The most popular league in the world, the Premier League, is only days away from matchday one. Here is your 2017-18 Premier League guide to what could be the most incredible, amazing, and fantastic season ever. Starting off with the clubs that were promoted.
Manager: Rafael Benitez
Squad Value: £119 Million
Key Players: Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Dwight Gayle,
Newcastle bounced right back to the Premier League after spending a season in England’s second division. At the start of last season, former Champions League winner, Rafael Benitez, promised to get the Magpies promoted. They ended up stealing the Championship from Brighton at the death. In the upcoming season, they will look and hope to do more than just survive in the Premier League.
The Magpies were one of the more talented groups in the Championship, but against Premier League opposition, they have suddenly become minnows in a much larger pond. Benitez added Christian Atsu from Chelsea, Jacob Murphy from Norwich, Florian Lejeune from Eibar, Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid, and Mikel Merino from Borussia Dortmund (on loan) to help bring in some quality, depth, and skill to a squad that already somewhat has it. It would not hurt to bring in another striker and goalkeeper.
When it came to losses, the Magpies sold Florian Thauvin to Marseille, and Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran left on a free transfer. These changes won’t break the season, but the point is, they still need to bring in Premier League quality replacements.
Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark were arguably their best players last season. But that was in the Championship. What is worrying and raises uncertainty for Benitez is their lackluster performances when they were playing in the Premier League in seasons past. Good news for Benitez, he does not have to worry about Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie because they have played well in the Premier League.
Although there are questions surrounding the quality of the squad, the Magpies do have the tools to be dangerous going forward with Atsu, Ritchie, Murphy, Perez, and Gayle. Again, it’s a question of what type of player shows up and if they can finish. In the defense, Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles, and Chancel Mbemba were solid centerbacks last season— the addition of Lejeune will help bolster the back line. DeAndre Yedlin started to show his potential as a fullback, and it will be interesting who Benitez plays, Paul Dummett or Yedlin, or both? In the middle, Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame will command the spotlight. All these players have the Premier League know how and the talent, they now need to go out and prove it.
Newcastle has too many questions and not enough answers at the moment. Lucky for them, the transfer window is still open. If it all clicks, they will not have to worry about being in a relegation battle. Rafael Benitez promised to bring Newcastle right back up when he was appointed, but what promises has he made this season?
Brighton & Hove Albion:
Manager: Chris Hughton
Squad Value: £53 Million
Key Players: Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, Lewis Dunk
20 years ago, Brighton was on the verge of playing non-league football. On August 12, 2017, Brighton will be hosting Manchester City at Amex Stadium to kick off their 2017-18 Premier League campaign. That’s how crazy English football is.
Last season in the Championship, Brighton & Hove Albion were one win away from winning the title. After only managing a disappointing point from their final three games, they watched the Magpies in the North lift silverware and celebrate. It was a blunder end to a superb season. On the bright side, pun intended, second place was still good enough for an automatic promotion to the Premier League, which was a relief for the club after finishing just short of that mark for three consecutive seasons.
It must be said, their second place finish last season was no fluke. They attacked with a free-flowing style, lead by Glenn Murray’s 23 goals, but also keep the opposition out of the net—conceded only 40 goals in 46 matches. Other key performers from last season such as Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, club captain Bruno, and Lewis Dunk will need to replicate, if not, elevate their game for the season ahead. Many questions arise on how they will set up against tougher, stronger, and more creative teams.
After being named to the PFA Championship Team of the Year for his 20 clean sheets, David Stockdale rejected a new contract and signed a three-year deal with Birmingham City. It will be difficult to replace him, but manageable. Luckily for Brighton, that was about it when it came to summer transfer losses.
Brighton was frustrated but did not panic when it came to this year’s summer transfer window. Owned by England’s elite, many young, intriguing players were put on the market for loan moves. Brighton somehow missed out on their signatures. They remained calm and brought in solid senior players, as well as young players for the future. Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, ex-Austrian left-back Markus Suttner, and German number 10 Pascal Gross will have plenty of opportunities to shine at Brighton and will relish playing in the Premier League. On loan from Chelsea, Izzy Brown adds some color and creativity going forward. If Brighton is successful, these players will have to contribute in more ways than one—especially goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.
There are also reports that Brighton is close to signing PSV midfielder Davy Propper for £3.5 million. The central midfielder scored 10 goals in 43 games last season. He is going to bring a lot of quality and deepen the midfield for Chris Hughton.
Chris Hughton will have a very difficult challenge this upcoming season. They are a tiny club but understand what to do to succeed—or to survive. Although they open up against title favorites Manchester City, their following five games could be key to how their season unfolds. They have a solid backbone and brought in reinforcements. Will it be enough to stay outside of the drop?
Manager: David Wagner
Squad value: £43.56 Million
Key Players: Steve Mounie, Aaron Mooy, Christopher Schindler
Huddersfield Town will be playing first division football for the first time since 1971-72 after winning the promotion playoff final over Reading in penalties. This might be one of the greatest underdogs playing in Premier League history, but their odds are at only 1500 to 1. It seems that the bookies have learned their lesson after Leicester City’s 5000 to 1 miracle.
Being underdogs is nothing new for the Terriers. No one expected them to do well last season in the Championship, let alone, be promoted. Led by their beloved manager, David Wagner, no matter what happens, the supporters will be behind the club one-hundred percent. Even the club owner Dean Hoyle has promised not to sack Wagner regardless if they stay afloat or sink back down to the Championship.
After the winning promotion, the club wasted no time in assembling their squad that needed much improvement to compete in the Premier League. Owner Dean Hoyle, manager David Wagner, and head of football operations, David Moss, worked diligently to bring in the new players before the start of preseason. In a span of 12 days, Huddersfield broke their own team transfer record three times. First, it was striker Laurent Depoitre from FC Porto for a reported £3.5 million, followed by Aaron Mooy from Manchester City for a reported £8 million, and then for their largest purchase, Benin international striker Steve Mounie for a reported club record £11.5 million from Montpellier. But it has been published that Mounie isn’t the club’s biggest transfer of all time, but winger Tom Ince from Fulham—the fee could rise due to performance.
Wagner sets up the Terriers to press hard, play quickly, and think creatively, which worked successfully to a degree. Last season, Huddersfield struggled with putting the ball in the back of the net—second worst among the top half in the Championship. The addition of Mounie and Depoitre will be the much-needed reliability in front of the net. Scoring goals, as well as keeping them out, are going to be crucial to reach that all important 40 point mark.
Huddersfield’s back line is also going to have their work cut out for them. They brought in reinforcements with the addition of Danish International Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen from FC Copenhagen. Christopher Schindler was the rock for Huddersfield last season and was partnered up with fellow German Michael Hefele. It will be interesting on who Wagner mixes up each weekend.
Aaron Mooy is going to be the most important player for the club. He spent last season on loan with the Terriers and won the 2016-17 Huddersfield Town Player of the Year and was featured in the PFA Championship Team of the Year. His quick thinking, strength, and knowledge of the game help bridge the gap between the back line, midfield, and attackers. Other Premier League clubs know this too. As he is going to attract a lot of attention from the opposition, it could give American Danny Williams, who was brought in on a free transfer, Jonathan Hogg, or Philip Billings opportunities to shine. Hogg does have the advantage of already playing along Mooy in the previous season.
Some say they are here just to enjoy the ride of the Premier League. Can they the underdogs achieve more than a ride?