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Premier League preview, every team analysed, big transfers, Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, latest, updates

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It’s almost that time of year.

The thudding of thousands of footsteps going down the stairs and into their seats across 20 different stadiums.

The sound of pints clinking at pubs before games.

The roar of the crowd as the players walk out onto the pitch and the Premier League anthem blares out across the ground.

The Premier League is back for the 2023/24 season and there’s three new faces, including a completely new face in the top flight.

Billions of pounds have also been traded across the continent and the world as the 20 clubs strengthen their squads for the season ahead.

So, who are the likely contenders this season and who might struggle keeping their head afloat?

Foxsports.com.au takes a look at every club in a bumper 23/24 Premier League Preview!

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ARSENAL

Last season’s finish: 2nd

Biggest summer transfer: Declan Rice (£105m from West Ham United)

Manager: Mikel Arteta

Key player: Gabriel Jesus

Unfortunately, the final round of the season was not one of them as Mikel Arteta’s side simply ran out of juice and opened the door for Manchester City to win their third Premier League title in a row.

Although the manner in which Arsenal’s season fizzled out, it did not take away from the fact it was their equal-highest league finish in almost 20 years and secured a return to the Champions League.

It was a season seldom few, if any, saw coming.

But with what Arsenal have done in the transfer market this summer, they are making all the right noises to prove it was not just a flash in the pan.

The Gunners shattered the British transfer record to snap up West Ham captain Declan Rice, adding extra steel and guile into their midfield engine room.

Declan Rice moved to the Emirates for a British record fee. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Declan Rice moved to the Emirates for a British record fee. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

In addition to Rice, German International Kai Havertz was snapped up from Chelsea while the Gunners also added versatile defender Jurrien Timber to their ranks to take their summer spending to £208 million ($AUD406 million).

With a highly impressive – and expensive – trio of summer signings, there can be no excuse for Arteta should Arsenal finish further away from the title this season.

One player pivotal to Arsenal’s fortunes this season will be Gabriel Jesus, who helped change the way Arsenal played in and around the 18-yard box while also scoring 11 goals.

However, the Brazilian international likely would have had even more to his name if it were not for a knee injury which ruled him out for 12 games across the festive season and into March.

Jesus’ goal tally will no doubt be aided by the presence of star winger Bukayo Saka, who provided 11 assists and bagged 14 goals of his own last season.

If those two enjoy similar seasons at the very least, expect Arsenal to once again be jostling for the title.

Mikel Arteta received big backing in the transfer market. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)Source: AFP

ASTON VILLA

Last season’s finish: 7th

Biggest summer transfer: Moussa Diaby (£51.9m from Bayer Leverkusen)

Manager: Unai Emery

Key player: Ollie Watkins

Unai Emery’s stunning revival of the Midlands outfit in the wake of Steven Gerrard’s sacking helped secure a Europa Conference League spot on the final day of the 2022/23 campaign.

Now, the challenge for Emery and Villa becomes about maintaining the high bar they have set for themselves.

The club wasted little time in strengthening, signing Youri Tielemans on a free deal from Leicester City, Pau Torres from Villarreal as well as breaking their transfer record for French forward Moussa Diaby.

Crucially, all three players bring vital experience of European nights along with a manager who has four Europa League titles to his name.

Although the summer trio add an extra layer of quality to the team, Emery revitalised the fortunes of several players already on the club’s books which raised the collective quality of the team.

Tyrone Mings worked his way back into the England squad after impressing at centre-back, skipper John McGinn found a new lease of life in the midfield while Ollie Watkins scored 13 goals in 24 games after Emery came through the door at Villa Park.

As the club’s main striker and a relentless pressing machine up front, Watkins will once again be pivotal to Villa’s success and will look to break the 20-goal mark in the Premier League, a feat no Villa player has been able to achieve to date.

