Mat Ryan will be key to Brighton's chances of EPL survival.
Mat Ryan will be key to Brighton's chances of EPL survival.

Robbie Slater’s ultimate Premier League guide

TITLE CHALLENGE

 

Liverpool

The fact Liverpool didn't sign anyone of note shows Jurgen Klopp believes in this squad, and with good reason. Last year they ran Manchester City to the wire, and missing out will only make them hungrier. For me the key is Virgil Van Dijk; if Liverpool are defensively strong they should win the league.

Key player: Virgil Van Dyke

Key signing: none

 

Man City

The retirement of Vincent Kompany signalled the end of an era, and a leader like that is not easily replaced.

Winning the Champions League with City is surely the holy grail for Pep Guardiola, something that could cause his team to lose focus on the EPL.

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne

Key signing: Rodri (Atletico Madrid, $112m)

 

EUROPEAN PLACE

 

Tottenham

Spurs have slipped out of the title contenders category for me, simply because their squad remains talented but threadbare. Harry Kane's injury last year showed their reliance on the England captain, for all the talent of lieutenants like Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela.

Key player: Harry Kane

Key signing: Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon, $115.5m)

 

Man Utd

Ah, the great unknowns of this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started like a house on fire when he took over from Jose Mourinho but the flames fizzled out as soon as he got a long-term contract. United are full of unknowns; will Paul Pogba stay, will Alexis Sanchez finally fire?

Key player: Paul Pogba

Key signing: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace, $89m)

 

Arsenal

Could be Unai Emery's last chance. Had the difficult task of replacing Arsene Wenger and there was a point last season where you thought they might challenge for the title - but the way they fell away was horribly familiar.

Key player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Key signing: Nicholas Pepe (Lille, $128m)

 

Chelsea

The big question is how much patience will owner Roman Abramovich show the newly appointed Frank Lampard, a club legend but still callow as a manager. With a transfer ban in place and Eden Hazard gone, he will have to grow on the job.

Key player: Ross Barkley

Key signing: Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid, $71m)

 

MID-TABLE FINISH

Everton

A solid club, a solid team, but lacking the absolute quality - or the money - to challenge the top six. But should continue to play good, attacking football under Marco Silva, though there are concerns over the workload for striker Richarlison.

Key player: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Key signing: Andre Gomes (Barcelona, $39m)

 

West Ham

The elder statesman of the EPL, Manuel Pellegrini, deserves much credit for his unflappability at a club always one headline from a crisis. Have to avoid a repeat of their awful injury toll last year, and hope young midfielder Declan Rice continues to grow.

Key player: Declan Rice

Key signing: Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt, $80m)

 

Southampton

Another desperate scrap against relegation means that for once they haven't had players pillaged in the off season. Instead, under Austrian Ralf Hasenhuttl, they should aim for and secure mid-table security, especially if Danny Ings stays fit and in form.

Key man: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Key signing: Danny Ings (Liverpool, $35.5m)

 

Wolves

What a story. Finishing seventh, and how they did it, was stunning. At times visiting teams brought a packed defence to Molineux, such is Wolves' attacking prowess. But will Europa League qualification be a distraction?

 

 

Raul Jimenez is a cult hero at Wolves. PictureL Getty Images
Raul Jimenez is a cult hero at Wolves. PictureL Getty Images

Key player: Raul Jimenez

Key signing: Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan, $28.5m)

 

Leicester

After two years in Scotland, Brendan Rodgers looks refreshed and ready to deal with the expectations of fans still stunned they won the EPL three years ago. Rogers has put the spark back into Jamie Vardy, and I love their permanent acquisition of Tielemans.

Key player: Jamie Vardy

Key signing: Youri Tielemans (Monaco, $71m)

 

Watford

Surprised everyone by steering well clear of relegation and getting to the FA Cup final, but there's been little investment to allow Javi Garcia to build on that. Still should be strong enough once more.

Key player: Abdoulaye Doucoure

Key signing: Craig Dawson (West Brom, $9.8m)

 

DROP ZONE BATTLE

 

Bournemouth

Eddie Howe's star continues to rise as he oversees a fifth EPL campaign. But to ensure there's a sixth he has to staunch the flow of 70 goals conceded last season - hence the signing of Kelly, though he will miss the start of the campaign through injury.

Key player: Callum Wilson

Key signing: Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City, $23m)

 

Sheffield Utd

Back in the EPL for the first time since 2007, and credit goes to unfashionable boss Chris Wilder. But do United have the resources to stay up, with so few signings? I think they'll struggle.

 

Billy Sharp is the key man for newly-promoted Sheffield United. Picture: Getty Images
Billy Sharp is the key man for newly-promoted Sheffield United. Picture: Getty Images

Key player: Billy Sharp

Key signing: Lys Mousset (Bournemouth, $18m)

 

Burnley

Always a battling side without any stars, and their longevity in the EPL is due to the shrewdness of boss Sean Dyche. But you feel Burnley need to evolve this year or face a very bleak outlook.

Key player: James Tarkowski

Key signing: Jay Rodriguez (West Brom, $18m)

 

Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson has certainly rehabilitated himself since the ignominy of leading England to defeat by Iceland, but the imminent loss of Wilfried Zaha removes their key weapon and indicates a season of struggle.

Key man: Christian Benteke

Key signing: Jordan Ayew (Swansea, £$4.5m).

 

Norwich

With English cooking icon Delia Smith still an active owner, City aim to avoid their return to the EPL collapsing like a bad soufflé. Coach Daniel Farke is a cult hero but can Teemu Pukki come anywhere near last season's 30 goals?

Key player: Teemu Pukki

Key signing: Sam Byram (West Ham, $1.3m)

 

Brighton

A new coach heralds a change of style at the Albion, but their reliance on veteran Glenn Murray's goals remains a concern. Aussie fans will wish them well, with Mat Ryan our only EPL representative.

 

 

Key player: Mat Ryan

Key signing: Leandro Trossard (Genk, $32m)

 

Aston Villa

Dean Smith has signed 12 players for $135m, which smacks of a club with ambition. But it's also a lot for any head coach to assimilate in the unforgiving spotlight of the EPL. They'll be happy with survival.

Key player: Jack Grealish

Key signing: Wesley (Club Bruges, $39m)

 

Newcastle

Sadly the antics of owner Mike Ashley may again prove the biggest story, after the exit of a hugely popular coach in Rafa Benitez and arrival of the hugely unpopular Steve Bruce, a coach with a 28 per cent win record in the EPL.

Key player: Miguel Almiron

Key signing: Joelinton (Hoffenheim, $71m)

News Corp Australia


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