PETER CROUCH'S ultimate guide to the Premier League season

PETER CROUCH’S ultimate guide to the Premier League season: The verdict on every club and their key players – and why Liverpool will retain the title with cash-rich Chelsea not able to overhaul them

  • The 2020-21 Premier League season gets back underway on Saturday
  • Liverpool head into the season as champions after dominating last season
  • Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch has his say on every top flight side 

The Premier League returns this weekend, as Liverpool begin the defence of their crown following a stunning runaway success last term.

But who will be the teams looking to challenge them for the title, and what else can we expect ahead of the unusually late start to the English domestic season?

Former Premier League striker and Sportsmail’s Peter Crouch gives his assessment on every top flight side ahead of the big kick-off. 

Sportsmail’s Peter Crouch gives his verdict on each club ahead of the Premier League season

Liverpool will head into the new Premier League season looking to keep a grip on their title

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: They really impressed me in the Community Shield against Liverpool last month. I like the fact they have managed to get the winning habit, too, as lifting that trophy — not to mention the FA Cup, when they beat Chelsea — will fill the squad with confidence.

Finally there seems to be excitement around the club again and you can see Pep Guardiola’s influence on Mikel Arteta. He’s tactically-shrewd and has made good signings with Willian from Chelsea and Gabriel from Lille.

Add in a striker like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and they can beat anyone on their day. They are a coming force and will push for a place in the top four.

MAJOR INS

Gabriel (Lille, £23m)

Willian (Chelsea, Free)

Pablo Mari (Flamengo, £7.2m)

Cedric Soares (Southampton, Free)

Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid, Loan)

MAJOR OUTS

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Roma, free) 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Mikel Arteta (Premier League win percentage: 45 per cent) 

Masterminded wins over Manchester City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup just months into his managerial career — but must improve league form if Arsenal are to challenge the top four.

KEY PLAYER

Willian

The Brazilian has enjoyed a brilliant career in England, winning pretty much everything at Chelsea. He’s 32 now, but if he can recreate form he showed in west London he will prove an excellent signing.

TITLE ODDS: 33-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 9-4 RELEGATION: 250-1 

Mikel Arteta is on a high heading into his first full season at Arsenal after lifting the FA Cup

ASTON VILLA

Last season: 17th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: My affection for the club who gave me my Premier League debut will never be diluted but, unfortunately, I fear they are in for another season of struggle. 

So much depends on Jack Grealish playing well and it is vital he continues the form that won him an England cap. 

The big money signing of Ollie Watkins took me by surprise. As much as Watkins impressed me at Brentford, it is a huge fee and it carries huge expectation. Villa spent a lot of money last summer and it only just about paid off. If they stay up again this year, they will have done well.

MAJOR INS

Ollie Watkins (Brentford, £27.7m)

Matty Cash (Nott’m Forest, £14.2m)

Ben Chrisene (Exeter, Undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS

Ross McCormack (Released)

Borja Baston (Leganes, Free)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Dean Smith (Premier League win percentage: 23.7 per cent)  

Despite huge spending on new players last summer, Villa struggled before a late rally — and good fortune — kept them up. Smith will be under pressure if Villa get off to a slow start.

KEY PLAYER

Jack Grealish 

Most goals, most assists and most minutes last season highlighted how vital the playmaker was to their great escape.  If he is still at Villa at the end of the transfer window, they should stay up.

TITLE ODDS: 1000-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 80-1 RELEGATION: 7-4 

Aston Villa will turn towards star man Jack Grealish to help keep them in the Premier League

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 

Last season: 15th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: The fact they have defied the odds and remained in the Premier League, when everyone had them down to be relegated straight after winning promotion, is a credit to the people in charge at The Amex Stadium. 

I cannot help but wonder, however, whether this story will run its course over the next nine months. They haven’t spent a lot of money — though Adam Lallana is a shrewd signing — and I worry whether they have enough goals in the team, especially after losing Glenn Murray. 

They will continue to play a nice brand of football but you need more than that to survive. They have something to prove. 

