Premier League Preview: Part 1

After what seemed like a long wait between the World Cup and now, football is back. The Premier League kicks off on Friday night, fans up and down the country rejoice at the thought, whilst teams enter their final stages of preparation for a gruelling season of football.

I have had a look at each and every club in the division, grading their transfer window, whilst trying to plot where points may be won or lost this campaign.

Welcome to Part 1, previewing every team from Arsenal to Huddersfield.

Arsenal

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Last season’s finish: 6th

Major ins:Lucas Torreira (CM, Sampdoria), Bernd Leno (GK, Bayer Leverkusen), Sokratis (CB, Borussia Dortmund), Matteo Guendouzi (CM, Lorient), Stephan Lichsteiner (RWB, Juventus).

Major outs:Santi Cazorla (CM, Villarreal), Jack Wilshere (CM, West Ham), Per Mertesacker (CB, retired), Chuba Akpom (ST, PAOK), Calum Chambers (CB, Fulham), Lucas Perez (ST, West Ham).

First choice XI: (4-2-2-2) Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang.

You can be forgiven if you don’t remember an Arsenal side not led by the French coach Arsene Wenger, I don’t. Yet, that time has arrived as the leader of ‘The Invincibles’has hung up his boots (or very long managerial overcoat) and handed the reigns to Spanish tactician Unai Emery. The task on hand is simple in writing, but very hard in reality: lead Arsenal back to where they belong – challenging for titles. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but a fresh face with new ideas will surely be healthy for the football club.

Transfer window grade: C

 Lucas Torreira looks a bargain and a smart buy for Unai Emery’s squad. The ex-Sampdoria midfielder enjoyed a very positive World Cup with Uruguay and could develop into one of the best deeper lying ‘registas’ in the league. Aside from this, Arsenal’s business has been poor. Bernd Leno and Sokratis have both shown that they are prone to mistakes in the Bundesliga, whilst the other additions don’t really strengthen what Arsenal already had.

Where points will be won or lost

Signing in January, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the ground running quickly and made headlines for Arsenal in a season that will be quickly forgotten for poor league form. The Gabonese striker represents a serious candidate for the Premier League Golden Boot this season.

Despite the defensive signings, Arsenal look short at the back, on paper. This could cost them a place in the top four, as the resilience of the defenders doesn’t look strong enough to hold out attacking lines as strong as the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

Verdict – 6th

The target for Unai Emery has to be top four, however I am not sure the summer business has been good enough to do so. Whilst the attacking quartet looks fierce, questions will still be asked at the back.

Bournemouth

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Last season’s finish: 12th

Major ins:Diego Rico (LB, Leganes), David Brooks (CAM, Sheffield United), Jefferson Lerma (CDM, Levante).

Major outs:Benik Afobe (ST, Wolves), Lewis Grabban (ST, Nottingham Forest), Max Gradel (LW, Toulouse), Adam Federici (GK, Stoke), Harry Arter (CM, Cardiff*).

First choice XI:  (3-4-2-1) Begovic; S.Cook, Ake, Mings; Ibe, Cook, Lerma, Rico; Brooks, King; Wilson.

After two seasons of defying the bookmakers by avoiding relegation with exciting football, Bournemouth can now be described as a settled Premier League club. However, as we have learned so many times, not many teams are safe in this division.

Transfer Window Grade: B-

Since their somewhat surprising promotion to the Premier League, Bournemouth have slowly added to their squad at a steady rate whilst still remaining faithful to the now experienced players that got them said promotion. The signing of Diego Rico and a record breaking coup of Jefferson Lerma is very smart business as far as Eddie Howe will be concerned, whilst the capture of the young prodigy David Brooks from Sheffield United will be exciting for the youngster who excelled in the Sheffield derby last season.

A centre back would’ve been welcomed on the south coast as Howe’s team always look relatively shaky at the back and I am not overly convinced on some of their defenders, albeit some very experienced. 

Where points will be won or lost

Outlets all summer have reported that Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook is a wanted man by clubs such as Tottenham and Everton, so holding on to him was crucial for Bournemouth. At 21, Cook can really excel in this Bournemouth team, especially alongside Colombia international Jefferson Lerma.

Whilst Callum Wilson will always score goals, the midfield and other attacking options may not be of sufficient quality to allow Bournemouth to really improve on previous seasons.

