EPL Success or Failure: Every club's 2019/20 Expectations
Last season's Premier League season was one of the most competitive in some time with Manchester City ultimately claiming their fourth title in eight seasons.
Yet things could have been so different.
If not for John Stones' goal-line clearance in a critical match against Liverpool, we could well be talking about the Reds winning their first EPL title in almost three decades- and 19th in club history.
Instead, Manchester City claimed the title by a solitary point, while Liverpool will forever live with the grim reality that in any other season, their 97-point tally would have been enough to spark delirious celebrations on Merseyside.
Yet for Liverpool and the other 18 clubs who missed out on England's most sought-after prize, the new Premier League season offers renewed hope, vigour and bubbly enthusiasm regardless of previous seasons' performance.
Today, Stats Insider will look at each of the Premier League's 20 clubs and identify just what would make for a successful 2019/20 season or consequently, represent a failure.
Liverpool and Manchester City
Liverpool and Manchester City each finished over 24 points ahead of the third placed Chelsea last season.
Manchester City return with an even stronger squad this campaign with record-signing Rodrigo Hernandez potentially eliminating one of the only weaknesses Pep Guardiola’s side had - that being their over-dependence on Brazilian central-midfielder, Fernandinho.
Liverpool, on the other hand, will likely return with the same starting eleven, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's return from injury perhaps resulting in the only significant change to a squad good enough to win the European Champions League last season.
Key Stat: Man City’s 98 and Liverpool’s 97 point tally last season was the first time in Premier League history that two teams scored more than 90 points in the same season.
Success: Winning the Premier League, and a minimum of one Domestic/European trophy.
Failure: Not winning the Premier League.
It could be a rather lonely season on the Premier League table for Spurs.
They have a squad which is perhaps not quite good enough to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but one that is potentially superior to the rest of the league.
A Premier League title challenge may well be a possibility, however anything less than a third place finish will be a significant disappointment for Pochettino's team.
With Tanguy Ndombele, Giovanni Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon coming into the side, Spurs have bolstered their squad with the hopes of taking the next step in their quest to be regarded among Europe's elite.
Success: Finally winning some silverware under Pochettino.
Failure: Falling outside the Top 3 positions.
Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United
The three rulers of English Football in the 2000s resume their three-way battle, only this time it's for that final Champions League Spot.
Chelsea have lost their best player (Eden Hazard) to Real Madrid, while manager Maurizio Sarri has taken over the hot-seat seat at Juventus, replaced with former club legend, Frank Lampard.
However if there's one thing Chelsea haven't been too unsettled by in recent years it's managerial change. The club has seen a veritable conga line of coaches come and go, with results, for the most part, remaining fairly consistent.
The Blues will be hoping that the young American star, Christian Pulisic will be able to take them to the kind of heights that have alluded the club in recent seasons, and despite the club currently suffering a transfer embargo, the Blues have been able to call back many of its young stars such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount whom had been sent out on loan in recent seasons.
Key Stat: Chelsea had the third-best defence in the league last season conceding just 39 goals.
Having signed Nicholas Pepe this summer, Arsenal now has a front line of Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which should scare any defence in the world.
Arsenal scored a massive 73 goals last season, which was third best in the league, however their defence was the very worst among the English Top Five.
Arsenal are still without a world-class central midfielder though they did sign former Chelsea star David Luiz who is expected to add some stability in the centre of the park, be it in defence or midfield.
Key Stat: Arsenal increased their percentage of penalty box entries via crosses from 24% in the 2017–18 season to 27% last season. A rise from league worst under Arsene Wegner, to 16th under new coach, Unai Emery.
With Harry Maguire and Arron Wan-Bissaka coming in, it looks like Manchester United have finally sorted out their defence. But with the sale of Romelu Lukaku, the club is now hoping that Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford can fill the void left by the Belgian talisman.
The club still lacks creativity in attack, especially if their World Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba is to leave for a bigger European outfit.
Reports suggest that manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is happy with the current team and if he can deliver some stability and positive play, the general vibe around the Red Devils will be a lot less cloudy.
Key Stat: Rashford’s 27 league goals in 111 appearances have come at one goal for every 248 minutes. Martial's 34 league goals have come at one per 217 minutes.
