Leicester City’s Cinderella tale took the English Premier League by storm in 2015/16, but the league’s traditional powers have since retooled and added some major firepower to dethrone the Foxes this season.
With major additions like Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United, N’Golo Kante with Chelsea and Liverpool’s acquisition of Sadio Mane, Leicester City will have to watch its back from the opening day as 19 other teams gun for the top spot in the world’s top league.
Players dominate the storylines often times, however, this summer also saw high-profile changes made on the coaching end as well, including Jose Mourinho making his return to England with Manchester United, while Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola earning their first cracks at coaching in England with Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively.
Elsewhere, David Moyes will look to reinvent Sunderland, Ronald Koeman has the opportunity to take Everton to the next level and Walter Mazzarri takes over at Watford.
Without further ado, here is SBI’s full 2016/17 season preview for the Premier League:
Player to watch: Lys Mousset; Following a 14-goal season for French side Le Havre in 2015/16, Mousset is tasked with contributing immediately to the Bournemouth attack, which looks underwhelming on paper.
Transfers In: Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Nathan Ake (Loan, Chelsea), Lys Mousset (Le Havre), Mark Travers, Mikael Ndjoli (Millwall), Lewis Cook (Leeds), Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Brad Smith (Liverpool)
Transfers Out: Sylvain Distin (released), Tommy Elphick (Aston Villa), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United), Stephane Zubar (released), Glenn Murray (Loan, Brighton & Hove Albion), Lee Tomlin (Bristol City), Harry Cornick (Leyton Orient)
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud; Unless Arsene Wenger buys a striker in the next several weeks, Arsenal will once again rely on the Frenchman to carry the load. To date, he hasn’t quite been done quite enough to lift the Gunners to the title, but a strong Euro campaign should see the forward high on confidence entering the new season.
Arrivals: Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takuma Asano (Hiroshima Sanfrecce), Rob Holding (Bolton Wanderers), Kelechi Nwakali (Diamond Football Academy)
Departures: Mikel Arteta (released), Tomas Rosicky (released), Mathieu Flamini (released), Isaac Hayden (undisclosed), Dan Crowley (Loan, Oxford United), Jon Toral (Loan, Granada), Wellington Silva (Fluminense), Wojciech Szczesny (Loan, Roma)
Player to watch: Sam Vokes; After a brilliant season in the Championship, one that largely contributed to the team’s promotion to England’s top flight, Vokes will have to duplicate and likely surpass his 16 goals in all competitions from a season ago in order to keep Burnley afloat.
Arrivals: Jimmy Dunne, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Charlton Athletic), Nick Pope (Charlton Athletic), Jon Flanagan (Loan, Liverpool)
Departures: Joey Barton (Rangers), Matt Gilks (Rangers), Matt Taylor (released), Michael Duff (retired), Josh Ginnelly (Loan, Walsall)
Player to watch: Eden Hazard; The Belgian attacker has shown that he can be an elite player up front for both club and country but his dismal campaign in 15/16 raised many questions for not only himself but the Blues as well. Hazard has plenty of options to help ease the attacking load, but he’ll need to be significantly more productive this season if Chelsea is to finish higher on the table.
Arrivals: Antonio Conte (Head coach), Michy Batshuayi (Marseille), N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
Departures: Lewis Baker (Loan, Vitesse Arnhem), Nathan Ake (Loan, AFC Bournemouth), Jeremie Boga (Loan, Granada), Tomas Kalas (Loan, Fulham), Kasey Palmer (Loan, Huddersfield Town), Alex Kiwomya (Crewe Alexandra), Mohamed Salah (Roma), Tammy Abraham (Loan, Bristol City)
Player to watch: Andros Townsend; One of the brighter spots on a poor team last season, Townsend provided a massive spark for now-Championship side Newcastle. The creative winger will be tasked with offering Palace a threat up front.
Arrivals: Andros Townsend (Newcastle United), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), James Tomkins (West Ham United)
Departures: Emmanuel Adebayor (released), Marouane Chamakh (released), Brede Hangeland (released), Adrian Mariappa (released), Patrick McCarthy (released). Dwight Gayle (Newcastle United), Jake Gray (Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Peterborough United)
Player to watch: Ross Barkley. While Romelu Lukaku will continue to be relied upon to score the bulk of the team’s goals under Ronald Koeman, Barkley must improve upon his midfield presence if Everton are to make a push for top six.
Arrivals: Ronald Koeman (Head coach), Bassala Sambou (Coventry City), Chris Renshaw (Oldham Athletic), Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham), Idrissa Gana Gueye (Aston Villa), Ashley Williams (Swansea City)
Departures: Steven Pienaar (released), Leon Osman (released), Tony Hibbert (released), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), John Stones (Manchester City)
Player to watch: Abel Hernandez; The Uruguayan was more than impressive a season ago, but he’ll likely need more than 20 goals in 2016/17 if the Tigers are to extend their stay in the Premier League.
