After last season, anything’s possible isn’t it?
Looking back at my predictions during pre-season for the 2015/16 season of the Premier League makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. I predicted that Chelsea would once again win the league and that Leicester would be relegated. I may as well have thrown in “Fellaini will stop using his elbows on opponents” or “Sturridge and Wilshere will have injury free campaigns” as I couldn’t have sounded any more wrong if i had tried.
Nobody could have really predicted the wonderful fairy tale of the Foxes though could they? (well except that jammy punter who won thousands of pounds off a bet, but even he was probably just taking the p*ss at the time!).
But will they do it again? Can they compete in the Champions League? in this article AFEfootballnews’ has another go at predicting the outcomes of the upcoming 2016/17 Premier League season and here’s hoping I get it a little more on target this time (that’s what Benteke says to himself every time he’s out on the pitch, ba-doom tsk!)
Players bought: Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach) Undisclosed, Takuma Asano (Hiroshima Sanfrecce) Undisclosed, Rob Holding (Bolton Wanderers) Undisclosed, Kelechi Nwakali (Diamond Football Academy) Undisclosed, Lucas Perez (Deportivo La Coruna) Undisclosed, Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia) Undisclosed.
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Captain: Per Mertesacker
Star man: Mesut Ozil
One to watch: Alex Iwobi
Well who could have predicted this?
Arsene Wenger has only gone and spent over £80 million on players and Gunner’s all around the world are beginning to feel a new sense of hope once again. The late signings of Mustafi and Perez have certainly made them look a somewhat stronger team, but the real question is can Perez cut it in the Premier League after enjoying a prolific season in La Liga last season? Mustafi will no doubt be a fine signing though and if he forms a partnership with Koscielny at the back, then their could be no room for Mertesacker when he returns form his long term absence.
Prediction: Top four again but the other big three will prove stronger. 4th.
Players bought: Emerson Hyndman (Fulham) Free, Nathan Ake (Chelsea) Loan, Lys Mousset (Le Havre) Undisclosed , Mark Travers, Mikael Ndjoli (Millwall), Lewis Cook (Leeds) , Jordon Ibe (Liverpool) , Brad Smith (Liverpool) Undisclosed , Marc Wilson (Stoke City) Undisclosed, Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) Loan, Mihai Dobre (Viituril Constanta) Undisclosed.
Manager: Eddie Howe
Captain: Steve Cook
Star man: Callum Wilson
One to watch: Lewis Cook
What did £15 million get you back in 2003? Cristiano Ronaldo, and what does it get you 13 years on in 2016? Jordon Ibe apparently.
It’s no secret that football has gone totally bat shit crazy when it comes to transfer fees recently (insert Pogba jokes here) but in all honesty after seeing the former Liverpool winger playing in pre season, it seems as though he could really make a name for himself in the league this season under Eddie Howe’s guidance. The signing of promising midfielder Lewis Cook from Leeds was a pretty good piece of dealing from them too. The return of Callum Wilson, who was on fire for the Cherries at the beginning of last season before being injured for almost the rest of it is sure to boost them too. The singing of Jack Wilshere on loan from Arsenal is arguably their biggest ever signing, and if he stays fit, then he could be great for them.
A mid table push may be on the cards this year as there are much weaker teams than them in the league now.
Prediction: 13th place in the table.
Players bought: Jimmy Dunne Free, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Charlton Athletic) Undisclosed, Nick Pope (Charlton Athletic) Undisclosed, Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) Loan, Steven Defour (Anderlecht) Undisclosed, Partrick Bamford (Chelsea) Loan, Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) Undisclosed.
Manager: Sean Dyche
Captain: Tom Heaton
Star man: Andre Gray
One to watch: Steven Defour
The clarets have had more up’s and down’s than anyone else in recent times, becoming the yo-yo team that’s stuck in the oblivion between Championship and Premier League football, as it seems that they’re too good for the Championship but not quite good enough for the Premier League. This season looks like being yet another struggle as they have sold their most influential star of last season, everyone’s favourite badman Joey Barton, to Rangers. They have however, replaced him with two very hard working midfielders in Steven Defour and Jeff Hendrick. Defour is a Belgian international who is not afraid to stick a foot in and Hendrick impressed for Ireland during the Euro’s, so it will be interesting to see how they get on. Striker Andre Gray, who was on fire for the Clarets last season will have to be firing on all cylinders to keep them up this year.
Time will tell if they can survive, but it will be tough there’s no doubt about that.
