Sunday, May 26, 2024
HomeFootballPremier LeaguePremier League team-by-team preview: Man City, Liverpool title race again? - ESPN

Premier League team-by-team preview: Man City, Liverpool title race again? – ESPN

Julien Laurens explains why right now he has Chelsea finishing sixth in the Premier League table. (2:18)
It’s finally here! The 2022-23 Premier League season begins Friday as Crystal Palace host Arsenal, and it’s been a summer of quiet revolution up and down the table. From new signings to notable exits, from big clubs like Man City and Liverpool trying to reinvent themselves to the continuing projects at Arsenal and Tottenham, there’s a lot to discuss. Who will win the league? How does every team look compared to last season?
With the big questions around the Premier League to a team-by-team guide, we’ll get you ready for kickoff on Friday.

Jump to: Burning questions | Team-by-team guide
1. Will Manchester City and Liverpool keep the rest at arm’s length?
When City sealed their fourth Premier League title in five seasons in May, their total of 93 points was the joint sixth-best mark in the competition’s history. Liverpool finished just one point behind, 18 points clear of third-placed Chelsea. Of the eight biggest point hauls in Premier League history, six of them have been achieved by these two clubs in the past five seasons, including all of the top four. City’s and Liverpool’s respective goal differences of +73 and +68 put them both into the top five in league history. (City monopolise the top three.)
As if all of that wasn’t ominous enough for the rest of the league, City have signed Erling Haaland, the hottest prospect in the world game who scored 86 goals in 89 games for Borussia Dortmund, as well as Julian Alvarez, the hottest prospect in South America who scored six goals in one Copa Libertadores match, which happened to be one of his final appearances for River Plate. Liverpool, meanwhile, have brought in Darwin Nunez, a striker who scored 32 goals in 38 games for Benfica last term, including strikes against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Ajax, and his new employers.
With the rest of last season’s top six clubs all in various stages of transition, can any of them mount a credible challenge to break City’s and Liverpool’s duopoly when that pair have been able to build again from such a position of strength?
2. Can Erik ten Hag start his rebuild without falling further behind?
It’s hard to believe that United are the only club other than City or Liverpool to finish in the top two in the past five seasons. Not only that, but they did it twice. And yet last season’s sixth-place finish means that manager Erik ten Hag begins work with the club at their lowest ebb.
The former Ajax coach has maintained an Eredivisie connection with his summer signings: Lisandro Martinez followed him from Amsterdam, Tyrell Malacia arrives from Feyenoord and even Christian Eriksen began his senior career in the Dutch capital. Several big personalities and long-standing players have been moved on after last season petered out under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, but settling the future of Cristiano Ronaldo — who has said he wants to leave despite struggling to find any interested clubs — could be the most pivotal piece of transfer business United do this summer.
Ten Hag will find it difficult to implement his playing style on a team that has the 37-year-old forward in it, but can he risk doing without last season’s top scorer, who netted more than twice as many goals as anyone else at the club?
Even if Ten Hag can get his own house in order in time, that will only take him so far. He told ESPN’s Rob Dawson this summer that one of his key aims is “to bring the confidence back” to Old Trafford, but there is little cause for optimism when looking at their main rivals for a top-four place next season.
3. Will we see the highest-scoring Golden Boot race in years?
Since Mohamed Salah shocked everyone in his first season at Liverpool by scoring 32 Premier League goals to claim the 2017-18 Golden Boot, the figures required to win the award have fallen back to normal levels. Salah shared the prize with fellow Africans Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the following season despite scoring 10 fewer goals (22), while he needed only one more than that to get his hands on it for a third time (shared with Son Heung-Min) last term. (That tally, 23, was also enough to make Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy top scorer in the previous two campaigns.)
– O’Hanlon: The Premier League’s best players, 97-71 (E+)
– Ogden: How ready are the big six for the new season?
– Johnson: What’s new in Premier League for 2022-23

It’s all a far cry from the days when the lead striker at a top club could make hitting the 30-goal mark a realistic target, but this coming season promises to bring that back. Haaland averaged almost a goal per game in the Bundesliga while at Dortmund (22 in 24 appearances last season, and 62 in 67 overall), so the main obstacle to a clear run at the Golden Boot for him could be his own injury issues. Nunez’s 26 goals in 28 league games for Benfica last term is similarly prodigious, although he’ll need a strong start to erase any whispers of “one-season wonder.”
Tottenham’s Son will be backing himself to at least match last season’s tally now that Spurs have had a full preseason of prep under Antonio Conte, while teammate Kane is out to equal Thierry Henry’s record of four Golden Boots. Over at Arsenal, Gabriel Jesus has the chance to fully affirm his status as a top striker as the Gunners’ undisputed first-choice No. 9 with a rotating cast of busy young midfielders working to create the chances for him.
Chelsea don’t have an immediately obvious candidate to join this race, but in the 27-year-old Raheem Sterling, they now have a player who has hit 20 league goals in a season before and is approaching what should be his peak years. Plus, if Ronaldo ends up staying at Manchester United this summer, then we also have the greatest goal scorer of modern times in the mix. And we can’t rule out a contender from the fringes, either: After scoring 43 goals in the Championship last season, could Aleksandar Mitrovic finally make his mark on the top flight with Fulham after two previous failed attempts?
4. Will new-look Newcastle break up the big six?
It shouldn’t be difficult for Eddie Howe to have a better start to this season with Newcastle United than his predecessor, Steve Bruce, did last term. Without a win in his first nine games of the season before the club was taken over by the Saudi-backed PFI, Bruce was afforded one farewell match at St James’ Park in the form of a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham before he was sacked. After two draws and a defeat under caretaker Graeme Jones, Howe was appointed as the man to lead Newcastle into a brave new era.
The former Bournemouth manager claimed just one win before the January transfer window opened — a 1-0 home victory over Burnley — but the midseason arrivals of Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes and Dan Burn, along with Joelinton‘s conversion from a misfiring striker into an all-action central midfielder, spurred Newcastle on to claim 12 more wins and secure a comfortable mid-table finish. This summer’s transfer business has been similarly sensible, with England goalkeeper Nick Pope coming in from Burnley and Matt Targett‘s loan from Aston Villa being made permanent, while defender Sven Botman is the closest thing to a glamorous, big-money foreign signing.
These are not signings to get the casual fan’s pulse racing, but they do consolidate Newcastle’s rapid improvement over the first half of the year and give them a real platform to target being this season’s “best of the rest.” And if they can set up camp below the top six this season, next summer’s window will see the next phase of the PFI plan come into effect. Also, if they can surprise everyone by looking like outside bets for the top four come January, who knows what they might be able to do to give their campaign a boost?
Howe is too sensible to be looking too far ahead, and he can’t afford to: Fixtures against Man City and Liverpool before the end of August will be at the forefront of his mind.
5. Can the yo-yoing between Premier League and Championship stop?
This will be the fifth consecutive Premier League season to feature either Fulham or Norwich City, but at no time in that run have both been in the top flight at the same time. Since 2013 the pair have won a total of seven promotions and have always ended up back where they were a year later. Those two teams, plus Watford and West Bromwich Albion, form a clutch of clubs that have been bouncing between the top two tiers of English football for the past few years without ever settling in either. Bournemouth — back up this season at the second attempt — and Burnley could also establish themselves as part of that group if they swap divisions again next summer.
Those clubs that are regularly accruing Premier League parachute payments — perhaps in addition to generous backing from their owners — are finding it ever harder to break out of this purgatory, as all the other Premier League clubs are getting ever richer and the increasing gulf between the Big Six and the rest means that there are fewer points that are realistically available for newly promoted sides.

