Money, money, money. Whilst the financial aspect of the game has continued to grow in recent seasons, this summer has seen a gargantuan leap in spending by clubs up and down the Premier League. With the season due to start this evening, with Arsenal hosting Leicester, the 20 league clubs have already spent over £1 billion.
The sickening amounts of money being spent on transfer fees (Neymar’s move was the final straw) are beginning to turn fans away from the “best league in the world” but on the pitch we are set for one of the tightest title scraps in years. Chelsea, fresh off their dominant but somewhat surprising triumph last season, will be eager to defend their crown but the vast spending by the two Manchester clubs puts them in pole position for the title.
Down the other end of the table, promoted sides Brighton and Huddersfield are heavily tipped to endure an immediate return to the second tier, alongside Burnley and Watford.
Here are my predictions for how each club will fair in the upcoming season.
Sead Kolasinac (Schalke, free), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon, £46.5m)
Yaya Sanogo (Toulouse, free), Stefan O’Connor (Newcastle, free), Kaylen Hinds (Wolfsburg, £2.5m), Glen Kamara (Dundee, £500,000), Dan Crowley (Willem II, free), Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus, £10m)
Last season was poor by Arsenal’s high standards. Missing out on the Champions League was what they deserved for poor recruitment and poor performances, and they’ll be hoping that the acquisition of long-term target Lacazette and clarity regarding Arsene Wenger’s future will help them make a run at the top four. Much of their season, however, will depend on what happens with Alexis Sanchez. Should the talismanic Chilean leave, or continue to refuse a new contract, it will be damaging. A quality centre-half would complete Arsenal’s team, but as they’re yet to recruit one, the title looks out of reach.
Predicted finish: 3rd
Nathan Ake (Chelsea, £20m), Asmir Begovic (Chelsea, £10m), Jermain Defoe (Sunderland, free), Frankie Vincent (Barnet, free), Connor Mahoney (Blackburn, compensation)
Harry Cornick (Luton, undisclosed), Lewis Grabban (Sunderland, loan)
A top-10 finish seemed somewhat surprising for an inconsistent Cherries side last season, but it was a huge milestone for the club and they’ll hope it can provide them with a base from which they can continue to build. They’ve done well to hold on to their key players, and Eddie Howe has done well with his recruitment. Defoe proved he’s still got the skills last season, while Begovic has the chance to remind fans why he was such a top keeper at Stoke. That said, I feel last season’s finish was a misnomer and their defensive frailties will be exposed a lot more this season.
Predicted finish: 14th
Brighton and Hove Albion
Pascal Gross (Ingolstadt, undisclosed), Josh Kerr (Celtic, undisclosed), Mathew Ryan (Valencia, £5m), Markus Suttner (Ingolstadt, undisclosed), Mathias Normann (Bodo/Glimt, undisclosed), Ales Majetu (Viktoria Plzen, undisclosed), Davy Propper (PSV, £11m), Soufyan Ahannach (Almere City, undisclosed), Jose Izquierdo (Club Brugge, £13.5m), Izzy Brown (Chelsea, loan)
Vegard Forren (Molde, free), Chris O’Grady (Chesterfield, free), David Stockdale (Birmingham City, free), Elvis Manu (Genclerbirligi, free), Rob Hunt (Oldham, undisclosed), Oliver Norwood (Fulham, loan)
Perennial bottlers Brighton finally broke their hoodoo last season as they secured a maiden promotion to the Premier League. Chris Hughton is a sound manager and an all-round nice guy and he’s recruited well ahead of their debut campaign. Izquierdo is lightning quick and could be a phenomenal addition given time, whilst Davy Propper and Pascal Gross are excellent creative midfield players. However, they’re very light at the back and I don’t think they’ll score enough goals to survive.
Predicted finish: 20th
Charlie Taylor (Leeds, compensation), Jonathan Walters (Stoke, undisclosed), Jack Cork (Swansea, undisclosed), Phil Bardsley (Stoke, undisclosed), Adam Legzdins (Birmingham City, undisclosed)
Joey Barton (released), Michael Kightly (Southend, free), George Boyd (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Michael Keane (Everton, £25m), Paul Robinson (retired), Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest, £2m), Andre Gray (Watford, £18.5m).
Second-season syndrome does still exist in the Premier League and I think Burnley are going to find that out the hard way this season. Sean Dyche worked wonders to keep them up last year, but this transfer window has been a painful one for the Clarets. Losing their two best players (Keane and Gray) is a major blow to their survival chances and most worryingly, they’ve failed to recruit adequate replacements. They’ll battle hard but they won’t have enough to survive.
