Premier League team-by-team guide

We’ve analysed all 20 clubs competing in the 2020/21 Premier League, including statistics, top trends, plus our verdict on every team.

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The Premier League is back!…okay, it’s only been seven weeks, but Klopp, Pep and co have returned from their hols to deliver another thrilling instalment to what is simply the "World's Greatest Game".

Liverpool may have strolled to the title last season, but City did likewise three seasons ago, while only one point separated them in 2018/19. The two rivals are set to face-off once more, but let’s not forget City’s closer rivals United, who have quietly gone about their business and finished strongly last season, while both Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal will also want a say in the south. On the subject of Arsenal, it is indeed the Gunners who start our team-by-team guide to the 2020/21 Premier League season…let battle commence!

(Our Best Bets for the season will appear on Friday 11 September)

ARSENAL

Manager: Mikel Arteta

Title odds: 33-1
Key signings: Gabriel Magalhaes (£23m), Pablo Mari (£7m), Willian (free)
Key departures: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Premier League finishes: 8th, 5th, 6th, 5th, 2nd
Points after first six games (last five seasons): 11, 12, 10, 13, 10, 10
2019/20 top scorers: Aubameyang (22 goals); Lacazette (10); Pepe (5) 

Recent form:
Sep 5: Arsenal 2 (Aubameyang 2) Aston Villa 3
Aug 29: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang); (Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties)
Aug 25: MK Dons 1 Arsenal 4 (Elneny, Nketiah, McGuinness, Nelson)

First three games:
12 Sep: Fulham (away)
20 Sep: West Ham (home)
28 Sep: Liverpool (away)

Bogey team: Chelsea (2 wins from 16)
Best team: Burnley (10 wins from 12)

Top trend: Arsenal’s first halves on the road last term saw 84% of them produce just one goal or less - the second lowest in the Premier League.  

It was pretty much a season of two halves for Arsenal last time around. Having made their traditional solid start to the season, cracks began to appear in the autumn prior to Uni Emery getting sacked in November (his £72m signing Pepe proved a flop and eventually hit just five goals from 31 league games). Former player Mikel Arteta came in, and while his win record for the Gunners (55%) remains the same as Uni Emery’s (55%), Arteta has lifted spirits at the club thanks to a good league finish and FA Cup win. But, there is still work to be done.

Arteta has also coaxed some improvement from Granit Xhaka in midfield, and signed Willian from Chelsea to bolster the frontline, but things still need to improve in defence - the Gunners kept a clean sheet only once in every four games last term. Such holes contributed to the club experiencing their worst finish in eighth place since 1995, but the momentum they gained in league victories against Wolves, Sheffield United and Liverpool after lockdown, along with Man City and Chelsea in the cup, showed what they are capable of. They also signed defender Gabriel Magalhaes at the start of September, which  could improve matters at the back.

Arsenal's main man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifting the FA Cup in August

If Arteta can offload Mesut Ozil - who played in a recent preseason game - to use some of the budget on more defenders, then they could challenge for a top-four spot, though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang staying at the Emirates is key, and so far they’ve kept other clubs at bay. It’s still worth noting, though, that even with the Frenchman netting the second-highest tally of the division with 22 strikes, Arsenal still recorded their lowest goals tally for a decade courtesy of just 56 goals. Such is Aubameyang’s importance to the north London side.

Verdict: The Gunners have vital momentum heading into the new season, but remain fragile at the back. There is positivity running through the Emirates, though, and August’s 50-1 for the title is now 33’s. Could claim a top-four spot.

ASTON VILLA

Manager: Dean Smith
Title odds: 1000-1
Key signings: Ollie Watkins (£28m), Matty Cash (£16m)
Departures: James Bree, Matija Sarkic
Premier League finishes: 17th, N/A, N/A, N/A, 20th
Premier points after first six games (last five seasons): 4, N/A, N/A, N/A, 10
2019/20 top scorers: Grealish (8 goals); Trezeguet (6); Wesley (5)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 3 (Luiz, Ramsey 2)
Aug 26: Aston Villa 1 Bristol City 0

First three games:
20 Sep: Sheffield United (home)
27 Sep: Fulham (away)
03 Oct: Liverpool (home)

Bogey team: Manchester United (won 3 out of 50)
Best team: Newcastle (unbeaten in last four Premier League games)

Top trend: Aston Villa conceded the most second-half goals last term.

While Aston Villa escaped relegation last season, there could be more trouble ahead. The main reason is, despite having billionaire owners who can splash the cash, they haven’t spent much of it compared to the bigger clubs during the summer, bar diggin into their pockets recently for a few late signings including £28m club record signing Ollie Watkins, who was the Championship's joint-top scorer last season with 26 goals.

Keeping hold of Jack Grealish will be vital to Villa's chances

Up until Watkins and Matty Cash's additions, the main changes involved a backroom reshuffle, with Villa supporter and ex-Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare joining Dean Smith in the dugout. But, what may cause the biggest headache is if - and only if - last season’s leading scorer Jack Grealish leaves for one of the big six. The fact Grealish top scored last season with just eight goals from midfield speaks plenty about Smith’s struggles with his strikers - Wesley was brought in but only managed five goals, though at least he is fit again an injury.

Plenty therefore, sits on new recuit Watkins' shoulders to deliver some firepower up front, as Villa seem adequate enough in both midfield and defence, and keeper Tom Heaton also returns from injury - they’ll need him as they failed to keep a clean sheet on the road. Douglas Luiz was a positive in midfield last term, while England’s Tyrone Mings goes from strength to strength. However, Villa will need more in 2020/21 and can’t rely on set-pieces again, especially as teams will be more clued up this time around. they certainly have the ability to stay up, as was seen via their run to the League Cup Final, while their final burst to secure survival show they can do it.

Verdict: Villa need goals and the pressure is on new signing Ollie Watkins to deliver against the tightest defences he's ever faced. Keeping Jack Grealish is also pivotal to the whole balance of the side. If Grealish stays, they should survive.

BRIGHTON 

Manager: Graham Potter

Title odds: 1000-1
Key signings: Joel Veltman (£900k), Adam Lallana
Key departures: Anthony Knockaert (£10m), Aaron Moy (£4m), Martin Momtoya, Glenn Murray
Premier League finishes: 15th, 17th, 15th, N/A, N/A
Premier points after first six league games: 6, 5, 7, N/A, N/A
2019/20 top scorers: Maupay (10 goals); Trossard (5)  

Recent form:
Sep 5: Brighton 0 West Brom 0
Aug 29: Brighton 1 (Gross) Chelsea 1

First three games:
14 Sep: Chelsea (home)
20 Sep: Newcastle (away)
26 Sep: Manchester United (home)

Bogey teams: Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City (0 wins in 4 meetings)
Best team: West Ham (3 wins and 1 draw in 4)

Top trend: Brighton failed to score in the opening 15 minutes away from home last season.