Emery guided Villa back to European football for the first time since the 2010/11 season. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

BOURNEMOUTH

Last season’s finish: 15th

Biggest summer transfer: Milos Kerkez (£18m from AZ Alkmaar)

Manager: Andoni Iraola

Key player: Dominic Solanke

Bournemouth exceeded all expectations last season after a disastrous start including a 9-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool. But after remarkably managing to avoid relegation, there are some key issues they need to address if they are to move up the table.

The biggest is their miserable record at set pieces – they conceded way more goals from those situations than any other team last year – while they also must stop falling apart and giving away two-goal leads. That was a sign of a poor mentality, which also showed through as they also failed to be up for the fight on too many occasions, particularly with four-straight defeats to end the season.

But there’s room for optimism. They’ve got a bold new coach in Andoni Iraola, who loves a high press and managed to beat both Barcelona and Real Madrid last year while in charge of Rayo Vallecano.

David Brooks returned in March after fighting off cancer (Hodgkin Lymphoma) and is a key figure, while their January attacking signings Hamed Traore and Dango Outtara could – and perhaps must – step up to the next level.

It’s hard to tell how well the Cherries will go this year. They’ll target the top half as their dream finish, while relegation remains a possibility. Prepare for another rollercoaster.

Dominic Solanke will once again be the focal point of Bournemouth’s attack. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

BRENTFORD

Last season’s finish: 9th

Biggest summer transfer: Nathan Collins (£23m from Wolves)

Manager: Thomas Frank

Key player: Bryan Mbuemo

Having finished 14th in their debut Premier League season, there were fears from several pundits Brentford could suffer the dreaded second season syndrome and return to the Championship.

How wrong those pundits were, as Thomas Frank’s side would finish just two points outside of European qualification.

A large part of Brentford’s success was down to superstar striker Ivan Toney’s 20 league goals, but the Bees will be without him until January 14 after he was slapped with an eight-month ban due to breaching the FA’s gambling laws.

The Bees won the three games Toney was absent for – a run which included victories over Tottenham and Manchester City.

But how will they cope without their premier marksman for half of the season?

The onus will almost certainly fall on star winger Bryan Mbuemo, who scored nine times and contributed eight assists last season.

Summer signing Kevin Schade will also be vital to Brentford’s attacking play and should hit the ground running given he spent the second half of last season on loan at the club.

The Bees also moved to fill the void left by the departing Pontus Jansson by snapping up Nathan Collins from Wolves.

Without Toney for half of the season, it could be difficult for Brentford to emulate a similar feat to the 22/23 campaign but as Frank’s side have proven on several occasions, underestimate them at your own peril.

Mbuemo must step up in the absence of Ivan Toney. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

BRIGHTON

Last season’s finish: 6th

Biggest summer transfer: Joao Pedro (£30m from Watford)

Manager: Roberto De Zerbi

Key player: Moises Caicedo

Seagulls fans are bullish ahead of their first European campaign in history, especially with the club going against their usual transfer strategy and splashing out a club-record £30m on Joao Pedro from Watford. They’ll need their new arrivals – as well as 21-year-old winger Simon Andingra, back from a brilliant loan stint in Belgium where he scored or assisted 30 times last year – to fire, given the departure of World Cup winner Mac Allister to the Reds.

The biggest question for the coming weeks will be whether they can hold onto 21-year-old midfield star Moises Caicedo, after rejecting two bids from Chelsea for the brilliant Ecuadorean. The Blues will return with a third bid after seeing an £80m offer knocked back, but Brighton is confident of keeping their star man unless Chelsea meets their £100m valuation.

Coach Roberto de Zerbi was a standout tactician in the league last year, but opposition coaches will have wised up to Brighton’s innovative possession and counterattacking tactics – like Everton did last season in a 5-1 upset win. Brighton also have to target an improved effectiveness on set pieces, with Manchester United the only team to bag less goals from set pieces (excluding penalties).

Many teams have struggled to balance European football and the league, so remaining in the top six would be a massive result in their debut season of continental football.

