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Premier League Preview | Man City, Man United, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield United

We have previewed each Premier League team ahead of the 2019/20 season.

In this entry, Ben Smith assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Man City, Man United, Newcastle, Norwich and Sheffield United.


Manchester City

This team are relentless.

Not content with their 98 points and domestic treble, they have spent £100m between defensive midfielder Rodri and right back Joao Cancelo.

They look sharper than ever in pre-season and Kevin De Bruyne is back fully fit after twelve months of sporadic injuries. The goal for this team this year will be to make their mark on Europe, as they have yet to ingratiate themselves among Europe’s elite.

Domestically I don’t see anyone pipping them to the post.

Liverpool pushed all the way last season but ultimately fell short and haven’t signed any new players to push them that one step further.

Man City are frightening and will blitz most teams at the Etihad this season. At 14/1 I think Raheem Sterling is a dark horse to win the golden boot, he just keeps getting better and better.

With Bernardo Silva, David Silva and KDB they have all the craft and guile they’ll need to rip teams apart.

There is a reason they are 4/9 on to win the league again – they’re simply the best Premier League team we have ever seen.

I expect their points tally to be lower than it was the last two seasons but they should still get over the line again.

Three in a row.


Manchester United

Fairly diabolical window for Man Utd. £135m spent on two defenders but little to suggest the overall squad have enough about them to change their fortunes from last season.

When they were smashed 4-0 at Everton back in April Ole said that he was going to turn the club around and most of the players who played in that disgraceful performance would not be part of the future of Man United.

The only player who played that day who has left the club is Romelu Lukaku, United’s top scorer from last season. Every other player is still at the club.

It’s hard to make a case for United having a big year, there are still too many questions over the commitment of many senior players and much of the deadwood hasn’t been moved on.

The fact that Phil Jones has lasted sixteen transfer windows at the club is incredible and he is only one of a number of senior players that are below the standard you would expect from a top four team.

The opening game of the season between United and Chelsea will be an eye-opener for both young managers (Solskjaer & Lampard). If either of them start slowly then the knives will be out immediately.

At the end of last season I wrote that United were in the most trouble of any of the top six and nothing has changed for me.

They are no longer able to attract the big names that they used to attract and there are still many doubts over Solskjaer and his ability to command a dressing room full of overpaid prima donnas.

I think United will huff and puff in the early weeks and may well put in some high-energy performances at Old Trafford.

Ultimately, however, I think they will struggle to improve on last season and don’t be surprised to see Ole no longer behind the wheel in 2020.



Another summer of discontent. Rafa Benitez is gone and there have been differing views on how or why.

The Geordie faithful believe he left due to his fury at the club’s lack of ambition. Others believe he left due to the lucrative contracts offered in China.

Either way, Newcastle have had to take a massive gamble with the appointment of Steve Bruce who returns from the wilderness of the Championship to take the reins in the North East.

His appointment has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon. If there’s one thing they like in Shearer country it’s dedication and loyalty to the cause - these are qualities that Bruce would have a hard time owning.

He has managed Birmingham and Aston Villa, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday and now both Sunderland and Newcastle.

Transfer wise they’ve gotten rid of both of last year’s top scorers – Rondon has gone to China and Perez has joined Leicester.

They have spent a club record £40m to try and address their scoring problems with the acquisition of Joelinton from Hoffenheim. Reports in Germany suggest that Hoffenheim could not believe the fee offered by the Geordies and his record of 1 goal in 4 games in the German league is unlikely to offer too much confidence to Toon fans.

As of the time of writing they are also in touch with Andy Carroll with regard to signing him on a free transfer. Carroll will no doubt be tempted by the fine nightlife in the city and will be excited about the prospect of playing five games a year.

Jokes aside, it looks like it is going to be another tough year for the Magpies. Their fans really deserve so much more.

It’s remarkable to see clubs like Bournemouth and Watford surge past them and it just shows what can happen when you have genuine owners who share the same ambition.

Mike Ashley is not a genuine owner and is simply using the club as a cash cow.

The fans have major protests planned for the opening game against Arsenal and you are likely to see a huge amount of empty seats in the stadium. Unfortunately this doesn’t help anyone, least of all the team itself. It has already been shown that these protests fall on deaf ears, Ashley simply doesn’t care.

Despite all the doom and gloom pre-season I actually think Newcastle will survive.

I believe Steve Bruce will surprise people and build a resolute team who will be tough to beat at St. James’.

A lot will depend on the likes of Sean Longstaff and Miguel Almiron but I think this team and manager will prove many doubters wrong.



Norwich are back in the big time for the first time in five years after winning last season’s Championship.

They were last year’s great entertainers – scoring 93 goals which was head and shoulders the best tally in the division.

The drawback – as is often the case – is that their defence was quite leaky and they conceded a lot more goals than both Sheffield Utd and Leeds during the course of the season.

The man who will shoulder most of the burden this year will be Teemu Pukki.

He scored an unbelievable 30 goals last year in the league alone. He will have to continue that trend if Norwich are to have any chance in this division.

They have spent practically nothing – as of the time of writing their entire expenditure is less than 10 million. When you compare this with the 130 million spent by Villa you realise the two clubs are operating under very different circumstances.

The Canaries will hope to rely on the squad that got them promoted last season and they have a real gem in full back Max Aarons – he is one to keep an eye on this year.

Norwich have very little chance this season.

They won’t be quite as bad as Huddersfield were but I expect them to be on the end of some very bad beatings, starting at Anfield on Friday night.

They couldn’t defend properly in the Championship, they have little hope of defending against the supreme talents of the Premier League.

They may well be involved in some high scoring and exciting fixtures but they won’t amass enough points to stay up.


Sheffield United

Sheffield United have been a long time away.

They last contested a Premier League game in May 2007 when Rihanna was at Number 1 with ‘Umbrella’.

Since then the Blades have gone into the Championship, been relegated again, spent six years in League One, been promoted, spent three years in the Championship and now have finally clawed their way back up to the top flight.

It’s been a hell of a journey for the steel city and they have done everything in their power this summer to build a squad capable of surviving in this division.

At the time of writing there have been seven new additions at the club. The biggest one is undoubtedly Oliver McBurnie who has joined from Swansea.

He scored 22 goals in the Championship last season and should form a decent partnership with Billy Sharp up front. At the back, Sheffield were very solid last season and had the joint best defensive record in the entire division.

This backline will need to stay resilient in the coming months if Sheffield are to have any hope of survival.

In terms of additions, £40m isn’t a bad outlay but the gulf is so big between the Championship and the Premier League that it will be difficult to see Sheffield United making the grade.

A valiant effort expected but ultimately they’ll be making a swift return to the Championship.


Ben Smith

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