Recording the double over Arsenal and avoiding relegation may be viewed as success to a degree by some Seagulls fans at the end of 2019/20, and staying up will be their main priority once more.

Graham Potter did well to keep the Seagulls flying in the top flight in his first campaign at the realm, as it needs remembering that the side Potter took over had five years under Chris Hughton and had to change their style of play. Potter also made some fair signings, which helped them survive the drop, including both Adam Webster and Leonardo Trossard, who provided eight key goals between them. Potter has been busy in the market again, introducing both youth and experience in youngster Jensen Weir and two wise elder statesmen in Joel Veltman and Adam Lallana.

Brighton's defensive leader Lewis Dunk has signed a five-year contract

The gaffer will require more firepower, though, with Neal Maupay their main provider last term courtesy of 10 goals, and their recent preseason blank against West Brom served another timely reminder of chances being wasted. Potter has less worries at the back where he boasts plenty of quality. Captain Lewis Dunk signed a new five-year contract that keeps him in charge of a backline that also features Ben White, who shone on loan for Leeds United, plus the progressive right-back Tariq Lamptey.

Brighton will need to be sharp from the off, though, with their first five games featuring two home games at Chelsea and Man United, and two away trips to Everton and old rivals Crystal Palace. Even at that early stage, their path for the season may be planted.

Verdict: Brighton need their talented defence to perform well once more, especially if goals at the other end become a problem. But, they have enough Premier know-how to stay up, just.

BURNLEY

Manager: Sean Dyche

Title odds: 1000-1
Key signings: Will Norris, Jack Leckie, Dane McCullough
Key departures: Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Lennon
Premier League finishes: 10th, 15th, 7th, 16th, N/A
Points after first six league games: 8, 6, 9, 7, N/A
2019/20 top scorers: Wood (14 goals); Rodriguez (8); Barnes (6)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Burnley 4 (Wood 2, Brownhill, Thomas) Mansfield Town 2
Sep 5: Burnley 4 (Gudmundsson, Rodriguez, Thompson, Richardson) Hearts 1

First three games:
19 Sep: Leicester (away)
26 Sep: Southampton (home)
03 Oct: Newcastle (away)

Bogey team: Arsenal (0 win from 12 meetings)
Best team: Southampton (unbeaten in 7)

Top trend: Burnley kept 15 clean sheets last season - the same as champions Liverpool.

It’s been said on many occasions, but Sean Dyche deserves enormous credit for his achievements at Burnley, and the 2020/21 campaign promises much of the same from the Clarets.

Without any Euro distraction last season, Dyche’s well-oiled unit were back to their best, and doing what most mid-table side do in concentrating on taking most points agains the bottom half teams - their record against the top four last season was just one win in eight. The Clarets also finished the season well courtesy of just two defeats in 16 league games going back to mid-January, in the process registering the most wins in a season of their current five-year stay in the top flight

Striker Chris Wood netted 14 valuable goals for Burnley last season

However, unlike 12 months ago, summer signings remained thin on the ground, though the likes of Jay Rodriguez proved a bargain at £5m having netted eight very precious goals. Just behind him with six strikes was the reliable 30-year-old Ashley Barnes, who Dyche will be looking to get another good season out from. And, don’t forget the main man, Chris Wood, who scored the same number of goals as Man City’s Jesus, and one more than Kevin De Bruyne. Wood was injured at the end of the season, but is fit and firing again, notching  recent double in preseason. Elsewhere, the improving Dwight McNeil caught the eye in going forward and remains close to an England call-up, while the defence improved significantly, keeping the second-highest number of clean sheets along with Liverpool last season. One of the keys to the defence was James Tarkowski, who has been valued at £50m by the club, and keeping him would prove a huge plus.

Verdict: Burnley remain a settled unit run by one of the most underestimated English managers, and once again without any European distraction, the Clarets can maintain top-ten status.

CHELSEA

Manager: Frank Lampard

Title odds: 11-1
Key signings: Kai Havertz (£71m), Ben Chilwell (£50m), Timo Werner (£47m), Hakim Ziyech (£36m), Thiago Silva (free)
Key departures: Pedro, Willian, Alvaro Morata (£50m), Mario Passaic (£13m)
Premier League finishes: 4th, 4th, 5th, 1st, 10th
Points after first six league games: 8, 16, 13, 10, 7
2019/20 top scorers: Abraham (15 goals); Pulisic (9); Willian (9)

Recent form:
Aug 29: Brighton 1 Chelsea 1 (Werner)

First three games:
14 Sep: Brighton (away)
20 Sep: Liverpool (home)
26 Sep: West Brom (away)

Bogey team: Man Utd (won only 1 from 7 meetings)
Best team: Arsenal (lost only 4 of 23)

Top trend: Chelsea conceded just five first half goals at home last term, and were in front either 1-0 or 2-0 after 45 minutes on 10 occasions.

It’s been a summer of money, money and more money at Stamford Bridge, with Frank Lampard getting access to Roman Abramovich’s cheque book. More on that in a sec.

Lampard’s first season in charge at his former club has to go down as an overall success. Having arrived in the dugout last summer following the loss of star player Eden Hazard and been slapped with a transfer ban, Lampard did well to get the Blues into fourth place, along with a trip to Wembley for the cup final.

German international striker Timo Werner is one of several big signings for Chelsea

The combination of securing a Champions League place and the lifting of any transfer dealings, have allowed Lamps more freedom in the market this summer, and he’s strengthened the squad with Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, while Declan Rice may still yet arrive. The signatures of Chilwell and Silva will need to solve the holes at the back which saw Chelsea leaking the most goals of the top ten teams in 2019-20, while conceding a worrying average of two goals per away game. Their 7-1 humiliation against Bayern Munich in Europe also exposed their defence. But, despite their defensive frailties, the bookies recently trimmed them into 11-1 from 12’s for title success following the big-money signings.

