Tottenham Hotspur gave Leicester City a run for their money last season, but slipped up at the most crucial point in their campaign. Will the 2016/17 season see the Lilywhites wrap their hands around the title or will they once again fall short of Premier League glory?
After the disappointment of losing second place to Arsenal on the final day of last term, Tottenham have been fairly quiet during the off-season with the addition of just two players.
As was proved by champions Leicester, stability can count for a substantial amount in the Premier League and, so far, Spurs have managed to hang onto all of their key players from the previous campaign, and the two they have added are sure to play a big role in 2016/17.
However, they have not been nearly as active in the transfer market as their rivals and they will need to prove that a settled squad can match the skill of some truly massive signings by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Transfer dealings: Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has continued the job he started last season, trimming the fat from his squad, with Alex Pritchard departing for Norwich, Grant Ward was sold to Ipswich, while Filip Lesniak and Federico Fazio were loaned out to Slovan Liberec and Roma respectively. The Argentine coach also finally heeded the call for some back-up for striker Harry Kane by bringing in prolific Dutchman Vincent Janssen.
Confirmed signings: Victor Wanyama (Southampton – undisclosed), Vincent Janssen (AZ Alkmaar – undisclosed).
First five fixtures:
August 13: Everton (a)
August 20: Crystal Palace (h)
August 27: Liverpool (h)
September 10: Stoke City (a)
September 18: Sunderland (h)
Swansea have a lot of work to do ahead of the start of the new Premier League season after they inexplicably decided to start offloading all of their top players in recent weeks with no replacements lined up.
The stability that saw them molded into a stable mid-table team has evaporated in a matter of days and they are now being talked about as strong contenders for relegation this term.
Swans manager Francesco Guidolin reportedly lost his control over transfer dealings due to his ill-advised purchase of Alberto Paloschi for £8 million in January and it could prove fatal to the club’s survival hopes.
Transfer dealings: Swansea fans have seen the departures of European Championship hero Eder to Lille, Paloschi to Atlanta, Bafetimbi Gomis to Marseille on loan, Andre Ayew to West Ham and Ashley Williams to Everton, effectively breaking the spine of their team. This is all in spite of the fact the new television deal came into effect this season meaning, as a club with no debt, there was no real reason to sell any of their players.
Confirmed signings: Leroy Fer (Queens Park Rangers – undisclosed), Mike van der Hoorn (Ajax – undisclosed), Tyler Reid (Manchester United – undisclosed), George Byers (Watford – free), Mark Birighetti (Newcastle Jets – free), Fernando Llorente (Sevilla – undisclosed), Borja Baston (Atletico Madrid – £15.5m).
First five fixtures:
August 13: Burnley (a)
August 20: Hull City (h)
August 27: Leicester City (a)
September 11: Chelsea (h)
September 18: Southampton (a)
Last season was Watford’s first in the Premier League since 2006/07 and they managed a very respectable 13th-placed finish after spending most of the first half of the campaign in the top half of the table.
It was an impressive achievement and made it all the more peculiar when Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked by the Hornets at its conclusion.
New boss Walter Mazzarri has claimed he is doesn’t feel any extra pressure, but both he and the club’s owners may be signing a different tune if they don’t start well this term.
Transfer dealings: Watford brought in 16 players at the start of last season and, while there have been some comings and goings, the squad looks much more settled this time around. Jose Manuel Jurado followed Flores to Espanyol, but they have shored up defensively with the acquisitions of Brice Dja Djedje and Christian Kabasele.
Confirmed signings: Jerome Sinclair (Liverpool – undisclosed), Christian Kabasele (Genk – undisclosed), Isaac Success (Granada – undisclosed), Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli – loan), Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille – undisclosed).
First five fixtures:
August 13: Southampton (a)
August 20: Chelsea (h)
August 27: Arsenal (h)
September 10: West Ham United (a)
September 18: Manchester United (h)
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom manager Tony Pulis did not inspire confidence when he responded to questions about where his squad needed strengthening by telling the Express and Star: “All over. Every position that you look at. The back players, midfield players and front players, we have to strengthen. The targets have been there, we know what we want.”
Everyone involved in the club will be hoping Albion’s new owners will be willing to sink some money into improving the squad, but for the moment they have remained unnervingly quiet on that front.
Transfer dealings: Victor Anichebe, Stephane Sessegnon and Anders Lindegaard were all released by the Baggies at the end of their contracts during the off-season and Matt Phillips remains the only new arrival to date, meaning all those areas Pulis mentioned still need strengthening.
Confirmed signings: Matt Phillips (Queens Park Rangers – undisclosed).
West Ham United
West Ham will begin the 2016/17 campaign full of confidence backed by their superb performances last term, which saw them grab an impressive seventh place ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton.
Not only have the Hammers been able to hold onto all of their top stars, such as Dimitri Payet, despite intense interest from Europe’s top clubs, they have also strengthened with no less than nine players signed so far, with manager Slaven Bilic talking about still wanting to bring in five more.
The only concern for the London club is that too many new faces might upset the balance Bilic clearly found with his players last term, coupled with the fact it’s a bit of a down vote in confidence for the players who did so well to secure seventh to see themselves steadily replaced.
Transfer dealings: Other than the release of Joey O’Brien and Elliot Lee, the only player to depart West Ham is James Tomkins, who was sold to Crystal Palace for a cool £10 million. On the other hand they have signed some truly big-name reinforcements to aid their hopeful push into a potential Champions League place.
Confirmed signings: Toni Martinez (Valencia – undisclosed), Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Monchengladbach – free), Domingos Quina (free), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia – free transfer), Gokhan Tore (Besiktas – loan), Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United – undisclosed), Arthur Masuaku (Olympiacos – undisclosed), Andre Ayew (Swansea City – £20.5m), Jonathan Calleri (Deportivo Maldonado – loan).