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.
The new Premier League season kicks-off this weekend and with the blank page of a fresh campaign to fill, the division’s clubs and players will be hoping to pen their own sporting epics in 2020/21.
Ahead of the action, we’ve been sifting through reams of information to deliver you a distilled club-by-club guide with all the need to know information and recent developments in England’s top-flight.
Remember – we’ll be covering all of the proceedings this term with match previews and free betting tips on our Premier League predictions page.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 1st
Konstantinos Tsimikas – Olympiakos – £11.7m
Dejan Lovren – Zenit St. Petersburg – £10.8m
Ovie Ejaria – Reading – £3.5m
Adam Lallana – Brighton – Free
Nathaniel Clyne – Released
Andy Lonergan – Released
Key Player: Virgil van Dijk
Imperious Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk was an ever-present for Liverpool during their title winning surge last season, and the 29-year-old’s world-class performance levels were a key component of the Reds’ success. Any injury to the centre-half could have catastrophic effects on the club’s ambitions next term, though Van Dijk’s fitness record is impeccable.
One to Watch: Naby Keita
Technically gifted midfielder Naby Keita has had rotten luck with injuries since his move to Liverpool from RB Leipzig, but if the 25-year-old can spend more time on the pitch than in the treatment room in 2020/21, he should be able to establish himself as a first-choice pick for Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool’s first ever Premier League title was undeniably a deserved triumph marked by an incredible consistency that was powered by a never say die attitude.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s men outperformed their Expected Points by a remarkably high margin and the Reds were somewhat fortunate to avoid any serious injuries to their star performers.
After a quiet transfer window at Anfield, Liverpool will start the new campaign with the same squad that finished the last, and a summer of standing still could see their busier rivals pass them by.
Nevertheless, it still feels relatively certain that any team that finishes above Liverpool in 2020/21 will win the Premier League title, and Jurgen Klopp’s well-oiled Merseyside machine remain the team to beat.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 2nd
Nathan Ake – Bournemouth – £40m
Ferran Torres – Valencia – £20m
Yan Couto – Coritiba – £5m
Issa Kabore – KV Mechelen – £4.5m
Leroy Sane – Bayern Munich – £40m
Claudio Bravo – Real Betis – Free
David Silva – Real Sociedad – Free
Alex Garcia – Released
Key Player: Kevin de Bruyne
With 13 goals and 20 assists in the Premier League last term, Kevin de Bruyne enjoyed a hugely productive 2019/20 campaign and the inventive Belgian was fully deserving of his Player of the Year award. The 29-year-old’s creative potency will once again be central to any success the Citizens enjoy in 2020/21.
One to Watch: Phil Foden
With club legend David Silva departed, Phil Foden should finally be given his chance to shine in a more prominent role in the Manchester City midfield this term. The England international is one of the most exciting players of his generation, though 2020/21 should bring new pressures for the 20-year-old who has just 12 Premier League starts under his belt.
Manchester City finished an eye-watering 18 points adrift of Liverpool in the title race last season, though it’s difficult to imagine the Citizens finishing as far behind in 2020/21.
The Citizens do however, enter the new campaign with questions to answer and points to prove. Defensively, a fully fit and available Aymeric Laporte should help to solidify a creaking backline, while Nathan Ake – a smart recruit from Bournemouth – should also prove a useful fill in option.
In midfield, Phil Foden has it all to do to replace the majesty of David Silva, though Ferran Torres should be an improvement on Leroy Sane through his availability for selection alone.
The Citizens, who notched a phenomenal 102 goals last season, will also have a fit-again Sergio Aguero to call upon, and the insane attacking arsenal at Pep Guardiola’s disposal could be enough to blast City back in front of Liverpool.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 3rd
Donny van de Beek – Ajax – £35m
Dean Henderson – Sheffield United – return from loan
Alexis Sanchez – Inter – Free
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – Oldham – Free
Tahith Chong – Werder Bremen – Loan
Joel Pereira – Huddersfield – Loan
Key Player: Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes arrival from Sporting CP in January had a transformative effect on United’s Premier League performances and fortunes, and the Portuguese midfielder finished his maiden campaign with a hugely impressive eight goals and seven assists in 14 top-flight appearances. With his first full season in England to come, United will be banking on Fernandes shining just as brightly again.