Success: Finishing in the Top 3 and winning a trophy.
Failure: Failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Wolves caught many people by surprise last season as they qualified for Europe in their first season back in the Premier League
It was a phenomenal performance by the West Midlands club, however the challenge now is to maintain that level of performance, while also competing in the Europa League.
Thankfully for Wolves, they've lost none of their players from last campaign and even added in some firepower with the addition of the Italian youngster Patrick Curtrone who flashed plenty of potential in his teen years with AC Milan.
Key Stat: Last season, Wolves conceded slightly fewer shots at goal than the Premier League average. They also conceded the fourth-fewest expected goals (0.91/90 minutes) in the Premier League.
Success: Quarter-final of the Europa League/Final of a domestic cup.
Failure: Not qualifying for Europe.
Leicester City, Everton, West Ham United
Leicester has been pretty shrewd with their business this summer with hopes of breaking in to the EPL Top Six.
They’ve added in Spaniard, Ayoze Pérez as well as the young Frenchmen, Youri Tielemans.
While the club will have a gigantic hole in the middle of its defence owing to the 80 Million pound sale of Harry Maguire to Manchester United, manager Brendan Rodgers will feel that his squad is capable of routinely mixing it with the league's big clubs.
The British-Iranian Farhad Moshiri has increased his ownership stake in Everton to 77.2% in the off-season while also keeping his word that the club would open up their wallet to turbo-charge their squad.
While Marco Silva's squad has lost the excellent Senegalese midfielder Idrissa Gueye to PSG, the club has locked in the services of his likely replacement Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
Everton bought in the extremely talented Juventus prodigy, Moise Kean, who has also been starting up front for the Italian national team. The Toffees also added in former Arsenal starlet Alex Iwobi at the deadline, which should compliment the Richarlison and Sigurdsson partnership up front.
West Ham United
West Ham United have been a hot tip to make some serious noise this Premier League season and potentially break into the Top Six.
There's finally some stability at the London Club. In Manuel Pellegrini they have a manager who knows what it takes to win the league, while they have their stadium situation resolved with the squad itself looking settled and ready to excel.
The Hammers were finally able to off-load the temperamental Austrian Marko Arnatovic, replacing him with the highly regarded 25 year-old Sébastien Haller who knocked in 23 Bundesliga goals for Eintracht Frankfurt over the past two seasons.
Key Stat: Except for the 2015/16 season, when Leicester won the league, none of these clubs have finished higher than seventh over the last five seasons.
Success: Qualifying for Europe.
Failure: Finishing in the bottom half of the table.
Bournemouth and Watford
What Eddie Howe has done for Bournemouth is nothing less than an extraordinary. Playing fluid attacking football wasn’t a problem for Howe’s team last season but it was their defence that cost the Cherries the top half of the table last season. If they sort their defence out, they could slip back into the top half of the table.
Key Stat: No team outside the top six scored more goals than Bournemouth (56) last season.
Watford finished their season with a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City in the FA Cup final and though that defeat would unquestionably sting, the fact that the Hornets finished 11th last season as well as reaching the FA Cup Final should be sources of immense pride for the club, as well as providing plenty of optimism ahead of the new season.
Furthermore, the club has held on to their best players in the transfer window while also adding the highly coveted Senegalese winger, Ismaila Sarr from Rennes.
Key Stat: Watford had the seventh-worst defensive record in the league last year conceding 59 goals.
Success: Finishing in the top half of the table
Failure: Getting caught up in a relegation battle.
Crystal Palace, Southampton, Burnley and Aston Villa
Most of Crystal Palace’s off-season has been fending off interest in their two best performing players Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Wilfred Zaha.
While Palace ultimately did sell right-back Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United, they were able to resist Everton's strong push for Zaha which was of immense relief to the veteran manager, Roy Hodgson.
Zaha is widely regarded as being the very best player in the EPL outside of the Top Six and without his services Palace would immediately be among the favourites to be relegated.
Key Stat: Crystal Palace has only once earned more than 15 points from their first 16 games in their current six-year stint in the Premier League.
Southampton barely escaped relegation last season but that turnaround happened only after Ralph Hasenhüttl replaced former manager Mark Hughes.