Predicted finish: 18th
Ethan Ampadu (Exeter, undisclosed), Willy Caballero (Manchester City, free), Antonio Rudiger (Roma, £29m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco, £40m), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid, £58m)
Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth, £10m), Dominic Solanke (Liverpool, £3m), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus, £17.3m), Christian Atsu (Newcastle, £6.2m), Bertrand Traore (Lyon, £8.8m), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth, £20m), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford, £5m), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United, £35m), John Terry (Aston Villa, free), Alex Kiwomya (Doncaster, free), Tammy Abraham (Swansea, loan), Ola Aina (Hull, loan), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace, loan), Lucas Piazon (Fulham, loan), Marco Van Ginkel (PSV, loan), Kurt Zouma (Stoke, loan), Matt Miazga (Vitesse, loan), Jamal Blackman (Sheffield United, loan)
Antonio Conte’s debut season in English football couldn’t have gone much better but retaining the Premier League title will be a tall order. The additions of Morata, Rudiger and Bakayoko are all positive, but with Diego Costa probably leaving Stamford Bridge before the summer’s out and Nemanja Matic already gone, Chelsea lack sufficient depth to challenge for the title, especially with the added complication of European football this season.
Predicted finish: 4th
Jairo Riedwald (Ajax, undisclosed), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, loan), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United, loan)
Kwesi Appiah (AFC Wimbledon, free), Frazier Campbell (Hull, free), Zeki Fryers (Barnsley, free), Steve Mandanda (Marseille, undisclosed), Joe Ledley (released)
Following the ups and downs of last season, most Palace fans were hoping for some stability this campaign. However, the departure of Sam Allardyce means the South London side will have to reset once more. Frank De Boer’s horror spell at Inter has tainted his reputation but he’s still a great coach and given time, he should do well at Palace. Their recruitment has been limited and I think they’ll struggle, but Benteke’s goals should be the difference for them.
Predicted finish: 16th
Davy Klaassen (Ajax, £23.6m), Henry Onyekuru (Eupen, £6.8m), Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, £25m), Michael Keane (Burnley, £25m), Sandro Ramirez (Malaga, £5.2m), Josh Bowler (QPR, £1.5m), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, free), Cuco Martina (Southampton, free)
Tom Cleverley (Watford, £8m), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, £10.8m), Arouna Kone (Sivasspor, free), Conor McAleny (Fleetwood, free), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, £75m), Aiden McGeady (Sunderland, £250,000), Henry Onyekuru (Anderlecht, loan), Tyias Browning (Sunderland, loan), Brendan Galloway (Sunderland, loan), Matthew Pennington (Leeds, loan)
Everton’s transfer window has been a statement of intent and I think they could be set for a big season under Ronald Koeman. Klaassen is obviously a replacement for Ross Barkley, whilst the additions of Pickford and Keane will form the basis of a strong spine. If they’d held onto Romelu Lukaku, or secured a proper replacement for him, I’d back them to challenge for a top 4 spot. Without those goals, they’ll be hard to beat but will endure too many draws to reach the promised land of the Champions League.
Predicted finish: 6th
Elias Kachunga (Ingolstadt, £1.1m), Laurent Depoitre (Porto, £3.5m), Aaron Mooy (Manchester City, £8m), Tom Ince (Derby, £8.5m), Danny Williams (Reading, free), Steve Mounie (Montpellier, £11.4m), Scott Malone (Fulham, £3.5m), Mathias Jorgensen (Copenhagen, £2.5m), Jonas Lossl (Mainz, loan)
Kyle Dempsey (Fleetwood, £725,000), Joe Murphy (Bury, free), Harry Bunn (Bury, undisclosed), Mark Hudson (retired), Jordy Hiwula (Fleetwood, loan), Jack Payne (Oxford, loan)
Huddersfield’s promotion last season was a real fairytale and David Wagner deserves a lot of credit for what he managed to achieve with that team. They played some excellent football and he used his contacts in Germany to pick up some good deals. However, I feel they may have fallen into the trap of buying too many players ahead of their debut Premier League campaign – they’ve already spent over £37m with Wagner openly acknowledging they want more. I suspect they’ll put up a good fight and open a lot of eyes, but I think they’ll that little bit extra to keep them up.
Predicted finish: 19th
Harry Maguire (Hull, £17m), Vicente Iborra (Sevilla, £15m), Eldin Jakupovic (Hull, undisclosed), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, £25m), George Thomas (Coventry, undisclosed)
Marcin Wasilewski (released), Ron-Robert Zieler (Stuttgart, undisclosed), Bartosz Kapustka (Freiburg, loan)
Last season was always going to be a wake-up call for the Foxes after their surreal title-winning campaign of 2015-16, and the way Claudio Ranieri left the club left a dark cloud over the King Power. However, they really picked up under Craig Shakespeare and the addition of former Blackburn and Oxford boss Michael Appleton to his backroom team will offer some more stability. Their recruitment this summer has been excellent – Iheanacho is an outstanding addition, as he showed what he’s capable of in flashes for City last year. Maguire is a long-term replacement for Robert Huth and Iborra is a midfield general who’ll compliment what they’ve got nicely. A good season lies in wait for the Foxes.