MAJOR INS

Adam Lallana (Liverpool, Free)

Joel Veltman (Ajax, £900,000)

Jensen Weir (Wigan, £500,000)

Lars Dendoncker (Club Brugge, Free)

Zak Emmerson (Oldham, Undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS

Anthony Knockaert (Fulham, £10.5m)

Aaron Mooy (Shanghai SIPG, £4m)

David Button (West Brom, £990,000)

Glen Murray (Watford, Loan)

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Graham Potter (Premier League win percentage: 23.7 per cent) 

Enjoyed an impressive debut season in the Premier League. Beat Arsenal home and away and never looked in danger of the drop after restart.

KEY PLAYER

Lewis Dunk

The England centre back signed a new long-term deal despite interest from bigger clubs and has been a rock at the heart of Brighton’s defence during their rise. 

TITLE ODDS: 750-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 50-1 RELEGATION: 7-2

Brighton enjoyed a solid first season under the management of Graham Potter

BURNLEY

Last season: 10th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: I said at the end of last season that Jurgen Klopp could not have got Burnley any higher than where Sean Dyche has taken them. The consistent job he has done has been outstanding and it’s incredible, really, that people now just take it for granted that they are top-flight regulars. 

But to consolidate that status, the club have got to invest. They have lost Jeff Hendrick to Newcastle, they could lose James Tarkowski and with Tom Heaton having gone to Aston Villa 12 months ago, Dyche has been stripped of some big characters.

I don’t see them being in danger at this stage but they need to support their manager and ensure his outstanding work continues. 

MAJOR INS

Will Norris (Wolves, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle, Free)

Joe Hart (Tottenham, Free)

Aaron Lennon (Released)

Ben Gibson (Norwich, Loan)

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Sean Dyche (Premier League win percentage: 30.5 per cent) 

Guided Burnley to another top half finish which is no mean feat given the resources of clubs he is competing against. Could this be his last season at Turf Moor? 

KEY PLAYER

Chris Wood

The underrated Kiwi has more to his game than physicality but is always a handful and has formed a formidable strike partnership with Ashley Barnes at Turf Moor. 

TITLE ODDS: 1000-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 80-1 RELEGATION: 11-4

Chris Wood has played a key role in helping Burnley become an established top flight club

CHELSEA

Last season: 4th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: So Frank Lampard is under pressure after spending £200million, is he? I don’t see it that way. There are times when clubs go on splurges and buy six or seven players but they leave you wondering how they will actually improve. 

Not Chelsea, who will easily finish in the top four. Each signing, from Timo Werner and all his promise to Thiago Silva and all his experience, will make this team so much better.

I am excited about how it is all going to work out and would go as far to say as I would buy a ticket to watch them play. I don’t see Chelsea winning the title this year — but that is what they are working towards.

MAJOR INS

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen, £72m)

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, £48m)

Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, £36m)

Ben Chilwell (Leicester, £50m)

Thiago Silva (PSG, Free)

Malang Sarr (Nice, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Willian (Arsenal, Free)

Pedro (Roma, Free)

Mario Pasalic (Atalanta, £13.4m)

Nathan (Atletico Mineiro, £2.7m)

Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace, Loan)

Ethan Ampadu (Sheff Utd, Loan)

Kenedy (Granada, Loan)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Frank Lampard (Premier League win percentage: 52.6 per cent) 

Impressive first season at the Bridge ended in disappointment with defeat in the FA Cup final. Has spent heavily but intelligently and will be expected to improve on last campaign. 

KEY PLAYER

Thiago Silva 

The veteran Brazilian centre-back can help shore up Lampard’s leaky defence — Chelsea shipped more than any other team in the top half last season. 

TITLE ODDS: 10-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 1-2 RELEGATION: 1500-1

The experienced defender Thiago Silva is one of many new arrivals at Chelsea this summer

CRYSTAL PALACE

Last season: 14th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: Given the way things fizzled out for Palace in the games post lockdown, it has been said to me that they are vulnerable and in danger of being relegated.

True, they might not be the most adventurous side around but that’s not a big deal. When you are organised, hardworking and know what it takes to stay in and around mid-table, that is generally where you will end up.

