Premier League Preview 2016/17

It’s finally here, the much-anticipated Premier League 2016/17 season. This could be a season where press conferences provide additional entertainment to what takes place on the pitches. The Premier League is arguably the most competitive division in world football and it now boasts some of the sport’s biggest managers following the arrivals of Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte along with Jose Mourinho’s return.

Below is a short summary of each club’s prospects and their transfer dealings so far. The Mumbler has also included predictions, which will naturally be quoted by the end of May.

Arsenal1) ARSENAL

Transfers in: Xhaka (£37.8m), Asano (£3.4m), Holding (£2.5m)

Transfers out: Flamini (Released), Rosicky (Released), Arteta (Retired)

Last season: 2nd

Despite the frustrations of Arsenal fans, the consistency of their squad and leadership could be enough to see them maintain Arsene Wenger’s record of top four finishes. The injury issues present an early season obstacle, particularly with so many defenders missing which will be subsided by Shkodran Mustafi’s expected arrival from Valencia.

Granit Xhaka appears to be a good and necessary fit for the Gunners central midfield. The Swiss international’s performances during Euro 2016 were commanding and controlled, although he has a tendency to pick up cards.

The continuous dearth of a striker better than Olivier Giroud will likely see the title evade the Emirates for another campaign while the increase in competition compared to last season might force them out of the Champions League spots.

The Mumbler prediction: 5th

 

Bournemouth2) BOURNEMOUTH

Transfers in: Ibe (£15m), Cook (£5.8m), Mousset (£5.5m), Smith (£3m) Ake (Loan), Hyndman (Free)

Transfers out: Ritchie (£10m), Elphick (£3.2m), Tomlin (£3m), Murray (Loan), Iturbe (End of loan), Distin (Released)

Last season: 16th

Despite losing former club captain, Tommy Elphick and impressive winger, Matt Ritchie to relegated Aston Villa and Newcastle; the Cherries will head into this campaign with optimism.

The club record signing of Jordan Ibe from Liverpool could prove to be a great piece of business should he fulfill his undoubted potential and consistently perform.

Eddie Howe’s squad still appears to be lacking a central defender following the departures of Elphick and Sylvain Distin. But the experience of their first season in England’s top flight and further investment in the squad combined with the hope of fewer injuries should see Bournemouth maintain their Premier League status for another season.

The Mumbler prediction: 13th

 

Burnley3) BURNLEY

Transfers in: Gudmundsson (£2.5m), Pope (£1m), Flanagan (Loan)

Transfers out: Gilks (Released), Taylor (Released), Barton (Released), Duff (Retired)

Last season: 1st (Championship)

Much like their attempt at Premier League survival two years ago, Burnley is investing very little into their squad. The loss of Joey Barton to Rangers could be crucial given his experience and performances for last season’s Championship winners.

Despite Sean Dyche’s best efforts, this approach could be the undoing of The Clarets who will likely be overpowered by stronger and more experienced opposition.

They’ll need striker Andre Gray firing on all cylinders if they are to avoid another yo-yo season.

The Mumbler prediction: 19th

 

Chelsea4) CHELSEA

Transfers in: Batshuayi (£32.7m), Kante (£30m), Cuadrado (End of loan)

Transfers out: Salah (£12.5m), Djilobodji (£8m), Ake (Loan), Falcao (End of loan), Pato (End of loan)

Last season: 10th

Antonio Conte arrives at Stamford Bridge with an enhanced reputation following Italy’s performances during the Euros.

Acquiring N’Golo Kante will prove to be a smart piece of business should the French midfielder come close to last season’s level. Michy Batshuayi should provide sterner competition or a suitable partner for Diego Costa. Meanwhile, Juan Cuadrado could revitalise his Chelsea career after returning from a decent loan spell at Conte’s former club, Juventus.

The lack of European football, a first for the Abramovich era, could compensate the adjustment period needed for a new manager. The squad still possesses great quality and if Eden Hazard can continue his fine end of season form, then the Blues could well creep back into the Champions League spots.

The Mumbler prediction: 4th

 

Crystal Palace5) CRYSTAL PALACE

Transfers in: Townsend (£13m), Tomkins (£9.8m), Mandanda (Free)

Transfers out: Gayle (£10m), McCarthy (?), Chamakh (Released), Adebayor (Released), Mariappa (Released), Hangeland (Released)

Last season: 15th

Alan Pardew’s side was undone by a dreadful run of form last season that saw them go 14 games without a win. That drastically altered ambitions from European football to avoiding relegation.