The top scorers for the Saints last season were James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings with just seven goals apiece, which is one of the main reasons for Southampton's struggles.
The Saints have bought in the highly regraded Che Adams who has immediately been granted the number 10 shirt.
Key Stat: The last time a Saints player hit double figures in the league was back in 2015-16 and courtesy of Sadio Mane who has of course got on to great things at Liverpool.
Burnley went from qualifying for the Europa League in 2017/18 to finishing 15th in the league last season.
It was a big drop-off for Sean Dyche's squad which has done little to bolster a squad lacking in dynamism.
Outside of adding former Leicester City legend Danny Drinkwater at the deadline, Burnley will be bringing back essentially the same squad that was only barely able to keep its place in the Premier League last season.
Key Stat: Burnley had just one point against their name after the first five league games last season but took 18 points from their next eight games to revive their season.
Aston Villa fans are full of unbridled optimism as they return to the Premiership following their three season, top-flight hiatus.
Since mid-February the Villans have lost just two competitive fixtures, which resulted in the EPL return and which inspired their 150 million pound spending spree this summer.
Villa have cleaned out much of its deadwood such as Micah Richards and Ross McCormack and bought in the likes of Tyrone Mings, Douglas Luiz, Matt Targett from Southampton as well as Ezri Konsa from Brentford.
Villa will be desperate to avoid the mistakes big-spending Fulham made last season in their attempts to stay afloat, and it'll be its defence which may tell the story with Villa last season conceding more goals in the Championship than Stoke and Birmingham- two teams who finished 16th and 17th respectively.
In a perfect world, Aston Villa will replicate what Wolves achieved last season by staying afloat and qualifying for Europe.
Key Stat: When Jack Grealish plays well, Aston Villa play well. Of the 15 league games he did not start last season, Villa won three, compared with the 19 they won from 31 with him.
Success: Finishing above 13th in the league
Brighton, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Norwich City
Brighton finished 17th last season with 36 points and survived relegation by the skin of its teeth.
Despite maintaining its EPL status, the Seagulls parted ways with manager Chris Hughton and installed former Swansea manager Graham Potter who has promised to introduce a new back-three system which is a formation Potter has used at previous clubs.
A further reason to keep a close eye on Brighton this season will be because of the Australian connection with Matt Ryan in goals along with deadline loanee Aaron Mooy who of course excelled at relegated Huddersfield last season.
Key Stat: Brighton averaged less than a goal a game last season with only the three relegated sides managing fewer.
With fan-favourite Rafa Benitez leaving Newcastle, owner Mike Ashley might’ve put the final nail in his coffin.
Magpie fans are furious about losing Benitez with ticket sales down considerably and with ten different supporter groups threatening to boycott the club's season opener against Arsenal- with a protest march planned instead.
Apart from avoiding relegation, the only thing the Magpies fans would want this season is getting rid of Mike Ashley from the club.
Key Stat: The top three expected goals contributors and two of the top four expected goals assisters for Newcastle United last season have left the club this summer.
Sheffield United are newly promoted, unorthodox and probably the most unpredictable Premier League team of this season.
Last season in the Championship, every single one of their players was of British or Irish nationality.
Manager Chris Wilder has three promotions in four seasons across various tiers of English football with many intrigued to see what he'll bring to the Premiership this season.
First and foremost though, Sheffield United will be fighting to stay up which may well come down to whether Chris Wilder can resist his experimental ways.
Key Stat: Sheffield United led the Championship for expected goal per shot and passes completed inside the box metrics.
Daniel Farke’s side won the Championship title with 94 points after scoring 93 goals. Their possession-based football based on pace out wide and technical players unlocking space in the centre was a delight to watch.
They did however struggle defensively and this could be their undoing in the Premier League this season.
The Canaries conceded 17 goals from set pieces last season, the sixth-highest total in the league which is bad news since 20% of the EPL's goals last season indeed came from set pieces.
If Norwich can maintain their habit of scoring a staggering number of goals, their defensive flaws may well be covered up. If not, a jump back into Championship is a likely possibility
Key Stat: With their tally of 93 goals scored, Norwich City exceeded their expected goals by 20 last season.
Success: Finish above 15th on the table.