Patrick Madden’s club-by-club guide to the Premier League season

Key men . . . Irish connections . . . transfer ins and outs . . . predictions

Jack Grealish’s arrival at Manchester City has considerably bolstered the champions’ attacking resources ahead of the new season. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Jack Grealish’s arrival at Manchester City has considerably bolstered the champions’ attacking resources ahead of the new season. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

 

Arsenal

Last season: 8th
Odds for the title: 50-1
Mikel Arteta was supposed to bring the fun back but Arsenal can be a joyless proposition at times and there will be no Europe this season. Faith in youth will be key.
Key man: A ray of light in the dark for the Gunners, Bukayo Saka represents all which is still good and pure about football and had an excellent Euros.
Watch out for: With Saka, Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe and new signing Ben White, Arsenal are developing a core of players with their best years still ahead of them.
Notable ins: Ben White (Brighton, €58m), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht, €20m), Nuno Tavares (47.9m).
Notable outs: David Luiz (released), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille, loan), William Saliba (Marseille, loan).
Prediction: 8th

Aston Villa

Last season: 11th
Odds for relegation: 8-1
Life without Jack Grealish begins – Villa arguably have a more balanced squad in his absence. They faded after a fast start last year but will be looking up, not down, this term.
Key man: They no longer have a talismanic figure like Grealish but Danny Ings could prove an excellent signing and has a 20-plus goal season in his locker.
The Irish connection: 19-year-old Tyreik Wright made 16 appearances on loan for League Two Walsall last season and was awarded a new Villa contract this summer.
Notable ins: Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen, €35m), Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City, €35m), Danny Ings (Southampton, €29m), Axel Tuanzebe (Manchester United, loan), Ashley Young (Internazionale, free).
Notable outs: Jack Grealish (Manchester City, €116m), Tom Heaton (Manchester United, free), Mbwana Samatta (Fenerbahce, €6.2m).
Prediction: 7th

Ivan Toney enjoyed a prolific goalscoring season in the Championship but will he be able to mark a mark in the Premier League. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Ivan Toney enjoyed a prolific goalscoring season in the Championship but will he be able to mark a mark in the Premier League. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Brentford

Last season: 3rd, Championship (promoted via playoffs)
Odds for relegation: 11-10
Back in the top flight for the first time since 1946-47, the Bees are a bit of an unknown quantity. Greater than the sum of their parts, they play an attractive style under Thomas Frank.
Key man: A goal machine in the Championship last season, Brentford’s hopes of survival could hinge on how Ivan Toney adapts as he steps up to the big time.
What to watch out for: Griffin Park was famous for having a pub located on each corner – Brentford left for the Brentford Community Stadium last season, which seats just 17,250.
Notable ins: Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic, €15.7m), Frank Onyeka (Midtjylland, €9.9m), Myles Peat-Harris (Chelsea, undisclosed).
Notable outs: Henrik Dalsgaard (Midtjylland, free), Emiliano Marcondes (Bournemouth, free).
Prediction: 17th

Brighton & Hove Albion

Last season: 16th
Odds for relegation: 7-1
At times last season it felt like Brighton were on to something, only for bad luck and profligacy to hold them back as they finished 16th. The Seagulls should be safe again.
Key man: Yves Bissouma was excellent in midfield last season – it’s a surprise the bigger boys haven’t been sniffing around the Mali international, but it surely won’t be long.
The Irish connection: Aaron Connolly will be hoping a full pre-season will stand to him after a frustrating time with injuries, while Shane Duffy and Jayson Molumby are back from loan spells.
Notable ins: Enock Mwepu (Red Bull Salzburg, €21.5m), Jeremy Sarmiento (Benfica, undisclosed), Kjell Scherpen (Ajax, undisclosed).
Notable outs: Ben White (Arsenal, €58m), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord, €4.5m), Davy Propper (PSV, undisclosed), Mat Ryan (Real Sociedad, €1.1m), José Izquierdo (released), Matt Clarke (West Brom, loan).
Prediction: 14th

Burnley

Last season: 17th
Odds for relegation: 5-2
Burnley finished one place above the relegation zone last season but had plenty in hand. This is their sixth consecutive Premier League campaign and a battle against the drop surely awaits.
Key man: Chris Wood has reached double figures in the league in each of the last four seasons – a similar return will be key to the Clarets’ chances of survival.
The Irish connection: Robbie Brady was released this summer but highly-rated 20-year-old centre half Nathan Collins arrives at Turf Moor from Stoke.
Notable ins: Nathan Collins (Stoke City, €14m), Mark Helm (Manchester United, free), Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace, free).
Notable outs: Jimmy Dunne (QPR, undisclosed), Ben Gibson (Norwich City, €9.3m), Robbie Brady (released), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Sheffield Wednesday, loan).
Prediction: 18th