Brighton are desperate for Moises Caicedo to stay at the club. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for Premier League)Source: Getty Images

BURNLEY

Last season’s finish: 1st in Championship (promoted)

Biggest summer transfer: James Trafford (£19m from Manchester City)

Manager: Vincent Kompany

Key player: Josh Brownhill

The Clarets demolished their Championship rivals last season to finish first on 101 points, led by Manchester City’s former beloved defender Vincent Kompany. He turned the side into a thrilling attacking team – but how much will he have to compromise on those ideals now he’s in the top flight? It’s been a tough transfer window so far, with Southampton refusing to sell Nathan Tella to the team he starred for on loan last year. Expect Kompany to push his bosses to continue bidding until transfer deadline day – it could be a make-or-break transfer for the team. They also had a deal for Soumaila Coulibaly collapse at the final stages, but there’s been other wins – turning loan deals permanent for Michael Obafemi and Jordan Beyer, and signing a Premier League veteran in Nathan Redmond on a free transfer. They’ve bagged a talented young keeper in James Trafford from Man City, while 22-year-old Zeki Amdouni is a gifted striker from Basel.

Snapping up Sander Berge from Sheffield United for just £12m is a brilliant bit of business from the Clarets too.

Like any promoted team, survival is the goal – but if they do impress, the offers that are already flying in for Kompany to take on bigger teams will become even harder to resist.

Vincent Kompany will lead Burnley in their return to the Premier League. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

CHELSEA

Last season’s finish: 12th

Biggest summer transfer: Christopher Nkunku (£52m from RB Leipzig)

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino

Key player: Enzo Fernandez

The Blues are coming off the back of their worst-ever Premier League campaign, finishing with their worst points haul since the 1980s and their lowest goals scored since way back in 1924. Improvements are needed – but so far, it looks like they won’t repeat the outrageous and record-breaking spending spree of last season. That left the squad unbalanced and bloated, and the raft of January signings only destabilised the team further. Add in the managerial changes and it was a disaster from start to finish.

This time around, their transfer activity has seen a host of players depart – Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and Edouard Mendy headline a list of departures, and there could be plenty more to follow them out the door. Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson add much-needed firepower to a dismal attack although the former will miss several months due to a knee injury.

In defence, Axel Disasi arrives at centre-back to replace Kalidou Koulibaly after his poor season at Stamford Bridge.

The only way is up for the Blues, but how far can they rise? Mauricio Pochettino has plenty of work to do, but he thrives when working with a young squad – which is exactly what he’s got here.

With half a season of English football under his belt, expectations will be extremely high for January signing Enzo Fernandez to justify his nine-figure price tag.

The team could still be boosted by a big-name signing in Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, but the major worry is that the overhaul might have gone too far. They’ve lost a lot of experience and are betting on untested youngsters making an immediate impact in the Premier League.

There’s no guarantee that Chelsea will charge up the table this season, but the lack of European football will be a blessing to a team that struggled for intensity last time around.

Christopher Nkunku has arrived at the club from RB Leipzig. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

CRYSTAL PALACE

Last season’s finish: 11th

Biggest summer transfer: Jefferson Lerma (free from Bournemouth)

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Key player: Eberechi Eze

The talismanic Wilfried Zaha has gone to Turkey, and he leaves a massive void in the Crystal Palace squad. Five other top players are also being hunted by rival clubs – and Palace will walk a tightrope this month to keep as many as possible. Centre-backs Joachim Andersen and Marc Guéhi, midfielder Cheick Doucouré, attackers Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze are all crucial members of the side and manager Roy Hodgson will be crossing his fingers and toes that the team doesn’t sell for anything less than an exorbitant price. If one or more do depart, Palace will have to work quickly to replace them. So far, they haven’t found a replacement for Zaha’s goals, which is a major worry moving forward, but Jefferson Lerma’s arrival on a free transfer from Bournemouth is a great move.

Hodgson has publicly stated he’s chasing a top-ten finish with his boyhood club, after guiding them to an impressive 11th after taking over only in March. How achievable that is will become clear when the transfer window slams shut – hopefully without Palace losing any more stars.