Up front, there is less of a concern, as the west London side scored the highest number of goals behind only Liverpool and Man City last term, while recruiting Werner and Ziyech will only bolster the frontline as long as they don’t get in each other’s way. And, if Lamps can get Tammy Abraham back in the form he started last season - he went missing somewhat in the second half of the season - then goals should be guaranteed, especially with the progressive Mason Mount chipping in.

Verdict: A solid first season for Lampard can be built upon if tightening up the defence, with a host of strong summer signings totalling over £200m sure to improve the squad in both league and cups. Can get their handles on silverware.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Title odds: 1000-1
Key signings: Eberechi Eze (£19m), Nathan Ferguson (free)
Key departures: None.
Premier League finishes: 14th, 12th, 11th, 14th, 15th
Points after first six league games: 8, 7, 0, 10, 9
2019/20 top scorers: Ayew (9), Zaha (4)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Crystal Palace 1 (Zaha) Brondby IF 1
Sep 1: Millwall 0 Crystal Palace 1 (Meyer)
Aug 29: Crystal Palace (Ayew 2, Zaha) 3 Charlton Athletic 0

First three games:
12 Sep: Southampton (home)
19 Sep: Manchester United (away)
26 Sep: Everton (home)

Bogey team: Man Utd (1 win from 22)
Best team: West Ham (lost 1 in 6)

Top Trend: Palace netted just one goal during the opening 15 minutes last season, contributing to them hitting the lowest number of first half goals.

Once again, Crystal Palace fans enter a new season unsure if their main man, Wilfried Zaha, will stay or go - and if he does stay, then knowing which Zaha will tun up is anyone’s guess.

Palace hope to keep prized possession Wilfried Zaha, on target in preseason

Indeed, Zaha notched only four goals in 38 appearances last time around, giving the impression all might not have been well, but he did net two recent preseason goals - and, Palace need all the goals they can get. The good news on that front, however, is the arrival of new signing Eberechi Eze, who finished QPR’s top scorer last season with 14 goals. The £20m man is an England U-21 striker who looks on the upgrade, and if he takes to life in the top flight, then Palace may have the answer to last season’s lack of goals - an end of season tally of just 31 goals was their lowest during Palace’s current seven-year stay in the Premier League. Only relegated Norwich scored fewer.

Things weren’t as bad at the back, though, with the highly experienced Gary Cahill keeping the defence well organised, plus the recent addition of ex-West Brom defender Nathan Ferguson is another big tick.
The only other concern is the Eagles’ overall level of form, having experienced a poor finish to last season. It can be read in two ways. Either they downed tools a touch once avoiding the drop, or may be a lack of fans in the stadiums didn’t suit a group of players used to having Palace’s vociferous fans in full swing. Indeed, the club will want home fans back at Selhurst Park sooner rather than later, as they took just one point in four home games after football resumed in June.

Verdict: Roy Hodgson’s side boast a solid defence which should keep them up, but more firepower is required up front, and new signing Eberechi Eze is the big hope, especially if Wilfried Zaha goes walkies.

EVERTON

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Title odds: 250-1
Key signings: Allan (£22m), James Rodriguez (£20m)
Key departures: Morgan Schneiderlin (£2m), Fraser Hornby (£1.5m)
Premier League finishes: 12th, 8th, 8th, 7th, 11th
Points after first six league games: 9, 6, 7, 13, 9
2019/20 top scorers: Richarlison (13 goals); Calvert-Lewin (13)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Everton 2 (Kenny, Calvert-Lewin) Preston 0
Sep 1: Blackburn 3 Everton 0
Aug 22: Blackpool 3 Everton 3 (Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson 2)

First three games:
13 Sep: Tottenham (away)
19 Sep: West Brom (home)
26 Sep: Crystal Palace (away)

First three games:
13 Sep: Tottenham (away)
19 Sep: West Brom (home)
26 Sep: Crystal Palace (away)

Bogey team: Arsenal (won only 3 of their last 26 meetings)
Best team: West Ham (lost only 4 of their last 26)

Top trend: Everton won only 14 of their 106 games against top-eight sides during the last five seasons – against the bottom six sides, they won 46 out of 84.

Everton recorded their worst league finish in five years when sliding to 12th in the table last season - a time when once again they introduced another new manager.

The latest name in the Goodison Park hot seat is vastly-experienced Italian Carlo Ancelotti, who made an immediate impact when arriving in December, but there were worrying signs after the resumption in June. A lack of goals was the main concern, as the Toffees managed just eight goals during the final 11 games. Their joint-top scorers last term, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, provided 13 apiece, unlike expensive flops Alex Iwobi (£40m) who notched just one goal in 25 appearances, and Moise Kean (£27m) with two in 29. Yes, that’s £67m spent on just three goals.

Ancelotti will need to make better signings than those that proceeded him if improving his current record of eight wins in 21 league games with Everton (38%) - the lowest strike-rate he’s shown since managing his first club Reggiana in 1995 (38%). For comparison, previous managers with long stints including David Moyes, Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Marco Silva all achieved 40%, True, it’s early days for Ancelotti, but his task is there for all to see, and it hasn’t started too well.

Carlo Ancelotti and James Rodriguez together at Bayern Munich, and now reunited at Goodison Park

However, there are pluses, and none more so than the recent arrival of ex-Real Madrid man James Rodriguez, which has got Toffees fans buzzing. The Columbian endured a stop-start sequence in recent seasons, but could finally get a clear run of games that may see him regain his best for Ancelotti, who Rodriguez enjoyed playing under in the past. If so, then his move to Merseyside could prove the coup of the summer.

While Abdoulaye Douceur’s signature has yet to be confirmed, pen did go to pair for experienced ex-Napoli defensive midfielder Allan, while youngster Anthony Gordon did well after the resumption and is expected to develop further. For the club to make real progress, however, Ancelotti will need consistency, while he’ll also need his men to take more points against bigger clubs, which admittedly is never easy for any club outside the top echelon. And that theory will be put straight to the test with their opening game away at Tottenham.

Verdict: The Toffees were hit-and-miss last season, including when Carlo Ancelotti arrived, but  their recent signings could bring much needed goals and more consistency. Still some way to go before rivalling neighbours Liverpool in recapturing their former glory.