The aforementioned Mitrovic will be key to Fulham’s chances of staying up — although this was said the last time they came up, and the time before that. If the Serbia international can get even close to half of the 43 league goals he got last season, Marco Silva’s side might just have something to build on.
— Tony Mabert

Jump to: Arsenal | Aston Villa | Bournemouth | Brentford | Brighton | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Leeds United | Leicester City | Liverpool | Man City | Man United | Newcastle | Nottingham Forest | Southampton | Tottenham | West Ham | Wolves
– Transfers in: FW Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), DF Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City), MF Fabio Vieira (Porto), GK Matt Turner (New England Revolution), FW Marquinhos (Sao Paulo)
– Transfers out: MF Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), DF Dinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart), DF Daniel Ballard (Sunderland), GK Bernd Leno (Fulham)
– Last season: Premier League (fifth), FA Cup (third round), Carabao Cup (semifinals)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Better than last year for Arsenal means Champions League qualification, and that is the benchmark against which Mikel Arteta will be judged this term. The club opted not to strengthen in January when they were well-placed to secure a top-four finish amid wage restructuring due to financial fair play concerns and a lack of availability over their preferred targets. Missing out on Europe’s premier club competition to Tottenham was a huge blow, but it has not derailed the Gunners from their long-term plan, which has seen further investment including a couple of shrewd acquisitions from Manchester City in Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Arteta knows both players well, having worked with the pair at City, and they add useful versatility that should make Arsenal more unpredictable. However, the team had no European football to contend with last term, and the return of Europa League engagements will make things tougher for them.
Key player: Gabriel Jesus
Jesus adds a potent goal threat at the top end of the pitch that Arsenal have lacked since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went off the boil before joining Barcelona. Seven goals for the Brazilian in five preseason games is encouraging, displaying both a promising understanding with his new teammates and the range of finishes he is capable of producing. Jesus’ success in transitioning from City will be a significant factor in determining whether Arsenal can crack the top four, given goals were an issue last season; Bukayo Saka was the club’s top scorer last season with just 12, while their Premier League tally of 61 was the lowest in the top five, with City (99), Liverpool (94), Chelsea (76) and Tottenham (69) all superior.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. There remains some scepticism toward Arteta after Arsenal fell away last term, and that will quickly grow if the Gunners get off to a slow start. But the 40-year-old’s backing among Arsenal’s hierarchy remains total. Despite this being his first managerial role, the Spaniard has been given a huge amount of influence at the club, ranging from staffing changes to decisions over paying off the contracts of unwanted players, all with the aim of creating a more efficient and professional work environment. That, in turn, brings its own pressure.
With a month left to go in this transfer window, Arsenal’s spending totals more than £250m in the past two summers. There can be no referencing hangovers from different eras: This squad is undeniably Arteta’s, and they have to improve. Having shown so much faith in him to this point, something would have to go badly wrong for Arsenal to dispense with Arteta this season.

— James Olley
– Transfers in: DF Diego Carlos (Sevilla), MF Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), GK Robin Olsen (AS Roma), MF Boubacar Kamara (free agent)
– Transfers out: DF Matt Targett (Newcastle United), FW Mahmoud Trezeguet (Trabzonspor), MF Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea)
– Last season: Premier League (14th), FA Cup (third round), Carabao Cup (third round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Aston Villa and Steven Gerrard will do better than 14th place last season. However, the question should be different. It should read: Will Villa do better than they did under Gerrard last season? Because if we count only the points won by the team after his arrival in November, they would have finished ninth.
It was a very different Villa before Gerrard, even if they had a rough patch toward the end of the season with two wins in their last 11 games, but this team should keep improving with Gerrard, especially with the players they’ve brought in this summer. Defender Diego Carlos and defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara are great additions, while the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho should allow him to play with more freedom. They’re not done yet given that they need a striker, too.
It’s a shame they lost Carney Chukwuemeka to Chelsea, but they are still very strong in midfield, especially if Jacob Ramsey keeps developing. Collectively, Gerrard has made the team much stronger and more structured with better patterns of play, especially on the right flank with Matty Cash. If Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins get more clinical and Coutinho is more consistently at his best, this team can surprise.
Key player: Philippe Coutinho
Which Coutinho will we get? The one who dazzled after his arrival on loan from Barcelona in January and put on some superb performances? Or the one who was anonymous in too many games toward the end of the season? Or both, maybe, if the Brazil international can’t find some consistency? Whatever happens, Coutinho will be the key. He is the creative brain of this team and arguably their greatest threat on the ball. He is the most gifted player in this squad, but he has to show it now. At 30 years old, this is a huge season for him, especially if he has a shot at making the Brazil squad for the 2022 World Cup. He needs a sharp start to the season to get momentum and beat the scepticism around him.
Will their manager last the season?
This is the Gerrard Project. Everything Aston Villa are doing right now is around him, and even if they start slowly, this club is committed to him and to this process. Gerrard got the players he wanted in the transfer window so far and expects (and should get) more. He has been backed up by the club, and he will deliver.