Verdict: 17th

Eddie Howe’s men have enjoyed a positive transfer window, strengthening their starting eleven in needed areas, but I worry for them in the long run. The strength in depth isn’t good enough and the goals could dry up if Callum Wilson were to suffer an injury. Despite this, I think they will just have enough to stay up.

Brighton and Hove Albion

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Last season’s finish: 15th 

Major ins: Alireza Jahanbaksh (RW, AZ Alkmaar), Yves Bissouma (CM, Lille), Bernardo (LB, RB Leipzig), Florin Andone (ST, Deportivo La Coruna), David Button (GK, Fulham), Percy Tau (ST, Sundowns), Jason Steele (GK, Sunderland), Leon Balogun (CB, Mainz), Martin Montoya (RB, Valencia).

Major outs: Sam Baldock (ST, Reading), Connor Goldson (CB, Rangers), Jamie Murphy (LM, Rangers), Jiri Skalak (LW, Millwall), Christian Walton (GK, Wigan*), Tim Krul (GK, Norwich), Niki Maenpaa (GK, Bristol City), Uwe Hunemeier (CB, Paderborn), Liam Rosenior (retired), Steve Sidwell (without club).

First choice XI: (4-2-3-1) Ryan; Schelotto, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo; Bissouma, Propper; Jahanbakhsh, Groß, Izquierdo; Andone.

Under the tutelage of Chris Hughton, Brighton enjoyed a superb debut season in the Premier League, and have invested very wisely in the transfer window to improve on that even further. The ex-Norwich coach has defied the odds a number of times at Brighton, taking them out of an extremely tricky league, before keeping them up when they were pre-season favourites for relegation with the bookies. The novelty factor may have worn off for The Seagulls, but this is a well run club only going in one way – fans in the AMEX Stadium may dream of top half finishes, or potentially a Burnley-esque route to Europe, but the primary aim for now remains another season of consolidation in the top flight.

Transfer window grade: A-

Brighton have added to their squad well in the summer. Chris Hughton’s formation and tactics mean that his wide men are vital, thus has smashed the clubs record signing with the purchase of Iranian international Alireza Jahanbakhsh from AZ Alkmaar. Yves Bissouma from Lille and Bernardo from RB Leipzig also look very educated buys for the Albion.

In the most dramatic of fashion, Brighton added the signing of Martin Montoya from Valencia with minutes to spare. The full back has played many times for Barcelona and has been coached by astute managers such as Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. Montoya strengthens a position that was weak with the ageing Bruno Saltor and unproven Ezequiel Schelotto.

The only worry on a transfer front is that none of the additions are proven in the Premier League, so may take time to settle. When you are fighting for survival, you do not have much time on your hands. 

Where points will be won or lost

Pascal Groß remains Brighton’s best player going into the new campaign. The German was bought for a small fee from FC Ingolstadt upon promotion and enjoyed a brilliant first season. He matched the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Ozil in creativity stats and is potentially the most underrated player outside the top six.

In Dunk and Duffy at the back, Brighton have a better defensive duo than most in the league. The tenacity and resilience of the two is crucial to Brighton’s success.

Glenn Murray was the main goal scorer last season, but is not getting any younger. Jurgen Locadia and Florian Andone have been bought as reinforcements for that position, and the duo will have to step up to expectations, or Brighton could be baron in front of goal.

Verdict – 12th

Another mid table finish is the aim for Brighton this season. Brighton do not concede many goals, but may not have the qualities to break down some of the better teams in the division, therefore a steady improvement on last year is forecast for Hughton’s men.

Burnley

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Major ins:Ben Gibson (CB, Middlesbrough), Joe Hart (GK, Man City), Matej Vydra (ST, Derby)

Major outs:Scott Arfield (LM, Rangers), Dean Marney (CM, Fleetwood), Chris Long (ST, Fleetwood).

First choice XI: (4-4-1-1) Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Gibson, Ward; Lennon, Cork, Defour, Gudmundsson; Vydra; Barnes.

Ah. Little old Burnley are in the Europa League (or, the qualifying rounds at least). No one would have thought that the yoyo club that could never nail a solid survival bid in the Premier League would make it that far. It isn’t quite Leicester City 15/16, but we have to hold our hats high to Sean Dyche and Burnley.

