One of the most historic names in the game, the Gunners will donate their trophy cabinet to the British Museum this September as it’ll be surplus to requirements at the Emirates for the foreseeable, just like Gunnersaurus, an atmosphere, and any players with an ounce of ambition.
Manager: Action Man
Transfers: I was going to joke they’re signing Aaron Ramsdale for £30m, but it turns out they are actually signing Aaron Ramsdale for £30m!
Bereft of their talismanic Love Island contestant prototype Jack Grealish but with their coffers stuffed to the tune of £100m, the Villans are expected to so closely resemble Everton’s squandering of kajillions while doing feck all a few years ago that the clubs will likely merge next year when the big six propose another breakaway Super League next summer.
In: A spot of bother if they can’t replace Grealish.
Out: John Terry, much to the relief of the playing staff.
Out of the top tier since the war, an administrative error has seen the perennial third-tier dwellers catapulted into the top flight ready to win a game in the opening weeks against one of the big boys and celebrating it like it was VE Day all over again, before careening to the foot of the table in time for Christmas.
What to say: Have you seen Moneyball? Isn’t baseball boring as f**k?
What not to say: They’re like Midtjylland, but even smaller.
The Seagulls are aiming for a third successive title in the “oh they play nice stuff but just don’t get the rewards” league table under former-bassist-in-local-Ocean-Colour-Scene-tribute-band, Graham Potter, who’ll spend many a sleepless night staring at the xG reports on their games in stunned disbelief.
Expectations this season: The sight of 6ft 7in Dan Burn at full-back to look as weird as ever.
Like that chair in the sitting room that everyone just throws everything on, Burnley’s Premier League status has gained that slightly musty odour and it could be time for a new three-piece suite from the Championship to replace them in 2022.
Manager: *clears throat* *coughs* *drinks a Lemsip* Sean Dyche.
One to watch: No. Well, maybe if they’re playing Monday night and Emmerdale’s the alternative.
The champions of Europe only know one way to react to a successful manager – get him sacked ASAP. Tommy Tuchel will be departing with a Champions League medal and a yachtful of cash by early November, and with John Terry waiting in the wings…
Thing you’re most likely to hear fans say: It’s really Frank’s team.
Most self-indulgent lie fans of a certain age tell themselves: It was better before Roman.
Having narrowly failed to convince Lionel Messi to join the club with the sales pitch “the kits are the same”, Palace are playing the “there are definitely three teams worse than us, right?” card this season with the appointment of Patrick Vieira as Roy Hodgson’s replacement.
Keyman: Christian Benteke – if he can hit that magical three-goal mark this season, it could make all the difference.
With Carlo Ancelotti having decided he’d prefer Madrid to Liverpool, the Toffees desperately needed to find a manager with Premier League experience and who has a big enough stature in the game to manage large egos and attract top talent to a club that has seen greater days but which still has a hugely demanding fanbase. As no one like that was available they had to settle for Rafa Benitez.
They’ve spent HOW MUCH in the last five years?! Half a billion, give or take.
And they’ve won? Eh…
Marcelo Bielsa, labouring under the constraints caused by bonus payments still due to Seth Johnson, Robbie Fowler and Eirik Bakke from contracts signed 20 years ago, exits in late March with a random German coach replacing him and immediately banning top-knots. Morale sinks even lower and the Championship beckons.
How to beat them: Hide Bielsa’s bucket.
Basking in the glory of their cup win, and not dwelling on the far more important failure to once again secure a top-four spot, Leicester City can look forward to Brendan Rodgers toasting sliced-pan after sliced-pan as he tells them to “kick it up to Jamie” while patting himself on the back for being such a great manager.
Keyman: Brendan Rodgers
Season goal: Replace Nuno or Arteta whenever they’re sacked.
With just one new signing by Jurgen Klopp this summer, if the Reds are not challenging for the title come May supporters will certainly keep it all in perspective and not spend all day on social media channels searching for real and perceived criticisms of them and the club.