— Julien Laurens
– Transfers in: MF Joe Rothwell (free agent), DF Ryan Fredericks (free agent), MF Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough)
– Transfers out: DF Zeno Ibsen Rossi (Cambridge United), DF Sam Sherring (Northampton Town), FW Robbie Brady (free agent), DF Gary Cahill (released)
– Last season: Championship (2nd, promoted), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (second round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Bournemouth did much of their big business in January when they brought in Kieffer Moore and James Hill, but it’s been a quiet summer. They have a strong spine to the team with Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke, Lloyd Kelly, Ryan Christie and David Brooks all key, but manager Scott Parker is clearly banking on the team that got them promoted, along with three new additions, being good enough to keep them in the Premier League. Fredericks will offer a new option at right-back, while Rothwell impressed for Blackburn last season. Tavernier will slot in nicely on the flanks or behind the striker, but they are going to have to hit the ground running.
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Their opening fixtures are brutal — they play Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool in August — and no doubt their fans will have taken note of the big spending by their fellow promoted teams, Fulham and Nottingham Forest, but they will be putting all their chips on Bournemouth’s familiarity and cohesion being enough to keep them in the top flight. Anything above 18th will be a huge achievement.
Key player: Dominic Solanke
Highly rated Cook will be key alongside the likes of Kelly and Christie, and you should keep an eye on the fiercely talented Jefferson Lerma. But if Bournemouth are to survive, they need Solanke — who arrived for a £17m fee in 2019 — to take his championship goal-scoring form into the top flight. He scored 29 last term, following 15 the previous season, and Bournemouth will be banking on him finding the back of the net this time out. He needs to continue using that chemistry he’s forged with Philip Billing and Christie to find the goals that could keep Bournemouth afloat.
Will their manager last the season?
Bournemouth really should have won the championship last term, but had an awful habit of giving away leads. Parker knows they cannot afford to leave any points out there this season. His sole season in the Premier League with Fulham saw them relegated in 2020-21 and he will have learned from that, but this promises to be a tough season. I’d say his chances are 50-50 of being in charge by May.

— Tom Hamilton
– Transfers in: DF Aaron Hickey (Bologna), FW Keane Lewis-Potter (Hull City), DF Ben Mee (free agent), GK Thomas Strakosha (free agent)
– Transfers out: FW Marcus Forss (Middlesbrough)
– Last season: Premier League (13th), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (quarterfinals)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Apart from Christian Eriksen — who they brought in on a contract for the second half of the season — they haven’t lost any of their core group, which bodes well. They were brilliant last season, the highlight being their 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge against local rivals Chelsea, and you would expect them to improve this time around. But achieving that in a league like the Premier League could be quantified as managing to stay roughly where they were last term.
Their recruitment has been on point, with Lewis-Potter and Hickey both exciting, young talents, while Mee could prove to be an inspired piece of business, adding experience and leadership to their backline. The signing of Strakosha provides David Raya with the competition he needs, while they’ve also been strongly linked with Sampdoria playmaker Mikkel Damsgaard, who’s a wonderful talent.
If they can see out the transfer window without losing any key players — Ivan Toney‘s future is uncertain — then expect Brentford to finish where they did last season.
Key player: Ivan Toney
While they have added new faces to the flanks, they will be in a world of pain if Toney gets injured or leaves. He scored 12 Premier League goals last season — five ahead of Yoane Wissa and eight more than Bryan Mbeumo and Vitaly Janelt. It shows how reliant they are on Toney upfront. They did struggle at times last term with a lack of depth in the squad — which contributed to their dodgy run at the start of 2022. Summer moves mean they’re sufficiently deep at most positions, but a run of games without Toney would be tricky to navigate.
Will their manager last the season?
Owner Matthew Benham is not one for knee-jerk decisions, which is how he’s managed to take Brentford from League One to the Premier League in seven years. So even if Brentford end up in a relegation battle, then I feel Thomas Frank will see out the season. The fans adore him, the players work well with him and he has a great relationship with the owner. A look at the preseason odds on the first manager to get sacked shows he’s not even in the top 10 contenders — only Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have longer odds — so expect Frank to be there in May regardless of where Brentford finish.

— Tom Hamilton
– Transfers in: FW Julio Enciso (Libertad), FW Simon Adingra (Nordsjaelland), FW Benicio Baker-Boaitey (FC Porto)
– Transfers out: MF Yves Bissouma (Tottenham), DF Leo Ostigard (Napoli), MF Jayson Molumby (West Bromwich Albion)
– Last season: Premier League (ninth), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (fourth round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
It’s hard to believe they can improve on ninth with a squad that’s not really been reinforced yet this summer. Bissouma’s exit weakens the midfield, while Marc Cucurella‘s endless status updates hint at another vital loss should he leave for Chelsea (amusingly being denied by Brighton on social media), Man City or Barcelona.
A squad in need of goals — last season’s top scorer was Neal Maupay, with nine — is banking on new signing Enciso being an immediate success out wide and Moises Caicedo making an impact in midfield. It seems a lot to ask, even with the mercurial Graham Potter always seeming to have a plan.
Julien Laurens remains very confident that Marc Cucurella will complete his move to Chelsea despite some confusion over the deal on Wednesday night.
Key Player: Lewis Dunk
Much was made of Brighton’s finish in the top half last season and despite being relatively thin in front of goal (42 goals in 38 games), their defending was a major reason for their final position. Dunk will again be asked to shoulder the load in central defence in order to give his side a fighting chance, especially if a proven scorer isn’t added to the squad in the remainder of the summer transfer window.
Will their manager last the season?
It’s hard to imagine a fracture between Potter and the club given his remarkable methods on a sensible budget. Potter will be welcome on the south coast until he decides he wants a change, rather than the other way around.

— James Tyler
– Transfers in: FW Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), DF Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), FW Omari Hutchinson (Arsenal), GK Eddie Beach (Southampton), MF Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa)
– Transfers out: DF Andreas Christensen (free agent, joined Barcelona), DF Antonio Rudiger (free agent, joined Real Madrid), DF Jake Clarke-Salter (QPR), MF Danny Drinkwater (released), FW Charly Musonda (released)
– Last season: Premier League (3rd), FA Cup (runners-up), Carabao Cup (runners-up)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Manager Thomas Tuchel faces a difficult task to improve on last season given the upheaval caused by Chelsea’s change of ownership. Roman Abramovich’s sale of the club — effectively forced by U.K. government sanctions over his alleged links to Russia president Vladimir Putin — led to a situation where the Blues were unable to negotiate new contracts with existing squad members or hold talks with new players. Consequently, Rudiger joined Real Madrid, Christensen left for Barcelona and Chelsea have been playing catch-up in the transfer window, all while Tuchel knowing there was already ground to make up on Manchester City and Liverpool.
The signing of Sterling from City is excellent business by new club chairman Todd Boehly, while Koulibaly adds experience at the back, but further reinforcements are required if Chelsea have any chance of closing what ended up as a 19-point gap to champions City last term. The chasing pack — led by Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United — have strengthened and so a frantic end to the window awaits.
Julien Laurens expresses his concerns for Chelsea and Man United’s chances of finishing in the top 4 this season.
Key player: Kai Havertz
Chelsea spent €115m to sign Romelu Lukaku last summer, but Tuchel ended up preferring Havertz as his central striker. With Lukaku now back at Inter Milan on loan, Tuchel appears to be pinning a lot on Havertz to lead a title challenge. There remains the possibility Chelsea could sign a centre-forward before the window closes, but Havertz’s mixture of intense pressure and high quality in possession is something Tuchel favours in setting the tone from the front. Havertz ended with 14 goals from 47 appearances across all competitions: if he does play up front this season, that record must improve.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. The consortium led by Boehly and Clearlake Capital might have inherited Tuchel as manager, but he is a European champion who has conducted himself with tremendous humility and grace during the difficult takeover period. Significantly, he has also been given greater influence over transfers following the departures of technical and performance adviser Petr Cech, along with the club’s former lead transfer negotiator, Marina Granovskaia. Managers could never be confident of seeing the season out under Abramovich, but the early signs are that Tuchel would have to seriously underperform in order for a change to take place.