Roy Hodgson will get the results he needs and I can’t wait to see how Eberechi Eze, who they signed from Queens Park Rangers, links with Wilfried Zaha. The 22-year-old is full of promise and you should watch his progress keenly.

MAJOR INS

Eberechi Eze (QPR, £16m)

Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea, Loan)

Nathan Ferguson (West Brom, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

None

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Roy Hodgson (Premier League win percentage: 34.2 per cent)  

At 73, he is the Premier League’s oldest ever manager and has successfully rebuilt his reputation after THAT England defeat against Iceland. 

KEY PLAYER

Wilfried Zaha 

Didn’t quite reach the levels we expect from him last season but the winger is still Palace’s danger man. If he recaptures his best form, Palace will be clear of trouble. 

TITLE ODDS: 1000-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 80-1 RELEGATION: 9-4

Once again, Crystal Palace will be relying on the form of Wilfried Zaha to keep them out of trouble and away from the Premier League’s relegation zone

EVERTON 

Last season: 12th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: There is a lot of expectation amongst supporters on the back of the three signings they made this month. You can see the lure of Carlo Ancelotti, as Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez have all come to play for him.

Something tells me that it won’t be straightforward though. I can understand why fans are over the moon to have signed Rodriguez from Real Madrid but I think of my experience at Stoke.

We got Jese from Paris St Germain, who had previously been with Real, and thought he was going to be a worldbeater. He was anything but. I hope it works out for Everton but I see them in mid-table again. 

MAJOR INS

James Rodriguez (Real Madrid, £22.5m)

Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford, £19.9m)

Allan (Napoli, £22.5m)

Niels Nkounkou (Marseille, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice, £2m)

Marten Stekelenburg (Ajax, Free)

Oumar Niasse (Released)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Carlo Ancelotti (Premier League win percentage: 58.3 per cent) 

The Italian won everything as a player and manager but faces arguably his biggest challenge at Goodison. Will have been concerned how form tailed off at end of the season. 

KEY PLAYER

Richarlison

Arguably the only Everton player who would strengthen their rivals across Stanley Park. The Brazil forward has skill and workrate and is one of the club’s few recent transfer successes 

TITLE ODDS: 250-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 14-1 RELEGATION: 20-1

Richarlison will be relied upon to get Everton’s frontline firing at Goodison Park this term

FULHAM

Last season: 4th (Championship) 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: One of the results I cheered loudest after lockdown was Fulham’s win over Brentford in the Championship play-off final. Scott Parker is someone I have known for a long, long time right back to the days when we played for England youth teams. 

Scotty has done an incredible job to get Fulham back up at the first time of asking but I don’t think he will be under any illusions about the size of the task in front of him to keep them up.

One thing in his favour is that he has a proven Premier League striker in Aleksandar Mitrovic but it remains to be seen about the rest of the squad. They might surprise the doubters and I hope they do.

MAJOR INS

Anthony Knockaert (Brighton, £10.5m)

Harrison Reed (Southampton, £8.1m)

Kenny Tete (Lyon, £2.9m)

Antonee Robinson (Wigan, £2m)

Alphonse Areola (PSG, Loan)

Mario Lemina (Southampton, Loan)

MAJOR OUTS

Cody Drameh (Leeds, £1m)

Alfie Mawson (Bristol City, Loan)

Steven Sessegnon (Bristol City, Loan)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Scott Parker (Premier League win percentage: 30 per cent) 

Won play-offs to ensure an immediate return to the top flight for Fulham. Highly thought of but faces a huge test to keep Fulham out of trouble. 

KEY PLAYER

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Hit 26 last season to win promotion but can he score the goals they’ll need to survive? Fulham need their snarling striker to step up and do it in the top flight.

TITLE ODDS: 1000-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 150-1 RELEGATION: 10-11

Scott Parker (centre) took Fulham back into the Premier League after a play-off final triumph

LEEDS UNITED

Last season: 1st (Championship) 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT:  My first game out of the Premier League with Stoke in August 2018 was at Elland Road. We turned up thinking we would be fine but ended up being run all over by Leeds in Marcelo Bielsa’s English debut game.

