Your Team-By-Team Guide To The Premier League: Key Arrivals, Departures And Club News
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It’s time. Our annual English Premier League preview arrives a month later than usual, but the world’s most popular competition is back with the 2020-21 season beginning this weekend.
It all begins with Arsenal visiting newly promoted Fulham on Saturday morning, and the action continues with defending champion Liverpool welcoming Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United to Anfield later in the day. You’ll also want to tune in on Sunday as José Mourinho’s Tottenham gets the first glimpse of new Everton signing James Rodríguez at Hotspur Stadium.
Here's a complete, team-by-team guide to the new season.
English Premier League Preview 2020-21
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Last season: 8th
Major signings: Willian (Chelsea), Gabriel Magalhaes (Lille), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Pablo Mari (Flamengo), Dani Ceballos (Loan extended from Real Madrid)
Major Departures: Henrik Mkhitaryan (AS Roma)
There were signs of improvement after Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December and engineered a respectable league finish and an FA Cup final win over Chelsea. The Community Shield season curtain-raiser win over Liverpool on penalties at Wembley has added to the air of optimism around the Emirates Stadium.
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the league's second-top scorer last season with 22 goals but the Gabon international is in his final year and has yet to agree a new deal. There is also the question of whether Mesut Ozil plays a full part this season or finally ends his disappointing stay with the club.
Arsenal will be hoping for a push towards the top four but it is questionable if there is yet enough quality in Arteta's squad to get back into the Champions League.
Manager: Dean Smith
Last season: 17th
Major Signings: Matty Cash (Nottingham Forest), Ollie Watkins (Brentford)
Major Departures: Pepe Reina (end of loan from AC Milan)
Villa just avoided relegation on the final day of last season and surely need to make significant moves before the Oct. 5 transfer deadline to avoid another battle against the drop.
Smith will hope to get goalkeeper Tom Heaton back from injury in October and needs striker Wesley to return to fitness. But upgrades are required across the field and a key question is still whether creative midfielder Jack Grealish stays. The goal for Villa will again be simply surviving in the top flight.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Manager: Graham Potter
Last season: 15th
Major Signings: Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Lars Dendoncker (Club Brugge)
Major Departures: Aaron Mooy (Shanghai SIPG), Glenn Murray (Watford, loan), Anthony Knockaert (Fulham)
Brighton have gradually assembled a large squad including plenty of players with potential and the addition of 32-year-old England international Lallana adds some much-needed experience and craft to the midfield mix. Key center half Lewis Dunk has resisted the temptation of a move away but the pressure is on the front men to deliver, with Neal Maupay, who scored 10 goals last term, the biggest threat.
Since promotion in 2017, Brighton have not finished above 15th and would be happy with any progress this season.
Manager: Sean Dyche
Last season: 10th
Major Signings: Will Norris (Wolves)
Major Departures: Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Joe Hart (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben Gibson (Norwich City loan), Aaron Lennon (Kayserispor)
The Clarets exceeded expectations again last season with a fine second half of the season to secure their second-best finish of the Premier League era but unless they make some moves in the market it could be a tougher task this time. Keeping hold of talents like England goalkeeper Nick Pope, defender James Tarkowski and winger Dwight McNeil will be key but Dyche badly needs some strength-in-depth, especially in midfield and at the back.
Dyche has expressed concerns about the club's lack of investment, leading to speculation over his future. Without some cash being spent in September, Burnley could be vulnerable on several levels.
Manager: Frank Lampard
Last season: 4th
Major Signings: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain)
Major Departures: Willian (Arsenal), Pedro (AS Roma), Michy Batshuayi (Loan to Crystal Palace)
The London club have so far been by far the busiest of the 'Big Six' in the transfer window with their impressive recruitment raising hopes of a major leap forward this season. Germany striker Werner should provide the missing element of a truly top class finisher while Lampard is hoping the 35-year-old Brazilian Thiago Silva can bring some valuable experience and class to the defense.
Last season saw several young players, such as Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic, establish themselves in the first team and, with the added quality brought in from Europe, last season's FA Cup runners-up are, at the very least, expecting to improve on their fourth-place finish.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Last season: 14th
Major Arrivals: Eberechi Eze (QPR), Nathan Ferguson (West Brom), Michy Batshuayi (Loan from Chelsea)
Major Departures: Jason Lokilo (Doncaster)
As is traditional at Palace, the close season has been filled with worries over whether winger Wilfried Zaha will leave the club, but with no move as yet on that front, Palace will have a familiar look this season.