Arrivals: Will Mannion (AFC Wimbledon)
Departures: Sone Aluko (released), Ryan Taylor (released), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United)
Player to watch: Ahmed Musa; The Nigerian improved every season he played in Russia with CSKA Moscow and could be one of the most underrated signings of the summer. His pace and technical abilities present a massive challenge for opposing defenses while they also have to deal with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.
Arrivals: Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96), Luis Hernandez (Sporting Gijon), Raul Uche Rubio (Rayo Vallecano), Nampalys Mendy (Nice), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Bartosz Kapustka (KS Cracovia)
Departures: Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Mark Schwarzer (released), Paul Konchesky (released), Ryan Watson (released), Dean Hammond (released), Harry Panayiotou (released), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Joe Dodoo (Rangers), Michael Cain (Loan, Blackpool), Hamza Choudhury (Loan, Burton Albion)
Player to watch: Sadio Mane; The preseason was only a small sample size in a Liverpool uniform, but the former Southampton attacker could be the missing piece in a talented Reds attack. Couple Mane with players like Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge, and Jurgen Klopp could have one of the top attacks in the Premier League.
Arrivals: Joel Matip (Schalke), Loris Karius (FSV Mainz 05), Sadio Mane (Southampton), Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg), Alex Manninger (Augsburg), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle)
Departures: Joao Carlos Teixeira (Porto), Jerome Sinclair (Watford), Kolo Toure (released), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town), Jordan Rossiter (Rangers), Danny Ward (Loan, Huddersfield Town), Jose Enrique (released), Samed Yesil (released), Sergi Canos (Norwich City), Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce), Jordon Ibe (AFC Bournemouth), Adam Bogdan (Loan, Wigan Athletic), Joe Allen (Stoke City), Brad Smith (AFC Bournemouth), Jon Flanagan (Loan, Burnley)
Player to watch: John Stones; The young Englishman is earning more and more hype within the national team scene but the centerback’s new move to Manchester puts an even greater spotlight on the defender. A potential partnership with Vincent Kompany or Nicolas Otamendi could really help his progression and give the Citizens an air-tight backline.
Arrivals: Pep Guardiola (Head coach), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Oleksandr Zinchenko (FC Ufa), Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City), Leroy Sane (Schalke 04), Gabriel Jesus (Joins in 2017, Palmeiras), Marlos Moreno (Atletico Nacional), John Stones (Everton)
Departures: Manuel Pellegrini (Head coach), Martin Demichelis (Released), Seko Fofana (Udinese), Aaron Mooy (Loan, Huddersfield Town), Marlos Moreno (Deportivo La Coruna)
Player to watch: Paul Pogba; There’s a lot of pressure on the back of the Frenchman, who certainly has the talent and potential to live up to his massive pricetag. One of the most skilled, yet physical, midfielders in the world, Pogba is now the centerpiece of a Manchester United team that should contend this season.
Arrivals: Jose Mourinho (Head coach), Eric Bailly (Villarreal), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund), Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Departures: Louis van Gaal (Head coach), Tyler Reid (Swansea City), Victor Valdes (Middlesbrough), Jimmy Dunne (Burnley), Nick Powell (Wigan Athletic), Joe Rothwell (Oxford United), Ashley Fletcher (West Ham United), Guillermo Varela (Loan, Eintracht Frankfurt), Paddy McNair (Sunderland), Donald Love (Sunderland)
Player to watch: Cristhian Stuani; While the move for Alvaro Negredo made a huge splash this summer, Stuani will continue to play a major role in the Boro attack this season.
Arrivals: Viktor Fischer (Ajax), Bernardo Espinosa (Sporting Gijon), Marten De Roon (Atalanta), Jordan McGhee (Loan, Heart of Midlothian), Victor Valdes (Manchester United), Antonio Barragan (Valencia), Alvaro Negredo (Loan, Valencia), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
Departures: Jonathan Woodgate (released), Damia Abella (released), Rhys Williams (Perth Glory), Connor Ripley (Loan, Oldham)
Player to watch: Charlie Austin; In his first full season with the Saints, Austin will have to offer a major spark for the Southampton attack, particularly following the losses of Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane.
