Southampton (A), Arsenal (H), Burnley (A), Newcastle (H)

Odds 9/4

Manchester City

It would take a bold person to bet against Manchester City this season. Imagine the team that got 98 points last season and 100 the campaign before, just with a new £63million midfielder at their disposal.

Rodri joins from Atletico Madrid to add even more firepower to one of the greatest midfields the Premier League has ever seen. It’s so good that they managed to beat Liverpool to the title despite being without star man Kevin de Bruyne for a significant part of the season. Vincent Kompany has gone and it will be interesting to see how much City miss his huge presence, on and off the pitch.

But they have still got plenty of top defensive talent in their ranks and Pep Guardiola’s men will take some stopping from claiming a third successive title.

Star player
Kevin de Bruyne

One to watch
Bernardo Silva

First five games
West Ham (A), Tottenham (H), Bournemouth (A), Brighton (H), Norwich (A)

Odds 4/6

Manchester United

Six years on from Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and Manchester United remain trapped in limbo.

Three managers have tried and failed to emulate the Scot’s success – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer grew increasingly reckless at the wheel last season. The club slipped to a hugely disappointing sixth place finish, signalling the need for a big summer transfer window. Off the pitch, United look like a team in disarray, with Paul Pogba publicly admitting he wants to leave and Jesse Lingard sharing obscene videos of his holiday on social media.

But the gaps in the squad have been filled. Wan-Bissaka and Dan James represent exciting fresh talent at Old Trafford as Solskjaer looks to rejuvenate the club with youthful home-grown players. United conceded a staggering 54 goals last season and they look set to break the world record for a defender in order to tighten up, agreeing a deal to sign England international Harry Maguire from Leicester for £80million. And, against all odds, Pogba looks like he might stick around after all.

Jose Mourinho often questioned the backing of the United hierarchy in the transfer market, but there can be no excuses for Solskjaer this year.

Star player
Paul Pogba

One to watch
Mason Greenwood

First five games
Chelsea (H), Wolves (A), Crystal Palace (H), Southampton (A), Leicester City (H)

Odds 25/1

Newcastle

Tempers have reached boiling point at St James’ Park.

Rafa Benitez, the glue holding the football club together, has left to be replaced by Steve Bruce, who hasn’t proved the most popular choice among the Magpies’ fanbase. Thousands of season tickets remain unsold and Mike Ashley still can’t find anyone to take Newcastle off his hands – not for the money he wants anyway. It’s a messy situation, which could get even worse if the team fail to perform this season. Benitez worked wonders with limited resources, with the club actually making a profit on transfers during his time there, and Bruce will have to navigate his way through the chaos just to keep them afloat.

The arrivals of Joelinton from Hoffenheim for a club-record £40m and promising winger Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice at least give fans something to feel excited about.

Star player
Miguel Almiron

One to watch
Joelinton

First five games
Arsenal (H), Norwich (A), Tottenham (A), Watford (H), Liverpool (A)

Odds 1000/1

Norwich

The ultimate yo-yo club have been sucked into the Premier League’s hand once again. It’s Norwich, but not as you know them.

There’s a flair about the Canaries now. Gone are the days of Grant Holt and Cameron Jerome. Daniel Farke packs his team with exciting, young players and gets them playing attractive football. Norwich scored for fun in the Championship last season, with 93 goals in 46 games, although defending isn’t really their forte.

And they travel to Anfield on the opening night of the new campaign. This could be fun.

Star player
Teemu Pukki

One to watch
Max Aarons

First five games
Liverpool (A), Newcastle (H), Chelsea (H), West Ham (A), Manchester City (H)

Odds 2000/1

Sheffield United

The Blades are a throwback.

They stand in opposition to many of the things we associate, and perhaps dislike, about modern football. Sheffield-born Chris Wilder has taken his boyhood club from the foot of League One to the Premier League in three years – and he’s done it the old fashioned way. They aren’t financial powerhouses, but Sheffield United show there is still room for traditional honesty and hard work. The Blades still have the same spine of players they had in League One, with club captain Billy Sharp leading their climb up the Football League.

And with some exciting new additions to the squad, expect Bramall Lane to be a tough place to go next season.

Star player
Billy Sharp

One to watch 
Ravel Morrison

First five games
Bournemouth (A), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester City (H), Chelsea (A), Southampton (H)

Odds 2500/1

Southampton

Southampton have spent the last two seasons battling relegation, and if truth be told, that’s not an accurate reflection on the quality in their squad.