Chelsea

Last season: 4th
Odds for the title: 5-1
Chelsea’s transformation under Thomas Tuchel was impressive – to the extent they were crowned European champions. Goal-shy at times last term, they have looked to solve that issue by signing Romelu Lukaku.
Key man: Once again, it has to be N’Golo Kante. His effervescence and effort in the middle of the park was a driving force behind European success.
The Irish connection: The 35-year-old Anthony Barry has a first-team coaching role at Stamford Bridge as well as working part-time for Ireland alongside Stephen Kenny.
Notable ins: Romelu Lukaku (Internazionale, €115m).
Notable outs: Fiyako Tomori (Milan, €35m), Billy Gilmour (Norwich City, loan), Victor Moses (Spartak Moscow, €5m), Olivier Giroud (Milan, €2m), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace, €21m), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace, loan), Armando Broja (Southampton, loan).
Prediction: 3rd

Patrick Vieira has taken over from Roy Hodgson as manager of Crystal Palace. Photograph: Morgan Harlow/PA Wire
Patrick Vieira has taken over from Roy Hodgson as manager of Crystal Palace. Photograph: Morgan Harlow/PA Wire

Crystal Palace

Last season: 14th
Odds for relegation: 7-4
All change at Selhurst Park. It has been a summer of upheaval, with Patrick Vieira replacing Roy Hodgson and some long-term players departing after their contracts expired.
Key man: The burden on Wilfried Zaha has been increased again following Eberechi Eze’s cruel Achilles injury, which is likely to keep him sidelined until 2022.
What to watch out for: There’s a new face in the dugout after four years of Hodgson – this is Vieira’s first managerial job in England after he was fired by Nice last December.
Notable ins: Marc Guehi (Chelsea, €21m), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea, loan), Joachim Andersen (Lyon, €17m), Michael Olise (Reading, €9m).
Notable outs: Andros Townsend (Everton, free), Gary Cahill (released), James McCarthy (Celtic, free), Patrick van Aanholt (Galatasaray, free).
Prediction: 16th

Everton

Last season: 10th
Odds for relegation: 25-1
The appointment of Rafael Benitez has been seen as an insult by long-suffering Evertonians. If the Spaniard starts slowly the atmosphere at Goodison Park will become mutinous, quickly.
Key man: Dominic Calvert-Lewin started last season like a train before fading – he needs to sustain the pace this time if the Toffees are to finish in the top half.
The Irish connection: Séamus Coleman has signed a new contract this summer and looks set to play a key role again in what will be his 13th season on Merseyside.
Notable ins: Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace, free), Demarai Gray (Leicester, €1.9m).
Notable outs: Theo Walcott (Southampton, free), Yannick Bolasie (released), Robin Olsen (released), Bernard (Sharjah FC, undisclosed).
Prediction: 10th

Leeds

Last season: 9th
Odds for relegation: 10-1
A strong finish last term saw Leeds sneak into ninth place – allaying fears they would run out of pace trying to implement Marcelo Bielsa’s intense style at the highest level.
Key man: Patrick Bamford finally proved he can operate in the top flight as he managed better than a goal every other game in the Premier League.
What to watch out for: Leeds’ first fixture with a full house since their promotion in 2020 will be a trip to Man United – travelling supporters will hope for an improvement on last year’s 6-2 defeat at Old Trafford.
Notable ins: Junior Firpo (Barcelona, €15m), Jack Harrison (Manchester City, €12.8m), Lewis Bate (Chelsea, undisclosed).
Notable outs: Pablo Hernandez (released), Kiko Casilla (Elche, loan), Ezgjan Alioski (released), Barry Douglas (Lech Poznan, free), Mateusz Bogusz (Ibiza, loan).
Prediction: 11th

Leicester City

Last season: 5th
Odds for the title: 50-1
Leicester will be disappointed to have missed out on the Champions League again but winning the FA Cup will mean more to supporters than finishing in fourth place could ever do.
Key man: Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi are different types of midfielders but complement each other perfectly, the former being the Foxes’ Cup final hero at Wembley.
What to watch out for: Jamie Vardy’s powers are understandably on the wane but Kelechi Iheanacho has a penchant for an important goal – his recent winner in the Charity Shield a case in point.
Notable ins: Patson Daka (Red Bull Salzburg, €26.7m), Boubakary Soumare (Lille, €19.7m), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, free).
Notable outs: Wes Morgan (released), Christian Fuchs (Charlotte FC, free), Matty James (released).
Prediction: 5th

