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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Premier League club-by-club: How ready is your side for new season?

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The Premier League’s biggest clubs look even stronger going into the new season – Custom imageThe new Premier League season kicks off at Turf Moor on Friday night when Vincent Kompany’s Burnley face Treble winners Manchester City.Burnley were promoted as Championship winners, with Sheffield United and Luton Town also joining them in the top flight.City are strong favourites to retain their title, but Arsenal look well-placed to challenge after significant summer investment while there is reason to believe Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have improved.Newcastle United are back in the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03, Brighton are a thrilling watch while Aston Villa are going on a European tour with Unai Emery.Telegraph Football writers assess each team’s readiness for the new campaign. You can go directly to the team you support by using these links:AFC BournemouthArsenalAston VillaBrentfordBrightonBurnleyChelseaCrystal PalaceEvertonFulhamLiverpoolLuton TownManchester CityManchester UnitedNewcastle UnitedNottingham ForestSheffield UnitedTottenham HotspurWest Ham UnitedWolvesAFC BournemouthBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Gary O’Neil’s sacking came as a shock this summer but Bournemouth believe that Andoni Iraola is capable of taking the team to another level. The 41-year-old Spaniard is seen as one of Europe’s brightest young coaches after his success with Rayo Vallecano. Expect an ambitious and exciting style of play.How do the signings look?Justin Kluivert, the son of Dutch legend Patrick, is perhaps the most eye-catching addition. The 24-year-old winger has joined from Roma for around £10 million. New left-back Milos Kerkez is a highly-rated teenager who is reported to have cost around £15 million. But how will Bournemouth fare without Jefferson Lerma, their midfield general who has joined Crystal Palace?Anything else we need to know?David Brooks is not a new signing but he will feel like one after a 535-day absence as a result of a stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. Brooks made a handful of appearances towards the end of last season but now, with a pre-season under his belt, will look to remind the footballing world why he was so highly-rated a few years ago.Readiness rating: 6/10ArsenalBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Mikel Arteta is now the Premier League’s fourth longest-serving manager and the expectation from the club’s supporters is that he will lead Arsenal to another title charge this season. Widely regarded as one of the finest young managers in the game, he has reshaped the entire club over the last few years.How do the signings look?Record signing Declan Rice will need some time to adapt but could be a game-changing addition. Kai Havertz, who cost £65 million, should add another level of dynamism and attacking quality to the midfield. Jurrien Timber, meanwhile, can play across the back line. Brentford goalkeeper David Raya is poised to join and compete with Aaron Ramsdale.It has been a huge summer and Arsenal’s squad appears to be as strong as it has been for years. It helped Arteta that the club moved early in the window.Anything else we need to know?There will be concerns over the fitness of Gabriel Jesus, who will miss the start of the season due to a knee injury. Arsenal are a different team when the Brazilian plays and he will be missed. At least they have Bukayo Saka to lead the way. The young winger gets better with every year and he will terrify defences again.Readiness rating: 8/10Aston VillaBy John PercyWho’s the boss?Unai Emery is targeting a trophy this season and after producing such a stellar impact, who would bet against it?How do the signings look?The captures of Moussa Diaby and Pau Torres, in particular, underline why Villa are an emerging force.Anything else we need to know?Villa are returning to European competition for the first time since 2010 and Emery comes to life when the passports are rolled out.Readiness rating: 8/10Aston Villa have looked slick during pre-season and hopes are high – Getty Images/Eric AlonsoBrentfordBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Thomas Frank is an honest, engaging and inspirational coach who has helped Brentford to consistently punch above their weight in recent years. Under Frank’s guidance, Brentford are one of the best-organised teams in the Premier League, with a variety of different styles and formations they can use against different opponents.How do the signings look?Brentford paid a club-record fee of £23 million to sign centre-back Nathan Collins from Wolves and he should slot straight into the team. In the absence of the suspended Ivan Toney, Brentford will need young forward Kevin Schade (£22 million from Freiburg) to provide consistent attacking threat alongside Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa.Anything else we need to know?Do not forget about Keane Lewis-Potter, who joined from Hull City for around £16 million in July 2022 but barely featured last season due to various injury issues. This could be the young forward’s breakthrough campaign in the Premier League. New goalkeeper Mark Flekken is under pressure to fill the boots of David Raya, who is set to join Arsenal after years of excellent performances for Brentford.Readiness