Hodgson's solid squad should have done better than 14th place last term, a poor end to the campaign undoing their earlier good work, but the addition of the exciting Eze should give some extra flair to a side which are expected to again be comfortable in mid-table.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Last season: 12th
Major Arrivals: Allan (Napoli), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
Major Departures: Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice), Leighton Baines (retired), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax)
A disappointing end to the season left Ancelotti with no illusions about how much work is needed to turn Everton into a top-six contender and the Italian's moves in the transfer market should give the side more of the technical quality he wants. But even without any further major investment, there is enough talent in the Everton squad to be challenging with Tottenham and Arsenal for Europa League spots rather than finishing below Burnley and Southampton.
Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva failed to get winning results from the club's expensively-recruited players and the owners are ready to give Ancelotti the backing he needs but the coach and his team need to give a real indication of progress this season.
Manager: Scott Parker
Last season: Promoted as Championship playoff winners
Major Arrivals: Anthony Knockaert (Brighton), Antonee Robinson (Wigan), Kenny Tete (Lyon)
Major Departures: Alfie Mawson (Bristol City loan)
Two years ago Fulham won promotion to the Premier League and promptly blew 100 million pounds ($131.68 million) on players who failed to gel as the team slumped back to the Championship.
This time Fulham arrive with less spending, lower expectations but perhaps more chance of putting up a decent fight for survival. The odds, however, are against them.
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
Last season: Won Championship
Major Arrivals: Rodrigo (Valencia), Helder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Robin Koch (Freiburg)
Major Departures: None.
It has been 16 years since Leeds last appeared in the top flight and while Elland Road has changed little in the meantime, it is a very different club that returns to the Premier League. There is an international feel to the Yorkshire outfit with Italian owners and an Argentine coach in Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds are counting on their newly acquired Spanish international forward Rodrigo to give them a touch of class in attack.
Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United's success after promotion last term is the path Leeds hope to follow but, after so long outside the elite, fans will settle for survival. With Bielsa in charge, however the season plays out it won't be dull.
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Last Season: 5th
Major Arrivals: Timothy Castagne (Atalanta)
Major Departures: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
The Foxes faded badly at the end of last season, winning just four of their last 17 league matches, and it will be a tough task to improve on fifth this term.
Jamie Vardy was the league's top scorer last season and James Maddison is a confident creator but Rodgers needs to add extra depth to his squad if they are to have the staying power they lacked in the last campaign.
Manager: Juergen Klopp
Last season: 1st
Major Arrivals: Kostas Tsimikas (Olympiakos Piraeus)
Major Departures: Adam Lallana (Brighton & Hove Albion), Dejan Lovren (Zenit)
After a season of such total domination, there is some sound thinking behind the decision not to alter the title-winning squad too much and trust again in those who delivered Liverpool's first championship for 30 years. Certainly there has been little to indicate that Klopp's side will be any less effective this season, so long as injuries do not affect any of the German's key performers.
Japanese attacker Takumi Minamino, brought in from Salzburg in January, has now had time to settle and will give the Reds another option and perhaps allow Roberto Firmino more opportunities to rest. But Liverpool are favorites for good reason — Klopp has a complete squad, strength-in-depth and an established system of play that few have been able to cope with.
Manager Pep Guardiola
Last season: 2nd
Major Arrivals: Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Ferran Torres (Valencia)
Major Departures: David Silva (Real Sociedad), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Claudio Bravo (Real Betis)
Pep Guardiola's goals are clear for this season -- City must regain the upper hand over Liverpool domestically while finally unlocking the door to Champions League success after another disappointing end to their bid for European glory. While midfielder David Silva will is a loss, the Spaniard's departure should not cause a major shock to the system since he was already being eased out of a leading role last season and Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are more than capable.
Guardiola will want to see his central defense look tighter and his full-backs more consistent contributors but who would bet against them pushing Liverpool all the way this season.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Last season: 3rd
Major Arrivals: Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Odion Ighalo (Loan extended from Shanghai Shenhua)
Major Departures: Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan)
United made progress last season, securing a return to the Champions League and going deep in all Cup competitions, and while they are not ready to compete for the title they must at least show they are getting closer to City and Liverpool. United fans will expect a couple of more new faces before the transfer window shuts with Jadon Sancho having been pursued all summer and the central defense also in need of more quality.
Without those moves United are likely to be limited to the same sort of challenge they made last year where they were restricted by their lack of decent cover in the squad.