Eberechi Eze will have to shoulder more of the attacking burden now that Wilfried Zaha has moved on. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

EVERTON

Last season’s finish: 17th

Biggest summer transfer: Arnaut Danjuma (loan from Villarreal)

Manager: Sean Dyche

Key player: Demarai Gray

It’s hard to find much positivity around the Toffees at the moment. After two difficult seasons saw them narrowly avoid relegation, the prospect of another year on the brink is hard to get excited about. Manager Sean Dyche has begged for reinforcements to his playing squad, but with precious little to show for it. A significant new investment from MSP Sports Capital hasn’t yet been completed, leaving the side with almost no cash to invest. And with the possibility of a points deduction hanging over their head for breaching financial fair play rules (a hearing is in October), things could be about to get even worse. Despite the financial woes, Everton bagged Ashley Young on a free transfer and Arnaut Danjuma on loan – their No. 1 target back in January before Spurs pipped them to a deal. They’ve seen a couple of other deals collapse already, and need to make moves. After a year without any proven goalscorers, Dyche – and the fans – are desperate for an experienced forward who could steer them clear from the relegation battle. Avoiding relegation is the aim. Another 17th-placed finish would be a good result.

Sean Dyche will hope Everton finish well clear of the relegation zone this season. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

FULHAM

Last season’s finish: 10th

Biggest summer transfer: Calvin Bassey (£19m from Ajax)

Manager: Marco Silva

Key player: Aleksandar Mitrovic

Fulham defied their ‘yoyo club’ tag to finally avoid an immediate return to the Championship with an extremely impressive 10th place finish last season.

Fiery forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was once again vital to the Cottagers’ fortunes, with 14 goals to his name.

But the Serbian could have had more if he wasn’t suspended for eight games as a result of touching an official during Fulham’s 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Manchester United.

Although it was largely a strong season from Fulham, their form from March onwards was certainly cause for concern.

Marco Silva’s side won four games from their final 13, but three wins came against teams who would be relegated and the other was against Everton who survived by the skin of their teeth.

Granted, a new season brings a fresh start but the worrying run of form certainly presents cause for concern.

So too does Mitrovic’s summer transfer saga in which he reportedly told relatives he’d never play for the club again after Fulham rejected two bids from Saudi club Al-Hilal.

As of now, Mitrovic reluctantly returned to the club’s pre-season preparations but there’s still time in the window for him to move on.

Outside of Mitrovic’s attacking prowess, Fulham are rather weak in the goalscoring department with veteran winger Willian and midfielder Andreas Pereira scoring five league goals last season, the second-most in the team.

The acquisition of Raul Jimenez from Wolves could help alleviate the goalscoring concerns but he has yet to return to the form he showed prior to his serious skull injury.

Surviving for a second-consecutive Premier League season for Fulham is going to be the key objective whether the club likes it or not.

Mitrovic has wanted to leave Fulham this summer but could end up staying at Craven Cottage. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

LIVERPOOL

Last season’s finish: 5th

Biggest summer transfer: Dominik Szoboszlai (£60m from RB Leipzig)

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Key player: Mohamed Salah

Things will look a little different at Anfield this year – and not just because the redevelopment of the Anfield Road stand should finally be finished a month or two into the season. The list of departures includes a host of players who have won the lot with the Reds: Captain Jordan Henderson after a dozen years at the club, Brazilian duo Firmino and Fabinho – with all three of those players heading to Saudi Arabia. Ageless warrior James Milner has gone to Brighton, while Naby Keita is off to Werder Bremen. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also out the door, while Arthur Melo has been punted after his flop of a season. That’s SIX central midfielders departing, with only two coming the other way so far: Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig for €70m and Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton for €42m.