— James Olley
– Transfers in: MF Cheick Doucoure (Lens), DF Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), MF Cormac Austin (Linfield), GK Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), FW Malcolm Ebiowei (Derby County)
– Transfers out: DF Martin Kelly (released), DF Jaroslaw Jach (released)
– Last season: Premier League (12th), FA Cup (semifinals), Carabao Cup (second round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Patrick Vieira: pretty good at this, eh? He wasted little time in turning a stodgy, obdurate team into an exciting, quick-passing side that has creativity and intent all over the pitch.

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They might need a few games to adjust to the loss of Conor Gallagher, who was a purposeful presence in midfield during his season on loan from Chelsea, but there’s still plenty of quality in attack. Wilfried Zaha (14 Premier League goals last season) has help from the likes of Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise and Odsonne Edouard, while the defense has been reinforced with the arrival of Chris Richards while Marc Guehi is now a full England international.
They might bump up a place or three as mid-table is truly hard to predict, but a deep cup run or even cup final would be a better target.
Key player: Wilfried Zaha
The 29-year-old is still their most consistent creative force as others are yet to come into focus. He’ll need to again lead the charge if the team are to have a strong season.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. He has brought entertainment and excitement back to Selhurst Park, a property more ethereal than league points but more valuable all the same. Unless there is another moment like at Goodison Park, when he got into an altercation with fans invading the pitch, he’s secure for as long as he wants to be.

— James Tyler
– Transfers in: FW Dwight McNeil (Burnley), DF Ruben Vinagre (Wolves), DF James Tarkowski (free agent)
– Transfers out: FW Richarlison (Tottenham), FW Cenk Tosun (free agent), DF Jonjoe Kenny (free agent), DF Fabian Delph (released), MF Gylfi Sigurdsson (free agent)
– Last season: Premier League (16th), FA Cup (quarterfinals), Carabao Cup (third round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
If it gets any worse for Everton, they’ll be playing Championship football next season, which is almost unthinkable for a club of their size. There were times toward the end of last season when it felt like Everton were destined to get relegated, but in the end Burnley left themselves too much to do and Frank Lampard’s side escaped by the skin of their teeth.
Preseason results have been a mixed bag — a 4-0 defeat to Minnesota United was particularly worrying — but the biggest concern for fans will be the summer recruitment. Richarlison, Everton’s best player during last season’s run-in, has joined Tottenham and the only significant signings so far have been Tarkowski and McNeil from Burnley, although PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye looks set to return. Without Richarlison, there is a lot of pressure on Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score the goals, but he has to stay fit and is likely to miss the opening month.
Key player: Jordan Pickford
Goals are going to be a problem for Everton, but judging by last season, they will also need their goalkeeper in top form. England‘s No.1 attracts plenty of criticism for his form and style, but he was outstanding as Everton clawed their way out of trouble last season. Having Tarkowski in front as part of a more settled defence should help, but it’s still likely that Pickford will have plenty to do.
Will their manager last the season?
No. Lampard has shown signs at Derby and Chelsea that he could be a good manager, but Everton almost feels like an impossible job these days. Expectations will always be high because it’s a huge club, but it’s not being matched by investment in the squad. The group that struggled so badly last season hasn’t been significantly improved and many supporters will fear another year battling at the bottom. If things go badly, Lampard will be the one to pay the price even though there are plenty of others to blame for what’s happening.

— Rob Dawson
– Transfers in: MF Joao Palhinha (Sporting CP), MF Andreas Pereira (Manchester United), DF Kevin Mbabu (Wolfsburg), MF Manor Solomon (loan from Shakhtar Donetsk), GK Bernd Leno (Arsenal)
– Transfers out: MF Andre Zambo Anguissa (Napoli), MF Fabio Carvalho (Liverpool), FW Timmy Abraham (free agent), MF Jean Michael Seri (Hull City),
– Last season: Championship (promoted to Premier League at champions), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (third round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
In the past four seasons, Fulham have been promoted twice to the Premier League, and relegated twice. So survival is the obvious target this term and their method this time around has been one of consolidation and improvement, rather than overhaul like they did ahead of the 2018-19 season (where they spent over £100m), and last time out in 2020-21 (where they brought in seven players on loan.) They appear to have learned from previous failings though manager Marco Silva feels they are still “undercooked” ahead of the season, saying earlier this week they have just 16 senior players at the club and just two central defenders.
Of those they’ve brought in, Mbabu should prove to be one of the signings of the summer, while Solomon and Palhinha are exciting, as is the arrival of Leno from Arsenal for a low fee and with plenty to prove. Pereira brings Premier League experience to the middle of the park, but there are still some unknowns. Last time out the prolific Mitrovic struggled in the Premier League; can he do better this time around? A new centre-back to start alongside Tosin would also be an astute piece of business, and they’ve been heavily linked with West Ham’s Issa Diop. They need to survive this year, given their previous yo-yo existence.
Key player: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Leno will be a busy man, but it must be Mitrovic. He scored an incredible 43 goals last season, shattering all sorts of Championship records in the process. But he struggled last time out in the Premier League in the 2020-21 campaign. Under Scott Parker he started just 13 matches that term, scoring only three league goals.
Will their manager last the season?
In previous seasons, had Silva started this campaign poorly, I’d have said he’d be gone by November. But there’s something different about their approach this term, with an admiration for Silva’s attacking brand of football. Fulham have made some poor decisions in the past with their managers — look at that ill-fated spell of Claudio Ranieri in the 2018-19 campaign, in which he lasted just three months — but they have settled since then. This team has evolved in their playing style and Silva has a good rapport with the owners. While previously backing a Fulham manager to be sacked before the end of the season was a safe bet, I believe he’ll still be there come May.

