Premier League Preview (Part 2) – Avoiding the drop and chasing Europe

Premier League Preview (Part 2) – Avoiding the drop and chasing Europe

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After another offseason of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market, the English Premier League is set to return for what proves to be another exhilarating campaign.

In this three-part series, we break down the ins and outs, key players and everything in between for each of the 20 teams this season and what that all means for their final table position.

Everton, Leicester City and West Ham United will be out to challenge for European qualification after busy transfer windows, Watford and Bournemouth will again battle for a place in the top half but Newcastle United and Crystal Palace could be in trouble at the bottom of the table.

BOURNEMOUTH

Last season finish: 14th

Ins: Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City); Jack Stacey (Luton Town); Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town); Arnaut Danjuma (Club Brugge); Harry Wilson (Liverpool, loan).

Outs: Lys Mousset (Sheffield United); Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa); Marc Pugh (QPR); Harry Arter (Fulham, loan).

One to watch: David Brooks

Predicted finish: 12th

Bournemouth have been slightly underperforming of late after enjoying a superb start to life in the Premier League in 2015-16, but Eddie Howe continues to gain respect for his management. The Cherries scored more goals than any team outside the top six last season, but also had the thirst worst defence in the division and Howe has failed to bolster his back line significantly, with young and inexperienced signings of Lloyd Kelly and Jack Stacey not quite enough. David Brooks enjoyed a stellar first season at the Vitality Stadium, slotting in at the No.10 role with great effect and will only improve with more learning and experience. A side that should be well clear of relegation but one that has not quite improved as they may have liked and will likely settle for another campaign in the mid-table abyss.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Last season finish: 13th

Ins: Joelinton (Hoffenheim); Allan Saint Maximin (Nice); Kyle Scott (Chelsea); Jake Turner (Bolton Wanderers); Jetro Willems (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan).

Outs: Ayoze Perez (Leicester City), Joselu (Alaves); Mohamed Diame (released); Freddie Woodman (Swansea City, loan).

One to watch: Allan Saint-Maximin

Predicted finish: 16th

Just as Newcastle seemed to be heading in the right direction again, a disastrous offseason has left a sour taste in the mouths of the Toon Army. The club failed to hold on to Rafa Benitez and were unable to make Salomon Rondon’s stay a permanent one, lost Ayoze Perez and then signed Steve Burce as manager, a decision that has turned more than a few heads. A former manager at bitter rival Sunderland, Bruce has been relegated with Hull City and saw Aston Villa storm to promotion after his sacking, with many believing his tactical standing in the game to have been and gone. Signings of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin have done something to lift the mood, with the latter particularly showing himself as a player with flair and trickery capable of winning games and entertaining the fans. Whether these two signings will be enough to keep the Magpies in the Premier League remains to be seen in what will be a nail-biting race at the bottom of the league.

Newcastle United have called Steve Bruce for help, but can he answer the challenge?

CRYSTAL PALACE

Last season finish: 12th

Ins: Jordan Ayew (Swansea); Stephen Henderson (free); Gary Cahill (free); James McCarthy (Everton); Victor Camarasa (Real Betis, loan).

Outs: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United); Bakary Sako (Denizlispor); Alexander Sorloth (Trabzonspor, loan); Jason Puncheon (released); Julian Speroni (released).

One to watch: Andros Townsend

Predicted finish: 15th

Roy Hodgson has worked wonders with this Crystal Palace team, turning them around in 2017-18 after the Frank De Boer debacle and steering them to a mid-table finish last time out. This could be the season where the fairy tale ends for the Eagles, though, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka a huge loss to the defence. There is a clear lack of depth at the back for Palace this season and with Christian Benteke struggling to score goals they could have a real issue winning games if they are unable to score enough. Andros Townsend enjoyed his best Premier League season last term, but if he loses his teammate Wilfried Zaha as it is heavily rumoured that he might, Palace could need a doubly impressive season from the former Spurs man to stay in the Premier League.

Aaron Wan Bissaka could prove to be a major loss

WATFORD

Last season finish: 11th

Ins: Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion); Danny Welbeck (free).