I remember at one point saying to myself: ‘Who the **** are these?!’ They were brilliant, full of energy and intensity. Bielsa is a class act, his name and reputation known the world over.

He has given the people of Leeds the thing they have craved for 16 years and they will be one of the stories of the season. I believe they will comfortably stay up and can see them taking a couple of big scalps. 

MAJOR INS

Rodrigo (Valencia, £27m)

Helder Costa (Wolves, £16m)

Robin Kock (Freiburg, £11.7m)

Illan Meslier (Lorient, £5.85m)

Cody Drameh (Fulham, £1m)

Joel Gelhardt (Wigan, £900,000)

MAJOR OUTS

None

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Marcelo Bielsa (Premier League win percentage: N/A) 

The eccentric Argentinian’s breathless style of football will be a welcome addition to the Premier League — but will it work against the big boys? 

KEY PLAYER

Kalvin Phillips

The 24-year-old has flourished under Bielsa and was the Championship’s best midfielder last season. Has since been rewarded with an England call-up.

TITLE ODDS: 150-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 25-1 RELEGATION: 4-1

Marcelo Bielsa ended Leeds United’s 16-year exile from the Premier League by guiding them to the Championship title last season

LEICESTER CITY

Last season: 5th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: I could only feel sorry for them at the end of last season. If games had not been stopped for three months, I’m pretty sure they would have got the job done and finished in the Champions League places, where they had been since August. 

Have they missed their big chance? Well, I don’t think they will finish in the top four this season, particularly as all the big guns have strengthened.

They will definitely be in and around the top six or seven and the goals of Jamie Vardy will continue to be critical. My worry concerns the depth of their squad and how they cope with the demands of the Europa League. 

MAJOR INS

Timothy Castagne (Atalanta, £21.6m)

MAJOR OUTS

Ben Chilwell (Chelsea, £50m)

Andy King (Released)

Nampalys Mendy (Released)

George Thomas (QPR, Free)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Brendan Rodgers (Premier League win percentage: 47.1 per cent) 

After a brilliant first year at the club, form fell away badly and now he must ensure his players move on from the disappointment of missing out on the top four. 

KEY PLAYER

Jamie Vardy

Striker is the Peter Pan of the Premier League. At 33, Vardy is showing no signs of slowing down and, if anything, is getting better with age — winning the Golden Boot.

TITLE ODDS: 200-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 8-1 RELEGATION: 33-1

Despite missing out on the Champions League, Jamie Vardy ended last season as top scorer

LIVERPOOL

Last season: 1st

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: Maybe my heart is ruling my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve got family and friends in the city and I used to play for the club. But I am going to say here and now they are my tip to retain the title and it will take a brilliant team to stop them. 

People said the wheels came off a bit after lockdown once they had won the title. Come on! Human nature led them to relaxing a little after they had become champions. They were entitled to have a drink and enjoy what they had achieved.

It’s impossible to maintain intensity after you have reached your goal. To my eye, they are the best team in the land. Whoever finishes above them, wins it.

MAJOR INS

Konstantinos Tsimikas (Olympiacos, £11.7m)

MAJOR OUTS

Dejan Lovren (Zenit, £10.9m)

Ovie Ejaria (Reading, £3.5m)

Adam Lallana (Brighton, Free)

Nathaniel Clyne (Released)

Sheyi Ojo (Cardiff, Loan)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Jurgen Klopp (Premier League win percentage: 64.8 per cent) 

Finally delivered the title to Anfield after 30 years playing brand of football that blew rivals away. Finish above City and they’ll defend their crown. 

KEY PLAYER

Trent Alexander-Arnold 

Rivals now know what to expect from the league’s best right back — and that will be a challenge he must overcome. In a team of world-class stars, the 21-year-old local lad still stands out. 

TITLE ODDS: 15-8 TOP FOUR FINISH: 1-6 RELEGATION: 2000-1

Jurgen Klopp will be targeting back-to-back titles after a runaway campaign last season

MANCHESTER CITY

Last season: 2nd 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: They are the club that have given me the biggest regret this summer. If they had signed Lionel Messi, I would have volunteered to cover every single match they played, regardless of the destination. Had Messi come to England, it would have been game over.