The club is pushing hard to sign Romeo Lavia from Southampton, while Jurgen Klopp started the transfer window also wanting to reinforce on defence. There’s been no movement in that department so far. Liverpool’s ageing squad needed a rebuild last season and didn’t get it. A year later, they are stuck needing to get more work done in the last weeks of the transfer window to bolster a thin-looking squad.

One key question will be whether Trent Alexander-Arnold starts at right back put pushes into the midfield in possession – the hybrid position that revitalised Liverpool later in the season – or whether he will actually be converted into a full-time midfielder.

Meanwhile, they’re stuck in the Europa League, a far cry behind the Champions League glory Klopp delivered just a few years ago.

A return to the top four is the only acceptable outcome this season – but a return to top spot might just be a step too far.

Dominik Szoboszlai added some needed quality to Liverpool’s midfield. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

LUTON TOWN

Last season’s finish: 3rd in Championship (promoted via play-offs)

Biggest summer transfer: Marvelous Nakamba (£3.4m from Aston Villa)

Manager: Rob Edwards

Key player: Carlton Morris

The Hatters have enjoyed a remarkable rise over the last decade, going from the fifth tier – non-League football – to the Premier League in just nine years. That included back-to-back promotions From League Two and League One in 2017-18 and ’18-19, before winning the Championship playoff final via a penalty shootout to earn their spot in the top flight.

Their status as minnows is summed up by the unique Kenilworth Road stadium, knows as the ‘Kenny’ or the ‘old girl’ to the Luton faithful. The tiny stadium has a capacity of just over 10,000 and has hosted the club since 1905, and fans enter the turnstiles for one stand between a row of terrace housing. So small and dated is the ground that the club was forced to spend around £10m upgrading one stand to bring it up to scratch for media needs – though they’re set to move to a new stadium in the next couple of years.

The club’s success has come from squad stability (five current players were around back in their League Two days!) as well as signing talented young players for bargain prices, ensuring financial sustainability.

Since promotion, they have broken their transfer record three times, but their new record is only €5.85m for 23-year-old wingback Ryan Giles, who starred in the Championship last season with 11 assists for Middlesbrough. They’ve also picked up former Manchester United winger Tahith Chong from Birmingham (23), Ross Barkley on a free transfer and 22-year-old Issa Kabore on loan from Manchester City, but will probably be hoping for another experienced signing or two in the coming weeks.

Their composed transfer strategy is married with a hardworking style of play – aggressive, rapid on the counter-attack, and with plenty of intelligent runs off the ball.

They’ll be underdogs all the way, but there’s plenty to like about them. As coach Rob Edwards told The Guardian: “In the Premier League there is a lot of order, and I want to bring a little bit of chaos to that and do things our way.”

Luton manager Rob Edwards will need to perform a minor miracle to keep the Hatters in the top flight. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

MANCHESTER CITY

Last season’s finish: 1st

Biggest summer transfer: Josko Gvardiol (£77m from RB Leipzig)

Manager: Pep Guardiola

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne

For just about the entirety of last season, Manchester City sat in second place in the Premier League.

But Pep Guardiola’s side finished at the top of the pile when it mattered most, making it three consecutive league titles.

A large part of the success was down to the freakish form of Norwegian goal scoring machine Erling Haaland, who found the back of the net a staggering 36 times.

Haaland will once again be expected to shoulder a significant amount of the goalscoring burden and he’d love nothing more than to eclipse his own record.

But the 23-year-old will need the likes of Jack Grealish and superstar midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to once again be at their best, as the duo provide plenty of on and off-ball assistance for Haaland to shine.

The club have also recruited wisely, snapping up Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig in a £77m deal to strengthen an already-stacked defensive unit while adding Mateo Kovacic to their midfield ranks.

However, they have lost two members with vital experience in the form of Ilkay Gundogan (free to Barcelona) and Riyad Mahrez (£30m to Al-Ahli).

It’s not just their leadership they’ll miss either, as Mahrez scored five goals and chalked up 10 assists while Gundogan bagged eight league goals.