Prediction: Other teams will just be too strong for them. 20th and relegated.
Players bought: Michy Batshuayi (Marseille) Undisclosed, N’Golo Kante (Leicester City) Undisclosed, Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb) Undisclosed, Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina) Undisclosed, David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain) Undisclosed.
Manager: Antonio Conte
Captain: John Terry
Star man: Eden Hazard
One to watch: Michy Batshuayi
One thing’s for sure, whatever happens in new manager Antonio Conte’s first season in charge of the club, it can’t get much worse than the failures of last season, in which the Blues went from being Premier League champions in the previous season, to finishing 10th last year. Conte is hoping to start afresh with this new look side though and summer signings such as N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi will be looking to take Chelsea back to where they belong and back into European competitions. Crazy haired madman David Luiz has also returned to Stamford Bridge on a permanent transfer from PSG, so the fans will undoubtedly be excited to see him play again.
Prediction: The Blues will manage to start over again and climb up the table, thanks to Conte’s unique tactics.3rd place.
Players bought: Andros Townsend (Newcastle United) £13m, Steve Mandanda (Marseille) Undisclosed, James Tomkins (West Ham United) £10m, Christian Benteke (Liverpool) Undisclosed, Loic Remy (Chelsea) Loan.
Manager: Alan Pardew
Captain: Scott Dann
Star man: Yohann Cabaye
One to watch: Andros Townsend
Always a tough one to call with Palace, as on their day they can be a very tough team to beat but on another day they can be down right awful. The signings of Andros Townsend, Loic Remy and Chrisitan Benteke have added some serious attacking threat to their side and the arrival of Steve Mandanda from Marseille is a very good signing indeed, as he is a world class goalkeeper. Yohann Cabaye will continue to run things in midfield as per usual and if he can stay fit often enough then Palace should avoid the drop.
Prediction: They may get dragged into a relegation scrap at some point but they should have enough strength and quality in numbers to survive comfortably. 14th place.
Players bought: Bassala Sambou (Coventry City) Compensation fee, Chris Renshaw (Oldham Athletic) Undisclosed, Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham) Undisclosed, Idrissa Gana Gueye (Aston Villa) Undisclosed, Ashley Williams (Swansea City) Undisclosed, Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Sheffield United) Undisclosed, Enner Valencia (West Ham) Loan.
Manager: Ronald Koeman
Captain: Phil Jagielka
Star man: Romelu Lukaku
One to watch: Gerard Deulofeu
With the news that new investors have taken over at Everton, it may seem like exciting times are right ahead of the club, however, the little uncertainties that come around once in awhile still remain beneath the joy. Deadline day was a strange one for them, as Moussa Sissoko decided to bail on them at the last second to join Spurs (bit harsh that was!).
There’s no doubting that Koeman is beginning to build a squad of his own though, as he’s managed to bring in Yannick Boalsie, who will add pace and attacking qualities to the side, Ashley Williams, who is one of the best defenders in the league on his day and Idrissa Gueye who has looked like he could do a decent job for them in that defensive midfield position so far. The addition of Enner Valencia on loan from West Ham was also a fine one as he’s a player who knows whee the goal is.
Prediction: They won’t perform miracles, but they will improve on last season. 10th.
Players bought: Will Mannion (AFC Wimbledon) Tribunal, David Marshall (Cardiff City) Undisclosed, Ryan Mason (Tottenham Hotspur) Undisclosed, Will Keane (Manchester United) Undisclosed, James Weir (Manchester United) Undisclosed, Dieumerci Mbokani (Dynamo Kiev) Loan, Markus Henriksen (Alkmaar) Loan.
Manager: TBC after Steve Bruce’s sacking (Mike Phelan takes charge for now)
Captain: Michael Dawson
Star man: Abel Hernandez
One to watch: Andy Robertson
Despite, the fact that Hull had decided to get rid of their manager and the legend that is Steve Bruce before the start of the new Premier League campaign, they have started the season in fine form, winning two of their first three games, one of which was against last season’s champions, Leicester.
The last few days of the transfer window saw them add some Premier League experience to their ranks with Mbokani (who shined at Norwich last season, Mason (who was at Spurs) and Marshall (who was in the Prem with Cardiff a few years ago) all coming in. The fact of the matter is though that the best players they have in their squad such as Abel Hernanadez, Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed Elmohamady were the exact same players who failed to help the club stay up in the league during the 2014/15 season and for that reason alone I can’t see anything but relegation for them this season.