As it is, we can only dream of what might have been and City will aim to reclaim their crown by proving they have put the inconsistencies of last season behind them.

I think Nathan Ake is a good signing and a fit Aymeric Laporte will make a huge difference. They are as good as Liverpool as an attacking force — they need to match them defensively to overhaul them.

MAJOR INS

Nathan Ake (Bournemouth, £40m)

Ferran Torres (Valencia, £20.7m, right)

Pablo Moreno (Juventus, £9m)

Yan Couto (Coritiba, £5.4m)

Issa Kabore (Mechelen, £4m)

MAJOR OUTS

Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich, £40.5m)

David Silva (Real Sociedad, Free)

Claudio Bravo (Real Betis, Free)

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Pep Guardiola (Premier League win percentage: 74.3 per cent)  

After two near-perfect league seasons playing sumptuous football, the ease with which Liverpool won the title will have hurt. He’ll be up for this. 

KEY PLAYER

Kevin de Bruyne

Sublime midfielder won Player of the Season despite Liverpool coasting to the title. At 29 he’s coming into his prime and will be hurting after last season. 

TITLE ODDS: 4-5 TOP FOUR FINISH: 1-33 RELEGATION: 2000-1

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has plenty to think about after his side’s domestic dominance came to a sudden end

MANCHESTER UNITED

Last season: 3rd 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: I like what they are doing. They reached the Champions League with a power-packed finish to last season and the arrival of Bruno Fernandes was the catalyst for a sustained run of good form.

They are only going to get stronger. It is going to be interesting to see how it all fits together, as I look at a midfield of Donny van de Beek, Fernandes and Paul Pogba and wonder who will take what role. How do they all start together if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plays a front three?

What we can’t question is the excitement that players such as Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford are creating. They will be in the top four again.

MAJOR INS

Donny van de Beek (Ajax, £35.1m)

MAJOR OUTS

Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan, Free)

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Oldham, Free) 

Angel Gomes (Released)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Premier League win percentage: 42.9 per cent) 

Lost three semi-finals last season but 14-game unbeaten run took United back into the Champions League. Can he close gap on the top two though?

KEY PLAYER

Bruno Fernandes

What a difference the Portuguese midfielder made to United after his £67million January move. Creates, scores and likes a challenge — Fernandes looks like one of the club’s best signings in years.

TITLE ODDS: 14-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 8-15 RELEGATION: 1500-1

Bruno Fernandes’s January arrival spurred Manchester United on towards Champions League qualification in the second half of the season

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Last season: 13th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: One of the most pleasing themes of late summer has been seeing Steve Bruce get the players in he has wanted.

The additions of Jeff Hendrick, Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson and Jamal Lewis will make Newcastle significantly stronger and I don’t for one moment see them facing trouble this season. 

Steve had a tough time last year, following the popular Rafa Benitez, but he got on with his work and kept Newcastle up. For all the talk of takeovers and investment, I am delighted to see he has got another opportunity and I believe he wanted to sign Eberechi Eze too to give the fans excitement. It’s time for the negativity that has gripped the club to disappear.

MAJOR INS

Callum Wilson (Bournemouth, £20m)

Jamal Lewis (Norwich, £14.9m)

Jeff Hendrick (Burnley, Free)

Mark Gillespie (Motherwell, Free)

Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest, free)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Steve Bruce (Premier League win percentage: 28.1 per cent) 

Exceeded expectations to ensure they were never in danger of the drop but fans want excitement and it was in short supply at St James’ last season.

KEY PLAYER

Allan Saint-Maximin

One of the few players capable of getting Newcastle fans off their seats, the winger enjoyed an electric first season in the Premier League. Now can he keep improving? 

TITLE ODDS: 500-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 50-1 RELEGATION: 15-8

Winger Allan Saint-Maximin was of the few stand-out stars for Newcastle United last season 

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Last season: 9th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: The fairytale in July would have seen Chris Wilder’s team cap a magnificent first season back in the Premier League by qualifying for Europe. They were devastated when they missed out but I don’t think that was the worst thing in the world.