Although Kovacic isn’t exactly a like-for-like Gundogan replacement, he brings bags of Premier League experience and will hit the ground running.

Expect City to once again be in the title conversation towards the season’s end, but they’ll face stronger competition this season as Arsenal have made significant improvements on their squad and so too has Liverpool, while Chelsea will provide a tougher challenge under new boss Mauricio Pochettino.

However, don’t look terribly shocked if Guardiola’s men make it a staggering four Premier League titles on the trot, a feat no team in history has been able to achieve.

Can Haaland match his absurd goalscoring feats from his debut Premier League season? (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

MANCHESTER UNITED

Last season’s finish: 3rd

Biggest summer transfer: Rasmus Hojlund (£73m from Atalanta)

Manager: Erik ten Hag

Key player: Bruno Fernandes

After two losses from their first two games last season, the mood at Old Trafford was incredibly downcast.

But eight wins and just two losses from their next 12 games proved new Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag could turn the ship around as Manchester United slowly found their groove.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo’s ugly exit threatened to derail the team, United stayed on track as Marcus Rashford went on a staggering run of 10 goals in as many games once the Premier League resumed from its mid-season break for the World Cup.

Ten Hag’s side jostled with Newcastle United for third place in the league and eventually won the battle in the final two games, proving there is plenty to like about this Red Devils outfit.

However, the stakes will no doubt be higher for Manchester United this season given the significant investment the club has taken to improve the squad.

Rashford will once again be expected to deliver goals by the bucketload this season but he will have some help in the form of 20-year-old Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund, who arrived in a £73m deal from Atalanta.

United have invested heavily in Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund. (Photo by Darren Staples / AFP)Source: AFP

It is an almighty outlay for a young forward that hasn’t even scored 30 senior goals in his career and isn’t fit at the time of writing, but clearly the Red Devils believe he is the answer to strengthen their attack.

The signing of Mason Mount, a player ten Hag craved, is also another statement of intent that United mean business this season as they return to the Champions League and look to push their noisy neighbours the whole way.

There’s also added expectation on the shoulders, or arm, of Bruno Fernandes after he was given the club captaincy.

Fernandes will be crucial to providing Hojlund with chances to score, so it is vital the two can find a rhythm early on in the season.

However, the club will be without David de Gea in goals for the first time since 2011 as United opted to bring in Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Onana is competent with the ball at his feet but has already had a few blooper reel moments throughout pre-season.

If Onana and Hojlund can justify their lofty price tags, this United team could be a fun one to watch this season.

If not, ten Hag will face plenty of scrutiny and no doubt be questioned why he placed so much faith in a new goalkeeper and a striker who isn’t exactly blessed with senior experience.

Sounds like just another normal season at Old Trafford!

Erik ten Hag has brought in some big names in this summer window. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Last season’s finish: 4th

Biggest summer transfer: Sandro Tonali (£60m from AC Milan)

Manager: Eddie Howe

Key player: Alexander Isak

After a decade away, Champions League nights have returned to Newcastle as Eddie Howe’s side finished fourth in the league last season.

Yes, Howe received significant backing in the market to bring in the likes of Nick Pope, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak, but his ability to improve the players he already had at his disposal was something to behold.

Joelinton was a player transformed, Callum Wilson earned an England recall amid scoring 18 league goals while Kieran Trippier proved to be one of the best defenders in the league.

Most impressively, Newcastle held the equal-best defensive record in the league alongside champions Manchester City, conceding 33 goals all season.

Safe to say, no-one expected the Magpies to be that good last season.

But now the bar has been set much higher for Howe’s troops as they look to once again gatecrash the so-called ‘Big Six’.

Newcastle wasted little time in bringing players in during the summer, signing Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali from AC Milan in a major coup while also adding Leicester winger Harvey Barnes.

There’s also hope January signing Anthony Gordon can maintain the form that made him such a dangerous weapon for the England U21 team that won the European Championship after initially struggling in his first months.

Of course, the big question surrounding Newcastle will be how they adapt to the congested schedule that comes with playing European football.