FULHAM

Manager: Scott Parker

Title odds: 1500-1
Key signings: Anthony Knockaert (£10m), Harrison Reed (£6m), Antonee Robinson (£2m)
Departures: Lucca De La Torre
Premier League finishes: N/A, 19th, N/A, N/A, N/A
Premier points after first six games: N/A, 5, N/A, N/A, N/A
2019/20 Championship top scorers: Mitrovic (26 goals); Cairney (8); Cavalier & Reid (6)

Recent form: N/A
First three games:
12 Sep: Arsenal (home)
19 Sep: Leeds (away)
27 Sep: Aston Villa (home)

Bogey team: Chelsea (0 win in 18 games)
Best team: West Brom (unbeaten in 9 games)

Top trend: Fulham led at half-time just 15 times in 46 Championship games last term, but converted 14 of them into three points.

Like fellow-promoted side West Brom, Fulham find themselves in the “yo-yo club” bracket, bouncing to-and-fro between the Championship and Premier League - a pattern manager Scott Parker will want to end and establish his side as a permanent fixture in the top flight.

That wasn’t the case when the Cottagers tried a few seasons ago, despite spending millions and introducing several new managers. Maybe lessons were learnt from that experience and a steadier ship will sail this time around, with Parker doing well to get them back up having taken the reins when they were in trouble. The west London club scrapped and battled their way to promotion via the play-offs and will need that toughness in fighting for every minute of every game, and for every point in the Premier League - much like Parker himself did. They’ll also need more away from Craven Cottage, as they won just eight of their 23 away games last season, while things will only get harder from mid-September at Leeds United.

Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic struck 26 goals in the Championship last season

Having the right tools to do the job in achieving the above is key, and Parker has a settle unit from top to tail, including talisman striker striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who will want to prove his class in the Premier League having notched only 11 goals two seasons ago - last season he struck 26 in the Championship. Then there is the much improved Joe Bryan, who shone in the play-offs, and defender Michael Hector. The 28-year-old didn’t get an opportunity at Chelsea but marshalled his defence superbly in the Championship, but now faces a big test back in the big league where he has a point to prove. Similarly, Josh Onomah never cut the mustard at Tottenham and will have a point to prove.

Fulham fans know they are in for a tough season, but will take heart from the recent trend in promoted sides faring okay back in the top flight, with Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Wolves and Brighton more than holding their own on their first seasons back.

Verdict: Scott Parker will want to avoid what happened two years ago when going straight down, but has a more settled squad this time. However, improvement on the road is needed if they are to avoid the drop, which looks unlikely.

LEEDS UNITED

Manager: Marcelo Bielsa

Title odds: 200-1
Key signings: Rodrigo (£26m); Helder Costa (£16m); Robin Koch (£12m)
Key departures: None
Premier League finishes: N/A
Premier points after first six league games: N/A,
2019/20 top scorers in Championship: Bamford (16 goals); Hernandez (9); Klich (6); Harrison (6)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Leeds 3 (Struijk, Hernandez, Costa) Pacos Ferreira 1
Sep 1: Stoke 3 Leeds 0

First three games:
12 Sep: Liverpool (away)
19 Sep: Fulham (home)
27 Sep: Sheffield United (away)

Bogey team: Fulham (1 win in 8 games)
Best team: West Brom (unbeaten in 3 games)

Top trend: Leeds leaked just 14 first-half goals from 46 Championship games last season.

It was 16 years ago that Leeds United last played in the Premier League - or Premiership as it was then - and their fans will be full of hope ahead of their much-awaited return. Now they have to prove they belong back in the big-time.

So far under Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa, United achieved plenty in two years, and the experienced manager has installed a rigid discipline that proved effective. None more so than at the back, where Leeds became a very tough side to break down last season, keeping things tight until half-time. Indeed, their impressive defence conceded just six goals in 15 games from mid-February, keeping 10 clean sheets. One of the main cogs in that defensive machine was Liam Cooper, who with Ben White, will be joined in the backline by German international Robin Koch, while recent England international Kelvin Phillips is improving all the time, and does well at protecting the back four.

Leeds' rock in defence Liam Cooper lifting the Championship title in July

United’s stonewall defence will soon be put to the test too, in an opening baptism of fire against new champions Liverpool, who will throw Salah, Mane and Firmino forward to penetrate the wall. Leeds will need goals at the other end too, which is where problems may occur, as Patrick Bamford is hardly prolific and may struggle, hence why the club recently broke the bank and signed £27m striker Rodrigo from Valencia. Knowing how such a big signing will perform in the Premier League is anyone’s guess, but on paper, Rodrigo has what it takes and netted 35 goals in 141 games for Valencia.

Another improvement required in the top flight is when Leeds head to the capital, where they failed to win last season from five trips, losing at Charlton, Fulham, Millwall and QPR. With Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham Tottenham, West Ham waiting at the end of M1, along with longer trips down to Brighton and Southampton, much of their season could depend on United’s trips “down south”.

Verdict: Leeds are back in the top flight and have plenty of momentum, which should see them accumulate enough points early on, while their tight defence can keep them up for the first season. Who knows after that.

LEICESTER CITY

Manager: Brendan Rodgers

Title odds: 250-1
Key signings: Timothy Castagne (£21m)
Key departures: Ben Chilwell (£50m)
Premier League finishes: 5th, 9th, 9th, 12th, 1st
Points after first six league games: 11, 9, 4, 7, 12
2019/20 top scorers: Vardy (23 goals); Perez (8); Barnes (6); Maddison (6)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Leicester 1 (Amartey) Blackburn 1
Aug 29: Leicester 0 Sheff Wed 0
Aug 26: Birmingham 0 Leicester 2 (Dewsbury-Hall, Albrighton)

First three games:
13 Sep: West Brom (away)
19 Sep: Burnley (home)
27 Sep: Man City (away)

Bogey team: Man Utd (2 wins from 28)
Best team: Aston Villa (won 4 from 4)

Top trend: won 20 of their 38 second halves played.

Following their shock 2016 Premier League title win, there were plenty who thought Leicester might drop like a stone and even get relegated following such a high, plus the break-up of that squad. But, they haven’t.

Striker Jamie Vardy won last season's Golden Boot after hitting 23 goals

The Foxes may have lost the likes of N’golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater - remember him? - but replaced them with players such as Ayoze Perez (8 goals last season). They also retain some of the survivors from that title side, including Jasper Schmeichel, who along with Jonny Evans played all 38 games last term, while Jamie Vardy made 35 appearances. Add to that James Maddison (31 games and 6 goals) who is back from a hip injury, and Brendan Rodgers boats a solid spine he can continue to build around. And while they lost defender Ben Chigwell to Chelsea, they immediately brought in highly-rated defender Timothy Castagne for over £20m.

