2017/18 Premier League Season Preview
It’s time once again, already, to fire up the English Premier League. The 2017/18 season kicks off this weekend with 20 teams prepared to battle for the title. At the Semper Soccer blog, we want to give you a quick, 5-minute guide to who’s competing in the league. Our Premier League season preview provides the information you need at a glance so you don’t have much homework and can start watching the games. Let’s get started!
The Gunners missed out on Champions League soccer for the first time under manager Arsene Wenger. Wenger earned a new two-year contract with a victory over Chelsea to win the FA Cup. Alexandre Lacazette arrived in London from Lyon with the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil unsettled. However, Arsenal managed not to lose any major players. After a strong preseason, they’ll want to compete for a top four spot once again.
Thanks to the highest finish in team history, manager Eddie Howe received a lot of attention around England. The Cherries finished in the top 10 last year and it’s not unthinkable that they could do it again. They added Asmir Begovic and Jermaine Defoe for the season without losing any key components of their club. Howe will be the one they’ll worry about losing if this success continues.
Brighton & Hove Albion
A second-place finish in the English Championship earned Brighton their first trip to the top division. Chris Hughton guides a team that has a fair amount of experience after adding players from Germany and Spain to bolster the squad for the rigors of the Premier League. Staying up would be considered a success, a battle Brighton will find itself in all season long.
Burnley narrowly avoided relegation last year after totaling the magic number of 40 points. Defender Michael Keane departed the team for Everton. The Clarets added some experience but nothing that will make too many fans take notice. Turf Moor has proven a difficult place to place in the past, but expectations are low around this team now.
Last season, Chelsea earned the Premier League title without much of a challenge. Antonio Conte’s second season in charge now adds Champions League play to their schedule. While other top teams have been adding to their rosters, Chelsea sold Nemanja Matic and is looking to part with Diego Costa. Chelsea did open the wallet to sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid though. With more games on the schedule and their rivals getting stronger, it could be a different season for Chelsea, but they’ll still expect to finish in the top four.
Palace hired a new manager this offseason, Frank de Boer formerly of Ajax and Inter Milan. He brings a totally different mindset to a team that will still rely on Christian Benteke to head up their attack. The Eagles even secured Chelsea prospect Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan for the year. There’s a positive feeling around the club but they’ll realistically finish in the second half of the table.
Everton has been one of the busier teams this offseason. They lost leading scorer Romelu Lukaku, which was expected. Manager Ronald Koeman added plenty of pieces to the side that qualified for the Europa League. Most exciting of those is Wayne Rooney. Rooney returns to Goodison Park after 13 years at Manchester United for a team that aspires to finish in the top six or break through even higher.
Another team entering the Premier League, Huddersfield could catch the eye of American fans of English soccer. Manager David Wagner earned eight caps for the United States national team in his playing days. They also signed a midfielder and U.S. international Danny Williams from Reading. Wagner will relish the challenge of staying in the top flight, but all signs point to this being a short stay.
A year removed from winning the Premier League, Leicester sunk to 12th. Now Claudio Ranieri is gone as well. Riyad Mahrez’s future with the Foxes is uncertain, but new manager Craig Shakespeare signed promising youngster Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City. Without the spotlight of being defending champions, Leicester has hopes to finish higher than 10th this season.
Expectations are high again at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to a fourth-place finish and return to Champions League soccer last season. Philippe Coutinho returns and the Reds added Mohamed Salah from Roma to bolster an attack that suffered following an injury to Sadio Mane. Klopp believes his team is ready to start winning trophies and his dynamic forward line is more than stout enough to get the job done. A top-four finish and a trophy are not unreasonable expectations for this team.
Pep Guardiola overhauled this team after not winning the title in his first season in charge. City spent £200 million this offseason on players who are all expected to contribute to the team immediately. Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva add strength to the side while the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Gabriel Jesus all return. It’s clear what the goal in Manchester is. This team expects to win the league and has Champions League title aspirations as well.
Jose Mourinho guided United to the League Cup, Europa League title and a Champions League berth last season. However, the Red Devils only finished sixth in the league. Romelu Lukaku arrived from Everton to add a serious goal scoring threat. Nemanja Matic joined up as well to add some toughness to the midfield. If this Manchester United team can starting scoring the goals necessary to turn draws into wins, they’ll be competing for the crown as well.
Rafa Benitez returned Newcastle to the Premiership by winning the Championship in their first year after being relegated. This is a club that wants to survive but also believes they can do so much more. American fans take note, DeAndre Yedlin has joins the top division along with the Magpies. Expect to see Newcastle as the top finishers of the three new clubs this season.
The Saints are another team entering this season with a new man in charge. Mauricio Pellegrino, who served as an assistant under Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, is now leading Southampton. They finished eighth last season and appeared in the League Cup final. With some uncertainty surrounding the team, namely Virgil van Dijk, a top-10 finish is a good goal for this year.
Last year’s 13th-place standing was disappointing for Mark Hughes and the Potters after three consecutive seasons in the top half of the league. A few of their established players left after this season but they did add some serious experience in Darren Fletcher. And, hey U.S. fans, Geoff Cameron is still here. It’s likely to be another middle-of-the-table season for Stoke.
It took three different managers, but Swansea managed to avoid relegation and finish in the 15 spot last year. Paul Clement stabilized the manager spot and after flirting with other Premier League sides, Gylfi Sigurdsson remains on the team. With a bit more consistency and some promising young signings, the Swans are hopeful for the season but most likely will fight the relegation battle again.
Spurs finished second last season and earned a Champions League spot. The London squad must have really liked that team because they haven’t added any players. They also lost Kyle Walker to Manchester City. Make no mistake, this team is more than formidable especially on the attack with Harry Kane and Dele Alli leading the way. Tottenham again wants to challenge for the title and the top four is not out of their reach once more.
Watford squeaked by last season with 40 points to just avoid being sent down. The core of that squad is back while Tom Cleverly joined from Everton along with Spanish defender Kiko Femenia. Etienne Capoue leads the way in the midfield for a team that expects more than the 17 spot again, but they may not get above that line by much.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom managed to finish in the top 10 last season after a dip in performance after the first half of the campaign. Tony Pulis wants more consistent performance from his team this year. If they can stay healthy and smooth out those drops in form, West Brom can finish in the top half again. They join the long list of teams that top out in the middle of the table.
West Ham United
There’s a lot to get excited about if you’re a fan of the Hammers. Goalkeeper Joe Hart arrives on loan from Manchester City. Pablo Zabaleta moved to West Ham from Manchester City as well. They’ve also bagged themselves a proven goalscorer in Chicharito. Keep an eye on him as his attacking prowess looks to push this team above 10th and maybe be the biggest surprise of the year.
This concludes our Premier League season preview, a quick guide to the 20 teams embarking on this campaign. Soccer Savings and the Semper Soccer blog are your places for all things soccer. Be sure to check out our Fan Shop for all your soccer team gear needs. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or leave a comment here on the blog to join the soccer conversation! Leave us a comment or find us on social media and tell us how you see the English season.