Another element of intrigue is whether the players like Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Joe Willock can continue improving and heavily contribute both domestically and across the continent.

Very few pundits are tipping the Toon to qualify for the Champions League yet again given how much their rivals have strengthened, but securing another top six finish would be extremely impressive.

Tonali linked up with the Magpies as they return to the Champions League. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

Last season’s finish: 16th

Biggest summer transfer: Anthony Elanga (£15m from Manchester United)

Manager: Steve Cooper

Key player: Brennan Johnson

Nottingham Forest signed a whopping 32 players over the course of last season as they braced for life in the Premier League.

Granted, the monster influx of players was a necessity given how few were at the club after they had won the Championship playoff final in 2022, but it is a lot of players for Steve Cooper to integrate into his squad.

Although Forest had a very shaky start and had won just once in their opening 11 games, Cooper survived the axe and slowly but surely turned things around, adopting a defensive approach.

The Tricky Trees had another wobble in the second half of the season when they lost eight games from 11, yet Cooper again pulled a rabbit out of the hat and kept the team up.

Forest winger Brennan Johnson was inspirational in keeping the club up, as was Morgan Gibbs-White.

This summer has been significantly quieter, with Anthony Elanga the main transfer of note as well as turning Chris Wood’s loan into a permanent deal.

But keeping Johnson has been an even bigger win for Forest as they have turned several bids from Brentford for his services.

Even though Cooper has had a full season to work with this set of players and find a system that extracts results, the objective once again is to simply not get relegated.

However, should Cooper oversee another barren run of results to start the season, the axe will certainly be sharpening over his head.

Brennan Johnson was in solid form towards the end of last season (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Last season’s finish: 2nd in Championship (promoted)

Biggest summer transfer: Auston Trusty (£5m from Arsenal)

Manager: Paul Heckingbottom

Key player: Oli McBurnie

The Blades are back in the top flight after two years in the Championship. Last time they were in the Prem’, Chris Wilder’s team stunned the world with the incredibly innovative tactic of overlapping wide centre-backs and finished all the way up in ninth. This time, 46-year-old Paul Heckingbottom is the man in charge – but he knows the team could be in for some pain unless they make some dramatic moves in the transfer window in the coming days. The team sold star attacker Iliman Ndiaye to Marseille and arguably their best player Sander Berge to Burnley for just £12m. They’ve only signed four players, all of them youngsters and two of those only arriving in August. And with injuries always a problem, the side is decidedly thin.

Asked if he was happy with the shape of his squad, Heckingbottom said: “Fitness-wise, yeah [happy]. Where we are numbers-wise, no. You can see we are way short, which is plain to see in that first game and the second game (of preseason).

“I’m concerned we haven’t got the players in and we’ve got a lot to do … That’s my message and what I keep banging on about.”

If the Blades can’t make some moves, and quickly, they could be in for a rough start to the season – and they might never recover.

Many pundits are not giving Paul Heckingbottom and his Sheffield United side a chance for survival. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

TOTTENHAM

Last season’s finish: 8th

Biggest summer transfer: James Maddison (£40m from Leicester City)

Manager: Ange Postecoglou

Key player: Harry Kane

Death, taxes and chaos at Tottenham.

It was once again the story of their 22/23 campaign as fiery Italian boss Antonio Conte left the club after a scathing attack on the players and hierarchy in a press conference before his replacement Cristian Stellini was sacked four games in charge, leaving Ryan Mason to steer the ship.

Fabio Paratici also left his post as the club’s director of football after he was convicted of financial malpractice during his time at Juventus.

Spurs ultimately finished 8th in the league and missed out on European football altogether, although superstar striker Harry Kane’s 30-goal haul single-handedly kept the club competitive in the league.

Kane’s future has dominated the summer given he is out of contract at the end of the season and has been the subject of heavy interest from Bayern Munich.

But as of now, he is in the new manager’s plans for the season ahead after Tottenham rejected Bayern’s third bid for the talismanic striker.

