English Premier League 2016/17: Club-by-club guide
The race for the title may well come down to the two Manchester clubs - City versus United
Can Leicester City defend their Premier League title in 2016/17. Photograph: Getty Images
Not for the first time Arsenal find themselves needing a striker, a defender and have real doubts about the long-term future of Arsène Wenger. There will be a wider sense of disappointment amongst fans that the club hasn’t done more to match the spending of its northern rivals.
Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette remains a target with Mauro Icardi rumoured to be an alternative, and Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi has also been linked with a move to west London. Granit Xhaka looks a good signing but a great deal more would be required to make them contenders this year.
Staying up again might prove even trickier but this summer’s signings seem likely to work out better than last year’s – young French striker Lys Mousset appears to have real potential. They need to tighten up the defence considerably, though, and another signing or two in that department would generate a little more confidence.
Their 23-match unbeaten run over the second half of last season takes them back to the top flight with momentum. But their manager will remember how quickly that evaporated last time and his squad currently lacks the required quality.
Jon Flanagan looks a good signing but progress has been slow , with the initial €4m offer for Jeff Hendrick suggesting an owner that has not quite caught up with the market. Assuming quality is added in other departments, much may depend on how Andre Gray copes with stepping up to the big time.
Predicted finish: 19th Chelsea Manager: Antonio Conte Last season: 10th
The change of manager will help to draw a line under last year’s calamitous attempt at a title defence and Conte showed at Juventus that he is good at reminding good players of how to achieve their potential together.
N’Golo Kante will improve the midfield and Michy Batshuayi will add to the options up front but coaxing an awful lot more out of the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa (if he stays) and Nemanja Matic will be key. Although another signing or two – a striker and perhaps a central defender – cannot be ruled out.
Their collapse over the second half of last season was quite something and clearly new faces were required if Palace were to go into the new season with any great confidence. James Tomkins and Andros Townsend look useful additions but they have yet to sign somebody to convert the significant number of chances they create.
If they do, and Christian Benteke seems likely to arrive, then they should be a fairly different proposition this year. Pardew will also look to get more out of James McArthur and Yannick Bolassie(a target for Everton) or more signings will be required.
Predicted finish: 15th Everton Manager: Ronald Koeman Last season: 11th
Koeman has been recruited at considerable cost after a couple of very good seasons at Southampton and, notwithstanding the sale of John Stones, the early signs have been that the Dutchman will get the chance to strengthen significantly over time.
Adding a 31 year-old Welsh international from Swansea and a member of last year’s Aston Villa’s defence may not have the fans’ pulses racing quite yet, though, and Koeman, along with the club’s well-regarded new director of football Steve Walsh (poached from Leicester City) have a lot of work to do. Keeping Romelu Lukaku or replacing him well will be high on the priority list.
Predicted finish: 9th Hull City Manager: Mike Phelan (caretaker) Last season: 4th in Championship, then won playoff
The close season has been a shambles with Steve Bruce opting to walk after his hopes of strengthening in the summer were spectacularly thwarted by the owner’s son. To add insult to injury, Mohamed Diame (outstanding last season) even decided to drop back down to the Championship to join Newcastle.
Much will depend on who is recruited to run the show and how well they buy in but the club would surely have to throw money at the situation now to have a serious chance of staying up and that seems hugely unlikely.
Selected ins: None.
Selected outs: Mohamed Diame (Newcastle Utd, €5.2m), Sone Aluko (released).
Predicted finish: 20th Leicester City Manager: Claudio Ranieri Last season: Champions
Chelsea finishing in mid-table last season was rightly considered a bit of a disaster but Leicester might well be happy enough with that as they cope with life as champions.
They have done well to keep so much of the title-winning side together with N’Golo Kante (so far) the only major departure, while Ranieri has sought to strengthen his options right through the spine of the side. Nampalys Mendy, who he had at Monaco, is intended to replace Kante but they are big boots to fill, but Ahmed Musa should add power and pace to an already strong forward line.
