Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
After a brief exhale, the Premier League explodes back into life on Saturday, September 12 with the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
With the season truncated and the winter break scrapped, the division’s 20 combatants are bracing themselves for an eight-month sprint through some hectic scheduling between now and next May, laying the perfect landscape for more carnage and unpredictability in the world’s most competitive league.
Liverpool, who won their maiden Premier League title at a canter last season, will be desperate to defend their crown, though Manchester City and big-spending Chelsea will be determined to stop the Reds running away with it this time around.
To mark the big kick-off, we’ve put together a four-part club-by-club guide with all the key information you need to know ahead of the 2020/21 Premier League season.
Check out part one below, and remember – we’ll be covering all of the developments in England’s top flight with match previews and free betting tips on our Premier League predictions page.
2020/21 Premier League club-by-club guide (part one)
Premier League finish 2019/20: 8th
Gabriel Magalhaes – Lille – £18m
Pablo Mari – Flamengo – £7.2m
Cédric Soares – Southampton – Free
Willian – Chelsea – Free
William Saliba – St. Etienne – end of loan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Roma – Free
Key Player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal are desperate to tie key forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang down to a new contract, and after the Gabon international bagged 29 goals in 44 appearances last season, it’s easy to see why. The 31-year-old is the Gunners’ most accomplished performer and one of the only world-class players at Mikel Arteta’s disposal.
One to Watch: William Saliba
The 19-year-old French centre-half, who arrives from St. Etienne, has been tipped for the top by those in the know, and while an instant impact might be asking too much, the youngster has the skillset to eventually force his way into the first team reckoning as the season progresses.
It’s been four consecutive finishes outside the Premier League top four for Arsenal, but the appointment of former midfield start Mikel Arteta has injected new life into the club, and early signs suggest he can be the catalyst for positive change that long-suffering Gunners fans have been aching for.
Arsenal lost just four of their 21 league fixtures following Arteta’s appointment in December, and the Spaniard led the club to glory in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea in the campaign’s climax.
With a couple of shrewd signings in Brazilian pair Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes adding depth and a number of exciting young players already in tow, Arsenal supporters will be expecting their team to progress again in 2020/21, and a big improvement on their 8th place finish last term looks likely.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 17th
Matty Cash – Nottingham Forest – £14m
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy – Pafos FC – Free
Matija Sarkic – Wolves – Free
James Chester – Stoke City – Free
Key Player: Jack Grealish
Despite a somewhat limp finish to the 2019/20 season from an individual perspective, home-grown Villain Jack Grealish was easily his team’s most consistent performer overall last term, notching an impressive eight goals and six assists during a productive campaign.
Fears that Grealish would push for a transfer this summer have so far been unfounded, with few clubs willing or able to match Villa’s £70m valuation of their star, and as things stand, the 24-year-old will be donning his boyhood team’s colours again in 2020/21.
One to Watch: Wesley
23-year-old Brazilian centre-forward Wesley had shown flashes of his potential at Villa following a big-money switch from Club Brugge last summer, though an ACL injury suffered in January against Burnley at Turf Moor ended his campaign prematurely.
With a year’s experience behind him, Wesley should start the fresh campaign as a more settled performer and a greater output in front of goal should follow.
A late four-match unbeaten streak at the end of the season saved Aston Villa from being relegated at the first time of asking in 2019/20, though the Villains were largely a disappointment after a huge transfer outlay north of £100m last year following their promotion from Championship.
Jack Grealish’s future seems inextricably linked with Villa’s this season, and if the schemer does manufacture an exit, Dean Smith’s side could be in real trouble.
The Villains have so far been frustrated in the transfer market in their own attempts to strengthen, with Nottingham Forest full-back Matty Cash their only notable recruit to date, and if they are unable to make any savvy manoeuvres before the window shuts, another season of struggle looks certain.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Premier League finish 2019/20: 15th
Joel Veltman – Ajax – £900k
Jensen Weir – Wigan – £495k
Adam Lallana – Liverpool – Free
Anthony Knockaert – Fulham – £10.53m
Aaron Mooy – Shanghai SIPG – £4.05m
Shane Duffy – Celtic – Loan
Martin Montoya – Real Betis – Free
Glenn Murray – Watford – Loan
Key Player: Adam Lallana
Brighton’s capture of 34-times capped England international Adama Lallana was quite a coup for the club who beat off a number of other suitors to win the race for the midfielder.