That new manager is Australia’s own Ange Postecoglou, who finally gets a shot in the Premier League after leading Celtic to the domestic treble last season.

He’s brought in a number of intriguing talents to the club, none more so than England international James Maddison from Leicester City.

Postecoglou’s rhetoric, which Australian football fans know all too well about, has struck a chord with the Spurs fan base as he looks to transform the club’s fortunes on the field.

If Postecoglou is given the most valuable commodity in modern football — time — then he could slowly but surely have Spurs firing on all cylinders.

However, he is a notoriously slow starter when he moves to a new club as shown in his first seasons at Celtic and Yokohama F. Marinos.

Another intriguing appointment at Spurs is fellow Aussie Scott Munn filling the vacancy left by Paratici.

With two Aussies leading the charge at one of the world’s most recognised teams and a superstar striker leading the line, at least for now, Spurs fans have a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

But then again, it’s Spurs.

Ange Postecoglou is at the helm for Tottenham this season. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)Source: AFP

WEST HAM

Last season’s finish: 14th

Biggest summer transfer: N/A

Manager: David Moyes

Key player: Jarrod Bowen

The biggest question hanging over the Hammers this year is whether – or how – they can cope with the loss of captain Declan Rice. After the joy of winning the Europa Conference League, it felt like the end of an era, with Rice finally earning his big-money exit to a top team. But David Moyes opted not to go out on a high, and the manager who was almost sacked at multiple points last season will be under pressure from the start if things go south.

Is this just another season of transition and short term focus? Or can they actually make a decent fist of the Premier League while trying to bag another European trophy, this time in the Europa League?

They’ll need to make some solid signings to make up for Rice’s exit. But their recruitment has been shambolic for years, characterised by signing players that don’t fit the system or playing them out of position. The bizarre parade of ill-fitting players features names like Gianluca Scamacca, Sebastien Haller, or even Felipe Anderson – great players who never had a hope of shining when they are stuck like square pegs in round holes. You can add January signing Danny Ings to that list.

Hopefully the arrival of new technical director Tim Steidten (previously Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen) changes things – a director offering direction!

That direction could arrive in the form of Harry Maguire and James Ward-Prowse, as West Ham have reportedly agreed fees for both with Manchester United and Southampton respectively.

You get the feeling that the Hammers can’t quite hit the same heights as last year … but Moyes does love to prove the doubters wrong.

David Moyes ended West Ham’s wait for a trophy but he’s already under the pump going into the season. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

WOLVES

Last season’s finish: 13th

Biggest summer transfer: Boubacar Traore (£9.5m from Metz)

Manager: Gary O’Neil

Key player: Matheus Cunha

For the last three seasons, Wolves have averaged less than a goal a game. Three years running!

However, they’re in a truly dire financial situation, and that’s led to a lack of signings. Meanwhile, they’ve lost Raul Jimenez, Ruben Neves, and Joao Moutinho, as old coach Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad has been broken up.

It’s not just on the playing front that Wolves have undergone a serious change, with Julen Lopetegui leaving his post just days before the season was set to start having not seen eye-to-eye with the board on several issues.

Former Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was swiftly announced as Lopetegui’s replacement, but a big change like this on the eve of the 23/24 campaign certainly sounds alarm bells for how Wolves could go this season.

They still have plenty of quality in the squad, but they’ll need a bit more creativity to spark their attack. Pablo Sarabia has been moved to a more central role in pre-season and could be the source of that creative spark, but refreshing their forward line is a priority. A couple of midfield signings and perhaps a centre-back would do wonders too – but given their financial constraints, don’t expect that. The fans are demanding excitement – especially with ticket prices copping a hefty raise this year – but they’ve got a brutal run of fixtures early on. Even if they don’t improve too much from last year’s finish, there’s hope that they’ll play a better style of football. As long as that doesn’t come at the cost of relegation, that would be a positive result for a team that is hamstrung by off-field issues.

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