They’ve made a good start to life back in the top league, but reality will soon catch up to them as they simply don’t have the strength in numbers to survive this year.
Prediction: These particular Tigers don’t have enough fight in them to survive. 19th and relegated.
Players bought: Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96) Undisclosed, Luis Hernandez (Sporting Gijon) Free, Raul Uche Rubio (Rayo Vallecano) Undisclosed, Nampalys Mendy (Nice) Undisclosed, Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow) Undisclosed, Bartosz Kapustka (KS Cracovia) Undisclosed, Islam Slimani (Sporting) Undisclosed.
Manager: Claudio Ranieri
Captain: Wes Morgan
Star man: Riyad Mahrez
One to watch: Islam Slimani
They couldn’t possibly do it again could they?
There are almost no words to describe what the Foxes achieved last season as it was purely beyond anyone’s widest imaginations. The fact that they have managed to hold on to star players Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez says an awful lot about how the club is run too and they should be proud of how far they have come. This season is a different kettle of fish though, as the so called big teams (even Arsenal) have managed to strengthen immensely and will most likely provide much sterner competition this time around.
Keep an eye out for new signings Ahmed Musa, as his pace will terrify many a Premier League defender this season and Islam Slimani, who is an excellent finisher and knows how to take his chances. Finishing in the top half would be a respectable finish for them this year as the focus of Champions League football may be too much for them.
Prediction: European football may tire them out. 8th place.
Players bought: Joel Matip (Schalke) Free, Loris Karius (FSV Mainz 05), Sadio Mane (Southampton) Undisclosed, Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg) Undisclosed, Alex Manninger (Augsburg) Free, Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle) Undisclosed.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Captain: Jordan Henderson
Star man: Philippe Coutinho
One to watch: Sadio Mane
Jurgen Klopp’s dreams of building his own empire are beginning to come to life at Anfield as he brings in player after player and disposes of those he doesn’t feel are of use to him (here’s looking at you Joe Allen). The signings of Sadio Mane from Southampton and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle have been particularly impressive as they were two players that excelled in the league last season.
Their biggest problem is their unpredictability. Their impressive 4-3 opening day win over Arsenal at the Emirates was followed up by a shocking 2-0 loss to Burnley and a rather poor 1-1 draw against Spurs. They have to fix their defensive problems in order to compete at the top.
Prediction: They’ll have a decent season and just miss out on a Champion’s League place thanks to Arsenal. 5th place.
Players bought: Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund) Undisclosed, Nolito (Celta Vigo) Undisclosed, Oleksandr Zinchenko (FC Ufa) Undisclosed, Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City) Undisclosed, Leroy Sane (Schalke 04) Undisclosed, Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras) Undisclosed
* will join in January 2017, Marlos Moreno (Atletico Nacional) Undisclosed, John Stones (Everton) Undisclosed, Claudio Bravo (Barcelona) Undisclosed.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Captain: Vincent Kompany
Star man: Sergio Aguero
One to watch: Kelechi Iheanacho
So it’s finally happening, the mighty Guardiola has landed in England ahead of the new Premier League season and City fans are buzzing about it (I’m assuming that’s the phrase they’d probably use anyway). Their transfer window was a highly successful one, but the one that dominated the headlines was the departure of goalkeeper Joe Hart, who made a loan move to Serie A side Torino for the season. The way the situation was handled by the club was an embarrassment and they should be ashamed of themselves for treating a player who has been so loyal to them the way that they did.
A host of talent within their squad has been strengthened further by the likes of new signings, Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, John Stones and Nolito. Add them to the likes of the prolific goalscoring of Aguero, the vision of De Bruyne, the pure magic of Silva and the engine of Yaya Toure and you’ve got yourself a formidable side indeed.
Prediction: If they don’t win the league after spending so much money then it’s actually a disgrace. 1st place and thus Premier League winners.
Players bought: Eric Bailly (Villarreal) Undisclosed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) Free, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund) Undisclosed, Paul Pogba (Juventus) Undisclosed.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Captain: Wayne Rooney
Star man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
One to watch: Paul Pogba
Summer transfer windows don’t come much better than this do they? United’s new manager, Jose Mourinho became the first manager ever to spend £1 billion (includes all the clubs he’s managed and made transfers with) when he forked out big style to bring in superstars Zlatan Ibrahimovic(‘s wages) and Paul Pogba. As well as that, he’s signed talented winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan (unsurprisingly the first Armenian ever to play in the PL) from Borussia Dortmund and promising defender Eric Bailly from Villarreal. He’s already built himself a fantastic looking squad at Old Trafford so fans will be excited to see what this side can achieve this season.