The aforementioned players all played their part in last season’s fifth-place finish, which could have been a Champions League place but for a late wobble having lost players to injury, while a club record eight straight wins showed what they are capable of - a run that included a 9-0 demolition of Southampton. While their second half of the season form didn’t live up to that, Rodgers will have freshened his side up since, ready for a campaign that will include Europa League action. They also have the impressive Wilfried Ndidi back, while Ricardo Pereira could also return during the autumn.

They also boast the evergreen Vardy, whose goals show no signs of drying up having finished top scorer last season. The fixture list has also proven kind. Bar their third game away to Man City (Rodgers’ side lost all four games against the two Manchester clubs last season), the Foxes have three home games against Burnley, West Ham and Aston Villa, plus an away trip to West Brom. Such a list presents an ideal opportunity for Vardy to get going again.

Verdict: City remain a settled unit who almost held on for a Champions League spot last season. Rodgers may steer them into the top six again if the Europa League doesn’t blunt the Foxes’ bite.

LIVERPOOL

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Title odds: 2-1
Key signings: Kostas Tsimikas (£11m) Key departures: Adam Lallana (free), Dejan Lovren (£10m)
Premier League finishes: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 6th
Points after first six league games: 18, 18, 13, 8, 7, 13
2019/20 top scorers: Salah (19 goals); Mane (18); Firming (9)  

Recent form:
Sep 5: Liverpool 7 (Matip, Mane, Firmino, Elliott, Minamino, Origi, van den Berg) Blackpool 2
Aug 29: Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 (Minamino)
Aug 25: Salzburg 2 Liverpool 2 (Brewster 2)
Aug 22: Liverpool 3 (Firmino, Keith, Brewster) Stuttgart 0

First three games:
12 Sep: Leeds (home)
20 Sep: Chelsea (away)
28 Sep: Arsenal (home)

Bogey team: Man Utd (5 wins from 21); Man City (won 2 from 7)
Best teams: Brighton & Crystal Palace ( 6 wins from 6)

Top trend: Liverpool led at half-time in 24 of their 38 games last season, going on to secure three points on 23 of those occasions.

The stance at Anfield appears: if it’s not broken, why fix it? And, having walked the league last season for the first time in 30 years, who’s to question Jurgen Klopp’s approach, and his inactiveness in the summer market.

Defending champions Liverpool won their first-ever Premier League title in July

The Reds were virtually unbeatable last season, losing only three games - two of which occurred after resumption following the enforced Covid-19 break. Klopp did make one key summer signing, however, snapping up £11m defender Kostas Tsimikas, while he can also call on a host of youngsters waiting in the wings for the domestic cups. The main issue will be whether injuries strike? They got away with it last season, but just a few key players could cause huge imbalance in a settled side - something they’ve not had to deal with during the recent “glory years”.

But, should the main spine of Alisson, van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Milner, Firming, Mane and Salah remain in tact - as they were for the recent Community Shield - then they will prove a tough unit to beat once more. They will also be relatively fresh having not endured long cup runs last season while taking their foot off the gas somewhat when football resumed. The real challenge Klopp will present to the players, and one that will act as real motivation in maintaining their hunger, is to win the title in front of their fans, who missed out on the end of season ceremonies.

Verdict: A settled, winning machine that will again take some stopping, especially if avoiding injuries. If the Reds stay fit, then the rest of the division had better watch out, as Klopp's boys could run riot once more in defending the title.

MANCHESTER CITY

Manager: Pep Guardiola

Title odds: 4-5
Key signings: Nathan Ake (£40m); Ferran Torres (£20m)
Key departures: Leroy Sane (£54m); David Silva (free)
Premier League finishes: 2nd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 4th
Points after first six league games: 13, 16, 16, 18, 15
2019/20 top scorers: Sterling (20 goals); Aguero (16); Jesus (14)

Recent form: N/A
First three games:
21 Sep: Wolves (away)
27 Sep: Leicester (home)
03 Oct: Leeds (away)

Bogey team: Liverpool (10 wins from 46)
Best team: Brighton (6 wins from 6); Burnley (unbeaten in 8, won 7)

Top trend: Man City scored 22 goals during the final 15 minutes last term, three more than any other Premier League team.

Any team that picks up silverware can usually view the season as a success, but in Manchester City’s case, landing the League Cup was only a par performance.

One of City's main issues last season was conceding goals at the back, as they continued to leak following Vincent Company’s departure. Nathan Ake was brought in from Bournemouth to help in that department, but the Citizens still need further help in the market if City are to challenge both for the title and Champions League. The men in blue fell short in Europe once more when ditched by Lyon in the last eight, as was the case previously when exiting in the quarter-finals, and it’s worth noting Pep Guardiola hasn’t won the Champions League since 2011.

Raheem Sterling netted a career best tally of 20 league goals last term

City’s lapses at the back also saw them lose an uncharacteristic total of nine league games, and it was only their reliable strike force which kept them high up in the table - indeed, the men in blue spread the goals around with Sterling, Aguero, Jesus and recently acclaimed Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne notching 63 between them. One of their underperformers in front of goal, however, was £63m man Rodri with just three strikes, while another of their big signings, Joao Cancelo at £60m, failed to retain a slot in the back four.

Guardiola was hoping to bring in Lionel Messi before he decided to stay at Barcelona, which was a blow to City and Guardiola, who faces the task of rejuvenating a squad that needs to step up following last season’s mediocre campaign.

Verdict: City still boast plenty of firepower up front and appear hungry to win back the title, but they’ll need to find something extra if topping Liverpool, let alone winning in Europe. 

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solksjaer

Title odds: 16-1
Key signings: Donny van de Beek (£40m)
Key departures: Alexis Sanchez (free)
Premier League finishes: 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 6th, 5th
Points after first six league games: 8, 10, 16, 12, 13
2019/20 top scorers: Martial (17 goals); Rashford (17); Greenwood (10)

Recent form: N/A
First three games:
19 Sep: Crystal Palace (home)
26 Sep: Brighton (away)
03 Oct: Tottenham (home)

Bogey team: Wolves (0 win from 4); West Ham (1 win from 5)
Best team: Leicester (7 wins from 8)

Top trend: There was only one goalless first half at Old Trafford last season.

Three semi-final defeats and a third in the table would not have been acceptable under Sir Alex Ferguson, but those creditable efforts along with a strong league finish, have to go down as a sign of things to come following Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s first full season in charge.

