With the 2018/19 Premier League campaign now tantalisingly close, we take a look at the best of the rest and what we can expect of them this season:
All eyes will be on the Gunners as the post-Wenger era begins. New manager Unai Emery wasted no time stamping his mark on the Gunners, signing five players within the first 6 weeks of joining the club. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner have been recruited to strengthen what has been a questionable defence, while promising midfielder Lucas Torreira signed from Sampdoria for a reported £26m. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be a genuine challenger to Petr Cech’s jersey and 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi will provide cover for Granit Xhaka.
Emery is no stranger to the limelight after his stint at PSG and may enjoy a slightly more relaxed atmosphere in North London.With the race for a Champions League spot more competitive than ever, the Spaniard may turn to the Europa League as an alternative avenue. It is a competition he has incredibly fond memories of, having won it three years on the bounce when manager of Sevilla. Arsenal had an impressive run last season before meeting Atletico Madrid in the semi finals and with specialist Emery in the hot seat, they will fancy their chances of going one step further this time around.
Predicted finish: 6th
Life is never quiet at West Ham, yet this summer they appear to have done some good work which has gone largely unnoticed. Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini was recruited to replace David Moyes, and he wasted no time bringing some fresh blood into the club. Seven players have been signed thus far, including Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmalenko and record signing Felipe Anderson, rumoured to have cost £36m from Lazio. With only one Premier League campaign ending with a positive goal difference, it’s clear that there have been issues in all areas for West Ham. However, the ability has always been there, the most recent examples being their victories over Chelsea and Tottenham at the London Stadium. With genuine depth to the squad and an experienced head coach, the Hammers can finally start looking upwards rather than over their shoulders as this season progresses.
Predicted finish: 9th
2017/18 was a memorable season for Burnley, as the club qualified for the Europa League, the first time the club has been in a European competition in 51 years. After seeing off Aberdeen over a tricky two legs, just Istanbul Basaksehir stand between them and a place in the group stages. The challenge for Sean Dyche now will be to ensure that the Premier League remains the main focus. More established teams than the Clarets have struggled to compete on both European and domestic fronts and if qualification is gained, it could prove to be a burden in more ways than one.
Dyche has done a superb job with a limited budget but the squad still looks thin and a long winter travelling across far-flung European outposts alongside domestic obligations four days later could see the team stretched to breaking point. Injuries to ‘keepers Nick Pope and Tom Heaton mean the Lancashire side will already start the season with one senior goalkeeper in their ranks.
As qualification has not yet been confirmed, there have been no fresh faces at the club and Dyche looks set to continue with the same group of players who excelled in the last campaign. They have a relatively good set of fixtures to start off, with Watford, Bournemouth and Huddersfield visiting Turf Moor in the opening weeks. If the Europa League is no longer an issue, they should be set for another relatively comfortable season in the top flight. However, the fixture list could be a cause for concern as the campaign kicks on and Dyche must be weary of how easily the club could be sucked into the mire.
Predicted finish: 15th