Prediction: They’ll challenge City all the way, but their rivals just have that little bit more talent than they do and will therefore triumph. 2nd place and runners-up.
Players bought: Viktor Fischer (Ajax) Undisclosed, Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon) Undisclosed, Marten De Roon (Atalanta) Undisclosed, Jordan McGhee (Heart of Midlothian) Loan, Victor Valdes (Manchester United) Free, Antonio Barragan (Valencia) Undisclosed, Alvaro Negredo (Valencia) Loan, Gaston Ramirez (Southampton) Undisclosed, Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) Undisclosed, Fabio Da Silva (Cardiff City) Undisclosed, Calum Chambers (Arsenal) Loan, Adama Traore (Aston Villa) Undisclosed.
Manager: Aitor Karanka
Captain: Grant Leadbitter
Star man: Alvaro Negredo
One to watch: Viktor Fischer
Not many newly promoted teams go about and spend their money quite like Boro have done during this transfer window and if they do they certainly don’t bring in the quality of players that they have so far. Experienced goalkeepers, Victor Valdes and Brad Guzan have signed for the club which will give them great depth between the sticks. Promising youngsters Viktor Fischer, Calum Chambers (loan) and Adama Traore have also been brought in by Karanka and Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez has made a permanent move to Riverside after playing on loan there last season. The most impressive and important signing that they have made however is the loan signing of veteran striker Alvaro Negredo, formerly of Manchester City, who will almost guarantee them goals this season.
It will be interesting to see whether or not this side can gel, so far they’re unbeaten in the first three games, so it looks fairly promising for them. Strength in depth is the key to survival and Middlesbrough seem to have plenty of that in their squad.
Prediction: I like the look of this Middlesbrough side and would really like to see them stay up. It will be tough, but they may just do it. 17th place.
Players bought: Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) Undisclosed, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Bayern Munich) Undisclosed, Alex McCarthy (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed, Jeremy Pied (Nice) Free, Stuart Taylor Free, Sofiane Boufal (Lille).
Manager: Claude Puel
Captain: Jose Fonte
Star man: Dusan Tadic
One to watch: Sofiane Boufal
Another year, another Southampton player departing for Liverpool. Sadio Mane, one of the Saints’ biggest stars of last season has upped and left for Anfield, where he will join his former team mates, Dejan Lovren, Adam lallana and Nathaniel Clyne. It’s not all doom and gloom for Southampton though as they claimed a Europa League group stage space last season and have all that to look forward to this year. The signings of Nathan Redmond from Norwich and highly rated youngster Pierre Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich will be something for the fans to rave about too. Keep an eye out for Sofiane Boufal, their new Moroccan attacking midfielder, as he could be a real bright spark in their side.
Prediction: A stable season of focusing on the Europa League as well as the Premier League will see them narrowly miss out on a top 10 finish. 11th.
Players bought: Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly) Up to €6m, Joe Allen (Liverpool) Up to £13m, Ryan Sweeney (AFC Wimbledon). Lee Grant (Derby County) Loan, Wilfried Bony (Manchester City) Loan, Bruno Martins Indi (Porto) Loan, Cameron McJannett (Luton Town) Undisclosed.
Manager: Mark Hughes
Captain: Ryan Shawcross
Star man: Xherdan Shaqiri
One to watch: Joe Allen
What a team Mark Hughes is building at the Britannia. He’s now assembled a midfield consisting of Joe Allen, Giannelli Imbula, Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan, which put together in a 4-5-1 formation could be lethal. Add loan signings Wilfired Bony, who could be a decent goalscorer for them and Bruno Martins Indi, a solid defender, to the mix and they could enjoy a very good season.
Gone are the days of Rory Delap’s long throws and Pulis’ park the bus/rugby tactics, say hello to Hughes’ tiki-taka football and a Barca style of play. Two Welshmen who both have very different styles of management but Hughes’ approach seems all the more effective as each season goes by.
They’ve endured a terrible start to the season, being unable to win any of their first three games and are currently sitting at the foot of the Premier League table.There’s no doubt that they will turn that around though, especially with their new signings now available to play for the club.
Prediction: If their midfield is on form for most of the season and Bony can provide the goals then they could be looking at a high finish. 9th place.
