How will Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Burnley fare in the 2017/18 Premier League season? These teams are often considered to be relatively mid-table, though will the return of Premier League football spark an ascendency up the Premier League table?
‘SIGN SOMEONE STOKE’ – the outcry tweeted by Stoke City FC’s official twitter account a few weeks ago and a plea which could not be more fitting. Keeping a squad updated and bringing in new additions is of vital importance to any Premier League side looking to retain their place in England’s highest tier. With teams around them making some vital signings already this transfer window, Stoke can’t afford to be complacent with their current squad. If this is to be the case, they could soon find themselves slipping down the league and it may not be a struggle anymore for teams to ‘go to Stoke on a cold rainy night’.
The arrival of Darren Fletcher from Midlands rivals West Bromwich, on a free transfer, is assured to bring a natural leader to the club and with a vast amount of Premier League experience, Fletcher is great addition for Mark Hughes men. Speculation has suggested, Kurt Zouma is on his way to Stoke and the hopeful return of Porto defender, Bruno Martins Indi, is certain to tighten up the Potters defence. Alongside this, the landing of young English defender, Josh Tymon from Hull City, on a five-year contract is definitely an investment for the future and a player who could have a big future under the bright lights of the Premier League. Yet, the departure of highly adored striker Jon Walters could leave some Stoke fans questioning their teams’ decisions, especially after releasing him to Premier League rivals, Burnley.
However, what’s important for the Potters is keeping hold of highly rated keeper Jack Butland and the two-creative play-makers, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri, who’s’ futures at the club have consistently been questioned. With Arnautovic himself handing in a transfer request earlier this week, he looks like an important cog in the machine to be making his way out of Stoke.
With 11 draws last season, the third highest in the Premier League, it’s imperative some of these draws are turned into three points and for me, Saido Berahino may have a big part to play in gaining these points and convincing Stoke fans of their place amongst the best.
With the surprise departure of Sam Allardyce after the 16/17 season which saw Palace gain a 14th place finish, Palace appointed accomplished Dutchman Frank de Boer. The former Ajax and Inter Milan manager stated, ‘the aim is to be a solid Premier League team, not to struggle with relegation’. With this in mind, de Boer has wasted no time as he starts his journey with the Eagles. After finalising the loan deal of Chelsea’s highly-rated Ruben Loftus Cheek, it’s believed 20-year-old Jairo Riedewald, a versatile defender, is set to be reunited with his manager from Ajax and make the move to South London for a £7.5m fee.
With the club accepting they will probably be unable to bring Mamadou Sakho back, this transfer is imperative, especially with the lack of defensive options at the club. Its suggested Everton are keen to replace Romalu Lukaku with talented Palace front man, Christian Benteke. The target man secured 20 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions last season and it is of paramount importance that Palace keep Benteke at Selhurst Park as I’m sure he is a critical part of de Boer’s plans.Embed from Getty Images
Palace began last season’s campaign below par and for moments their time in the Premier League looked to be dwindling away. However, Allerdyce done what he does best and saved the club who are now set to begin their 5-consecutive season in the Premier League and maybe under de Boer, a new-look Palace will emerge and provide their loyal fan-base something to cheer about.
With the Swans departing for America earlier this week without their star-man Gylfi Sigurdsson, there is reason for concern in Wales for the upcoming season. Paul Clements heroics saved Swansea from a dreaded relegation to the championship last season and with Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley struggling to take charge in the dugout in recent campaigns, is Clement their man?Embed from Getty Images
With 9 goals and 13 assists to his name last season, Sigurdsson was undoubtedly the main reason for survival and with two bids of £40m already rejected, from Leicester City and Everton respectively, Swansea are looking increasingly likely to lose their main man. Although with an asking price of £50m, Gylfi claimed he was ‘not in the right frame of mind to travel due to the current uncertainty over his future’ which to me, shows a move away from the Liberty is probable, even with the ludicrous price tag hanging over him.
The signing of Chelsea’s exciting youngster Tammy Abraham on loan at least gives Swansea fans something to look forward too and he looks to be the perfect partner for Swans front man, Fernando Llorente. Abraham could provide the goals that will be missing from Gylfi, if he decides to make the move. However, conceding the most amount of goals in the league last season (70), the defence is an area which Clement needs to concentrate on and which is imperative to keeping the side in England’s top tier and for the rest of the window, this is an area which needs to be focused on.
If the season was decided on home games, then Burnley fans would be ecstatic. Yet unfortunately, Burnley must travel away too, and this table is not pretty reading, with only 1 away win all season. With 10 wins at Turf Moor last season, it was the venue where Burnley picked up 33 of their 40 points to keep them in the top flight. Yet, for their second season in the big time, this poor away record is nothing to be ashamed of as there is a clear step-up in class from the Championship to the Premier League.
However, I’m sure that last season, Premier League survival would have been the target for Sean Dyches men. Now, it’s time to move up a gear and Burnley have wasted no time this transfer window, signing Jon Walters, Charlie Taylor and Jack Cork, all of whom are great additions to the Clarets.Embed from Getty Images
Dyhce was stated this week saying ‘we like the idea of having a real tight squad and real competition for places in all areas’. With the arrival of Walters, competition to lead the line at Burnley is tighter than ever. Andre Gray, Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes all gained a spot in the starting XI on numerous occasions last season and finding a consistent striker in the starting XI is important for Burnley as they need someone who’s going to net them 15-20 goals a season. With the three players mentioned above, gaining 28 goals in all competitions between them, Walters is going to have to prove his worth to be Burnley’s man and keep them firing on all cylinders in what looks to be, a very close battle between clubs to survive.
Similar to Swansea, the defence is an important area for Burnley. The departure of Michael Keane was not positive news for Burnley fans, but fans can, I’m sure, definitely understand the move, with Keane looking to cement his place within the England squad for Russia. Replacing Keane is critical as a stable back-line is crucial to support shot-stopper, Tom Heaton.
Written by Eamon Kitching.