Who will be crowned the ‘Best of the Rest’ this Premier League season? Will it be last season’s Wolverhampton Wanderers to be at the peak again or will we see an improved outcome from teams such as Leicester City and Everton. Time will tell, but together we will explore the teams most likely to wear this accolade come season’s end.
Nuno Santos’ team effectively ‘won’ this accolade last season. Finishing 7th in the league behind the Big Six clubs is a tremendous effort for a newly promoted team. They have applied a formula, I am sure teams such as Aston Villa, Norwich City and Sheffield United will be implementing to ensure survival this campaign.
Wolves have religiously added Portuguese talent to their ranks along with a move for Real Madrid’s Jesus Vallejo on loan. They have followed that strategy again this year. They have added young talents Pedro Neto and Bruno Jordao from Braga. Santo has improved the attacking options in the squad with highly rated Patrick Cutrone signing for them from Italian Giants, AC Milan. What will be the biggest challenge for Wolverhampton will be managing the Premier League and the Europa League.
We have found in past history that teams do find this juggling act a difficult one to manage. Expect the Wolves to be up near 7th again this campaign but face a more inconsistent run of results.
Holding no secrecy here, but Leicester City are my tip to finish ‘Best of the Rest’ in this upcoming campaign. Unfortunately, Leicester fans, I don’t see them repeating their 2015-16 winning feat. I do predict them playing some fast, attractive counter-attacking football that will push them up the table. At times, comfortably collecting points against lower teams and taking some points off the top teams.
Signing Youri Tielemans from Monaco for 40 million euros was fantastic business from Leicester. He could potentially become a bargain buy for the club in years to come. Ayoze Perez comes in after an impressive five seasons at Newcastle United and will shine up top with Jamie Vardy and James Maddison. Addition of young players in James Justin and Mitchell Clark will only strengthen the depth of a quality squad while Dennis Praet is also a formidable addition.
Harry Maguire’s huge move to Manchester United was certainly a blow but given the record-breaking transfer fee they received, a replacement should be on the cards on deadline day.
The turbulent Toffees will be up there again this season. They have an extremely talented squad that is too good to be dropping anywhere below tenth place. This club has high expectations of themselves every season that the fans promote, however, I feel they fall short yearly on this. This may seem harsh for a club that has enjoyed back to back 8th place finishes.
I just feel this club should be a Europa League regular. Exciting Italian forward Moise Kean has joined from Juventus, which I can only see as a positive for Everton. This is a player they could shape a 5-year plan around. His potential is immense and Juventus will be ruing the day they let this lad go. Andre Gomes was also signed permanently from F.C Barcelona after a successful loan stint last season. Free transfer of Danish ‘keeper Jonas Lossl will provide healthy competition for Jordan Pickford.
When you throw in a talented Jean-Phillipe Gbamin the squad looks strong and young and I can only see the Toffees really pushing for that 6th of 7th place under the meticulous Marco Silva who seems to have pulled off a real shocker here by signing Alex Iwobi at the last moment.
West Ham United
From one club with huge fan expectations to another, this time we take a look at London based club West Ham United. They have a new stadium to attract big crowds, a talented squad that is conducted by a passionate and experienced manager in Manuel Pellegrini.
I feel their undoing has come from negative news taking over headlines in past seasons, with Marko Arnautovic being that case last season. He has now departed the club for the Chinese Super League. That money has been invested intelligently into the squad with several additions having joined the Hammers. These being Pablo Fornals (Villareal), Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Roberto Jimenez (Espanyol) being the notable of the five additions. Pellegrini also completed the late signing of centre-back Albian Ajeti on deadline day.
Under the guidance of their experienced manager and on-field leadership in the likes of Mark Noble, Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop and Felipe Anderson, expect the Hammers to make a steady push further into the top half of the table this season.
Opinions seem to be split about the Hornets and how they will fare this season. Often applauded for their eye-catching attacking football, I don’t expect that to suddenly diminish over the offseason. They have strengthened considerably adding the likes of Ismaila Sarr, Danny Welbeck and Craig Dawson among others.
It will be interesting to see what this Watford team will come up with this year that betters their 11th place finish last campaign. The club did finish with a -7 goal difference last season so adding Dawson will hopefully tighten the flood gates. Bullish forward Troy Deeney will lead the line with support coming from the dynamic Gerard Deulofeu and (can be) clinical Andre Gray with Welbeck adding experience and more trickery on the flanks.
The Hornets face a tough season, but with stability finally, at the helm with Javier Gracia, they will look to have a smooth season. Not having a handful of first-team purchases isn’t always a bad thing and with this team sticking together, one can expect the chemistry between the defence and attack to be higher than last time around.
My opinion lies with Leicester City finishing 7th this season under Brendan Rodgers but expect Everton to challenge them all the way. Any of these five clubs could take the title of ‘Best of the Rest’, therefore I will let you form your views on who you think will take it- could be a team not even on this list. Comment below who you think will. The season will begin in a day’s time, I for one, am extremely excited for the first ball to be kicked.