Players bought: Papy Djilobodji (Chelsea) £8m, Paddy McNair (Manchester United)*, Donald Love (Manchester United)*, Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) Loan
* combined fee of £5.5m, Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid) Loan, Steven Pienaar Free, Didier Ndong (Lorient) €16m, Jason Denayer (Manchester City) Loan.
Manager: David Moyes
Captain: John O’Shea
Star man: Jermain Defoe
One to watch: Adnan Januzaj
Yes incredibly they are still with us. It seems that no matter how doomed they appear to be, the Black Cats always manage to escape the deathtrap. This season though, may finally be the one where we say goodbye to Sunderland.
After the news that Sam Allardyce would be leaving to pursue a dream job as England manager, the club moved quickly to announce David Moyes as their new manager and he wasted no time in the transfer window adding Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea and Paddy McNair and Donald Love from Manchester United, as well as capturing Adnan Januzaj on loan from United too and adding former Everton and Spurs winger Steven Pienaar to the squad. Decent signings, but none of those really have the ability to really change the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light. Deadline day saw them add young defenders Denayer and Manquillo to their ranks who are again decent, but vastly inexperienced. They also broke their club record to sing defensive midfielder, Didier Ndong from Lorient, which was a bit of a gamble in my opinion, they would have been better off going for Yann M’Vila again, which was what the fans wanted anyway.
If it wasn’t for Jermain Defoe, then they would have been relegated early on last season and one would imagine that he will be just as important for the club this season if they are to try and avoid the drop once more.
Prediction: Time to say goodbye, the Black Cats are Defoe going down this time. 18th place and relegated.
Players bought: Leroy Fer (Queens Park Rangers) Undisclosed, Mike van der Hoorn (Ajax) Undisclosed, Tyler Reid (Manchester United) Undisclosed, George Byers (Watford) Free, Mark Birighetti (Newcastle Jets) Free, Fernando Llorente (Sevilla) Undisclosed, Borja Baston (Atletico Madrid) £15.5m, Alfie Mawson (Barnsley) Undisclosed.
Manager: Francesco Guidolin
Captain: Leon Britton
Star man: Gylfi Sigurdsson
One to watch: Borja Baston
I fear the worst for the Swans this season I really do. The signings of Spanish strikers Fernando Llorente and Borja Baston are great ones don’t get me wrong, however they do not mask the departures of two main players in Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew. The club have failed spectacularly in their quest to replace those two players and therefore could have a long hard season ahead of them.
Having said that though, they always find a way to get out of tough times as they did without Wilfired Bony and Michu and Jonjo Shelvey and Scott Sinclair, etc. and they will need that bulldog spirit to come back once again this year.
New signing Fernando Llorente will be looking to impress this season. The former Spanish international, who was a World Cup winner in 2010 is strong and at 6ft 5′ should give defenders a torrid time in the air.
Prediction: They’ll have enough to stay up in the Premier League, but a long season awaits. 15th place.
Players bought: Victor Wanyama (Southampton) Undisclosed, Vincent Janssen (AZ Alkmaar) Undisclosed, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Marseille) Undisclosed, Pau Lopez (Espanyol) Loan, Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) Undisclosed.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Captain: Hugo Lloris
Star man: Harry Kane
One to watch: Dele Alli
What could have been an impressive season was marred by an awful final few games for Spurs during 2015/16 which was capped off by an embarrassing 5-1 final day defeat to already relegated Newcastle United, and ensured that they were once again leapfrogged by their North London rivals Arsenal in the league. However they still they managed to finish third and earn themselves an automatic Champions League spot in the process. There had been much talk of them winning the league last season and there are slight hopes that they can rekindle those efforts this season as they’ve managed to keep a hold of all of their stars.
Victor Janssen is one to look out for this year as he’ll provide healthy competition for Harry Kane up front. 27 goals in 34 for AZ Aalkmar in the Eredivisie last season was an incredible tally for him and he’ll now be looking to impress at the highest level. Self proclaimed Arsenal fan and Everton snubber, Moussa Sissoko will also be looking to prove that he can live up to his massive £30 million price tag too.
Prediction: A much more competitive league awaits them this year, but they will find themselves in the European spots. 6th place.
Players bought: Jerome Sinclair (Liverpool) Undisclosed, Christian Kabasele (Genk) Undisclosed, Isaac Success (Granada) Undisclosed, Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli) Loan, Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille), Younes Kaboul (Sunderland), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United), Stefano Okaka (Anderlecht) Undisclosed, Adrian Mariappa Free, Kenedy (Chelsea) Loan.