— Tom Hamilton
– Transfers in: MF Brenden Aaronson (FC Salzburg), FW Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord), MF Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), MF Marc Roca (Bayern Munich), DF Rasmus Kristensen (FC Salzburg), MF Darko Gyabi (Manchester City), FW Sonny Perkins (West Ham United)
– Transfers out: FW Raphinha (Barcelona), MF Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)
– Last season: Premier League (17th), FA Cup (third round), Carabao Cup (fourth round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
This season has to be better for Leeds because the alternative simply doesn’t bear thinking about. Having avoided relegation only on the final day of last season, a worse campaign will mean dropping back into the Championship, so the stakes couldn’t be higher. But the outlook doesn’t bode well for Leeds due to the loss of key players Phillips and Raphinha since the end of last season. The club banked £97m by offloading the pair to Man City and Barcelona, respectively, but neither has been suitably replaced.
USMNT stars Aaronson and Adams have been signed by American coach Jesse Marsch, with Man City youngster Gyabi and Feyenoord’s Colombian forward Sinisterra also added, but all four new arrivals lack the Premier League experience and proven record of Phillips and Raphinha.
Getting striker Patrick Bamford fit and scoring again will be Marsch’s top priority. Bamford made just nine Premier League appearances last season due to injury, a huge loss that contributed to Marcelo Bielsa’s exit as manager in February. But with Marsch struggling to make an impact as Bielsa’s successor and key players moving on, it promises to be a tough year for Leeds and they will be in a relegation battle that may finish with a less positive ending.
Jesse Marsch tells SportsCenter why he wanted to bring Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson to Leeds.
Key player: Patrick Bamford
The 28-year-old scored 17 goals in 38 games during the 2020-21 campaign and his contribution enabled Leeds to secure a top-10 finish in their first season back in the Premier League after 16 years. But last season’s injuries saw him score just twice and Leeds desperately missed his goals and team play. The pressure on Bamford will be even greater this season and Marsch needs the former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace forward to rediscover the form of fitness of two years ago. He’ll rely on Daniel James and Jack Harrison for service around goal, but ultimately, Bamford needs to make the difference.
Will their manager last the season?
No. Although the Leeds ownership — the San Francisco 49ers Enterprise group has a 44% stake — is committed to Marsch, having hired the American in February following his unsuccessful stint at RB Leipzig, he won just four of 12 games in charge and almost oversaw relegation back to the championship. The fans remain sceptical over his ability to make the team an established Premier League side, with an ongoing affection for previous manager Bielsa not helping Marsch win hearts and minds at Elland Road. Marsch needs a good start to the season to avoid creating more pressure for himself, but in the short term at least, he has the backing of the owners.

— Mark Ogden
– Transfers in: None
– Transfers out: GK Kasper Schmeichel (Nice)
– Last season: Premier League (8th), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (quarterfinals), UEFA Europa League (group stage), UEFA Europa Conference League (semifinals)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Leicester finished eighth last season, and they will finish below that this season. They are the only team in the Premier League to have not yet recruited a player yet this summer (at the time of writing) — how can you expect to have a better season than the previous one if you don’t strengthen a squad which needs strengthening and showed weaknesses, especially defensively?
On top of that, players want to leave. Goalkeeper Schmeichel has joined Nice and he is a huge loss for the club not just as captain, but his experience and also as a connective thread to their title-winning season. Wesley Fofana is pushing for a move; Youri Tielemans is hoping for a big offer from one of the top teams; Newcastle are coming in hard for James Maddison; Boubakary Soumare wants more game time and could move back to France with Monaco.
Leicester have a tough start to the season as well, with trips to Arsenal and Chelsea and the visit of Manchester City within the first five games of the campaign! Jamie Vardy is 35 now and won’t always be the saviour, so someone else will have to step up: whether it is Harvey Barnes, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall or Patson Daka remains to be seen. But Brendan Rodgers will feel the pressure and will have to be inspired if this season is to be a successful one.
Key player: Harvey Barnes
At 24, this is the season when Barnes has to get to the next level. Since he broke into the first team in the second half of the 2018-19 Premier League season, we saw a lot of potential talent and progress, too — from one goal and two assists in 11 starts in 2018-19; to six and eight in 24 starts the following year; nine and four in 22 starts after that; and six and 10 in 24 starts last season. After domestic campaigns with 14, 13 and 16 goal contributions, he has now to get over the 20 mark and really explode. Barnes has the talent to get 10 goals and 10 assists a season in the top flight. He needs to show these numbers and this consistency.
After he made his debut (and only cap so far) with England in 2020, plenty would have thought that he would still be in the England set up now. Instead, others have overtaken him in the pecking order. He needs a top season to bring himself back in.
Will their manager last the season?
Whether Rodgers gets sacked or he leaves by himself, he won’t finish the season. The campaign has all the ingredients to be a difficult one and Rodgers already wanted to leave in 2021-22 when the Manchester United job was available. You can easily see that the end of a cycle is approaching at Leicester within the squad, but also on the bench. Rodgers has taken this team as far as he could.

— Julien Laurens
– Transfers in: FW Darwin Nunez (Benfica), MF Fabio Carvalho (Fulham), DF Calvin Ramsay (Aberdeen)
– Transfers out: FW Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich), DF Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest), FW Takumi Minamino (AS Monaco), DF Ben Davies (Rangers), FW Sheyi Ojo (Cardiff City), FW Divock Origi (AC Milan)
– Last season: Premier League (2nd), FA Cup (winners), Carabao Cup (winners), UEFA Champions League (runners-up)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Liverpool came within touching distance of a quadruple last season, missing out on the Premier League title on the final day before losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid. But although Klopp’s team almost had the dream campaign, falling short in the big two competitions means they can still improve this time around and winning both will be the objective.
Like Manchester City, Liverpool have signed players and lost some key men too. Mane will be a big loss, but if £75m striker Nunez settles quickly, the change may not be too painful. Persuading Mohamed Salah to extend his contract was a major boost for Liverpool, so they go into the new season as the team most likely to beat City to the title. (They also showed in their Community Shield win over City that they’re ready for the challenge.)
It’s difficult to envisage Liverpool failing to finish in the top two or being knocked out in the early stages of the Champions League, so it will be another big year ahead. And it could be the head-to-head encounters against City that decide whether this season is better or worse.
Steve Nicol praises the efforts of both teams for the Community Shield, but calls Liverpool’s attacking game far superior than Manchester City’s.
Key player: Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool possess an array of attacking talent, but even if they lost Salah for any significant period of time, they would be able to overcome his absence due to the available options, just as they did last season when the Egypt forward, and Mane, were away for over a month at the Africa Cup of Nations. It’s a different story in defence, however, and the player that Liverpool simply can’t do without is centre-back Van Dijk.
When he suffered a season-ending cruciate ligament injury early in the 2020-21 campaign, Liverpool’s title defence went off the rails and they only narrowly salvaged their season by sealing a top-four finish on the final day. Van Dijk brings experience, calmness and authority at the heart of the defence and he’s absolutely crucial to Liverpool’s ambitions.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. Klopp signed a new contract in April and is committed to managing the club until the end of the 2025-26 season, so there is no realistic prospect of the 55-year-old heading out of Anfield anytime soon. His plan is to deliver more success for Liverpool rather than seek a move elsewhere. He is there for the long-term.

