With the Premier League season just around the corner, we look ahead to the coming season and explore the trends to identify who may have a successful 2019-20 season, and who may struggle.
Throughout the season, we’ll be collecting data from Opta and presenting the analytics in our online dossier. Drawing on last season’s data and transfer activity so far, what can we ascertain about the season to come?
The Title Race
Last season saw a record points haul title race between eventual treble winners Manchester City and European champions Liverpool. The Reds lost just one match during the 2018-19 Premier League season and while City lost four, Liverpool drew seven to City’s two, and finished just one point off top spot.
There was a huge 25-point gap between Liverpool and third-placed Chelsea, so can we expect another titanic two-horse tussle this season?
Champions League Places
Chelsea is appealing a ban on making new signings for the next two windows, so cannot strengthen with the estimated £130m gained from the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. Hazard was definitely Chelsea’s key man during 2018-19 season, with 16 goals, a shot accuracy rate of 83%, and 15 assists. Under previous coach Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea dominated possession, with four of the league’s top six pass-makers coming from the Blues. Can new manager Frank Lampard mold a team that breaks the current duopoly and challenge for the title?
In reality, Chelsea’s biggest threat will come from North London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal as they compete for Champions League spots. Both clubs faded badly last season after their respective European semi-final wins.
Spurs’ new £55m signing Tanguy NDombélé from Lyon will add stability in midfield; he averaged 1.9 tackles per match last season and made 1,961 passes at 89% accuracy. Don’t expect goals, though—he scored just once in 31 attempts!
Manchester United have galvanized their right flank with the signing of 21-year-old Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, who topped the commitment charts last term with 3.7 tackles per match. Expect the £50m right-back to run at defenders and ping the ball into the box for Rashford and Lukaku—still a United player at the time of writing—to connect with. United also faded at the end of last term, so it must improve significantly to challenge for the top four.
United’s new £80m signing Harry Maguire will also provide additional drive, with 17 dribbles last season and three goals. Expect United to push up more from the back this coming season.
Knocking on the Door
Last season’s surprise package Wolves have managed to retain the core of their squad that achieved seventh place and the FA Cup semi-finals. The Black Country side has thinned out its squad, but can it compete for the top half of the Premier League and sustain a Europa League campaign?
Perennial mid-table side Everton have streamlined their squad, but will need an injection to advance. Meanwhile, West Ham’s £25m signing Pablo Fornals will run at defenders. He doesn’t score often, but when he does, it’s often spectacular.
Leicester City’s new signing Ayoze Pérez is also fond of a dribble, with 47 runs last season with Newcastle United, where he chipped in with 12 goals. The Foxes have also secured Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans on a permanent deal from Monaco, after playing an improved second half of last season in blue. Expect dynamism in midfield and robust tackle or two.
FA Cup-finalists Watford and Crystal Palace finished comfortably in mid-table last season, but while the Hornets remain largely the same, the Eagles have had a clear out. Do Palace have enough strength in depth to retain a mid-table spot?
The Relegation Battle
Fourth-bottom (17th) will be the minimum target for the three newly-promoted clubs: Norwich City, Sheffield United, and Aston Villa. Last season, Brighton & Hove Albion limped to 36 points to stay up, scoring just 35 goals in the process, which was more than each of the three relegated teams below them. The signing of attacking midfielder Leandro Trossard from Belgian club Genk should help.
Newcastle United have only added three players and have lost 12-goal Pérez to Leicester City, so could easily find themselves in a dogfight. New striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim only bagged seven goals last term in the Bundesliga. Southampton have strengthened, but can the Saints pull clear? Have Burnley got enough quality to recapture the form of two seasons ago, which fired them into the Europa League?
We look forward to the season ahead! Keep up with the latest data from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in our online dossier, which is updated every five minutes.