Irish goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher has been rewarded for some brilliant performances with a new contract with Liverpool. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Irish goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher has been rewarded for some brilliant performances with a new contract with Liverpool. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool

Last season: 3rd
Odds for the title: 5-1
There were caveats to a nightmare title defence which included six consecutive home defeats, but Liverpool won eight of their last 10 fixtures to finish third and qualify for the Champions League.
Key man: Mohamed Salah carried Liverpool at times in the absence of Virgil Van Dijk, keeping heads above water with 22 goals in the Premier League.
The Irish connection: Caoimhín Kelleher emerged as Alisson’s number two last season – keeping clean sheets against Ajax and Wolves – and recently signed a new deal until 2026.
Notable ins: Ibrahima Konate (€42m).
Notable outs: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSG, free), Harry Wilson (Fulham, €14m), Marko Grujic (Porto, €12.2m).
Prediction: 4th

Manchester City

Last season: Champions
Odds for the title: 4-6
Unsurprisingly the side with the deepest resources and strongest squad won the league at a canter last time out, despite a slow start. City have added Grealish but European success remains elusive.
Key man: Kevin de Bruyne has been beset by various injury problems and is set to miss the start of the season, but on his day he’s probably the best player in England.
Watch out for: Where will Grealish play? He’s used to drifting in off the left but Pep Guardiola could look to turn him into an attacking, ball-playing No 8.
Notable ins: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa, €116m).
Notable outs: Sergio Agüero (Barcelona, free), Eric Garcia (Barcelona, free), Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth, loan), Jack Harrison (Leeds, €12.8m), Angelino (RB Leipzig, €19m).
Prediction: Champions

Manchester United

Last season: 2nd
Odds for the title: 8-1
The arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane mean a more sustained title push is a minimum for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. They perhaps aren’t quite good enough yet - but they will go very close.
Key man: Bruno Fernandes’s importance to United meant he was run into the ground for 18 months but he looked revitalised in his sole pre-season appearance against Everton.
What to watch out for: Luke Shaw’s rejuvenation has seen him develop into one of Europe’s best left backs - both he and Solskjær deserve credit for a pretty stunning turnaround.
Notable ins: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund, €85m), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid, €49.7m), Tom Heaton (Aston Villa, free).
Notable outs: Sergio Romero (released), Tahith Chong (Birmingham City, loan), Axel Tuanzebe (Aston Villa, loan), Facundo Pellistri (Alaves, loan).
Prediction: 2nd

Newcastle United

Last season: 12th
Odds for relegation: 11-4
Newcastle ended an often-dismal campaign strongly last term and came 12th. Steve Bruce gets a lot of flak from the Toon faithful, but a similar finish would constitute a good return.
Key man: The electric Allan Saint-Maximin is the man who breathes life into Newcastle going forward, while Joe Willock’s move to the northeast from Arsenal is about to made permanent.
The Irish connection: Jeff Hendrick can be frustrating to watch in an Ireland shirt and enjoyed a mixed first season at St James’s Park, while Ciaran Clark remains in the international wilderness.
Notable ins: None
Notable outs: Andy Carroll (released), Florian Lejeune (Alaves, free).
Prediction: 13th

Norwich City’s Adam Idah has been in fine form during pre-season. Photograph: Nigel French/PA Wire
Norwich City’s Adam Idah has been in fine form during pre-season. Photograph: Nigel French/PA Wire

Norwich City

Last season: 1st, Championship
Odds for relegation: 10-11
Will it be deja vu all over again for Norwich? They romped the Championship but have lost their best player in Emiliano Buendia and look a bit too lightweight for survival.
Key man: Billy Gilmour’s loan move from Chelsea looks a good fit for both parties – he should be a mainstay for the Canaries, who play a style which will suit him.
The Irish connection: Adam Idah has enjoyed a prolific pre-season, with manager Daniel Farke calling him a “natural-born goalscorer” after a brace against Gillingham.
Notable ins: Billy Gilmour (Chelsea, loan), Ben Gibson (Burnley, €9.3m), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen, (€9.3m), Milot Rashica (Werder Bremen, €10.9m), Dimitris Giannoulis (PAOK Salonika, €8.1m), Christos Tzolis (PAOK Salonika, undisclosed).
Notable outs: Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa, €35m), Alex Tettey (released), Marco Stiepermann (released), Josip Drmic (Riejka, loan).
Prediction: 20th