— Mark Ogden
– Transfers in: FW Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), MF Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), FW Julian Alvarez (River Plate), GK Stefan Ortega (Arminia Bielefeld)
– Transfers out: FW Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), FW Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), DF Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal), MF Romeo Lavia (Southampton), GK Gavin Bazunu (Southampton), DF Pedro Porro (Sporting CP), MF Darko Gyabi (Leeds United), DF Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), GK Aro Muric (Burnley)
– Last season: Premier League (champions), FA Cup (semifinals), Carabao Cup (fourth round), UEFA Champions League (semifinals)
Will they be better or worse this season?
City operate to such fine margins that a good season for everyone else would be a bad one for them if they fail to win the Premier League. And that will be the benchmark again for Guardiola’s team: they basically need to finish above Liverpool and then everything will take care of itself.
But although City have strengthened by adding Haaland, Phillips and Alvarez to last season’s squad, they have lost significant players in Fernandinho, Jesus and Sterling. Zinchenko’s versatility will also be missed following his move to Arsenal.
There is a quiet evolution taking place at the Etihad and it may just lead to the team falling short this time around. Haaland will score goals, but will he deliver in the biggest games and will he make up for the loss of Sterling and Jesus’ goals? City will finish in the top two, but it will be another tight race with Liverpool and how it ends will define whether this season is better or worse than the last one.
Gab Marcotti defends Erling Haaland’s performance for Manchester City in their 3-1 Community Shield loss to Liverpool.
Key player: Erling Haaland
Kevin De Bruyne is City’s best player and the one that elevates the team to a level it only occupies when he is fit and available, but their key player this season will be Haaland. If the Norway forward lives up to the hype and scores a huge volume of goals, City could win everything they contest this season, but there are question marks over the former Borussia Dortmund star and how they are answered will be decisive.
Is Haaland a player who only scores lots of goals against weaker opponents? Or is he one who can also make the difference in the tightest games that will decide if City win the Champions League or Premier League? Time will tell on that, but the evidence of his performance against Liverpool in the Community Shield suggested that Haaland and his new teammates will take time to work out how each other plays. City haven’t played with such a direct No. 9 under Guardiola and they will have to alter their style accordingly, but Haaland also needs to adjust his approach to become more of a team player.
It will be fascinating to see how it all turns out, for player and club.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. The only way that Guardiola will leave the Etihad before the end of the season is if he chooses to do so and there is no sign of that happening. However, the big question is whether he will stay beyond that. His contract expires next summer and he has already said he will not consider extending it until then. All in all, it could turn out to be the final year of Guardiola’s stay.

— Mark Ogden
– Transfers in: DF Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), DF Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord), MF Christian Eriksen (free agent)
– Transfers out: MF Andreas Pereira (Fulham), MF Jesse Lingard (free agent), MF Paul Pogba (free agent), MF Nemanja Matic (free agent), MF Juan Mata (released), FW Edinson Cavani (released)
– Last season: Premier League (6th), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (third round), UEFA Champions League (round of 16)
Will they be better or worse this season?
The good news for new manager Erik ten Hag is that it can’t get much worse. The humiliation towards the end of last season has left expectations at rock bottom, and anything other than abject failure will be seen as some kind of progress. The new United manager has refused to play down his team’s prospects ahead of the season, but a top-four finish and some kind of cup run is probably the best he can hope for.
A lot will depend on which players come in before the transfer deadline because the squad still feels light in midfield and up front, but even in his short time at the helm, Ten Hag has created the feeling that at the very least, he’s moving the club forward. United face a battle to get back into the Champions League because the Premier League is so strong, but if Ten Hag can restore some pride and establish a clear way of playing, then it should be viewed as a successful first season.
Shaka Hislop dissects the dynamic between Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric ten Hag after Ronaldo was seen leaving stadium before the final whistle.
Key player: Anthony Martial
There were doubts about his future at the start of the summer following a loan move to Sevilla last season, but after a positive preseason, it would be no surprise to see Martial start the first game against Brighton on Sunday. With question marks surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo‘s future, it’s not clear who’s going to score the goals for Ten Hag, but if Martial can have a good season in front of goal, he could transform United’s prospects. If he stays fit, sharp and engaged, he could have a big season.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes — or at least he should. No United manager post-Sir Alex Ferguson has survived after missing out on the Champions League following a full season in charge, but that might have to change here. It’s far from guaranteed that United will finish in the top four, but there has to come a point when the chopping and changing of managers must stop. New CEO Richard Arnold has been keen to distance himself from Ed Woodward’s chaotic spell as the club’s top executive and giving Ten Hag time, no matter what happens next season, would be evidence of a much-needed change of direction.