Manager Steve Bruce
Last season: 13th
Major Arrivals: Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser (both Bournemouth), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Jamal Lewis (Norwich)
Major Departures: Florian Lejeune (Loan to Alaves)
So much of the focus on Newcastle in the close season has been on the ownership and potential sale of the club but the bid from a Saudi-led consortium came to nothing and other suitors have generated more publicity than progress towards a deal.
While there has been so much uncertainty at ownership level, Newcastle have been clever in their transfer market dealings, picking up two of the best players to be relegated last season in Wilson and Fraser from Bournemouth and making the useful addition of Irish international Hendrick on a free transfer.
Fans may complain about lack of investment but those signings, along with some of the big-money moves in the past two seasons, leave Bruce with a pretty strong squad which should expect to finish in comfortable safety.
Manager: Chris Wilder
Last Season: 9th
Major Arrivals: Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth), Jayden Bogle (Derby)
Major Departures: Dean Henderson (Loan return to Manchester United)
The tricky second album? After making such a strong impression on their return to the top-flight last season it is going to be tough for the Blades to improve but Wilder has made a habit of confounding expectations.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson's loan from Manchester United has ended but Wilder moved quickly to bring in Ramsdale and hopes to see at least three more new faces before the campaign starts.
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuettl
Last season: 11th
Major Arrivals: Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham), Mohammed Salisu (Real Valladolid)
Major Departures: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Harrison Reed (Fulham), Cedric Soares (Arsenal).
The Saints looked set for another battle against the drop last season after a poor start and a shocking 9-0 defeat by Leicester City in October — the biggest away win in English top-flight history. But the decision to stick with Austrian Hasenhuettl paid off as Southampton won 13 of their last 28 games to secure a creditable mid-table position, with striker Danny Ings scoring 22 goals.
The high energy pressing game that their manager had wanted to put in place has now been established and, while Saints fans will be wary of optimism given their struggles in recent years, another mid-table campaign looks well within reach.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Last Season: 6th
Major Arrivals: Matt Doherty (Wolves), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton), Joe Hart (Burnley)
Major Departures: Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Victor Wanyama (Montreal Impact)
Jose Mourinho's arrival in November following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino brought a mini-revival at Spurs who scraped into the Europa League places by finishing sixth. But their hopes of making the top four this season and returning to the Champions league after four consecutive seasons in Europe's elite club competition look slim.
Mourinho usually buys top quality players to bring success but must work on a more modest budget at Tottenham where his brief will be to bring the trophy-starved club some silverware.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Manager: Slaven Bilic
Last season: Promoted from Championship as runners-up
Major Arrivals: Grady Diangana (West Ham United), Matheus Pereira (Sporting), Cedric Kipre (Wigan Athletic)
Major Departures: Nathan Ferguson (Crystal Palace), Gareth Barry (retired)
West Brom are back in the top flight after a two-year absence following a strong promotion push which was nearly undone by a late wobble before they finished second. Promotion has allowed the club to turn loan deals for wingers Diangana and Pereira into permanent moves but they have avoided, so far, the temptation to alter the squad too much.
Having been sacked by West Ham in 2017, Croatian boss Slaven Bilic will hope to prove a point on his return to the Premier League but it is likely to be a tough battle for the Baggies.
WEST HAM UNITED
Manager: David Moyes
Last Season: 16th
Major Arrivals: Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague)
Major Departures: Roberto (Real Valladolid), Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Hugill (Norwich), Albian Ajeti (Celtic)
It was hard to fathom how a squad with the quality of West Ham's ended up struggling near the bottom of the table but the replacement of manager Manuel Pellegrini with David Moyes brought just enough improvement to secure safety.
The mood at the London Stadium has been negative for so long that the Hammers really need to get off to a good start. If they can get some early momentum a top-half finish is feasible but equally another struggle cannot be ruled out.
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo
Last Season: 7th
Major Arrivals: Fabio Silva (Porto), Marcal (Olympique Lyonnais)
Major Departures: Helder Costa (Leeds) Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur)
In the two seasons since winning promotion back to the Premier League, Wolves have firmly established themselves as a top-half club, with last season's campaign even more impressive given the long and demanding involvement in the Europa League.
Their $45.47 million investment in 18-year-old Portuguese striker Fabio Silva, who has played just 12 senior games for Porto, raised many eyebrows. However, regardless of how long it takes the youngster to adapt to English football, there is enough experience and ability in the team to make another push for European football.