Outs: Obbi Oulare (Standard Liege); Dodi Lukebakio (Hertha Berlin); Michael Folivi (Wimbledon, loan); Miguel Angel Britos (released); Tommie Hoban (released).

One to watch: Gerard Deulofeu

Predicted finish: 11th

The Hornets have improved steadily year on year and fell just short of a top half finish last season in an impressive first full campaign under Javi Gracia. After a blistering start Watford seemed to plateau through the middle part of the season but with the likes of Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, they played some attractive attacking football. Deulofeu had by far his best ever Premier League season, scoring10 goals and assisting five as he became a key player for the Hornets. Much like the other teams around them, their defence will be the achilles heel and a lack of transfer activity could halt their ambitions to make the top half this time around.

WEST HAM UNITED

Last season finish: 10th

Ins: Roberto (Espanyol), Sebastian Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt); Pablo Fornals (Villarreal); David Martin (Millwall).

Outs: Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz); Lucas Perez (Alaves); Pedro Obiang (Sassuolo); Reece Oxford (Augsburg); Samir Nasri (released); Andy Carroll (released); Adrian (released).

One to watch: Sebastian Haller

Predicted finish: 10th

Manuel Pellegrini began a new era at Olympic Stadium last season after a two-year absence from English football, having previously guided Manchester City to the Premier League title in 2013-14. Felipe Anderson headlined the Chilean’s new look Hammers but despite the optimism, a 10th-placed finish was slightly disappointing. Pellegrini has added big-money men Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller to the mix this season, with the latter coming in as the club’s most expensive player ever. The Frenchman has impressed in Germany, standing at 190cm tall but with technical ability and grace befitting of someone smaller. Where 10th was disappointing last season, 10th this time around could realistically be a stone’s throw away from the top six or even the top four. Pellegrini’s men will be alongside the likes of Leicester, Wolves and Everton in what will be an incredibly tight and exciting battle to break into the European places.

West Ham’s new forward Sebastian Haller

LEICESTER CITY

Last season finish: 9th

Ins: Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United); Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco); James Justin (Luton Town); Mitchell Clark (free).

Outs: Harry Maguire (Manchester United); Danny Simpson (released); Shinji Okazaki (released); Elliott Moore (Oxford United); Daniel Iversen (Rotherham United, loan).

One to watch: Ayoze Perez

Predicted finish: 9th

The Foxes will be one of several teams that will push the boundaries of the top six all the way this season. Brendan Rodgers breathed new life into the team when he took over in February and will only see greater improvement after a first pre-season and transfer window with the club. Ayoze Perez will prove a fantastic signing from Newcastle. A highly technical and intelligent player who can play across the front three or as a No.10, the Spaniard is very much a Brendan Rodgers player and alongside James Maddison, Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy, he will create a formidable front line. With the right replacement for Harry Maguire, Leicester will have a very good all-round team and are capable of challenging for European places.

EVERTON

Last season finish: 8th

Ins: Andre Gomes (Barcelona); Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield); Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Mainz); Fabian Delph (Manchester City); Moise Kean (Juventus); Djibril Sidibe (Monaco, loan).

Outs: Idrissa Gana Gueye (Paris Saint-Germain); Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow); Ademola Lookman (Red Bull Leipzig); James McCarthy (Crystal Palace); Jonjoe Kenny (Schalke, loan); Kieron Dowell (Derby County, loan); Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United); Ashley Williams (released).

One to watch: Moise Kean

Predicted finish: 6th

The Toffees’ season was looking bleaker by the minute up until about a week ago, with two big signings in Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Moise Kean plugging big holes in their lineup. Gbamin comes in as Idrissa Gana Gueye’s replacement while Kean is the striker the club has been screaming for with Cenk Tosun, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse proving ineffectual in seasons previous. The Italian is quick, strong and technically sound and should be a big player up front for Everton. Marco Silva’s side is looking straight up the table this season, and without Kurt Zouma this season after his return to Chelsea, they could be a centre-back away from a serious push for European football.

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