Europe for a club like Sheffield United can be debilitating and unsettling. I saw it first hand at Stoke and was told about the effect it had on Burnley. I would have hated to see all the good work they did come undone by that Thursday-Sunday schedule.

As it is, I expect them to thrive once again. They will be fighting to be in the top eight. I’m absolutely certain. 

MAJOR INS

Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth, £18.45m)

Wes Foderingham (Rangers, Free)

Oliver Burke (Swap, West Brom)

Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea, Loan)

Jayden Bogle (Derby, undisclosed)

Max Lowe (Derby, undisclosed)

MAJOR OUTS

Leon Clarke (Released)

Callum Robinson (Swap, West Brom)

 

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Chris Wilder (Premier League win percentage: 36.8 per cent) 

Proved to be the surprise package last season with his fluid 3-5-2 system bamboozling opponents and nearly taking the Blades into Europe. 

KEY PLAYER

Aaron Ramsdale

Dean Henderson was a big part of Sheffield United enjoying a superb first season back and all eyes will be on his big-money replacement. Ramsdale has big gloves to fill. 

TITLE ODDS: 500-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 40-1 RELEGATION: 4-1

Aaron Ramsdale has much to prove at the Blades after replacing Dean Henderson in goal

SOUTHAMPTON

Last season: 11th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT:  The turnaround that Ralph Hasenhuttl oversaw last winter was remarkable. I didn’t hold out much hope for Saints after that 9-0 defeat by Leicester but the way they got themselves back up the table was a credit to the manager.

It helped, of course, having a striker like Danny Ings. I know people at Liverpool who would have loved to have kept him as a back-up but he had to leave to play.

He nearly won the Golden Boot and he, alone, will be worth 12-14 points for his team. He’ll keep them marching on. 

MAJOR INS

Kyle Walker- Peters (Tottenham, £12m)

Mohammed Salisu (Real Valladolid, £10.8m)

MAJOR OUTS

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham, £15m)

Harrison Reed (Fulham, £8.1m)

Cedric Soares (Arsenal, Free)

Maya Yoshida (Sampdoria, Free)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Ralph Hasenhuttl (Premier League win percentage: 37.7 per cent) 

KEY PLAYER

Danny Ings

His big move to Liverpool was ruined by injury but the striker responded well and has been in sensational form. No surprise Saints want him to sign a new deal. 

TITLE ODDS: 500-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 40-1 RELEGATION: 9-1

Danny Ings’ stunning form for Southampton last term earned him a recall to the England squad

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Last season: 6th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: They have provided one of the highlights of the summer with the Amazon documentary! I’ve loved every episode so far and the chance to get an insight into how Jose Mourinho works has been fascinating.

People are quick to say Jose is finished but I am not having it. You can’t keep looking to the past and how he was in his first spell at Chelsea or even 10 years ago at Inter Milan. I am pretty sure he will do well with Spurs.

I don’t think they will finish in the top four this season but he will want to win a trophy. He is a serial winner and he will have his eyes firmly on a piece of silverware. 

MAJOR INS

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton, £15m)

Matt Doherty (Wolves, £15m)

Joe Hart (Burnley, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton, £12m)

Jan Vertonghen (Benfica, Free)

Luke Amos (QPR, undisclosed)

Michael Vorm (Released)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Jose Mourinho (Premier League win percentage: 61.3 per cent) 

Entertaining even if his football isn’t. Mourinho is a serial winner and has vowed to end the club’s 12-year trophy drought — but can he deliver on that promise? 

KEY PLAYER

Harry Kane

The England captain looked back to his prolific best as the season concluded. Mourinho will be desperate to make good on his promise of silverware and help convince his star striker his future is at Spurs. 

TITLE ODDS: 50-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 10-3 RELEGATION: 100-1

Jose Mourinho will be desperate to help Tottenham Hotspur win their first trophy since 2008

WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Last season: 2nd (Championship) 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT: It has been a difficult summer since they won promotion. I met Slaven Bilic at St George’s Park when they were using the facility for pre-season training and he told me of his ambitions and eagerness to get a squad together that can stay up. 