The Palace faithful will hope the squad and manager learnt from that experience so to avoid a repeat. The signing of Andros Townsend could be one of the more successful summer transfers should he get regular game time as he proved during his short period at Newcastle.

Goals were a problem for The Eagles and if they end up with a Merseyside swap between Christian Benteke and Yannick Bolasie then that problem could be solved. But with such competition for European places this season, a mid-table finish should be seen as a step in the right direction.

The Mumbler prediction: 12th

 

Everton6) EVERTON

Transfers in: Williams (£11.7m), Gueye (£7.1m), Stekelenburg (£840k)

Transfers out: Stones (£46.6m), Howard (Released), Pienaar (Released), Hibbert (released), Osman (Released)

Last season: 11th

Ronald Koeman’s arrival should prove beneficial for an Everton side that has failed to fulfill its potential in recent seasons.

The former Southampton manager achieved 7th and 6th place finishes, a club record, despite losing a number of key players. His team was often strong in defence, which was a real issue for The Toffees during Roberto Martinez’s reign.

John Stones’ long-awaited move has finally been concluded at a very good price for Everton. They look likely to reinvest the money into the squad with Bolasie’s anticipated arrival, while the signing of Ashley Williams seems like good value given the lack of top defenders who can actually defend.

Idrissa Gueye should also help protect Everton’s goal but they should try to bring in a first-choice goalkeeper following Tim Howard’s departure.

Romelu Lukaku’s future is still in doubt and that could determine how good a first season Koeman will have. With or without the Belgian forward, they should improve on the last two season’s 11th place finishes.

The Mumbler prediction: 9th

 

Hull7) HULL

Transfers in:

Transfers out: Diame (£4.5m), Aluko (Released), Taylor (Free)

Last season: 4th (Championship)

Since their play-off victory against Sheffield Wednesday in May, Hull City has become a club in complete turmoil.

The owner is too sick to run the club, there have been failed takeover attempts, the manager has left along with the scorer of the promotion clinching goal, a number of players are injured and there haven’t been any new arrivals of note. Meanwhile, fans are rightly up in arms about the way they have been treated and their club has been run.

It’s a complete mess and one of, if not the worst preparations for a season in England’s top division. Because of this, it is hard to see beyond a return to the Championship.

Such instability will cause tension but the optimists may vouch that it could bring the best out of the players who are there as they play without pressure and against adversity.

The Mumbler prediction: 20th

 

Leicester8) LEICESTER

Transfers in: Musa (£16.4m), Mendy (£13m), Kapustka (£7.5m), Zieler (£3m), Hernandez (Free)

Transfers out: Kante (£30m), Kramaric (£8.4m), Konchesky (Released), Schwarzer (Released)

Last season: 1st

It will be near impossible to replicate what was a highly improbable title-winning campaign last season.

They enjoyed the best home and away form while only losing three out of 38 league matches. But the suspicion is that their rivals have wised up to their tactics and will acknowledge their potential from the very start.

So far, the club has done well to lose only Kante out of their three most attractive players (Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez). Vardy looked to be on his way to Arsenal prior to the Euros but he opted to stay with the club that has provided him with the trust and platform to catapult his career.

Replacing Kante – if doable – is Nampalys Mendy who has been likened to Claude Makelele. The signing from Nice has similar traits to the former Chelsea defensive midfielder and Leicester fans can only hope the comparisons materialise.

Ahmed Musa, the club’s record signing, looks to be another pacey forward who can play in several positions. If Leicester continue with their counterattacking approach and are allowed to by their opponents, then Vardy and Musa will surely terrify defences across the country and continent.