Transfer window grade: C

The Championship top scorer Matej Vydra looks like a different player to the typical Burnley fit. He isn’t the typical ‘Number 9’ striker, more of a second striker that feeds off others. This could work for Burnley as Dyche’s men look for knock-downs and flick-ons from the direct style of play. Ben Gibson is a good steal, given the fact he was closely monitored by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea this time last summer, but he may struggle to dislodge the steady partnership of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

Apart from that, it has been a quiet window for Burnley. Should they qualify for the Europa League proper, they may be a bit light to compete Thursday-Sunday regularly. 

Where points will be won or lost

Sean Dyche’s team boasts one of the most resilient defences in the league. No team looks forward to playing Burnley. They have little superstar quality, but they play together as a unit that is frustrating to play against and hard to beat. Burnley are also good on the counter attack, and Ashley Barnes is prolific.

Other mid table teams have spent lots of money to bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Burnley and Leicester in the top half, so whether Burnley have it in them to compete with their amazing 2017/18 campaign is unknown, but it seems unlikely.

Verdict – 14th 

I think Burnley will be safe. Had Pep Guardiola’s City not been so dominant last season, I am sure Sean Dyche would have won the managerial awards. The Claretswill remain solid at the back, but may struggle with the games coming quick and fast should they qualify for Europa.

Cardiff City

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Last season’s finish: 2nd (Championship) 

Major ins: Josh Murphy (LW, Norwich), Bobby Reid (CAM, Bristol City), Alex Smithies (GK, QPR), Greg Cunningham (LB, Preston), Harry Arter (CM, Bournemouth*), Victor Camarasa (CM, Betis*).

Major outs: Omar Bogle (ST, Birmingham*).

First choice XI: (4-3-3) Etheridge; Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Paterson, Ralls; Mendez-Laing, Zohore, Murphy.

For the fifth time, one of the biggest pantomime villains in English football is back in the top flight – Neil Warnock. The manager that everyone loves to hate has brought Cardiff City back to the big time after a spell of mid-table mediocrity in the Championship for half a decade. Warnock knows his Bluebirdsside are up against it, but if he could keep them afloat, he has admitted it may be time to call it a day in football, noting it would be his greatest achievement.

If the topic of relegation arises in a conversation on the street, in the pub, at the match, I can assure you 95% of people you ask who they predict to face the drop will say Cardiff, without much of a thought. It will be tough for the Welsh side, who have replaced their country rivals Swansea in the top flight this season, but they are a team that are tough to beat and may get a few shock results along the way.

Transfer window grade: D

Have Cardiff fell into the age-old promotion trap of not adding sufficient quality, giving the reason of ‘being loyal to the players that got them here’?

Josh Murphy is a very exciting player that has been one of the bright sparks in Norwich’s side over the last couple of seasons, along with James Maddison who has now joined Leicester. He is the sort of winger that looks to run at his full back at every given opportunity and this can cause problems for all defenders.

Despite this, Cardiff have struggled to buy anyone of sufficient Premier League quality. Whilst a Neil Warnock side will always remain solid, fans may have reasonable fears over whether they have enough players in the side to win them games that will ultimately keep them up.

Where points will be won or lost

Striker Keneth Zohore is a natural striker who will score goals at any level, which is why he has been subject to bids from Premier League clubs in the past two summers. New signings Josh Murphy and Bobby Reid In midfield, Cardiff boast experience in the Iceland captain Gunnarsson, while Joe Ralls earned many plaudits for his campaign last year. At the back, Warnock’s side is built on a partnership of Sean Morrison and Sol Bamba, the latter who is better than £75m Virgil Van Dijk… according to Neil Warnock.

Verdict – 20th

Cardiff have a few handy players but no one capable of winning games on their own on regular occasions. A Neil Warnock side will always be hard to beat and I am sure they will pick up a scalping of a top six side along the way with a deep block and a counter attacking goal, but I cannot see them staying up.

Chelsea

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Last season’s finish: 5th

Major ins:Jorginho (CM, Napoli), Robert Green (GK, Huddersfield), Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK, Athletic Bilbao), Mateo Kovacic (CM, Real Madrid*).

Major outs:Lewis Baker (CM, Leeds*), Matt Miazga (CB, Nantes*), Eduardo (GK, Vitesse*), Thibaut Courtois (GK, Real Madrid), Mario Pasalic (CM, Atalanta*), Jamal Blackman (GK, Leeds*).

First choice XI: (4-3-2-1) Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Morata, Hazard.

New season, new manager – how many times have we said that in the last ten or so years at Stamford Bridge. After a long summer of speculation linking Antonio Conte out of the proverbial door, Chelsea appointed Napoli tactician Maurizio Sarri. The Italian coach known for his smoking in the dugout will bring a rich brand of fast attacking football that saw Napoli fall just short of the Serie A title despite achieving over 90 points.