Not that the season started too well with just two league wins in their first nine games, but United did put together a very consistent run from February to the end of the season when going undefeated in their final 14 league games. That was a statement of real intent from United in how they’ve become a very tough side to beat, including when pushing eventual winners Sevilla all the way in the Europa League semi’s. While they lost to both Chelsea and rivals City in the cup semi’s, their league form - in which they introduced youngsters Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams into the mix - bodes well for the forthcoming 2020-21 campaign.

Just reward for Solksjaer’s efforts in getting his side up to third place comes via a Champions League place, and he may need to get more active in the market if putting together a squad to challenge both in Europe and at home. He’ll also want more from the likes of Harry Maguire and David de Gea in defence, whose performances were scrutinised following mistakes during crucial games, while it’s possible both Maguire (not played since court case) and fellow defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka (missed preseason and quarantined) could be rusty from the outset.

Midfielder Donny van de Beek (centre) has arrived from Ajax

However, even if the Red Devils are weakened for the start, it’s possible they could get away with it with three winnable games from the opening four fixtures against Crystal Palace, Brighton and Newcastle. In order to swat such teams aside, however, Solksjaer will need his men to become the force of old that installed fear into clubs lining-up against them, while taking care of sides past United teams would be expected to take maximum points against, such as West Ham and Wolves (just one victory in nine meetings against the pair). The good news is Solksjaer has a young, exciting frontline developing in Greenwood, Martial and Ashford, with new signing Donny van de Beek brought in to serve them. And, if a fit again Paul Pogba starts to shine, the good times may return at Old Trafford.

Verdict: United really got going towards the end of last season, grabbing third and proving tough to beat. Ole has enough strength in his growing squad to maintian top-four status, though a title challenge may have to wait another season.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Manager: Steve Bruce

Title odds: 750-1
Key signings: Callum Wilson (£20m); Jeff Hendrick (free); Mark Gillespie (free)
Key departures: None
Premier League finishes: 13th, 13th, 10th N/A, 18th
Points after first six league games: 5, 2, 9, N/A, 2
2019/20 top scorers: Shelvey (6 goals); Almiron (4); Gayle (4)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Newcastle 0 Stoke 1
Sep 1: Middlesbrough 5 Newcastle 1 (Saint-Maximin)
Aug 29: Newcastle 2 (Carroll, Murphy) Barnsley 1

First three games:
12 Sep: West Ham (away)
20 Sep: Brighton (home)
26 Sep: Tottenham (away)

Bogey team: Brighton (0 win from 6 games)
Best team
: Sheffield United (won 5 from 5)

Top trend: Newcastle led just once after 45 minutes at home last season - the lowest in the division.

Newcastle’s season could be summed up in word “goals” - or rather a lack of them at the right end.

To say midfielder Jonjo Shelvey top-scored with just six goals tells it’s own story, and Steve Bruce will want to address that despite his limited budget. Last summer’s major signing Joelinton at £39.5m failed to deliver with a shocking two goals in 38 appearances. At under half that price, Allan Saint-Maximum performed better with three goals from 26 games, but having not spent much during the summer - bar £20m Bruce hasn’t got long to get some names to sign up before the window closes - indeed, Danny Rose has already gone the other way back to Tottenham after a loan spell.

Manager Steve Bruce (centre) could be in for another tough season near the bottom

There has also been the usual boardroom drama - something United fans are used to - with the unpopular outcome of Mike Ashley staying for another season following a failed Saudi takeover bid. But, there are several highlights from last term, with 1-0 victories against Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham a reminder that Bruce’s side can keep things tight and strike on the break. Plus, a new season can sometimes bring a new outlook and fresher legs, and Bruce will be hoping they repeat their immediate post-Lockdown form when unbeaten in their first four outings. Newcastle also have the opportunity to start well too, as the fixture list sees them away at West Ham, with their first two homes games against Brighton and Burnley. Slow starts were also a problem in recent seasons with the Magpies taking a sequence of two points, two points and five points from their opening six matches in three of their last four Premier League starts.

As for the famous atmosphere at St. James’ Park, then as with all other clubs at present owing to Covid-19, there will be no vociferous fans to roar them on. However, an empty stadium may not be a bad thing with the current negativity surrounding the club, which may have affected the home crowd. Time will tell.

Verdict: It’s a cliche, but Newcastle “need to start well’, both in terms of their season, and during their games. If not, there could be more trouble ahead, with relegation a reality.

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Manager: Chris Wilder

Title odds: 750-1
Key signings: Aaron Ramsdale (£18m)
Key departures: Luke Freeman (free)
Premier League finishes: 9th, N/A, N/A, N/A, N/A
Premier Points after first six games (last five seasons): 8, N/A, N/A, N/A, N/A
2019/20 top scorers: Mousset (6 goals); McBurnie (6); Lundstram (5); Fleck (5)

Recent form:
Sep 4: Sheffield United 2 (Lundstram, Sharp) Preston
2 Sep 1: Derby 0 Sheffield United 2 (Osborn, Sharp)
Aug 28: Hearts 0 Sheffield United 1 (Fleck)

First three games:
14 Sep: Wolves (home)
21 Sep: Aston Villa (away)
27 Sep: Leeds (home)

Bogey team: Newcastle (lost 5 in 5 games)
Best team: Crystal Palace (won 2 from 2 games)

Top trend: United’s first halves on the road last season saw the least action in the division, with an average of 0.74 goals for the first 45 minutes.  
 
The surprise package of 2019-20 almost grabbed a European slot having been in the van for most of last season, but a dip after resumption in June saw them slip in the table. However, it was still a successful season for United as they were tipped as one of the main contenders to go straight back down to the Championship.

So, what was the key to their success? In a nutshell a tight defence, which only conceded more goals than Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. And, it was the latter club who helped with that record as they loaned goalkeeper Dean Henderson to the Blades, and while he returns to Old Trafford, Chris Wilder quickly snapped up £18m England U-21 international Aaron Ramsdale from relegated Bournemouth. Another lynchpin of the back four was defensive midfielder John Lundstram, who was one of their most effective players last term, and a part of the settled side that arrived into the top flight from the Championship.

Such togetherness proved vital back in the top flight, and while their enormous effort eventually saw them miss out on a Europa League slot, that may not prove a bad thing, both in terms of fans not being allowed/wanting to travel across Europe with the current pandemic, plus the distraction it historically causes to clubs - think Wolves.