The signing of Grady Diangana is very exciting. He played a key role in them bouncing back out of the Championship in Bilic’s first season and the investment West Brom have made shows how highly they rate him.

Success over the next 12 months would simply be to stay up but it is going to be close. How they cope with the tough spells will be crucial. 

MAJOR INS

Grady Diangana (West Ham, £18m)

Matheus Pereira (Sporting Lisbon, £8.2m)

David Button (Brighton, £990,000)

Cedric Kipre (Wigan, £990,000)

Callum Robinson (Sheffield United, Swap)

MAJOR OUTS

Jonathan Leko (Birmingham, £1m)

Nathan Fergsuon (C Palace, Free)

Oliver Burke (Sheffield United, Swap)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Slaven Bilic (Premier League win percentage: 34.5 per cent) 

The engaging Croat has unfinished business in the top flight after his sacking by West Ham in 2017 but succcess this season would be survival.  

KEY PLAYER

Matheus Pereira

Brazilian winger lit up the Championship and Bilic will be hoping the 24-year-old can make the step up now his loan has been made permanent.

TITLE ODDS: 1000-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 150-1 RELEGATION: EVENS

Slaven Bilic’s target will be maintaining West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League status

WEST HAM UNITED 

Last season: 16th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT:  There are grounds for thinking they should be nicknamed ‘The Rollercoaster Club’ as you never know when the ups and downs are coming. If you look at what has happened in their build-up to the new season, with unhappy players and bad results, you’d have them down for being relegated.

They have got a good, solid manager in David Moyes and he will get them organised. He didn’t get enough credit for keeping them up last season and has made some good signings but he really needs a defender to keep it all together.

They will suffer at times, as they seem to do most seasons, but I expect they will have enough in reserve to retain their status.

MAJOR INS

Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague, £14.5m)

MAJOR OUTS

Grady Diangana (West Brom, £18m)

Albian Ajeti (Celtic, £4.95m)

Jordan Hugill (Norwich, £2.9m)

Roberto (Real Valladolid, Free)

Jeremy Ngakia (Watford, Free)

Pablo Zabaleta (Released)

Carlos Sanchez (Released)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

David Moyes (Premier League win percentage: 38.3 per cent) 

Now in his second spell at West Ham, Moyes is another experienced manager out to prove the doubters — including fans of his own club — wrong.

KEY PLAYER

Michail Antonio

Better than many give him credit for, Antonio hit eight goals in nine games during Project Restart and the forward remains a vital member of the Hammers squad.

TITLE ODDS: 500-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 40-1 RELEGATION: 4-1

Forward Michail Antonio was in excellent form for West Ham United during the restart 

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 

Last season: 7th 

CROUCHIE’S VERDICT:  I love them. I love the manager, I love the group of players he has assembled. They put a smile on my face and I knew two years ago, when Stoke played them in a friendly at the Bet365 Stadium, they were going places fast.

They are rightly regarded as a top Premier League club now. Without the demands of Europe, they will be pushing and pressuring Arsenal and Manchester United for that fourth Champions League place.

The fact they have kept Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore has only strengthened their claims. He’s got everything — a proper No 9 who will score a lot of goals once again.

MAJOR INS

Fabio Silva (Porto, £36m)

Marcal (Lyon, £1.8m)

Luke Matheson (Rochdale, £1m)

Vitinha (Porto, Loan)

Matija Sarkic (Aston Villa, Free)

MAJOR OUTS

Helder Costa (Leeds, £16m)

Matt Doherty (Tottenham, £15m)

Will Norris (Burnley, undisclosed)

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Nuno Espirito Santo (Premier League win percentage: 40.8 per cent) 

Hugely impressive first two seasons in the Premier League but can he take the next step and challenge for a place in the top six? 

KEY PLAYER

Raul Jimenez

Mexican striker is the main man at Molineux, averaging a goal every 2.5 games since signing in 2018. His physical presence is a perfect fit for the Premier League.

TITLE ODDS: 200-1 TOP FOUR FINISH: 13-2 RELEGATION: 33-1

Wolves will be looking towards striker Raul Jimenez to fire them into the top six this season




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