As it was when Antonio Conte took over two seasons ago, Chelsea fans head into the season not knowing what to expect. Another similarity to Conte’s first season is that many have been quick to write Chelsea off in terms of the title race, but as we know, this is a club littered with top talent that has the quality to challenge for the title come May.

Transfer window grade: B+

Signing Jorginho under the noses of Manchester City is a definite coup for Chelsea. Sarri knows him well from Naples and the Brazilian midfielder, who actually plays his international football with Italy, is one of the best passers of the ball in world football. The departure of Thibaut Courtois will disappoint Chelsea fans, but Kepa Arrizabalaga looks a great talent that is better suited to Sarri’s system.

What may cost Chelsea, however, is the fact they failed to sign a striker. Alvaro Morata had a poor start to life in England and has not looked great in pre-season. Constant links with Gonzalo Higuain eventually came to nothing, as the Argentine joined AC Milan. Maurizio Sarri likes his wide men to get in behind and work off the forward, however the likes of Hazard will have to come short to help the build up in areas where Morata is incapable.

 Where points will be won or lost

In Eden Hazard, Chelsea have one of, if not the best player in the league. The Belgian enjoyed a very positive World Cup and will be given freedom in Sarri’s system to express his true talents. New signings Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic will sit in midfield with N’Golo Kante, which forms one of the better midfield trio’s in the league.

Again, though, what could cost Chelsea the title is the lack of goals. Morata isn’t great, whilst Pedro and Willian are too inconsistent. In league competitions last season, Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho managed just one goal. Aside from the front three, I struggle to see where goals could come from.

Verdict – 3rd

Despite the potential lack of goals across the board, Chelsea will have a positive season. In another season, third for Chelsea would be a failure. However, I would see it as a success this time round, perhaps coupled with a run in a cup.

Just like when Pep Guardiola arrived in England with his expansive style of play, ‘Sarri Ball’ may take a while to implement and Chelsea will not adapt from a 3-4-3 to a fast flowing 4-3-3 overnight.

Crystal Palace

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Last season’s finish: 11th   

Major ins:Cheikhou Kouyate (CDM, West Ham), Vicente Guaita (GK, Getafe), Max Meyer (CAM, Schalke), Jordan Ayew (ST, Swansea*)

Major outs:Damien Delaney (CB, Cork City), Yohan Cabaye (CM, Al-Nasr), Cheong-yong Lee (RW, without club), Bakary Sako (LW, without club).

First choice XI: (4-5-1) Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Townsend, Milovejevic, Meyer, Kouyate, Schlupp; Zaha.

The annual assessment of Crystal Palace is tough. Have they strengthened well enough? Do they have enough players capable of helping them to a solid season? Perhaps the answers are no, but in Roy Hodgson and Wilfried Zaha, there is reason to believe they can have another pleasing mid-table finish and extend their stay in the Premier League

Transfer window grade: D+

Flicking to the early pages of a textbook of football clichés, you will find the age old: “The best piece of business done in this window is keeping X player”. Yes, it is. Wilfried Zaha is potentially the best player outside the top six, so no wonder he is constantly courted by big clubs. Keeping hold of Zaha is key, and the signing of Max Meyer on a free looks one of the bargains of the season, despite question marks over why Palace went fairly uncontested to his signature.

Vicente Guaita was a regular for Getafe who had a satisfactory campaign in La Liga last season. He is rather unknown but could address a weak area that Wayne Hennessey seemed to be a stop gap for the last few years.

Other than that, it has been a relatively disappointing summer for The Eagles, who have been reluctant to spend money that other teams around them have. Three of last seasons regulars have moved on to pastures new, leaving evident holes in the team.

Where points will be won or lost

Roy Hodgson said “the chairman has made it clear to me that, certainly this next season, it is all about survival again”. It was a dose of realism that potentially avoided the Palace faithful, but he is right. It won’t be easy for Palace to stay up at all.

Despite this, in Wilfried Zaha Palace have a talent that can win matches on his own. If he stays fit and the likes of Meyer and Milovejevic chip in with goals, Palace will be fine.

This will be Palace’s sixth successive season at this level, which is their best ever spell.