rating: 7/10BrightonBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Roberto De Zerbi seems to be heading to the top of the game. The big clubs are watching closely and Brighton cannot expect to keep the Italian for long. For Brighton and their supporters, the best approach is to enjoy this time while it is happening and worry later about what might come next.How do the signings look?Exciting. Brighton broke their transfer record to sign Joao Pedro from Watford for around £30 million, and the Brazilian has produced moments of genuine class in pre-season. He could be one of the players to watch this season. Mahmoud Dahoud, meanwhile, brings technical class and positional intelligence to a changing midfield.Anything else we need to know?Brighton have sold Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool and could also lose Moises Caicedo. At the time of writing, Chelsea are still pushing to sign the young midfielder. To lose both of those players is not unexpected for De Zerbi but it is a drastic overhaul in a key part of the pitch. Brighton might need a few weeks to settle.Readiness rating: 7/10Brighton have one of the most sought after managers in the game in Roberto De Zerbi – Getty Images/Glyn KirkBurnleyBy Mike McGrathWho’s the boss?After his glittering career as a player with Manchester City, Vincent Kompany’s managerial career started at Anderlecht before he guided Burnley to promotion from the Championship last season. His football is entertaining, as you might expect from an ex-City player, and he can enhance his reputation as one the most promising young coaches.How do the signings look?Real mix of arrivals from young players with huge potential such as James Trafford, who starred in the England Under-21 triumph at the Euros this summer, and Italian Under-20 forward Luca Koleosho. Nathan Redmond looks a shrewd free transfer and Kompany has used his network to land foreign signings such as German centre-back Jordan Beyer and Swiss forward Zeki Amdouni.Anything else we need to know?They have a very tough start to the season, starting with Kompany facing his former club City in their first Premier League game since winning the treble. They also face Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester United and Newcastle among their opening fixtures and their chance of getting a win on the board against Luton has been hit by a postponement due to Kenilworth Road upgrades.Readiness rating: 6/10ChelseaBy Matt LawWho’s the boss?Surely things can only get better? Mauricio Pochettino should certainly get the squad fitter and better organised, but there are still gaps and there is not much experience for him to call on. The lack of European competition gives Pochettino the chance to drill his squad on the training ground and European qualification, of any sort, must be the first aim.How do the signings look?Nicolas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku have impressed during pre-season, although a knee injury is now expected to keep Nkunku out until December.Anything else we need to know?There are still a number of issues to sort out, including the future of Romelu Lukaku who is training away from the main group.Readiness rating: 7/10Mauricio Pochettino is tasked with turning Chelsea’s fortunes around after a dismal season – Getty Images/Chris LeeCrystal PalaceBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Roy Hodgson will be 76 years old when the season begins and no one is pretending that this is the start of a bright new era at Crystal Palace. The former England manager is the definition of dependable, though, and he deserved to stay on after his rescue act last season.How do the signings look?At the time of writing, Palace have only signed Jefferson Lerma, who has arrived on a free from Bournemouth. It is not enough and Hodgson wants more players to arrive soon. Palace are closing in on Brazilian forward Matheus Franca, though, in a £26 million deal that will excite their supporters.Anything else we need to know?The loss of Wilfried Zaha to Galatasaray represents the main talking point of Palace’s summer. How will they cope without their star man? It has not helped that Michael Olise is attracting interest from bigger clubs, and could also leave. Palace need Eberechi Eze, in particular, to consistently demonstrate his class.Readiness rating: 3/10EvertonBy Chris BascombeWho’s the boss?Farhad Moshiri. There has been a regular hunt for scapegoats, but Everton has been the majority shareholders’ club for a while, albeit others have done little to halt the descent. Sean Dyche won favour by keeping the team up. He knows from experience that if he does not have a good start, his owner is one of the most trigger-happy in the Premier League.How do the signings look?Despite being in the twilight years of his career, the aptly named Ashley Young has not looked like a 38-year-old. Arnaut Danjuma has not been around long enough to make an impression yet. Dyche will need a few more signings in order to settle nerves that another season of grind is not imminent.Anything else we need to know?Every time it looks like Farhard Moshiri is facing his reckoning for poor leadership, somehow Everton survive. But they begin this season with a Premier League hearing and potential points deduction or transfer embargo beckoning. Their most important result may be off the pitch rather than on it.Readiness rating: 6/10FulhamBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Thankfully for Fulham, Marco Silva remains the man in the dugout