With the transfer window edging towards a close, the squads are just about sorted for the opening round of the 2019/20 English Premier League campaign.
In this third instalment of BP’s five-part EPL season preview, we look at the outright odds and the likely prospects for Leicester, West Ham, Newcastle and Watford.
Leicester City have every reason to be confident now that former Liverpool boss Brendon Rodgers is calling the shots at the King Power Stadium.
Prior to taking over the Foxes in January, Rodgers spent two and a half years in Scotland where he completed a clean sweep of all seven domestic trophies available and guided Celtic to the UEFA Champions League group stage on two occasions.
His new bosses seem to have granted him all the support he needs, as the club has thus far spent £78 million. Midfielder Youri Tielemans completed a permanent deal from Monaco for a club record fee of £40 million, whereas forward Ayoze Perez signed from Newcastle United for £30 million. Right-back James Justin also joined the club from Luton Town for an estimated £8 million.
Having lost Harry Maguire to Manchester United, Rodgers could be out for a centre-back before deadline day, with James Tarkowski and Nathan Ake the most probable replacements.
But even without reinforcements at the back, the Foxes have everything it takes to finish in the top half of the table and possibly contend for European football.
West Ham United
Having finished a solid 10th last season, West Ham will be hoping to hoist themselves higher on the table after conducting plenty of business over the English summer.
Coach Manuel Pellegrini will pin his hopes on Sebastian Haller, the club-record £45 million signing who scored 20 goals and provided 12 assists for Eintracht Frankfurt in all competitions last season.
The Hammers have also acquired Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals from Villarreal for a handsome £24 million, while goalkeepers Roberto and David Martin — who both joined as Bosman transfers —should provide much-needed backup.
An unpopular managerial choice from the start, Steve Bruce is fully aware of the task that lies ahead in his first season in charge of Newcastle United.
While it looked like the summer transfer window was going to pass by unnoticed for Newcastle, Bruce has found some measure of support from club owner Mike Ashley. Brazil striker Joelinton signed from Hoffenheim towards the tail end of July for a club record of £40 million, having scored 10 goals from 26 games last season.
Young midfielder Kyle Scott and budding goalkeeper Jake Turner also arrived at the club this summer, while French winger Allan Saint-Maximin completed the switch to St. James’ Park for a reported £16.5m as a replacement for Leicester-bound Ayoze Perez.
Often rigid with transfers, the Magpies have made some reasonable signings that could see them finish mid-table.
Despite not spending much in comparison to other Premier League clubs within their punching weight, Watford fans should harbour plenty of assurance ahead of their fifth successive season in the English top flight.
Coming in at the start of 2018, manager Javi Gracia has bred confidence amongst his charges. Not only did he lead the Hornets to their first FA Cup final in 35 years, he also inspired them to their highest-ever finish in the EPL last season.
The acquisition of 29-year-old defender Craig Dawson from West Bromwich Albion will help the cause, while free transfers Bayli Spencer-Adams, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Callum Whelan add plenty of depth.
Going by the recent (and unusual) aura of stability at Vicarage Road, Gracia’s side should comfortably finish mid-table and push for a place in the top half.
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