The Foxes benefitted from few matches and fewer injuries last year. The Champions League commitments will probably stretch the current squad that bit too far, although they are home after each of their group games in that competition. As a result, a top seven finish and a respectable run in all cup competitions should be the aim for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

The Mumbler prediction: 7th

 

Liverpool9) LIVERPOOL

Transfers in: Mane (£34.6m), Wijnaldum (£23m), Karius (£5.2m), Klavan (£4.2m), Manninger (Free), Matip (Free), Markovic (End of loan), Grujic (End of loan)

Transfers out: Ibe (£15m), Allen (£13m), Skrtel (£5m), Smith (£3m), Toure (Released), Teixeira (Released), Flanagan (Loan), Bogdan (Loan), Ward (Loan)

Last season: 8th

Jurgen Klopp enters his first full season at the helm without any European football to contend with. Like Chelsea, The Reds could well benefit from fewer games, especially as Klopp’s style of play requires a great deal of energy from his side. Liverpool played 63 competitive games last season, 20 more than champions Leicester.

Liverpool’s annual shopping trip to Southampton brought Sadio Mane to the club. The pacey Senegalese winger should provide a key outlet for a side that lacked that bit of pace, particularly down the right where the technically gifted Adam Lallana was often positioned.

This could be the season, like 2013/14, where Liverpool return to the Champions League. A full pre-season with a better-equipped squad more suited to Klopp’s approach could be enough. However, they’ll need to overcome a challenging start to their season as they take on Arsenal (a), Tottenham (a), Leicester (h) and Chelsea (a) within the first five games.

The Mumbler prediction: 3rd

 

Man City10) MAN CITY

Transfers in: Stones (£46.6m), Sane (£41.2m), Gabriel Jesus (£26.8m), Gundogan (£22.7m), Nolito (£15.1m), Moreno (£4.6m), Zinchenko (£1.7m)

Transfers out: Dzeko (£9.2m), Demichelis (Released), Moreno (Loan)

Last season: 4th

The man they’ve been longing for has finally arrived. Pep Guardiola takes charge of a Man City side that underachieved last season given its strength in depth, at least on paper.

Since the Spaniard’s arrival, they’ve splashed out on John Stones, Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito. Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus has been loaned back to Palmeiras.

There will be high hopes for a manager to bring the title back to the Etihad after a two-year absence, particularly given that he has won his respective league six out of his last seven attempts.

To win the title, he along with his new signings bar Stones, will need to adapt to a new league and country. The existing players will need to rediscover the form that brought them to City in the first place. Meanwhile, a question mark still hangs over Joe Hart following his poor Euros and persistent rumours that Guardiola wants to replace him with Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager will also have to address the inconsistent form both home and away. Last season saw Man City match 12th placed Swansea for home losses and 11th placed Everton for away.

Despite the overused term ‘transitional period’, this squad led by this manager should be very much amongst the title race.

The Mumbler prediction: 1st

 

Man Utd11) MAN UTD

Transfers in: Pogba (£88m), Mkhitaryan (£35.2m), Bailly (£31.9m), Ibrahimovic (Free)

Transfers out: McNair (£4.4m), Love (£965k), Varela (Loan), Valdes (Released)

Last season: 5th

Jose Mourinho hasn’t taken long to let the world know he’s arrived. The world record signing of Paul Pogba along with the expensive free signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has got United back into box office territory.

This is probably the most optimistic their supporters have been since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. It wasn’t too hard to at least improve morale after the stagnant, dreary and ultimately disappointing nature of Louis Van Gaal’s reign.

With the pragmatic Portuguese in charge and just across the city from his notorious rival, there will be a lot of focus on Manchester this season. Mourinho will need to avoid a repeat of last season where his confrontational personality became toxic at Chelsea, triggering the worst collapse by a reigning champion in Premier League history.

If the old Mourinho is in charge of this squad, then Man United will be battling it out with their neighbours. That’s despite the burden of Europa League football on Thursday nights.

This season could see the glory days return to Old Trafford.

The Mumbler prediction: 2nd

 

Middlesbrough12) MIDDLEBOROUGH

Transfers in: de Roon (£12.6m), Fischer (£4.2m), Barragan (£2.3m), Ramirez (Free), Espinosa (Free), Valdes (Free), Guzan (Free), Negredo (Loan), Fabio (undisclosed)

Transfers out: Woodgate (Retired),

Last season: 2nd (Championship)

Aitor Karanka has brought in a number of players since their promotion from the Championship. They appear the best equipped promoted side to avoid relegation as they return to the Premier League for the first time since 2009.

Victor Valdes’ nightmare at Man Utd was brought to an end and should provide some valuable experience and quality between the sticks. Alvaro Negredo had a great start to his career in England with Man City before suffering a dip in form and returning to Spain with Valencia. Both players have a point to prove.