Verdict – 15th

Although Palace have lost Yohan Cabaye and their loanees who were key – Ruben Loftus Cheek and Timothy Fosu Mensah – Palace look better equipped than this time twelve months ago. Frank de Boer will go down as the worst manager in Premier League history (yes, maybe he should have been given more time), but in Roy Hodgson they have a sensible manager that can steer them clear of the drop once more.

Everton

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Last season’s finish: 8th 

Major ins:Richarlison (LW, Watford), Yerry Mina (CB, Barcelona), Lucas Digne (LB, Barcelona), Andre Gomes (CM, Barcelona*), Bernard (LW, Shakhtar Donetsk).

Major outs:Davy Klaassen (CM, Werder Bremen), Ramiro Funes Mori (CB, Villarreal), Ashley Williams (CB, Stoke*), Henry Onyekuru (LW, Galatasaray*), Kevin Mirallas (RW, Fiorentina*), Joel Robles (GK, Betis), Wayne Rooney (CAM, DC United).

First choice XI: (4-3-3) Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne; Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson; Bernard, Tosun, Richarlison.

It’s that time of the year again, where we say “it’s been a great window for Everton, but not quite good enough to bridge the gap between them and the top six”. Last season was extremely disappointing for The Toffees, appointing Sam Allardyce mid season to steady a sinking ship. Big Sam did a job, but his football wasn’t pleasing to the Evertonian’s who are used to entertaining brands of play.

This time round, they have their man in Marco Silva. Originally not permitted to leave Watford in January time, the impressive manager has the reigns at Everton and fans have every right to be excited.

Transfer window grade: A

It has been a very pleasing window for Everton. Eyebrows may be raised at some of the fees paid, but in this day and age, you have to spend big to reap rewards. Marco Silva has clearly assessed his squad and concluded he needs wide forwards and defensive reinforcements to replace an ageing back line. He has done that.

The signings of Brazilian duo Richarlison and Bernard will please Evertonian’s, both of which look brilliant additions. The former flourished under Marco Silva at Watford in the first half of last season, whilst Bernard always impresses in the Champions League for Shakhtar.

Everton fans have took to social media to salivate at the signing of Barcelona trio Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes. All are very competent players, especially Andre Gomes. The former Valencia man often played in a two at Barcelona, often having to cover for the ageing Iniesta or the reckless Paulinho – in a three with the support of the great Gana Gueye, he can excel.

Where points will be won or lost 

Signed in January, Cenk Tosun started scoring for fun when he got a run of games. I am expecting big things from him this season (as is my Fantasy team), especially with the support of new wingers.

On the back of the World Cup, Jordan Pickford and Yerry Mina will look to spearhead a solid defense for Everton, after the latter nodded past the former in the World Cup last sixteen tie between England and Colombia.

With Marco Silva in charge, Everton will have a very positive season, and I am also expecting Gylfi Sigurdsson to step up to a higher standard after a poor debut season in Merseyside.

Verdict – 7th

The question I asked at the top of this section was whether Everton are good enough to break the top six barrier. I suspect they may fall just short, but not for the want of trying. Everton supporters have reason to be excited for a season for the first time in a few years.

Fulham

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Last season’s finish: 3rd(Championship) 

Major ins:Jean Michael Seri (CM, Nice), Andre Zambo Anguissa (CDM, Marseille), Aleksandar Mitrovic (ST, Newcastle), Alfie Mawson (CB, Swansea), Joe Bryan (LB, Bristol City), Fabri (GK, Besiktas), Maxime Le Marchand (CB, Nice), Andre Schurlle (LW, Borussia Dortmund*), Sergio Rico (GK, Sevilla*), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (RB, Manchester United*), Callum Chambers (CB, Arsenal*), Luciano Vietto (ST, Atletico Madrid*).

Major outs:David Button (GK, Brighton), Ryan Fredericks (RB, West Ham). 

First choice XI: (4-3-3) Rico; Fosu-Mensah, Mawson, Chambers, Bryan; Seri, Anguissa, Cairney; Vietto, Mitrovic, Sessegnon.

The setting was a sunny day in May at Wembley Stadium. Fulham’s star man Tom Cairney scored the £160m goal that saw The Cottagerspast Bruce’s Aston Villa in a gritty play off final. Neutral football fans around the country rejoiced at the sight – a football club with vast history, that plays with a blueprint style, with one of the most sought after managers in the country and some of the best young players – were promoted.