— Rob Dawson
– Transfers in: DF Sven Botman (Lille), DF Matt Targett (Aston Villa), GK Nick Pope (Burnley), DF Charlie McArthur (Kilmarnock)
– Transfers out: GK Freddie Woodman (Preston), FW Dwight Gayle (free agent)
– Last season: Premier League (11th), FA Cup (third round), Carabao Cup (second round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Newcastle ended last season as one of the Premier League’s form teams, having escaped a midseason relegation battle to finish 11th under Eddie Howe, but after being taken over by a Saudi Arabian investment fund, future ambitions go well beyond establishing a mid-table comfort zone.
Howe has been backed with significant funds to strengthen his squad since the takeover, with over £140m invested in new players during this year’s two transfer windows, so the expectation at St James’ Park is of a push for European qualification. In the years to come, Newcastle’s owners have made it clear that they will be targeting major success and regular Champions League football, but the first objective is a top 10 finish and a place in Europe. Howe’s team have the ability to do that, with goalkeeper Pope and defender Botman arriving to add quality and experience to the backline.
Newcastle arguably need a more potent strikeforce, but that issue could be addressed before the transfer deadline. Regardless of whoever arrives in the weeks ahead, you can expect a better season this time around.
Key player: Allan Saint-Maximin
Newcastle are still looking to add to their attacking options for the new season, but Saint-Maximin will remain a key figure no matter who the club signs.
During Newcastle’s struggles under previous owner Mike Ashley, Saint-Maximin was a rare ray of light for the long-suffering supporters, with the French forward’s pace and attacking ambition often offering the team’s only goal threat. The fear that Saint-Maximin would leave for a club higher up the league was a constant, but now that such concerns are gone, the challenge for the 25-year-old is to take his game to a higher level and earn himself a central role in Newcastle’s bright future.
Will their manager last the season?
No. Howe has done a remarkable job so far at Newcastle since being appointed last November. The club looked doomed to relegation until the former Bournemouth boss took charge and transformed their fortunes. But Newcastle’s new owners want success and they want it quickly, so Howe is already under huge pressure to not only sustain the momentum of last season, but build on it.
Under normal circumstances, his progress so far would guarantee his position for the season, but if Newcastle underperform, there will be a long line of high-profile managers with persistent agents who will be desperate to take on the challenge at St. James’. So it depends on the owners being patient and loyal to Howe, especially when results hit a difficult patch. Football rarely works like that, however, and Howe will know he has to keep the team moving forward to avoid concerns over his job.

— Mark Ogden
– Transfers in: FW Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), DF Neco Williams (Liverpool), DF Moussa Niakhate (Mainz), DF Omar Richards (Bayern Munich), MF Lewis O’Brien (Huddersfield), DF Giulian Biancone (Troyes), DF Harry Toffolo (Huddersfield), MF Jesse Lingard (free agent), GK Wayne Hennessey (Burnley),
– Transfers out: GK Brice Samba (Lens), DF Nikolas Ioannou (Como), DF Gaetan Bong (released), DF Carl Jenkinson (free agent)
– Last season: Championship (4th, promoted via playoff), FA Cup (quarterfinals), Carabao Cup (second round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Nottingham Forest would happily settle for 17th this season after winning promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years, but manager Steve Cooper and the club look like they’ve set their sights much higher.
After looking like relegation candidates early in the Championship last season, Forest would have been forgiven for just being happy to be back in English football’s top flight, yet their summer transfer business suggests they are intent on staying there. Close to £100m has been splashed on a host of new players with almost every area of the squad significantly strengthened. It remains to be seen whether Cooper can mould the new recruits into a functioning team but no one will be writing off a manager who took Forest from bottom of the championship to the Premier League in the same season.
If they get off to a good start and the new signings hit the ground running, they could push for a place in the top 10.
Key player: Jesse Lingard
Forest have made some eye-catching signings this summer, but none more so than Lingard. The 29-year-old turned down interest from West Ham and Everton after his contract at Manchester United expired in June; he’s clearly backing himself to do well enough at the City Ground to force his way back into the England squad before the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November. Lingard has been desperate for a run of first-team football for the last 18 months and he should get it at Forest. It’s a great chance to show what he can do.
Will their manager last the season?
Yes. Forest might have been playing in League One this season had it not been for Cooper performing near miracles following his appointment in September 2021. All promoted teams go through spells when it feels like they can’t buy a point — it happened to Brentford last season and they finished 13th — but Forest owe it to Cooper to back him even when things aren’t going well. It’s easy for clubs to panic when Premier League survival is on the line, but Cooper deserves the chance to see out the season regardless.

— Rob Dawson
– Transfers in: MF Romeo Lavia (Manchester City), GK Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City), FW Sekou Mara (Bordeaux), DF Armel Bella-Kotchap (Bochum), MF Joe Aribo (Rangers), GK Mateusz Lis (Altay SK)
– Transfers out: GK Fraser Forster (free agent), FW Shane Long (free agent)
– Last season: Premier League (15th), FA Cup (quarterfinal), Carabao Cup (fourth round)
Will they be better or worse this season?
They have to do better, otherwise they will go down! Last season’s 15th-place finish was disappointing in the end, despite a decent run in the FA Cup and some interesting results (win away at Tottenham, two draws against Man City, beat Arsenal, draw at United.) But overall they only won nine matches out of 38 and finished the campaign with one victory in their last 12 Premier League matches (with nine losses and two draws) which was embarrassing.
They should do better here because their squad is stronger than that. They have kept their key players like James Ward-Prowse, Mohammed Salisu, Tino Livramento (who is injured) or, at least for now, Kyle Walker-Peters, and added some very talented youngsters: Bella-Kotchap, a Germany U21 international centre-back who was very good with Bochum last season; Mara, 20, a France U21 international and promising with Bordeaux last year in Ligue 1; Lavia, 18, the highly rated Belgium U21 international midfielder who came from Man City.
Coach Ralph Hasenhuttl will have everything he needs in his squad: experience, youth, intelligence, energy, pace, skills and depth. Now, he needs to find some consistency within this talented squad and more solidity defensively. They will also need more goals, which was a problem last season (only 43 scored in 38 games.)
Key player: Gavin Bazunu
At 20, the goalkeeper is already a full Republic of Ireland international and has impressed in all the games he has played for the national team so far — especially in the 0-0 draw with Portugal in November. After a good loan at Portsmouth in League 1 last season, Man City allowed him to leave and get his opportunity in the Premier League.
Bazunu is good in the air, great on his line and has a strong personality, but this is another level. He’ll be facing the best strikers in the world on a weekly basis, starting with Harry Kane to open the season on Saturday. Then he will meet Patrick Bamford and Leeds, Jamie Vardy and Leicester, Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United, Raheem Sterling and Chelsea. For Southampton to start well, they need him to deliver straight away. Let’s see if he can cope.
Will their manager last the season?
Since his arrival in December 2018, Hasenhuttl has always had the trust of his bosses, but with the new owners’ first full Premier League season ahead, he can’t afford the heavy defeats we see from the Saints every season (9-0 against Leicester and at United, 6-0 at home to Chelsea, 4-0 at Villa and Liverpool) and the regular bad runs of form (one win in nine to start the season; one win in 12 to finish it.) I expect him to be sacked if the campaign is similar to last season, which could well happen.