Marten de Roon arrives from Atalanta on the back of an impressive season in Serie A. The central midfielder was top for tackles and interceptions in Italy so his impact could prove pivotal for a side likely to spend more time defending than attacking.

Middlesbrough held the best defensive record in the Championship last season and they’ll need yet more steely defending if they’re to avoid the drop.

The Mumbler prediction: 17th

 

Southampton13) SOUTHAMPTON

Transfers in: Hojbjerg (£12.6m), Redmond (£11.3m), Pied (Free), McCarthy (undisclosed)

Transfers out: Mane (£34.6m), Pelle (£12.8m), Wanyama (£12m), Juanmi (£4.2m), Ramirez (Released), Davis (Retired)

Last season: 6th

Another summer means another exodus of personnel for the Saints to deal with. But having enjoyed back-to-back record finishes of 7th then 6th, is there any need to panic?

Experienced French manager, Claude Puel replaces Ronald Koeman and based on the previous two managerial changes at St. Mary’s (Mauricio Pochettino and Koeman) there’s no reason to doubt this one.

The pessimists argue it’s one summer of upheaval too many but it’s a club that prides itself on being run extremely well from within regardless of such changes. Of course, they would prefer to avoid this but the signings of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Nathan Redmond could add to the long list of recent successful acquisitions for the south coast club.

Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares return victorious from the Euros. Meanwhile, striker Charlie Austin has got a full pre-season under his belt after an injury hit start to his Southampton career following his transfer from QPR in January.

The competition in the top half of the league is especially tough so a steady mid-table finish and a good run in all cups, including the Europa League, will be a decent start for Puel and his team.

The Mumbler prediction: 10th

 

Stoke14) STOKE

Transfers in: Allen (£13m), Sobhi (£4.2m), Sweeney (£246k)

Transfers out: Sidwell (Released), Odemwingie (Released)

Last season: 9th

The Potters showed glimpses of the potential last season with comprehensive wins against the two Manchester clubs.

Unfortunately, their end of season form which saw just one win (on the final day) in the last seven meant they tailed off in the league when they looked on course to beat their best ever points tally.

Manager Mark Hughes has brought in Joe Allen from Liverpool to partner January club record singing Giannelli Imbula in midfield. That combination could help Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic flourish plus hopefully a new striker.

The Mumbler prediction: 11th

 

Sunderland15) SUNDERLAND

Transfers in: Djilobodji (£8m), McNair (£4.4m), Love (£965k)

Transfers out: Giaccherini (£1.2m), Vergini (£755k), Graham (Released), Fletcher (Released), Buckley (Loan), Brown (released), Harper (Released), N’Doye (End of loan), Toivonen (End of loan), M’Vila (End of loan)

Last season: 17th

David Moyes came late into the pre-season to replace England manager Sam Allardyce and that could scupper Sunderland’s early form.

The former Everton and Man Utd manager has great experience and could continue the stabalising process initiated by Allardyce last season. But having narrowly avoided relegation for the fourth consecutive year, Sunderland fans will be worried that it could be fifth time unlucky.

It’s heavily dependent on the transfer business done between now and 31st August with Lamine Kone – an impressive performer following his January switch – rumoured to be in Everton’s sights.

Moyes’ knowhow should be enough to ensure another year in the Premier League with another season of goals from Jermaine Defoe required.

The Mumbler prediction: 15th

 

Swansea16) SWANSEA

Transfers in: Borja Baston (£15.1m), Llorente (£4.9m), Fer (£4.7m), van der Hoorn (£2m)

Transfers out: Ayew (£20.2m), Williams (£11.7m), Paloschi (£5m), Eder (£3.8m), Gomis (Loan)

Last season: 12th

Things don’t look too rosy for the Swans after a summer that has seen them lose four forwards and their stalwart captain.

Francesco Guidolin turned Swansea’s season around when he arrived after Garry Monk’s sacking, but Andre Ayew – now at West Ham – and Ashley Williams played a big part in that.

Keeping Gylfi Sigurdsson – who had a great second half to the season – is vital, while the arrivals of Spanish strikers Borja Baston and Fernando Llorente could be hit or miss.

It could be a very tricky season if the club fails to sufficiently replace Williams.