Fast forward a few months, Fulham are still making headlines after spending over £100m – the first ever newly promoted club to do so. I admire the ambition of the chairman Shahid Khan, who has intentions to buy Wembley Stadium. Alright for some.

Transfer window grade: A*

Wow. What a window. I would go as far as saying it is one of the best windows I have ever seen in this league – strong words coming from a fan of Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City. Can they gel? Will they flop? Potentially so, but if even just a few of these players perform to their expected level, Fulham will do well.

Jean-Michael Seri was courted by Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City for the past few windows, so the signing of him by Jokanovic’s men was a true statement of intent that set up a chaotic few weeks at Craven Cottage. A mix of experienced Premier League heads, with exciting young talents from across the continent, makes for a positive output.

Mitrovic, the man who got them here, with his goalscoring in the latter half of last season, was trusted to spearhead the attack in the Premier League, much to the disappointment of Newcastle fans who thought he could solve a problem or two up north. He will have support from the likes of Luciano Vietto, who is a highly rated name in La Liga. 

Where points will be won or lost

I can’t believe we have got this far without mentioning a certain Ryan Sessegnon, the young prodigy that earned very high praise for his performances last season, including some calls for him to be in Gareth Southgate’s plans in Russia.

However, Fulham have to be real. Before anything else, focus on staying up. They had good players last time, but under poor management, they plummeted and experienced a few subpar years in the second tier.

It may take a few weeks for the side to gel, but once they get going, they have the perfect balance in experience and youth, so it will be exciting to see how The Cottagersflourish.

Verdict – 9th

I’ve thought long and hard about this one. Can Fulham defy the odds and achieve a top half finish? I’ve concluded – why not? In Alfie Mawson and Calum Chambers, they have more than ample defenders, with a brilliant midfield trio that boasts a perfect balance, topped off by an attacking set of exciting players like Sessegnon, Schurrle and Vietto, spearheaded by the prolific Mitrovic.

Huddersfield Town

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Last season’s finish: 16th

Major ins:Terence Kongolo (CB, Monaco), Adama Diakhaby (ST, Monaco), Ramadan Sobhi (LW, Stoke), Florent Hadergjonaj (RB, Ingolstadt), Lossl (GK, Mainz), Juninho Bacuna (CM, Groningen), Erik Durm (RB, Dortmund), Isaac Mbenza (RW, Montpellier*).

Major outs:Tom Ince (RW, Stoke), Michael Hefele (CB, Nottingham Forest), Rob Green (GK, Chelsea), Tareiq Holmes-Dennis (LB, Bristol Rovers), Sean Scannel (RW, Bradford).

First choice XI: (4-2-3-1) Lossl; Durm, Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe; Hogg, Mooy; Diakhaby, Pritchard, Sobhi; Mounie.

Last season was a historic campaign for Huddersfield, as they stayed up against all odds in the Premier League. Yet, the same questions are asked over whether they can survive. The challenge is to evolve a little, but the overall objective must remain the same.

To avoid ‘second-season syndrome’ will be hard, but a task that David Wagner will look forward to.

Transfer window grade: D+

Huddersfield have retained all of their key players, but they haven’t really strengthened in much quality. The double signing of Kongolo and Diakhaby for a combined fee of circa £40m looks good business, but whether Adama Diakhaby can hit the ground running straight away is unknown or unlikely.

Ramadan Sobhi looks a tidy player, but whether he can be a consistent performer for Huddersfield is also unknown.

What Huddersfield needed was a proven Premier League goalscorer. In 38 matches last season, they failed to score in 21 of them, scoring on only 6 of 19 away trips. The problem last season was the lack of support for the striker – often Mounie – who enjoyed a good campaign. Huddersfield have not addressed this well enough, which could cost them. 

Where points will be won or lost

In Aaron Mooy, The Terriers have a player capable of dictating matches at all levels. Signed for a relatively low fee from Manchester City, the Aussie was the best player in the blue and white of Huddersfield last season, and fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Wagner is a realist, he knows if his side threw everything forward to score, they would be picked off with ease. Thus, Huddersfield tend to sit back and invite pressure, looking to get teams on the counter attack. Despite having a solid defence, I am not sure if this strategy is sustainable in the top flight.

Verdict – 19th 

David Wagner is a manager that, despite what happens this season, will manage again in the top flight. In a club with money to spend, he could showcase his talents. I am not sure Huddersfield is that place, and I think the Yorkshire club are doomed in their second season in the top flight.

Check back in the next days for Part 2 of my Premier League Preview.

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