Selected ins: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, €18.5m), Nampalys Mendy (Nice, €15m), Bartosz Kapustka (Cracovia, €8.7m), Raul Uche Rubio (Rayo Vallecano, undisc), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover, €3m), Luis Hernández (free).
Predicted finish: 8th Liverpool Manager: Jurgen Klopp Last season: 8th
The charismatic coach’s impact on results in the league last year was actually fairly negligible and having declared himself entirely happy with the transfer dealings, Klopp needs his side to at least re-attach themselves to the leading pack. Some seem to expect a good deal more than that.
Sadio Mané will bring pace up front and Daniel Sturridge might get to contribute a good deal more, while Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip have the potential to significantly improve things at the heart of defence. Making the Champions League places, though, still looks a big ask.
Predicted finish: 6th Manchester City Manager: Pep Guardiola Last season: 4th
The signing of John Stones this week underlined the club’s willingness to back the manager they have been waiting so long to recruit but Guardiola’s greatest challenge, perhaps, will be to re-energise the players. He inherits a squad of hugely expensive acquisitions who lost their way pretty badly.
Adding Nolito and Leroy Sane to a group already containing Sergio Agüero and Kevin de Bruyne should make for exciting attacking play but the defence still doesn’t look good enough and real success for the coach may yet prove to be a two-year project.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Manchester United Manager: José Mourinho Last season: 5th
Few people have a record of hitting the ground running like Mourinho and having strengthened United in the areas that caused them the most problems last year, the Portuguese looks well placed to lead the club back to the top of the pile again.
There are some potential pitfalls. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney are in decline and if the Swede is not a success at Old Trafford he may prove difficult to sideline. Barring a remarkable resurgence, the English man looks certain to be an issue and treating him with the sort of contempt shown to Bastian Schweinsteiger is unlikely to be an option.
Having addressed most of they key issues that affected last year’s side, Mourinho looks well placed to win another league title in his debut season with a club.
Selected outs: Victor Valdes (released).
Predicted finish: 1st
Nobody could accuse Middlesbrough of inaction over the close season but the question now is whether so many new recruits can make the intended impact on a side that only secured automatic promotion by the most slender of margins.
Defensive midfielder Marten de Roon looks the part for one, Antonio Barragan is an experienced right back and Viktor Fischer an up-and-coming left-sided midfielder. But the biggest question is whether Alvaro Negredo can recover anything like his old form. If so, Middlesbrough should be okay.
Selected ins: Marten de Roon (Atalanta, €14m), Antonio Barragan (Valencia, €3.5m), Viktor Fischer (Ajax, €4.4m), Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon, free), Alvaro Negredo (Valencia, loan), Victor Valdes (free).
Selected outs: Rhys Williams and Jonathan Woodgate (released).
Predicted finish: 13th Southampton Manager: Claude Puel Last season: 6th
Another summer of sales at Southampton and the new manager will do well to ensure that the loss of Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama is not felt too much.
Puel has had good days at both Lyon and Nice but he is far from a sure thing to succeed at Southampton. Neither is the club’s biggest signing of the summer, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but there is no great shame in failing to make it at Bayern Munich and the young and versatile midfielder still looks to be a real talent. Notwithstanding Shane Long’s great form over the second half of last season, though, they could still do with another striker.
Selected outs: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, €42m), Graziano Pelle (Shangdong Luneng, €14m), Victor Wanyama (€12.75m).
Predicted finish: 10th
Joe Allen looks a decent signing but otherwise it will be very much as it was last year for Stoke.
Hughes could certainly still do with a natural number nine as well as a centre half.
It would be nice to see Marc Wilson regain his place at the heart of the back four but it seems unlikely, particularly after criticising the way the team is prepared defensively. Up front, there is a lot of attacking talent and on their day they can be wonderful to watch, but 41 goals last season was not nearly enough.