The Mumbler prediction: 16th

 

Tottenham17) TOTTENHAM

Transfers in: Janssen (£18.5m), Wanyama (£12m)

Transfers out: Fazio (Loan), Pritchard (£7.9m)

Last season: 3rd

Spurs return to Champions League football (at Wembley) and are very much considered as genuine contenders after their exploits last season.

Pochettino’s side surprised many with their consistency following a slow start. Harry Kane – also slow out the traps – managed to end the season as top scorer and will hope to put his disappointing Euros behind him.

The added strain of top European football will make this campaign harder for the notoriously fit and energetic team. The additions of Vincent Wanyama and Vincent Janssen were necessary and will help ease the burden both on the squad and Kane in particular.

Tottenham will be challenging again but the increased competition from their rivals may prove too much for another top four finish. A good start however, and they could go better than last season’s third.

The Mumbler prediction: 6th

 

Watford18) WATFORD

Transfers in: Success (£12.6m), Kabasele (£5.8m), Dja Djedje (£3m), Sinclair (Free), Zuniga (Loan)

Transfers out: Layun (£5m), Abdi (£3m), Jurado (£1m)

Last season: 13th

Once again, there’s been a managerial change at Watford – their sixth in the last two years.

Walter Mazzarri comes with a strong CV apart from his most recent job at Inter Milan. The former Napoli manager could continue the good work left behind by Quique Sanchez Flores or it could be a change too far for The Hornets.

Isaac Success is the big money arrival at Vicarage Road and he could have a similar impact to Odion Ighalo. Watford relied heavily on the partnership of Ighalo and club captain Troy Deeney for goals and creativity last season. Adding another threat to that mix will only help them.

But given the revolving door at Watford and the competition around them, the fear is that any safety from relegation won’t be established until the final games if at all.

The Mumbler prediction: 18th

 

West Brom19) WEST BROM

Transfers in: Phillips (£5.4m)

Transfers out: Sessegnon (Released), Anichebe (Released), Lindegaard (Released)

Last season: 14th

West Brom put up good fights against some of the league’s top sides last season, something Tony Pulis often alluded to.

This summer has seen very little transfer activity but the club has been taken over by a Chinese Investment Group. Time will tell whether that means Pulis gets the several players he believes are needed before the window shuts. Meanwhile, Saido Berahino’s future remains in doubt with interest from Premier League rivals in the young forward.

It’s hard to suggest a Pulis side will go down but the signs aren’t good. His style of play, the stability and experience within the playing and coaching staff should just be enough. But their survival will be more to do with teams being weaker as oppose to The Baggies being stronger.

The Mumbler prediction: 14th

 

West Ham20) WEST HAM

Transfers in: Ayew (£20.2m), Lanzini (£10m), Masuaku (£6m), Calleri (Loan), Tore (Loan), Nordtveit (Free), Feghouli (Free)

Transfers out: Tomkins (£9.8m) O’Brien (Released), Song (End of loan), Emenike (End of loan)

Last season: 7th

Slaven Bilic enjoyed a great first season at West Ham with Dimitri Payet being the standout player.

Retaining the Frenchman’s services and adding a number of decent signings to a squad set for European football has made it a productive summer.

West Ham arrive at their new stadium with arguably the strongest squad they’ve had for a Premier League campaign. But finishing higher than last season’s 7th might prove too difficult following the changes at other clubs. Furthermore, progress into the group stages of the Europa League will push the newly assembled squad to its limits.

Bedding the new players in and enjoying cup runs both domestically and in Europe will be a good way to start the Hammers’ new era.

The Mumbler prediction: 8th

*Transfer fees taken from www.transfermarkt.com and converted from Euros to Pounds Sterling.

PREDICTION TEAM LAST SEASON
1st Man City 4th
2nd Man Utd 5th
3rd Liverpool 8th
4th Chelsea 10th
5th Arsenal 2nd
6th Tottenham 3rd
7th Leicester 1st
8th West Ham 7th
9th Everton 11th
10th Southampton 6th
11th Stoke 9th
12th Crystal Palace 15th
13th Bournemouth 16th
14th West Brom 14th
15th Sunderland 17th
16th Swansea 12th
17th Middlesbrough 2nd (Championship)
18th Watford 13th
19th Burnley 1st (Championship)
20th Hull 4th (Championship)