Lys Mousset will be looking to build on last season's six goals

So, there are both positives and negatives surrounding United’s chances for the upcoming campaign, as the surprise element has now gone and rival managers will be more prepared this time around, while an ageing frontline is another possible issue across the entire season. Wilder will be looking to coax more from French youngster Lys Mousset, though, who hit five goals by early December before fading away, as did the team in general post-lockdown. But, the Blades haven’t lost any major players and could quite easily go well again.

Verdict: The team from the city of steel will again need their defence to stand strong, and if so, another rewarding season could result in a top-ten finish.

SOUTHAMPTON

Manager: Ralph Hasenhutti

Title odds: 500-1
Key signings: Kyle Walker-Peters (£15m)
Key departures: Pierre Hojbjerg (£15m)
Premier League finishes: 11th, 16th, 17th, 8th, 6th
Points after first six league games: 7, 5, 6, 8, 6
2019/20 top scorers: Ings (22 goals); Armstrong (5); Ward-Prowse (5)

Recent form:
Aug 29: Southampton 7 (Ings 2, Ward-Prowse 2, Adams, Redmond, Bertrand) Swansea 1

First three games:
12 Sep: Crystal Palace (away)
20 Sep: Tottenham (home)
26 Sep: Burnley (away)

Bogey team: Liverpool (lost 6 in 6 games)
Best team: Crystal Palace (3 losses in 20 meetings)

Top trend: Apart from relegated Bournemouth and Norwich, Southampton had the worst home record last term, losing 10 games.

There were high hopes for Southampton ahead of last season, and while eleventh in the table wasn’t the end of the world, there remains a feeling the Saints should be flying higher.

In some ways it proved a season of two halves, as they picked up just six wins prior to Christmas, compared with nine wins thereafter, including a terrific end to the season when unbeaten during their final seven outings. However, as with the season beforehand which also returned just two wins prior to mid-December and then eight afterwards, Ralph Hasenhutti will be aware he’ll need to get his side going earlier this time around. And, the good news is the fixture-list does allow an opportunity to start well, with five of their first eight games against teams from outside last season’s top ten.

Danny Ings played every league game last season and struck 22 goals

There are plenty of player positives to ignite a fiery start too, with influential captain James Ward-Prowse signing a new contract and defender Kyle Walker-Peters joining from Tottenham on a permanent basis - unfortunately, midfielder Pierre Hojbjerg heads the other way to Spurs. Hasenhutti also kept hold of Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek, who formed an alliance in defence, while the £20m splashed on striker Danny Ings was repaid in full when he notched an impressive tally of 22 goals - confirmation of what he is capable of when injury-free; Ings played every league game last term. Fellow signing from last summer Che Adams also hit four goals from July and could form a prolific partnership with Ings if the pair return in the same form - that looked the case in a recent friendly against Swansea when the pair struck three times between them.

Verdict: There are more positives than negatives at St Mary’s, and if they can reverse trends in getting out the blocks quicker, then the Saints really could go marching into the top eight.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Title odds: 66-1
Key signings: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£15m); Matt Doherty (£15m); Joe Hart (free)
Key departures: Kyle Walker-Peters (£15m); Jan Vertonghen (free)
Premier League finishes: 6th, 4th 3rd, 2nd, 3rd
Points after first six league games: 8, 12, 9, 14, 9
2019/20 top scorers: Kane (18 goals); Son (11); Alli (8)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Watford 2 Tottenham 1 (Son)
Aug 29: Tottenham 1 (Bergwijn) Birmingham 0
Aug 28: Tottenham 4 (Richards, Allí, Son, Lamela) Reading 1
Aug 22: Tottenham 3 (Son 2, Sessegnon)Ipswich 0

First three games:
13 Sep: Everton (home)
20 Sep: Southampton (away)
26 Sep: Newcastle (home)

Bogey team: Chelsea (6 wins from 54 meetings); Man Utd (8 wins in 54)
Best team: Aston Villa (4 wins in 4 games)

Top trend: Tottenham won only two of their 10 games against top-five opposition last season.

Having made the Champions League final two seasons ago, Tottenham lined-up for the Premier League 12 months ago as 20-1 shots, but their chances of getting their hands on the trophy appear even slimmer according to the bookies, who offer 66-1.

While such odds may tempt some, others will point out that Spurs are coming off the back of their worse league finish in six campaigns. But, having sacked Mauricio Pochettino in November, Jose Mourinho took them from the bottom half of the table up to sixth place, and now has his first full season in charge. It’s hard to know what Mourinho’s main focus will be, however, as the Europa League could serve as either a distraction or handy alternative back to the Champions League. He will also be aware of the club’s 12-year drought for silverware, and may opt to repeat what he achieved with Manchester United three years in landing the Europa League. One thing’s for sure, and that is he’ll need his side to improve on the road, winning just four of their 19 away games in the league.

A fit Harry Kane could make all the difference to Tottenham's season

As for this season’s league challenge, then recent acquisitions Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Joe Hart strengthen the squad ahead of what could be a busy season, though Mourinho will need stronger signings if looking to muscle in on the top four. Pochettino’s signings 12 months ago failed to set the division alight, with club record signing Tanguy Ndombele (£54m) and £25 man Ryan Sessegnon both significant under-achievers, and Mourinho knows he’ll need to rejig his squad in the market before the window closes. But, to end on a positive, the north London side finished last season (lost just one of their last eight) better than they started it (won just three of their first 11), there are reasons for Spurs fans to feel optimistic - even more so if Harry Kane can get through the season injury-free.

Verdict: Tottenham did better under Mourinho’s steering during the second half of last season, and may challenge for much-needed silverware, just not the league trophy.

WEST BROM

Manager: Slaven Bilic

Title odds: 1500-1
Key signings: Grady Diangana (£18m); Matheus Pereira (£8m)
Key departures: Nathan Ferguson (free)
Premier League finishes: N/A, N/A, 20th, 10th, 14th
Premier Points after first six league games: N/A, N/A, 8, 8, 8
2019/20 top scorers: Robson-Kanu (10 goals); Austin (10); Pereira (8)

Recent form:
Sep 5: Brighton 0 West Brom 0
Aug 29: West Brom 0 Nottingham Forest 1

First three games:
13 Sep: Leicester (home)
19 Sep: Everton (away)
26 Sep: Chelsea (home)

Bogey team: Man City (lost 13 in 13 games)
Best team: Aston Villa & Burnley (lost 1 in 6 games)

Top trend: West Brom scored in 20 of their 23 Championship away games last season - the joint-best in the division.