Selected ins: Joe Allen (Liverpool, €15m), Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly, €5.8m).
Predicted finish: 11th
The new manager could do with polishing up his career and as long as he is not starved of resources, Sunderland might just be made for Moyes who consistently succeeded in getting Everton to punch above their weight when money was at its tightest.
Papy Djilobodji always looked an unlikely Chelsea signing but should improve the defence here but more experienced campaigners will surely have to follow if the club is to avoid another tough season. But Moyes is a better manager than his recent record suggests.
Selected ins: Papy Djilobodji (€9m), Paddy McNair and Donald Love (both Manchester United €6.3m combined).
Predicted finish: 12th Swansea City Manager: Francesco Guidolin Last season: 12th
After a strong finish to last season, Swansea will be hoping for a little more consistency, although there might have been more confidence about that had the club kept its leading scorer, Andre Ayew, and best defender, Ashley Williams.
Fernando Llorente, who has struggled for two seasons, looks a bit of a punt and so another big season will be required from Gylfi Sigurdsson, while young Dutch centre back Mike van der Hoorn has big boots to fill.
Selected ins: Leroy Fer (QPR, €5.5m), Fernando Llorente (Seville, €5.8m).
Selected outs: Andre Ayew (West Ham, €23.75 m), Ashley Williams (€14m), Alberto Paloschi (Atalanta, €7m), Eder (Lille, €4m), Bafetimbi Gomis (Marseille, loan).
Predicted finish: 14th
Having passed up a remarkable opportunity to win the league last year, Tottenham must now try to mount another challenge while coping with Champions League football. They may be better equipped for it overall than Leicester but another top-three finish would be quite an achievement.
Pochettino has finally got his back-up striker but it remains to be seen how well Vincent Janssen adapts to the Premier League and the manager will need Victor Wanyama to be more disciplined. But the group they join is good and, most likely, still improving.
Selected ins: Vincent Janssen (Alkmaar, €21.5m), Victor Wanyama (Southampton, €12.75m).
Predicted finish: 4th
Another new manager but at least Watford have kept their best players, which will be crucial if they are to avoid getting ducked into trouble from the outset this year.
Walter Mazzarri (ex-Napoli and Inter) is now in charge and if the new signings gel then all might be well at Vicarage Road, but the most expensive, Isaac Success, is a 20-year-old with a season-and-a-half of first-team football under his belt. There is a sense that the owners are tempting fate with all the meddling and that, at some point, their luck will run out.
Predicted finish: 17th.
When your side looks to be going down, Tony Pulis is a godsend but you presumably have to accept that the price for security is going to be a certain lack of excitement.
West Brom scored just 34 goals last season, the second lowest total in the division and one of the few players at the club with the potential to improve things, Saido Berahino, is all but certain to leave. Pulis needs to spend and, with the backing of new owners, probably will at one minute to midnight on transfer deadline day. He’ll do enough, one presumes, to keep them up and maybe more, but no thrills, okay?
Selected ins: Matt Phillips (QPR, €6.3m).
Predicted finish: 16th
A big year for the Hammers who move to the Olympic Stadium off the back of an exciting season during which, at their best, they were one of the league’s best sides to watch.
Their home form was superb last season and so it will be crucial to bring that with them but Bilic’s squad certainly looks stronger with the likes of Andre Ayew arriving from Swansea, as well as young left back Arthur Masuaku. If they do as well as last year’s crop, including Dmitri Payet, there will be good times ahead.
Selected ins: Andre Ayew (Swansea, €23.75m), Manuel Lanzini (Al Jazira, €11m), Arthur Masuaku (Olympiacos, €7m), Toni Martinez (Valencia, €2.8m), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, free), Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Monchengladbach, free).
Selected outs: James Tomkins (Crystal Palace, €11m), Joey O’Brien (released).
Predicted finish: 7th