One to Watch: Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood has to wait until December to make his first Premier League start for United, and having made an impact in fits and starts in cup competitions before that, the ambipedal attacker exploded to prominence in the season’s final months, eventually finishing with a superb 17 goals. Now an established first team player and a full England international, the 18-year-old will hope to kick on in 2020/21.
A third place Premier League finish was a fine achievement by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his first full season in charge at Old Trafford, especially when you consider that United were playing with the division’s youngest team in 2019/20.
At the back end of the campaign, Manchester United showed that their starting XI was good enough to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the Premier League, however, a lack of depth beyond their first-choice personnel was horribly exposed in cup competitions and on the continent.
That dearth of dependable options has gone largely unaddressed so far this summer, with ex-Ajax starlet Donny van de Beek the only addition of note in the off-season, though United are expected to push for another recruit or two before the campaign commences.
With both Bruno Fernandes and fit-again Paul Pogba available for a full year, and an attacking trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all expected to improve, another 4th place finish should be within United’s reach, however, without further reinforcements, the Red Devils are still only an injury or two away from fielding a very ordinary team.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 13th
Mark Gillespie – Motherwell – Free transfer
Jeff Hendrick – Burnley – Free transfer
Jack Colback – Nottingham Forest – Free transfer
Jake Turner – Morecambe – Loan
Freddie Woodman – Swansea City – Loan
Key Player: Allan Saint-Maximin
When the Frenchman is in full flow, Allan Saint-Maximin is one of the Premier League’s most exhilarating players to watch, and while an output of four assists and three goals appears modest, the performances behind the numbers were superb. The 23-year-old should continue to carry the talisman mantle for the Magpies again in 2020/21.
One to Watch: Sean Longstaff
After a season plagued with injuries, former Man Utd target Sean Longstaff will be desperate to remain available for the entire 2020/21 campaign, and the promising midfielder has the skill-set to be a standout player for the Magpies this term.
Newcastle fans were dreaming of a big spending summer until the club’s controversial Saudi takeover collapsed, however, some smart market moves by Steve Bruce should still allow them to make progress this season.
While the transfers have not yet been officially confirmed, the Magpies look close to tying up deals to bring Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson to Tyneside, along with free agent and former Cherries winger, Ryan Fraser.
The addition of two seasoned Premier League attack minded players should help to improve things in the final third for United, who averaged just 1.0 goals per 90 minutes last term, though a top half finish should still be beyond a squad that lacks star quality overall.
Premier League finish 2019/20: 9th
Aaron Ramsdale – Bournemouth – £18m
Wes Foderingham – Rangers – Free transfer
Mark Duffy – Fleetwood – Free transfer
Luke Freeman – Nottingham Forest – Loan
Jake Eastwood – Kilmarnock – Loan
Ravel Morrison – Released
Leon Clarke – Released
Dean Henderson – Man Utd – End of loan
Key Player: John Egan
The glue that holds their notoriously robust rearguard together, Republic of Ireland international John Egan started 36 of Sheffield United’s 28 Premier League fixtures last season, and the centre-half’s aerial prowess and ability to organise should make him a key performer for the Blades again in 2020/21.
One to Watch: Aaron Ramsdale
Sheffield United have a new number one between the sticks in 2020/21 following the departure of loanee Dean Henderson. Aaron Ramsdale was relegated with Bournemouth last season, and though the 22-year-old performed admirably in a difficult campaign for the Cherries, he will have to improve to replace the influential Henderson in goal.
Sheffield United shocked supporters and critics alike with their emphatic start to life in the Premier League, however, having flirted with continental qualification, their deficiencies were laid bare at the end of the season and the Blades eventually finished 9th.
With a squad that lacks depth and top-class quality, United could struggle to replicate their success in 2020/21, however with low expectations, and Premier League survival the primary target, the Blades have the tools to over-perform again.
Sheffield United have one of the division’s most settled teams, and with so many consistent operators, the Blades should be able to carve out another solid mid-table finish in 2020/21.
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