Manager: Walter Mazzarri
Captain: Troy Deeney
Star man: Odion Ighalo
One to watch: Kenedy
A thoroughly surprising season during the 2015/16 campaign, following their promotion from the championship, saw the Hornets finish in 13th place and put in some impressive displays during the course of the season, with strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney proving to be a formidable pair in terms of goals and assists.
Despite that though, manager Quique Sanchez Flores still got sacked at the end of the season as the strict Pozzo family who run the club decided that he was not good enough and have now replaced him with former Inter coach Mazzarri. The fans are a mixture of nervousness and excitement for the new season, but with the same players as they had last season, plus a whole host of new faces at the club they could be looking at another fine season.
Roberto Pereyra, bought in from Juventus is an impressive signing, as he is a midfielder who knows how to score goals, whilst also having the ability to create chances for his teammates. Definitely one to watch this season.
Prediction: One step better than last time, as they look slightly stronger. 12th place.
West Bromwich Albion
Players bought: Matt Phillips (Queens Park Rangers) Undisclosed, Brendan Galloway (Everton) Loan, Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur) Undisclosed, Allan Nyom (Watford) Undisclosed, Hal Robson-Kanu (Unattached).
Manager: Tony Pulis
Captain: Darren Fletcher
Star man: Salomon Rondon
One to watch: Nacer Chadli
Albion fans are not very happy and fear that this season could be the season that sees them relegated form the Premier League and they have reason to worry as even manager Tony Pulis has recently claimed that the Baggies needed “at least 6 new players”. The end of the transfer window may have eased some of those worries though as they signed young left-back Galloway and experienced right-back Nyom to boost their strengths in defence. They also bought in striker Hal Robson-Kanu, who enjoyed an unforgettable summer with Wales at the Euro’s and smashed their transfer record to sign Spurs winger Nacer Chadli, who could prove to be a star player for them.
All the pressure of scoring the goals will once again fall to Venezuelan hitman, Salomon Rondon and that may get to him eventually, and if he were to pick up and injury then that would definitely harm their chances of survival. The role that Jonny Evans will play at the back will be vitally important to this squad and the experience of Darren Fletcher, who is now club captain will be instrumental to keeping them up this season.
Prediction: They will almost certainly be dragged into the relegation fight, but should just about have enough experience and strength in numbers to be able to survive the drop. 16th place.
West Ham United
Players bought: Toni Martinez (Valencia) Undisclosed, Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Free, Domingos Quina, Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia) Free transfer, Gokhan Tore (Besiktas) Loan, Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United) Undisclosed, Arthur Masuaku (Olympiacos) Undisclosed, Andre Ayew (Swansea City) £20.5m, Jonathan Calleri* (Deportivo Maldonado) Loan, Edimilson Fernandes (FC Sion) Undisclosed, Simone Zaza (Juventus) Loan, Alvaro Arbeloa (Unattached).
Manager: Slaven Bilic
Captain: Mark Noble
Star man: Dimitri Payet
One to watch: Reece Oxford
This team that Bilic is putting together, has the potential to eventually be something very special.
The club’s move into the Olympic stadium will bring new ambition to the Hammers’ Premier League campaign and with the likes of explosive winger Sofiane Feghouli, rapid left back Arthur Masuaku and solid centre back Haravard Nordtveit coming in alongside the already talented players that West Ham have in their squad, such as Dimtri Payet and captain Mark Noble, the fans could be in for viewing some very exciting football indeed.
Their exit to Astra Giurgiu for a second year running in the Europa League qualifying rounds was highly embarrassing, but from another aspect, actually quite beneficial to the side as they now have less games to play, meaning that they can focus themselves better on Premier League football.
New striker Simone Zaza will always be remembered for his dreadful penalty miss for Italy against Germany at the Euro’s, but the truth is that he is actually a decent player on his day and knows how to finish well. Former Liverpool right back and World Cup winner with Spain, Alvaro Arbeloa has also made the move to East London, to add some much needed experience to their side.
Prediction: Another Europa League qualifying spot could await them next season (let’s hope they don’t face Astra again eh?). 7th place.
Final Premier League table:
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Tottenham Hotspur
- West Ham
- Crystal Palace
- West Brom
Let’s hope that this time next year. I won’t be cringing into my cup of tea at my predictions again.
AFEfootballnews looks forward to bringing you updates for the rest of the season and be sure to follow the blog for more exciting articles to come!