A summer of stability, with key players signing contracts instead of leaving, the long-term goalkeeper problem settled in the sweetest manner possible and a victory over Jose Mourinho. Arsène Wenger’s summer could hardly have gone better. If he can land another stellar recruit, such as Karim Benzema, it may just be enough to win the title.
Last five seasons (2011-15) 4, 3, 4, 4, 3
Net spend £8m
Key signing Petr Cech
Villa fans know better than to make swift judgements. They started last season so well that Paul Lambert was given a new contract and barely won another game. So the jury remains out on Tim Sherwood, with last season’s FA Cup run providing evidence for prosecution and defence. He certainly has potential, but replacing Benteke, Delph and maybe Vlaar too will be testing.
Last five seasons 9, 16, 15, 15, 17
Key signing Rudy Gestede
Net spend -£5m
Eddie Howe has had the golden touch on the South Coast so far, but this will be a challenging season. He has invested shrewdly, in a mix of experience and promise, and retained the likes of Callum Wilson, Matt Ritchie and Harry Arter. Dean Court is hardly a fortress but its close quarters will make life uncomfortable for some visitors.
Last five seasons 6 (League One), 11 (League One), 2 (League One), 10 (Championship), 1 (Championship)
Net spend £8m
Key signing Tyrone Mings
It is seven seasons since the Premier League crown was retained and though Jose Mourinho did it in 2005-06 there is tougher competition now. There is also, however much he denies it, a burning desire finally to win the Champions League with Chelsea. A quiet summer so far in the market so maybe the talented kids will get a chance to step up, but do not bet on it.
Last five seasons 2, 6, 3, 3, 1
Net spend -£12m
Key signing Radamel Falcao
Many years ago Ron Noades predicted Crystal Palace could become a superclub, drawing on all south London from a new stadium. They are still at Selhurst Park, atmospheric, tarted up, but dated nonetheless, yet on the pitch huge strides are being made, symbolised by the Yohann Cabaye coup. Suddenly Alan Pardew has a squad that could be pushing for Europe.
Last five seasons 20, 17, 5 (all Championship), 11, 10
Net spend £26m
Key signing Yohan Cabaye
A pivotal campaign for Roberto Martinez, whose team failed to match his rhetoric last season. Pretty football is all very well, but even the School of Science needs defenders and the probable departure of John Stones (albeit at a huge profit) will leave a hole. However, the absence of Europa League matches ought to ensure more consistency.
Last five seasons 7, 7, 6, 5, 11
Net spend £4m
Key signing Tom Cleverley
Relegated 11 times from the top flight in total, and already a 12th looks likely. Losing Nigel Pearson – not everyone’s favourite but he worked a miracle last season – was a blow, but not as much as losing Esteban Cambiasso. Claudio Ranieri was an odd choice as manager and he will need all his experience to keep the Foxes running.
Last five seasons 10, 9, 6, 1 (all Championship), 14
Net spend £20m
Key signing Robert Huth
It is possible, in the absence of Suarez, Sterling and Gerrard, others will step from the chorus line and shine as Henderson has done, but by no means certain. Brendan Rodgers (now the division’s second longest-serving manager) has a surfeit of attacking options, but doubts linger over the defence. James Milner is a good signing, so too Nathaniel Clyne, but at a combined £60m Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke look expensive.
Last five seasons 6, 8, 7, 2, 6
Net spend £20m
Key signing Christian Benteke
Increasingly appears as if this will be a season of marking time at the Etihad as Manuel Pellegrini, with his customary quiet decency, holds the fort until Pep Guardiola arrives next summer. To that end Pellegrini’s contract extension is bizarre. English-accented recruitment campaign looks designed to meet quota conditions, and build for the long term, rather than regain the title this season.
Last five seasons 3, 1, 2, 1, 2
Net spend £65m
Key signing Raheem Sterling
A second successive summer of lavish spending – with more to follow – means Louis Van Gaal has run out of excuses. This is now largely his team – if he can work out which XI to play and how to deploy them. A title challenge is imperative, and possible, but it may be too much, too soon. The Dutchman still has goalkeeping issues, which he has strangely failed to address.