Predicted finish: 10th
Mohamed Salah (Roma, £36.9m), Dominic Solanke (Chelsea, £3m), Andrew Robertson (Hull, £8m)
Andre Wisdom (Derby, £2m), Lucas Leiva (Lazio, £5m), Kevin Stewart (Hull, £4m)
Jurgen Klopp definitely seems to be building something at Anfield but I’m still not sure what it is. They weren’t convincing for much of last season in securing a top-four finish, and their quiet summer doesn’t bode well. They’re still light at the back and with Philippe Coutinho increasingly likely to leave, they face the very real prospect of being the second best team in Merseyside this season.
Predicted finish: 7th
Bernardo Silva (Monaco, £43m), Ederson (Benfica, £35m), Kyle Walker (Tottenham, £45m), Danilo (Real Madrid, £26.5m), Benjamin Mendy (Monaco, £49.3m)
Enes Unal (Villareal, £11.9m), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield, £8m), Olivier Ntcham (Celtic, £4.3m), Nolito (Sevilla, £7.7m), Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma, £5.3m), Fernando (Galatasaray (£4.8m), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester, £25m), Willy Caballero (Chelsea, free), Jesus Navas (Sevilla, free), Gael Clichy (Istanbul Basasekhir, free), Bacary Sagna (released), Pablo Zabaleta (West Ham, free)
Having not won a trophy in his first season for the first time in his career, Pep Guardiola will be even more motivated to win this time round and we may finally realise the clashes between him and Jose Mourinho many anticipated for last year. They’ve spent extensively this summer, but they’ve strengthened areas in which they were weak and their prospects for success are high. Gabriel Jesus is poised for a star-making season, whilst the prospect of David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane playing together week in week out is tantalising. A third Premiership title beckons.
Predicted finish: 1st
Victor Lindelof (Benfica, £30m), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, £75m), Nemanja Matic (Chelsea, £35m)
Josh Harrop (Preston, undisclosed), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad, undisclosed), Wayne Rooney (Everton, free), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (released), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Leeds, loan), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Palace, loan)
Another summer transfer window, another massive bout of expenditure from Manchester United. This season will be make or break for Mourinho in the red half of Manchester, as last season’s poor league form was only saved by triumph in the Europa League. Their three signings are excellent and their best XI is arguably the league’s best, but they haven’t got the depth in my opinion to maintain a campaign on four fronts and come out on top. Probably the FA Cup winners when it’s all said and done, but the league title will evade them.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Christian Atsu (Chelsea, £6.2m), Florian Lejeune (Eibar, £8.7m), Jacob Murphy (Norwich, £12m), Javier Manquillo (Atletico, £4.5m), Mikel Merino (Dortmund, loan), Stefan O’Connor (Newcastle, loan)
Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest, £2m), Florian Thauvin (Marseille, £9.5m), Kevin Mbabu (Young Boys, undisclosed), Vurnon Anita (Leeds, free), Sammy Amoebi (Bolton, free), Yoan Gouffran (Goztepe, free), Matz Sels (Anderlecht, loan), Ivan Toney (Wigan, loan)
Back where they rightfully belong, Newcastle undoubtedly have the brightest prospects of all the promoted sides this season. In Rafa Benitez they have one of the league’s best managers and they have the basis of a great squad. Their recruitment has underwhelmed massively however, and that will probably hurt them as the season progresses. Jacob Murphy, a big Toon fan, could prove an inspired piece of business.
Predicted finish: 11th
Jan Bednarek (Lech Poznan, £5m), Mario Lemina (Juventus, £15.4m)
Jason McCarthy (Barnsley, undisclosed), Jay Rodriguez (Southampton, £12m), Lloyd Isgrove (Barnsley, free), Cuco Martina (Everton, free), Martin Caceres (Hellas Verona, free)
Southampton pose an interesting set of questions ahead of the new season. How will Mauricio Pellegrino, who worked wonders at Alaves, settle in the Premier League? Is their lack of business a good thing, given the recent summers of rebuilding? I personally don’t think Claude Puel got a fair crack of the whip but that aside, Pellegrino is a good coach. Bednarek is a promising defender by all accounts and Lemina did well at Juventus, but it’s not particularly inspiring. However, I think they’ll surprise a lot of people this season and secure a top-half finish.