at Craven Cottage. For a period of this summer, it looked like that would not be the case: Silva had a £40 million proposal from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli. After guiding Fulham to an impressive 10th-placed finish last season, he has cemented his status as one of the league’s best coaches.How do the signings look?Fulham have signed defender Calvin Bassey from Ajax for around £20 million, which looks on paper to be an excellent addition. They have also added Raul Jimenez from Wolves, for around £5 million, and will hope that the 32-year-old can rediscover his goalscoring form of old after a challenging few years. Another winger is on the radar.Anything else we need to know?Silva has rejected the riches of Saudi Arabia but Aleksandar Mitrovic has not been quite so keen to commit his future to Fulham. Mitrovic wants to leave after receiving a lucrative offer, but Fulham have so far blocked his departure. If he goes, Fulham will need to find a way of replacing his unique attacking threat as a matter of urgency.Readiness rating: 4/10Aleksandar Mitrovic leaving could prove a major problem for Fulham this season – Reuters/Hannah McKayLiverpoolBy Chris BascombeWho’s the boss?Jurgen Klopp.With Liverpool on their third sporting director in three years – and current occupant in the role Jorg Schmadtke only on a short-term deal – Klopp has never been more hands on with every aspect of the football operations. He is rebuilding with as much power as any Premier League manager other than Pep Guardiola.How do the signings look?Alexis Mac Allister looks like he will be one of the smartest, bargain signings of the summer. He can slot into several positions and has whet the appetite during pre-season. Dominik Szoboszlai has featured less having picked up a minor injury, but has also demonstrated his power and technique in glimpses.Anything else we need to know?The timing of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho’s sale was a disruption. Liverpool’s planning and execution in the transfer market – so acclaimed previously – has been tested and undermined, first by their struggle to buy an emerging number six and then by Saudi Arabia’s thrust for power. To lose five senior midfielders in one transfer window, regardless of certain unforeseen circumstances, is not clever.Readiness rating: 7/10Luton TownBy Sam DeanWho’s the boss?Rob Edwards is the 40-year-old mastermind behind Luton’s unlikely promotion, via the play-offs, last season. Edwards lasted just 11 games at Watford but he quickly made his mark at Kenilworth Road after Nathan Jones left for Southampton in November. Edwards is a coach on the rise and, you suspect, he might stay in the Premier League even if Luton do not.How do the signings look?Sensible. Luton have not gone transfer-crazy this summer, but they have still invested in the squad. Ryan Giles has joined the club from Wolves after excelling on loan at Middlesbrough last season, and former Manchester United winger Tahith Chong has signed for a reported £4 million. Crucially, they have also secured a permanent deal for Marvelous Nakamba, who was a key player on loan at Luton last season.Anything else we need to know?Luton fans will have to wait longer than everyone else for their first home game of the new campaign, after the club’s meeting with Burnley was postponed due to work taking place at Kenilworth Road. Luton are having to make drastic changes to their 10,000-seater ground in order to host Premier League football, including the construction of a new stand.Readiness rating: 5/10Manchester CityBy James DuckerWho’s the boss?Pep Guardiola is gearing up for his eighth season in charge and, having guided City to an historic Treble last season, is hoping to become the first manager to lead an English club to four consecutive top flight titles.How do the signings look?Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic is a shrewd signing at just £25m from Chelsea while his compatriot, Josko Gvardiol, has the makings of a great centre-back, even if he will need to deliver given his £77.8m price tag.Anything else we need to know?Captain Ilkay Gundogan joined Barcelona as a free agent and winger Riyad Mahrez has left for Saudi side Al Ahli. City are fighting to prevent any further break up of their Treble winning squad as they prepare a new contract for Bernardo Silva and wrestle to keep Kyle Walker out of Bayern Munich’s clutches. Juanma Lillo has rejoined Guardiola’s backroom staff following the departure of assistants Enzo Maresca and Rodolfo Borrell.Readiness rating: 7/10Manchester UnitedBy James DuckerWho’s the boss?The all-powerful Erik ten Hag has vowed to “raise the bar” during his second season at the Old Trafford helm after taking his spending in little over 15 months past the £400m barrier.How do the signings look?England midfielder Mason Mount has had a fairly underwhelming pre-season following his £55m move from Chelsea. Andre Onana looks a big upgrade in possession on David De Gea but United’s new goalkeeper was lobbed from 50 yards on his Old Trafford debut in a friendly against Lens. Denmark striker Rasmus Hojlund – a £64m signing from Atalanta – is due to miss the first game or two as he recovers from injury.Anything else we need to know?The Glazers have still to decide whether to sell the club and United are due to announce the results of their internal investigation into Mason Greenwood this week. Harry Maguire has been stripped of the captaincy with the armband handed to Bruno Fernandes instead, De Gea left