Bar Albion’s eight-year run in the Premier League which came to an end in 2018, many will expect West Brom to resume their role of slipping back down to the Championship - an occurrence that happened three times in 2009, 2006 and 2003. But, that was a long time ago, and the current Baggies outfit look a resilient lot.

Albion also have a proven man guiding the ship in Slaven Bilic, who has plenty of Premier League knowledge - it was only five years ago he steered West Ham to seventh in the top flight. And, that managerial experience in the Premier League cannot be underestimated, just ask Daniel Farke, who went straight back down with Norwich last season.

Grady Diangana has made a huge impact since arriving at the Hawthorns

There are even more positives on the pitch, as two of their most effective on-loan players from last term recently signed permanent contracts. Attacking midfielder Grady Diangana has signed a five-year deal from West Ham, and returned from injury in terrific form after lockdown notching three goals, along with numerous assists throughout the season. Then there is the Brazilian Matheus Pereira, who like Diangana, accumulated plenty of assists. The pair are also big favourites at the Hawthorns.

Talking of the Hawthorns, Baggies fans can also salivate at the prospect of renewing rivalry with Wolves for the first Black Country derby on home soil since 2011. Albion should be up to the challenge too, just as they were in the Championship when scoring the same number of goals as eventual champions Leeds, while putting together a run that saw them lose just once from the opening day of the season to Boxing Day - and that was at Leeds.

Verdict: West Brom may not prove the pushovers many expect, and Slaven Bilic’s top-flight experience will prove vital in keeping them afloat, which they should.

WEST HAM

Manager: David Moyes

Title odds: 750-1
Key signings: Tomas Soucek (£13m)
Key departures: Grady Diangana (£18m); Albian Ajeti (£4m); Roberto (free)
Premier League finishes: 16th, 10th, 13th, 11th, 7th
Points after first six league games: 11, 4, 4, 3, 12, 7
2019/20 top scorers: Antonio (10 goals), Haller (7), Snodgrass & Yarmolenko (5)

Recent form:
Aug 25: Ipswich 1 West Ham 4 (Haller 3, Soucek)
Aug 25: Wycombe 1 West Ham 5

First three games:
12 Sep: Newcastle (home)
19 Sep: Arsenal (away)
26 Sep: Wolves (home)

Bogey team: Brighton (0 win from 6 meetings)
Best team: Southampton (6 wins from 7)

Top trend: West Ham were behind at half-time on 10 occasions last season, and ended up losing all 10 games.

Another season in which West Ham fans will hope for more, but probably receive more of the same.

One of the astonishing facts about United, and a club of their size, is a lack of silverware. Incredibly, their last major trophy was the 1980 FA Cup - yes, forty years ago. Their fans must be yearning for some success to justify living at the London Stadium, and the man faced with changing their fortunes is David Moyes.

Overall, Moyes proved effective since going to the Hammers - twice - keeping them in the top flight, but he’ll want to make more of a statement in flying a touch higher. Indeed, he achieved just a 29% win rate with the club in 52 games so far, but there were signs at the end of last season he may have turned the tide. Lockdown came at the right time, as United were going nowhere at that point, but including their win over Chelsea at the start of July they lost only one of seven games. Moyes will want to kick-on from that, but the opening fixture list suggests it won’t be easy, with six of their first seven games against top ten rivals from last season, including Arsenal, Spurs, Man City and Liverpool.

Tomas Soucek scored three goals on loan last term and has signed permanently

A pretty stale summer in the market when losing more players than gained, also suggests Moyes has to knuckle down with what he’s got and try and coax more from last season’s expensive signings in Sebastien Haller (£36m) and Pablo Fornals (£25m), while the likes of Mark Noble aren’t getting any younger. There is still also a cloud hanging over them regarding England international Declan Rice staying, as Moyes would want to build a side around him rather than lose him to one of the bigger clubs.

On a positive note, the club did get acquire the permanent signing of Tomas Soucek, who notched three in just 13 games, and Moyes will need more of that if flying higher with the Hammers.

Verdict: West Ham finished last season well, but need to retain that level heading into a tough set of opening fixtures. United's fans are long overdue a cup run to Wembley, but any lapse in the league could spell trouble.

WOLVES

Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo

Title odds: 200-1
Key signings: Fabio Silva (£35m); Fernando Marcal (£2m)
Key departures: Matt Doherty (£15m); Helder Costa (£16m)
Premier League finishes
: 7th, 7th, N/A N/A N/A
Premier points after first six league games: 4, 9, 13, 9, 7, 13
2019/20 top scorers: Jimenez (17); Jota (7)

Recent form: N/A
First three games
:
14 Sep: Sheffield United (away)
21 Sep: Manchester City (home)
26 Sep: West Ham (away)

Bogey team: Liverpool (0 win in 7 games)
Best team: Burnley (3 wins in 4 games)

Top trend: From minutes 50-80 last season, Wolves scored 25 goals and conceded just four (25-4).

There is plenty to admire about Wolves’ achievements in recent seasons, and it’s easy to forget they were making it out of League One only seven years ago. Even more impressive is that Nuno Espirito Santo managed to repeat their seventh place finish from 2018/19, despite taking only four points from their opening six games, and playing an extra 17 games in Europe - an astonishing feat really.

Wolves broke the club record to sign teenage striker Fabio Silva

Arsenal’s FA Cup final win means Wolves are robbed of Europe this season, but time will tell if that is a positive rather than negative. It should help if injuries occur, as Wanderers don’t have the strongest squad to call on having lost Matt Doherty to Tottenham. But, there were a few signings of note as they broke the club record in risking £35m on youngster Fabio Silva from Porto, along with defender Fernando Marcal from Lyon. Silva is a teenage striker who netted just three times in over 20 games and was purchased more on what might come, rather than achievements to date. Whether that also spells the end of  of last season’s 17-goal hero Raul Jimenez remains to be see, but for the time being Jimenez is at Molineux. Keeping Jimenez would also be a huge bonus for a side that trusts a proven and successful 3-5-2 system, led so well by their mountain of a captain Conor Coady, who was recently called up to the England squad.

Overall, Wolves fans have much to look forward to this season, including the local derbies against old rivals West Brom, and if Wanderers - who recorded the double over Manchester City last time around - maintain the standard from the last two seasons, then they may even discover a higher level.

Verdict: Exciting times for Wolves fans, and their improving team look set for another good season, more so if keeping Raul Jimenez. A finish higher than seventh is possible.

Premier League team-by-team guide
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