Southampton

Last season: 15th
Odds for relegation: 10-3
Southampton are a strange side, occasionally playing excellent football but also being susceptible to some hidings. Danny Ings will be a big miss, with Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong coming in.
Key man: James Ward-Prowse following Danny Ings’s move to Villa Park would be a bitter blow for the Saints – if they don’t hold onto their captain survival won’t be straightforward.
The Irish connection: Shane Long and Michael Obafemi are strikers at opposite ends of their careers who are both struggling for game time, while Will Smallbone will be hoping for a breakthrough season.
Notable ins: Theo Walcott (Everton, free), Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers, €17.4m), Romain Perraud (€12m), Armando Broja (Chelsea, loan).
Notable outs: Ryan Bertrand (Leicester City, free), Danny Ings (Aston Villa, €29m), Mario Lemina (Nice, €5.4m).
Prediction: 15th

Tottenham Hotspur

Last season: 7th
Odds for the title: 50-1
It has been a typically bonkers year in north London, with Jose Mourinho’s inevitable sacking coming in April and Nuno Espirito Santo taking over after a desperate search for a new manager.
Key man: Harry Kane. Or, or whoever Spurs try to replace Harry Kane with – if Daniel Levy concedes defeat and Manchester City get their man.
The Irish connection: Matt Doherty has flattered to deceive domestically and for Ireland, while Troy Parrott has been sent on loan to MK Dons after spending last year at Millwall and Ipswich.
Notable ins: Bryan Gil (Sevilla, €25m), Cristian Romero (Atalanta, loan), Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta, loan).
Notable outs: Danny Rose (Watford, loan), Juan Foyth (Villarreal, €15m), Erik Lamela (Sevilla, swap), Troy Parrott (MK Dons, loan), Toby Alderweireld (Al-Duhail, €15m), Joe Hart (Celtic, €1.1m).
Prediction: 6th

Watford

Last season: 2nd, Championship
Odds for relegation: Evens
The Hornets have bounced straight back after clinging on to Norwich’s coattails last term. Currently on their sixth full-time manager in four years – Xisco Munoz took over last December.
Key man: Holding on to Ismaila Sarr – who had been briefly linked with Man United – was a boon for Watford and a season in the Championship should stand to him.
Watch out for: Cucho Hernandez signed for Watford in 2017 and finally arrived at Vicarage Road this summer via loan spells with Huesca, Mallorca and Getafe.
Notable ins: Imran Louza (Nantes, €10m), Danny Rose (Tottenham, free), Joshua King (Everton, free), Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough, free), Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, €4m).
Notable outs: Craig Dawson (West Ham, €2.3m), Carlos Sanchez (released), Ben Wilmot (Stoke City, €4.17m).
Prediction: 19th

West Ham United

Last season: 6th
Odds for the title: 150-1
West Ham were perhaps one of the few teams to benefit from having no supporters as they reached the dizzying heights of sixth. A repeat will be difficult but the Irons are going on a European tour.
Key man: Keeping Declan Rice was pivotal and the 22-year-old, who had a fine Euros, will be staying in east London for at least another season.
The Irish connection: The arrival of Alphonse Areola means opportunities will be even more limited for Darren Randolph, who has younger, fresher competition for the Ireland jersey.
Notable ins: Craig Dawson (West Ham, €2.3m), Alphonse Areola (PSG, free).
Notable outs: Fabian Balbuena (Dynamo Moscow, free), Felipe Anderson (Lazio, €4m).
Prediction: 9th

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Last season: 13th
Odds for relegation: 5-1
A serious head injury to Raul Jimenez derailed Wolves last season as things went stale under Espirito Santo. A new Portuguese, Bruno Lage, is now in the Molineux dugout.
Key man: The importance of Jimenez to Wolves is pretty clear – he has scored during pre-season and will be like a new signing if, or when, he returns to his best.
Watch out for: Lages seemed a leftfield choice to replace his outgoing compatriot – he had a brief spell in charge of Benfica, after working as Carlos Carvalhal’s assistant at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea.
Notable ins: Franciso Trincao (Barcelona, loan), Yerson Mosquera (Atletico Nacional, €5.2m), Jose Sa (Olympiakos, €7.9m), Rayan Aït Nouri (Angers, €11.6m).
Notable outs: Rui Patricio (AS Roma, €11.6m), Ruben Vinagre (Sporting, loan).
Prediction: 12th

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.