Transfer window grade: Better than some lad from Preston you’ve never heard of.
One to Watch: Jurgen Klopp when he loses it with post-match interviewers again.
The booing of the UEFA Champion League will be all the more poignant at the Etihad this season with Pep’s charges having fallen one game short last season. Hopes are high that they can win it this season, unlocking a portal to an alternate universe where people beyond their circa-2,000 strong fanbase actually respects or admires anything they’ve done since joining football in 2008.
Prediction: Guardiola rests his first-team until February, costing City the league and yet they still fail at the UCL quarter-final stage.
Needs: Fans, a history, integrity.
Ole’s at the wheel of a souped-up Man United motor this season after Ed Woodward’s parting gift of Jadon Sancho finally arrived, and there’ll be no excuses for the baby-faced boy-racer should this machine spin out of control, though we all expect him to be delivering takeaways in a battered old Golf come June 2022.
Manager: Would be nice to have one, yeah.
Season targets: One billion interactions with the Man United brand on social platforms.
Ownership is still tangled in a dispute with the Premier League over how many free Donnay tracksuits it will take to get a sale to the Saudi royal family signed off, so Steve Bruce faces another uphill challenge this season, made doubly difficult as he hopes to stay up and watch every day’s play of the Ashes in Oz over the winter.
If they were a vegetable: Not a cabbage, but an onion, because the more layers you peel away, the more it stinks.
The pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre is exactly the kind of forward-thinking, progressive urban development we at Paddy Power love to see, so it’s only right that the East Anglian side are rewarded with yet another stint in the Premier League. Can Teemu Pukki recreate his early-season form of two seasons ago? Will another Max Aarons or Todd Cantwell steal the nation’s hearts? And will the Championship be as easily surmounted in 2022/23? Time will tell.
Manager: Daniel Farke.
There’s no need for language like that: Sorry.
Mid-table mediocrity will never have felt so good as the Saints say goodbye to their goal-getting verb suffix Danny Ings and his double-digit goal haul for the season. They’ll need newly-arrived Adam Armstrong to channel Alan Shearer – or James Beattie anyway – if they’re to stay out of the dogfight.
The one thing they don’t want to hear: “There’s a scout from Liverpool here tonight…”
Events at Tottenham this summer have had all the appeal of a very slow-motion car crash as Daniel Levy’s managerial search became almost as drawn-out and painful as Harry Kane’s inevitable exit to Man City is going to be. The best thing Tottenham fans can hope for is another Super League proposal comes along and the rest of the teams involved forget to delete them from the original list.
Keyman: Whoever they can sign on Deadline Day to replace Kane.
Another intrepid group of Watford players set out on a nine-month long journey in the futile effort to sear themselves into the memory of anyone who lives outside the 25-mile radius of Vicarage Road, and they can also earn a spot at one of the other clubs the Pozzo family controls – I hear Granada’s nice this, or indeed any, time of year – if they make a go of it.
Is Troy Deeney still playing for them? Yeah.
That’s nice. Yeah.
The Moyesiah has finally found his people. West Ham United thrilled last season thanks to 29-year-old Jesse Lingard’s youthful promise and Tomas Soucek’s towering frame and Harry Maguire-esque bonce. With the vocal support of their newly-returned fans at the rebranded Olympic Stadium, it’s surely up and up from here for the happy Hammers…
Best case scenario: Declan Rice stays and whatever spirit inhabited Lingard’s body last season takes over another West Ham player this year.
The times they are a-changin’ at Wolves, or whatever the equivalent Portuguese cliche is, as Nuno got the heave-ho following 4 years in charge. Now, like some Football Manager regen, Bruno Lage enters our lives, and any suggestion that Lage is in fact Jorge Mendes in disguise would be ridiculous…
Expectations: Is Cristiano Ronaldo “coming home” to Wolverhampton’s Portuguese enclave in January too much to ask?
Yes: Okay, well then underperformance for their talent but everyone making out like they’re punching about their weight.
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