— Julien Laurens
– Transfers in: FW Richarlison (Everton), MF Yves Bissouma (Brighton), DF Djed Spence (Middlesbrough), DF Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), FW Ivan Perisic (free agent), GK Fraser Forster (free agent),
– Transfers out: FW Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), DF Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), FW Jack Clarke (Sunderland)
– Last season: Premier League (4th), FA Cup (fifth round), Carabao Cup (semifinals), UEFA Europa Conference League (group stage)
Will they be better or worse this season?
Tottenham only secured fourth place and Champions League qualification on the final day of last season, but there is widespread expectation of further improvement now that head coach Antonio Conte has been given licence to mould the squad as he sees fit. The Italian has made little secret of his desire to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title, rather than merely repeating last year’s performance, and while that feels a tall order, it is easy to see why Spurs could kick on having had a full preseason under Conte, together with more suitable players for his preferred 3-4-3 system.
Tottenham have added proven quality in veteran winger Perisic and forward Richarlison, while Spence has significant potential after his breakthrough season at Nottingham Forest when on loan from Middlesbrough. Lenglet strengthens Conte’s centre-back options, and it could be significant that Spurs completed the majority of their incoming transfers early in the window, allowing greater time for integration.
The great unknowns are firstly whether Spurs can find sufficient consistency to match Conte’s lofty ambitions, or if harmony between the 53-year-old and those around him will endure, but Tottenham are in a much better place than they were 12 months ago when Kane wanted to leave and Spurs ended a protracted managerial search by appointing their infamous “eighth choice” Nuno Espirito Santo.
Key player: Harry Kane
Despite various alterations to the squad, he remains Tottenham’s most influential player by some distance. Kane spent last summer agitating for a move to Manchester City and although Guardiola ultimately decided to pursue Haaland instead a year later, the mood music around the England captain is currently a lot calmer. Bayern Munich have expressed an interest in Kane — and Chelsea may enter the running — but for the time being, the 29-year-old appears focused on taking Spurs to where he wants them to be: winning trophies. Talks on a contract extension are even expected to begin in the near future.
Kane’s partnership with Son Heung-Min remains pivotal to Tottenham’s chances of success, too: Son even outscored Kane last year to share the Golden Boot with Salah on 23 goals. It is another big year for Kane, who will lead England at the World Cup, either side of another crack at sating his desire to add silverware to his remarkable goal-scoring record for club and country.
Will their manager last the season?
Probably. Nothing is guaranteed with a character as volatile as Conte, especially given that his existing contract technically expires next summer. There is an option to extend, but both parties need to agree, something that will depend on how the team progresses this season. Spurs may well look to tie Conte down sooner if they make an encouraging start — he has made positive noises during preseason about being open to it — but even on the path to the top four last season, Conte repeatedly cast doubts over his own future, hinting at walking away from a job he was unsure he could thrive in.
His demeanour can change quickly, but the best that can be said right now is he has been given the backing he demanded both in terms of finance and control. Tottenham could not have done much more to keep him happy at this stage; now it is Conte’s turn to deliver.

— James Olley
– Transfers in: FW Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo), DF Nayef Aguerd (Rennes), MF Flynn Downes (Swansea City), GK Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain),
– Transfers out: FW Sonny Perkins (free agent), FW Andriy Yarmolenko (free agent), MF Mark Noble (retired)
– Last season: Premier League (7th), FA Cup (fifth round), Carabao Cup (quarterfinals), UEFA Europa League (semifinals)
Will they be better or worse this season?
The good news is they’ve managed to keep Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen (at the time of writing), and despite the retirement of stalwart and club legend Noble, their squad looks stronger with their two big-money signings alongside Areola and Downes. The recruitment of Scamacca offers them some much-needed depth up front and gives Michail Antonio some competition, while Aguerd will bolster their defensive options. Those new arrivals always come with the weight of the ghosts of previous failed big-money signings, like Nikola Vlasic who cost in the region of £27m last summer, but there’s an optimism around West Ham that they can build on last season’s top-half finish.
A £33m deal to sign Amadou Onana from Lille has been agreed, but you feel they do need further signings before the window’s out to enable this squad to cope with the rigours of European football for the second season running. However, the current group should be enough for them to finish in the top half.
Key player: Jarrod Bowen
Keeping Rice is a wonderful result for West Ham. Their new captain and outstanding player could slot into just about any team in Europe and look at home. While that’s been key, keep an eye on new signings Aguerd and Scamacca, the latter of whom comes with the expectation of being a 20-goal-a-season striker. But key to all of this is Bowen. Last season he finished with 12 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League and when he’s flying, the rest of the team follow him. There are other integral players in this team like Pablo Fornals, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, but Bowen is indispensable.
Will their manager last the season?
David Moyes has worked wonders at West Ham, and the owners have backed him in the transfer market this summer. The recruitment has been astute, and seemingly better thought out than previous seasons. But with success comes increased expectation. The seventh-place finish last term was remarkable, alongside their run to the semifinals of the Europa League and it’d take a monumental collapse for Moyes’ job to be in danger this term. I fully expect him to be manager this time next year.

— Tom Hamilton
– Transfers in: DF Nathan Collins (Burnley), FW Adama Traore (loan ended)
– Transfers out: DF Ruben Vinagre (Sporting CP, on loan to Everton), GK John Ruddy (Birmingham City), DF Roman Saiss (free agent)
– Last season: Premier League (10th), FA Cup (fourth round), Carabao Cup (thrid round)
Will they be better or worst this season?
It’s hard to say. A weak showing in cups was reinforced by a tepid finish to last season, with 38 goals in 38 games capped by five defeats in their final seven games. It’s hard to see the same team that won at Aston Villa, Man United, Spurs and took a draw at Chelsea, but also lost 10 games (out of 17) by a single goal, and nine of those 1-0. It’s difficult to say that this team has really improved, though the return of winger Adama Traore from a loan spell in Barcelona would at least add a notable spark. (At least, it will he if remains at the club, with rumors linking him to both Tottenham and Chelsea.)
A rise up the table doesn’t seem likely unless they add someone potent in front of goal.
Key player: Ruben Neves
The midfielder was a reliable, steady force in the Wolves midfield and will again need to provide the platform from which the likes of Raul Jimenez (six league goals in 2021-22) can regain form and the permanent signing of RB Leipzig’s Hwang Hee-Chan can produce up front.
Will their manager last the season?
Bruno Lage is a Portuguese manager in charge of a largely Portuguese squad (12 players in the first team), and has set them up to play cagey football in which they create via disruption. If they continue to be comfortable in the league, there’s no reason to shake things up on the touchline.
— James Tyler



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