Liverpool’s feeder club are used to seeing their star players head for the exit between seasons, but Saints fans have been treated to some exciting signings of their own this summer. Danny Ings, who impressed during his loan from the Reds last season, joins on a permanent deal, while Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo have moved from Birmingham and Standard Liege respectively. It’s an unprecedentedly big transfer window for Southampton, who certainly won’t be lacking fire power up front next season, with Charlie Austin and Shane Long also competing to lead the line.

The eccentric Ralph Hassenhuttl should hopefully provide some entertainment on the touchline, too.

Star player
Mario Lemina

One to watch
Che Adams

First five games
Burnley (A), Liverpool (H), Brighton (A), Manchester United (H), Sheffield United (A)

Odds 1000/1

Tottenham

Spurs managed to reach a Champions League final without making a single purchase for two consecutive transfer windows.

In fact, they were the first team in Premier League history to do so. Plus, they had the hugely delayed opening of their new stadium to contend with as they achieved a steady fourth-place finish. So, all things considered, Mauricio Pochettino has done a pretty incredible job at Tottenham to date.

But trophies are the most useful barometer of success and the Argentine has none to show for his five seasons in north London. This feels like a make-or-break season for Spurs. Their stadium is open, their young players are developed, they’ve smashed their transfer record to sign the highly-rated Tanguy Ndombele.

It’s the season they have been building towards for the last five years.

Star player
Harry Kane

One to watch
Tanguy Ndombele

First five games
Aston Villa (H), Manchester City (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Crystal Palace (H)

Odds 16/1

Watford

Watford look set to keep the same manager for more than a year, which just shows what a remarkable job Javi Gracia did at Vicarage Road last season.

However, the Hornets’ fine season tailed off in disastrous fashion, with a 6-1 drubbing to Manchester City in the FA Cup final leaving a sour taste over the summer. A run of just three wins in their last 11 games also saw them drop out of the top half of the table, which took the gloss off what had been a mightily impressive campaign. Watford provide a stern test for anyone in the Premier League (except Liverpool, it seems, who have battered them at Anfield twice in a row).

They punch well above their mid-table weight with a midfield duo of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue, neither of whom would look out of place in a top-six side.

Star player
Abdoulaye Doucoure

One to watch
Will Hughes

First five games
Brighton (H), Everton (A), West Ham (H), Newcastle (A), Arsenal (H)

Odds 1000/1

West Ham

These are exciting times for West Ham fans.

Following their disastrous start under Manuel Pellegrini last season, the Chilean guided the Hammers to a top-ten finish and they’re well primed to improve on that this term. Pellegrini has got the financial backing of the club’s owners and he’s making the right signings. Pablo Fornals, the £25million playmaker from Villarreal, and Sebastien Haller, the club-record £45million signing from Eintracht Frankfurt, are two hugely exciting additions. They’re players who you would expect the top six teams to be looking at.

The Hammers also bid good riddance to Marko Arnautovic, who threw a strop and left for China, and it looks like they’ll be much better off without him.

Star player
Felipe Anderson

One to watch
Pablo Fornals

First five games
Manchester City (H), Brighton (A), Watford (A), Norwich (H), Aston Villa (A)

Odds 500/1

Wolves

Last season’s surprise package will not be underestimated this time.

Wolves took the Premier League by storm following their promotion from the Championship, finishing in a remarkable seventh place. They must ensure Europa League qualifying doesn’t hinder their start to the domestic campaign, like it did for Burnley last season, and it will be interesting to see how they cope with Thursday night football if they do qualify for the competition. Much like Watford, Wolves’ key strength lies in midfield, with Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, who could easily play for any team in the league, while Raul Jimenez was one of the league’s most deadly marksmen last season.

Wanderers will be out to prove that their astonishing campaign was no fluke, but first they’ve got a 6,370 mile round trip to Armenia for Europa League qualifying on Thursday. Yikes.

Star player
Ruben Neves

One to watch
Morgan Gibbs-White

First five games
Leicester (A), Manchester United (H), Burnley (H), Everton (A), Chelsea (H)

Odds 150/1

 

 

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Liverpool, City, Draw, Southampton, Draw, Watford, Spurs, Leicester, Draw, United

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The whole chelsea team is lacking, could be a real struggle for them this season.

 

Supercup on Wednesday could be a mess.

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Abraham had no business on that pitch, looked completely overmatched.

They have a few seniors to come back but it might be a long season.

inb4AbrahamScoresAgainstArsenal

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If that shot went in it would of been a different story though, think he’ll get double figures this season

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Can tell arsenal have been deprived of a decent midfielder for years, every little thing Ceballos does has the arsenal fans foaming 

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Wolves XI: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Jonny, Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Jota, Jiménez.

 

Man Utd XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, James, Martial, Rashford.

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