as a free agent and Anthony Elanga has joined Nottingham Forest. There are likely to be more departures before the window closes with the likes of Dean Henderson and Fred expected to leave.Readiness rating: 7/10Rasmus Hojlund will be expected to lead the line for Manchester United this season – Getty Images/Ash DonelonNewcastle UnitedBy Luke EdwardsWho’s the boss?Eddie Howe is very much King Eddie on Tyneside given the remarkable job he has done in his one and a half seasons at St James’ Park. He knows this campaign will be tougher than last year with the Magpies in the Champions League but Howe has the knowledge, coaching ability and temperament to pull off another memorable campaign.How do the signings look?Sandro Tonali looks like a fine addition and the Italy international will strengthen an already formidable midfield unit. Harvey Barnes has replaced Allan Saint Maximin and may not be as exciting to watch but he has better end results in terms of goals and assists. Tino Livramento is one of the best young defenders in the country and will eventually replace Kieran Trippier.Anything else we need to know?Newcastle are way ahead of the curve in terms of where they expected to be under their Saudi Arabian owners. It is likely there will be some sort of reset this season domestically with Champions League football to get used to. How will fans and owners react if the team fall off the European qualification pace?Readiness rating: 7/10Newcastle’s purchase of Sandro Tonali was one of the statement signings of the summer – Getty Images/George WoodNottingham ForestBy John PercyWho’s the boss?Steve Cooper endured a rollercoaster of emotions last season and secured Premier League safety with a game to spare. The difficult second album will be another huge challenge for the Welshman.How do the signings look?After the record recruitment drive last year, this has been far more low-key yet the capture of Anthony Elanga from Manchester United is regarded as a significant coup. Cooper urgently needs more, however.Anything else we need to know?Forest’s City Ground was where they secured so many points last season and this season there will be a new pitch, after the old one was ripped up for the first time in 23 years.Readiness rating: 5/10Sheffield UnitedBy Mike McGrathWho’s the boss?Paul Heckingbottom took over from Slavisa Jokanovic on Nov 2021 and in almost two years in charge has managed to get the club into the Premier League with the backdrop of a failed takeover bid by Nigerian businessman Dozy Mmobuosi and an EFL transfer embargo concerning the default of payments to another club.How do the signings look?It has been slow going for the Blades this summer, having seen James McAtee and Tommy Doyle return to Manchester City following loans last season. Their signings come without Premier League experience, including Tunisian striker Anis Slimane from Brondby in Denmark, Bénie Traoré from BK Hacken in Sweden and Yasser Larouci loaned from French club Troyes. Auston Trusty from Arsenal was on loan in the Championship last season.Anything else we need to know?They have lost their most creative player in Iliman Ndiaye, who sealed his dream move to Marseille over the summer. Sander Berge, their best midfielder, has been targeted by Burnley for a move as he entered the final year of his contract. So it will be a tough ask for them to pick up where they left off in the Championship without their most impactful players from last season.Readiness rating: 2/10Tottenham HotspurBy Matt LawWho’s the boss?New head coach Ange Postecoglou has quickly learned about how chaotic being in charge of Tottenham can be and he must hope the Harry Kane saga gets resolved as soon as possible. James Maddison should help Spurs be better on the eye this season, but there are no guarantees the final results will be drastically better.How do the signings look?James Maddison will add much-needed creativity from midfield.Anything else we need to know?It is hard to look past the future of Harry Kane. Whether or not he stays or goes will have a huge bearing on Tottenham’s season.Readiness rating: 7/10Tottenham’s prospects may well depend on Harry Kane’s future – Getty Images/Vince MignottWest HamBy Matt LawWho’s the boss?David Moyes, but where has all the goodwill from the Europa Conference League success gone? West Ham always knew they would lose Declan Rice this summer, so why were signings not made in preparation, rather than waiting to bank the cash for the midfielder? It could be another difficult season for the Hammers.How do the signings look?West Ham did not make any signings in time to play in pre-season so new-boy Edson Alvarez will have to bed in quickly. James Ward-Prowse is expected to follow as a midfield addition.Anything else we need to know?The future of David Moyes was constantly in doubt last season and nothing appears to have changed with fears over his destiny clouding West Ham’s start to the season.Readiness rating: 5/10WolvesBy John PercyWho’s the boss?Gary O’Neil has replaced Julen Lopetegui, who parted ways with the club this week due to “differences of opinion” on transfers and strategy.How do the signings look?Almost non-existent. The arrival of former defender Matt Doherty on a free transfer is their only addition and Wolves’ financial issues have led to over £90m in sales.Anything else we need to know?Last season Wolves became only the fourth Premier League team who were bottom at Christmas to survive.Readiness rating: 4/10

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