Last five seasons 1, 2, 1, 7, 4
Net spend £19m
Key signing Matteo Darmian
For once Mike Ashley has eschewed shopping in the French transfer market’s equivalent of Sports Direct for premium products from the Low Countries. But there remains a toxic odour at a club who have alienated media and public. Is Steve McClaren really the man to restore faith and joy?
Last five seasons 12, 5, 16, 10, 15
Net spend £37m
Key signing Georginio Wijnaldum
Alex Neil has made an extraordinary start to management but this will be a test. Transfer activity has been restrained and staying up depends on narrow margins. After three promotions and two relegations in seven seasons a nice quiet season of mid-table mediocrity would be welcome.
Last five seasons 2 (Championship), 12, 11, 18, 3 (Champ)
Net spend £10m
Key signing Robbie Brady
After they coped with the 2014 exodus of talent, replacing Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin should be easy but can they really do it again? There is a Dutch accent at St Mary’s (as there is at many other clubs) but also young native talent. Europa League involvement will cost them points, but they should not be in danger.
Last five seasons 2 (League One), 2 (Championship), 14, 8, 7
Net spend -£16m
Key signing Jordy Clasie
Mark Hughes appears determined to test the old saw about whether Barcelona players could do it on a wet Tuesday at the Britannia by bringing as many as possible to the Potteries. The Catalanisation of Stoke has, though, been a success and another comfortable season should be in prospect, though the loss of Ryan Shawcross for the start of the campaign may stymie European ambitions.
Last five seasons 13, 14, 13, 9, 9
Net spend £-2m
Key signing Marco van Ginkel
Will Dick Advocaat regret staying on for one more year? Wearside seems locked in a spiral of misplaced hope, leavened only by the tragicomedy on Tyneside. One top-10 finish in 14 seasons (10th in 2010-11) suggests there is no quick fix. Yann M’Vila is an interesting signing.
Last five seasons 10, 13, 17, 14, 16
Net spend £5m
Key signing Younes Kaboul
Garry Monk has done an extraordinary job so far, but Swansea’s distance from the capital means it has been undervalued. André Ayew is a smart signing and the Swans will be good to watch going forward. A well-run, locally owned club who deserve to prosper, and should do so. Could edge out Liverpool or Spurs from Europa League.
Last five seasons 3 (Championship), 11, 9, 12, 8
Net spend -£10m
Key signing Andre Ayew
A modest summer’s spending, but a good one. Harry Kane has been retained, the bulk of a new defence bought, and a lot of post-Bale dead wood cleared out. That should leave scope for a high quality new striker. But breaking into the top four still looks unlikely and Mauricio Pochettino’s desire to compete in Europe could be a problem.
Last five seasons 5, 4, 5, 6, 5
Net spend -£10m
Key signing Toby Alderweireld
Difficult to predict what will happen at Vicarage Road. Premier League wealth should make this the focus of the Pozzos’ club empire and heavy summer spending suggests it now is, whatever they are telling Udinese fans. But there is another new manager in the dugout who has no English experience and this is a hard league in which to recover from a bad start.
Last five seasons 14, 11, 3, 13, 2 (all Championship)
Net spend £25m
Key signing Etienne Capoue
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Having steadied Albion’s sinking ship last season is Tony Pulis now expected just to keep them afloat in preparation for a sale, or to kick on and be more expansive? The signings so far are uninspiring, reflecting boardroom uncertainty. It may be another year of grinding out results with just enough to steer clear of the drop.
Last five seasons 11, 10, 8, 17, 13
Net spend £10m
Key signing Rickie Lambert
WEST HAM UNITED
Twelve months and counting until West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium. Growing confidence is illustrated by the Davids, Gold and Sullivan, replacing Sam Allardyce, who could have been expected to have kept them up this season, with Slaven Bilic, who is more likely to attract the fans needed to fill the venue. Can expect mid-table safety now Europa League is not a distraction.
Last five seasons 20, 3 (Championship), 10, 13, 12
Net spend £17m
Key signing Dimitri Payet
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