Predicted finish: 9th
Darren Fletcher (West Brom, free), Josh Tymon (Hull, compensation), Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke, free), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea, loan)
Daniel Bachmann (Watford, free), Jonathan Walters (Burnley, £3m), Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa, £1.3m), Marko Arnautovic (West Ham, £20m), Phil Bardsley (Burnley, undisclosed)
A growing number of Stoke fans seemed disgruntled with Mark Hughes last season and I personally believe he’s coming to the end of his tenure at the Britannia. Their football has become uninspired, slow and lethargic and players like Marko Arnautovic jumping at the chance of a sideways move highlights the lack of ambition the Potters seem to have. Darren Fletcher is a solid midfield addition and Kurt Zouma is a promising defender but it’s not enough. Mid-table mediocrity beckons.
Predicted finish: 12th
Erwin Mulder (Heerenveen, free), Roque Mesa (Las Palmas, £11m), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea, loan)
Bafetimbi Gomis (Galatasaray, undisclosed), Franck Tabanou (Guingamp, free), Gerhard Tremmel (retired), Jack Cork (Burnley, undisclosed), Modou Barrow (Reading, £1.5m), Borja Baston (Malaga, loan), Jordi Amat (Real Betis, loan)
Paul Clement was a real breath of fresh air for the Swans last season but I feel he will be hit with the harsh reality of the Premier League this campaign. The squad was light last season and they’ve not added a lot, but what they have added is good. Mulder will be a good back-up keeper, Mesa was superb for Las Palmas last year and Tammy Abraham showed immense maturity at Bristol City last season but they’re probably still light in midfield and across the backline. Resolving the issues with Gylfi Sigurdsson will be key to determining the nature of their campaign, but they should have enough to survive.
Predicted finish: 15th
Luke McGee (Portsmouth, undisclosed), Kyle Walker (Manchester City, £45m), Federico Fazio (Roma, £2.8m), Clinton N’Jie (Marseille, undisclosed), Josh Onomah (Aston Villa, loan)
Whilst Daniel Levy’s argument that the spending of Tottenham’s rivals is unsustainable was noble, Tottenham’s complete inactivity in the transfer market provides cause for concern. They’ve easily been the best team over the last two seasons but they need more depth if they are to win a maiden league crown. The loss of Walker will hurt, whilst Danny Rose’s comments to the papers demonstrate that there’s some uneasiness in the dressing room. Combine that with a move to Wembley, where they struggled last season, and this season doesn’t look too promising. They’ll be battling with Everton and Liverpool rather than Arsenal and the Manchester clubs come next May.
Predicted finish: 5th
Daniel Bachmann (Stoke, free), Tom Cleverley (Everton, £8m), Kiko Femenia (Alaves, free), Will Hughes (Derby, £8m), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, £5m), Richarlison (Fluminense, £11m), Andre Gray (Burnley, £18.5m)
Rene Gilmartin (Colchester, free), Mario Suarez (Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng, undisclosed), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord, undisclosed), Juan Carlos Paredes (Emelec, free)
Watford’s third season back in the Premier League and their third different manager. Marco Silva did well at Hull, although I feel his efforts have been greatly overrated by the media, and Watford have recruited nicely this summer. Will Hughes probably lacks the physicality right now but he’s a talent, whilst Chalobah and Gray could slide straight into their team. There are deficiencies in the team but they will have enough to stay up.
Predicted finish: 17th
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton, £12m), Zhang Yuning (Vitesse, undisclosed), Ahmed Hegazi (Al Ahly, loan)
Darren Fletcher (Stoke, free), Zhang Yuning (Bremen, loan)
Much like Tony Pulis’ old side Stoke, West Brom feel like a club that are stagnating. The Baggies were superb up until Christmas and then the points dried up and they coasted to 10th place. Pulis has started getting stick from the fans and if they don’t start well, their season could unravel quickly. Jay Rodriguez is a great addition but I feel his arrival will be overshadowed by the Darren Fletcher’s departure, who was excellent at the Hawthorns. Another side facing mid-table mediocrity, they could get sucked into the relegation battle.
Predicted finish: 13th
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, free), Joe Hart (Manchester City, loan), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke, £20m), Javier Hernandez (Leverkusen, £16m), Sead Haksabanovic (Halmstads, £2.7m)
Alvaro Arbeloa (retired), Reece Oxford (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Havard Nordtveit (Hoffenheim, undisclosed), Enner Valencia (Tigres, undisclosed), George Dobson (Sparta Rotterdam, undisclosed), Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough, £5m), Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough, £6.5m)
The Hammers are definitely in the conversation for best business in this window thus far. Javier Hernandez is still a top-level striker and nabbing him for £16m is an absolute steal. Arnautovic is a weird addition but he gives them another option, whilst Zabaleta offers experience. I’m conflicted about Joe Hart because he’s not what he was (he was poor at Torino) and he could cost them points, but that aside the Hammers look strong. Having now settled at the Olympic Stadium, Bilic’s boys should enjoy a good season and a strong top-half finish. Easily the best of the rest.
Predicted finish: 8th