Arrivals: Claude Puel (Head coach), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Bayern Munich), Alex McCarthy (Crystal Palace), Jeremy Pied (Nice)
Departures: Gaston Ramirez (released), Kelvin Davis (retired), Juanmi (Real Sociedad), Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Jason McCarthy (Loan, Walsall), Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng), Paulo Gazzaniga (Loan, Rayo Vallecano), Sam Gallagher (Loan, Blackburn Rovers)
Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri; The talented Swiss attacker has never cracked the 10-goal mark with any club he’s played at. While Shaqiri possesses all the physical and technical aspects of a great attacking player, the 24-year-old must tame his temper in order to take Stoke into contention for a top six position.
Arrivals: Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly), Joe Allen (Liverpool), Ryan Sweeney (AFC Wimbledon)
Departures: Peter Odemwingie (released), Steve Sidwell (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Player to watch: Jermain Defoe; The veteran English forward proved to be a huge figure a season ago, but the club will again be forced to rely heavily on the former Toronto FC striker for goals after having a quiet transfer window.
Arrivals: David Moyes (Head coach), Papy Djilobodji (Chelsea), Paddy McNair (Manchester United), Donald Love (Manchester United)
Departures: Sam Allardyce (Head coach), Danny Graham (Blackburn Rovers), Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday), Wes Brown (released), Mikael Mandron (Eastleigh), Emanuele Giaccherini (Napoli), Santiago Vergini (Boca Juniors), Adam Matthews (Loan, Bristol City), Will Buckley (Sheffield Wednesday)
Player to watch: Borja Baston; While he never managed to fully break into Atletico Madrid’s squad, the 23-year-old forward impressed basically everywhere he went on loan. Baston is coming off of an 18-goal season for Spanish side Eibar, and he could be exactly what the Swans need up front against England’s best.
Arrivals: Leroy Fer (Queens Park Rangers), Mike van der Hoorn (Ajax), Tyler Reid (Manchester United), George Byers (Watford), Mark Birighetti (Newcastle Jets), Fernando Llorente (Sevilla), Borja Baston (Atletico Madrid)
Departures:: Matthew Grimes (Loan, Leeds United), Eder (Lille), Alberto Paloschi (Atalanta), Kyle Bartley (Loan, Leeds United), Liam Shephard (Loan, Yeovil Town), Matt Grimes (Loan, Leeds United), Ryan Hedges (Loan, Yeovil Town), Bafetimbi Gomis (Loan, Marseille), Andre Ayew (West Ham United), Ashley Williams (Everton)
Player to watch: Dele Alli; He scored dazzling goals and provided clever assists in his debut season for Spurs, but now, Alli will have much more expected of him as Tottenham looks to avenge its late-season demons that left the club in third place.
Arrivals: Victor Wanyama (Southampton), Vincent Janssen (AZ Alkmaar)
Departures: Filip Lesniak (Loan, Slovan Liberec), Grant Ward (Ipswich Town), Federico Fazio (Loan, Roma), Alex Pritchard (Norwich City)
Player to watch: Odion Ighalo; Largely because he isn’t on a bigger team Ighalo didn’t receive the attention he deserved a season ago despite scoring 15 goals in 37 matches. The Nigerian will surely have more eyes on him in 16/17 as defenses see the clever forward again.
Arrivals: Walter Mazzarri (Head coach), Jerome Sinclair (Liverpool), Christian Kabasele (Genk), Isaac Success (Granada), Juan Camilo Zuniga (Loan, Napoli), Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille)
Departures: Joel Ekstrand (released), Gabriele Angella (Udinese), George Byers (Swansea City), Jose Manuel Jurado (Espanyol), Almen Abdi (Sheffield Wednesday), Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord) Loan
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert; The ex-Liverpool and Southampton striker will continue to regain his form after a disappointing one-goal campaign for West Brom. Prior to joining Liverpool in 2014, Lambert netted 106 league goals for Southampton over five seasons.
Arrivals: Matt Phillips (Queens Park Rangers)
Departures: Victor Anichebe (released), Stephane Sessegnon (released), Anders Lindegaard (released)
WEST HAM UNITED
Player to watch: Andre Ayew; Dimitri Payet is the natural choice given his splendid season a year ago but Ayew’s presence not only gives the Hammers an opportunity to add more goals in 2016/17 but also take a bit of the offensive burden off the shoulders of the Frenchman.
Arrivals: Toni Martinez (Valencia), Havard Nordtveit (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Domingos Quina, Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Gokhan Tore (Loan, Besiktas), Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United), Arthur Masuaku (Olympiacos), Andre Ayew (Swansea City), Jonathan Calleri* (Loan, Deportivo Maldonado)
Departures: Joey O’Brien (released), Elliot Lee (released), James Tomkins (Crystal Palace)
Who’s your favorite to win the Premier League this season? Which player are you most excited to watch? Which teams will be relegated to the Championship?
Share your thoughts below.