The technically gifted 32-year-old made over 170 appearances for his former club Liverpool during six productive years on Merseyside, and Lallana’s experience and quality should do wonders for an Albion team that often-lacked creativity last term.
One to Watch: Tariq Lamptey
19-year-old full-back Tariq Lamptey made quite a splash with the Seagulls after he chose to leave Chelsea for Albion in search of first team football. The defender with an adventurous edge to his game impressed everyone with his post-lockdown performances, and it should be fun to watch the precociously talented youngster iron out the wrinkles in his game as a regular with Brighton.
No team outside the top ten lost fewer games than Brighton last season as Albion slowly got to grips with Graham Potter’s more possession-based style as the campaign progressed.
While grumbles about the team’s lack of attacking thrust remain common among supporters, there is enough potential in Brighton’s team to suggest an improvement on last term’s 15th place is possible.
In players like In Pascal Gross, Leandro Trossard, Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly, the makings of a more effective, creative outfit are there, though it’s up to Potter to find a tactical blueprint that works.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 10th
Jeff Hendrick – Newcastle – Free
Joe Hart – Tottenham Hotspur – Free
Aaron Lennon – Kayserispor – Free
Ben Gibson – Norwich City – Loan
Key Player: James Tarkowski
A rock at the back and an ever-present performer, James Tarkowski – who started all 38 Premier League fixtures for the Clarets last term – begins his 5th campaign as a Burnley player in 2020/21. The 27-year-old is a Turf Moor staple, and Sean Dyche will look to construct his rearguard around the ultra-reliable centre-half again this year.
One to Watch: Dwight McNeil
20-year-old winger Dwight McNeil continued to shine for the Clarets last season having enjoyed a breakout campaign the year before, and he will be aiming to improve on his haul of six assists and two goals from 2019/20 this term. The ex-Man Utd academy starlet was subject to some transfer speculation in the summer, though another season at Turf Moor looks likely.
A small squad and a strict budget provide the usual hurdles for Sean Dyche to clear, though the battle-hardened Burnley boss has shown year after year that he is capable of overcoming these challenges.
While Burnley’s struggles to name a full squad in the latter stages of the last Premier League campaign shone on a light on the personnel issues facing them, Burnley’s spine remains strong and if James Tarkowski, Benn Mee, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes remain fit and available for selection, the Clarets should be able to smash their way to another mid-table finish in 2020/21.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 4th
Kai Havertz – Bayer Leverkusen – £72m
Timo Werner – RB Leipzig – £47.7m
Ben Chilwell – Leicester City – £45m
Hakim Ziyech – Ajax – £36m
Malang Sarr – Nice – Free
Thiago Silva – PSG – Free
Alvaro Morata – Atletico Madrid – £50m
Mario Pasalic – Atalanta – £13.5m
Nathan – Atletico-MG – £2.7m
Willian – Arsenal – Free
Pedro – AS Roma – Free
Key Player: Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic’s sparkling performances at the back end of last season, where the US international bagged five goals and two assists in 11 appearances, offered a glimpse of what promises to be more of a sustained impact in the Chelsea first time in 2020/21. The 21-year-old can tear any defence to shreds on his day, and Pulisic should make the transition from up and comer to established star this season.
One to Watch: Kai Havertz
Having shelled out a whopping £72m for Havertz, expectations for the 21-year-old will be sky-high ahead of his first campaign in Chelsea blue. The German attacking midfielder has been a revelation since breaking into Bayer Leverkusen’s first team, though it will be fascinating to see how he copes with the demands and pressures of life in the Premier League.
Chelsea upset the odds in 2019/20 to secure a top four Premier League finish in what many observers had expected to be a transitional season at Stamford Bridge after the appointment of Frank Lampard and the loss of star player Eden Hazard.
The Blues developed into one of the most exciting teams to watch in the division last term, though it’s worth nothing that Chelsea lost 12 times before the season was out, conceding more often than any other team in the top ten along the way.
Roman Abramovich’s has sanctioned a massive summer spent ahead of the new campaign, with Thiago Silva, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz already added to Frank Lampard’s squad in an ambitious show of strength.
With their goalkeeping issues still unaddressed and their options at centre-half looking light, Chelsea’s squad has a top-heavy, unbalanced look at present however – something that could see them run into a problem or two, though the Blues have should have enough firepower to blast their way out of trouble most weeks.
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