Welcome to FC Yahoo’s Premier League preview week. We’ll take a look at each team in our aggregated predicted table, counting down from No. 20 to No. 1, and also reflect on some issues surrounding the league as kickoff approaches on Friday. Follow along with everything here.
8. WEST HAM UNITED
Last season – The Hammers failed to capitalize on their team-best Premier League campaign of 2015-16, stumbling out of the gate and being plagued by dressing room drama over Dimitri Payet’s unhappiness. Payet was shipped out to Marseille in January but the inconsistency continued, though ultimately Slaven Bilic’s side did enough over the last few weeks of the season to avoid relegation.
Key transfer notes – West Ham has put together one of the most notable transfer windows in the league, bolstering the attack by spending a combined $47 million on Stoke winger Marko Arnautovic and Bayern Leverkusen striker Javier Hernandez. Two Manchester City stalwarts also made their way to London, with right back Pablo Zabaleta joining on a free transfer and goalkeeper Joe Hart arriving on a year-long loan deal.
FC Yahoo take
Joey Gulino: Color me an apologist for the studious and enthusiastic Bilic, but I believe his true West Ham is more similar to the seventh-place finishers of two years ago than the stumbling bumblers of last season. Arnautovic and Hernandez suddenly give the Hammers a potent attack, while Zabaleta’s positive influence cannot be overstated. West Ham has no shortage of talent already in the fold, and will rebound and contend for a spot in Europe because of it.
Leander Schaerlaeckens: Hart, Hernandez, Zabaleta and Arnautovic are certainly nice pickups. Especially when you consider that the Hammers lost nobody of consequence. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the defense is very old, that Payet’s spark hasn’t been replaced after his mid-season sale, and that there’s still no reliable goalscorer, given Chicharito’s streakiness in recent seasons. What’s more, there’s no telling if West Ham has figured out how to prevent epic losing streaks like the ones that hobbled their last season.
Betting odds (via SkyBet)
Win Premier League – 400/1
Relegation – 10/1
Shahan Ahmed: 8 | Ryan Bailey: 8 | Alex Baker: 8 | Henry Bushnell: 9 | Joey Gulino: 7 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 10
Last season – The Toffees sat in seventh the final 21 (!) weeks of the season, finishing eight points behind the top six but also 15 ahead of the next-best side. Romelu Lukaku would have led the league in scoring with 25 goals were it not for Harry Kane’s incredible last two matches, although Everton’s reliance on Lukaku somewhat hindered manager Ronald Koeman’s attempt to establish the free-flowing attacking style he prefers. Still, Koeman’s debut season offered encouragement for the future at Goodison Park.
Key transfer notes – The $97 million sale of Lukaku to Manchester United has bankrolled several notable purchases, including defender Michael Keane from Burnley, attacking mid Davy Klaassen from Ajax and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland. But the signing that’s generated the most buzz is likely the cheapest of the bunch. Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney was allowed to leave Old Trafford to re-join the club of his youth, where he spent his first two seasons in the Premier League, and it’ll certainly be one of the most closely watched transfers of the summer.
FC Yahoo take
Joey Gulino: Lukaku and maybe Ross Barkley will be gone by the time the window closes, but don’t let the big names leaving fool you. Everton is buying promising young talents that fit seamlessly into what Koeman is trying to build, a defensively sound outfit that is multipronged going forward. Keane, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka is one of the best center-back rotations in the league, and the team sheet is filled with attackers who can play all over the offensive third. Someone will need to pick up the goal-scoring slack, and Everton might not be strong enough to truly challenge for a Champions League spot, but there is no combustible weakness here either.
Henry Bushnell: Everton should top every single list of potential 2017-18 disappointments. The case for regression is overwhelming. The grueling Thursday-Sunday grind of the Europa League will cost a thin Toffees squad a couple of places in the table on its own. Plus, Koeman’s side was lucky to finish with 61 points last season, and its good fortune will be made abundantly clear over 38 games without Lukaku. The 2016-17 team was built around Lukaku’s brilliance, and bailed out by it so often. Everton’s summer business hasn’t been terrible — a potentially absurd swoop for Gylfi Sigurdsson notwithstanding — but Koeman’s restructuring and refitting of his new-look lineup, with Barkley also seemingly on his way out the door, will take time. His second campaign on Merseyside will be one of transition, and Everton will temporarily slip back into the pack.
Betting odds (via SkyBet)
Win Premier League – 80/1
Relegation – 80/1
Shahan Ahmed: 7 | Ryan Bailey: 5 | Alex Baker: 6 | Henry Bushnell: 8 | Joey Gulino: 8 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 6
Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton & Hove Albion | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Huddersfield Town | Leicester City | Liverpool | Manchester City | Manchester United | Newcastle United | Southampton | Stoke City | Swansea City | Tottenham Hotspur | Watford | West Bromwich Albion | West Ham United