Build-Up To The New Season – Leicester

Team: Leicester City

Nickname: The Foxes

Founded: 1884

Manager: Craig Shakespeare

Stadium Name: King Power Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 32,315

Major Honours: (1) First Division, (7) Second Division, (1) Third Division, (3) League Cup, (1) Community Shield

Main Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Derby, Coventry

Biggest Win v Brighton: 4-1 (September 1978)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 4-1 (April 2014)

Last Meeting: Leicester 1-4 Brighton (8/4/14)

When Do They Play Brighton: Saturday 20th August (King Power Stadium), Saturday 31st March (AMEX Stadium)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel

Defender: Wes Morgan

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez

Striker: Jamie Vardy

 

After a stunning season where they captured their first top flight title, it all went 'tits up' for the Foxes. 3 wins in their first 14 games saw them hanging above the drop zone, and with only 5 wins on the board up to matchday 25, it was starting to look bleak for the reigning champions. Claudio Ranieri was subsequently given the boot, much to the anger of supporters and pundits across the world, but their fortunes turned drastically; 5 wins on the spin and qualification into the quarter finals of the Champions League, saw them with some breathing space between them and the bottom three. With 2 wins in their remaining 8 games, Leicester finished 12th which given the way the season turned out, it wasn't a bad finishing position. Expect much of the same again this season.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 12th 

Predicted Finish 13th

Build-Up To The New Season – Huddersfield

Team: Huddersfield Town

Nickname: The Terriers

Founded: 1908

Manager: David Wagner

Stadium Name: John Smith’s Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 24,500

Major Honours: (3) First Division, (1) Second Division, (1) Fourth Division, (1) F.A Cup, (1) Community Shield

Main Rivals: Leeds, Bradford, Barnsley, Oldham

Biggest Win v Brighton: 7-1 (August 2009)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 4-1 (March 2013)

Last Meeting: Huddersfield 3-1 Brighton (1/2/17)

When Do They Play Brighton: Saturday 9th December (John Smiths Stadium), Saturday 7th April (AMEX Stadium)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Jonas Lossl 

Defender: Tommy Smith

Midfielder: Aaron Mooy

Striker: Laurent Depoitre 

 

Huddersfield exceeded everyone’s expectations last season, just by getting into the Play-Offs, but going on to win them and gaining promotion into the Premier League for the first time, was a huge achievement especially considering the season before when they finished 19th; replicating Brighton’s rise when they finished 20th back in 2015, before a 3rd place finish the next season. Huddersfield were the early pace setters, winning 5 of their first 6 games including an away win against Newcastle. Brighton inflicted their first defeat of the season, which started a barren run of 4 wins in 12 games, dropping them from 1st to 8th. 11 wins in their next 13 games saw them back in contention for automatic promotion, and on the heels of Brighton and Newcastle, but as the games piled up towards the end of the season, they started to drop points and could only manage 3 wins in their remaining 10 games, meaning they would have to gain promotion the hard way; they actually won the play-offs without scoring a goal during the 3 ties including extra time. 

 

Last Season’s Finish: 5th (Championship – Promoted via Play-Offs)

Predicted Finish; 20th

Build-Up To The New Season – Everton

Team: Everton

Nickname: The Toffees

Founded: 1878

Manager: Ronald Koeman

Stadium Name: Goodison Park

Stadium Capacity: 39,572

Major Honours: (9) First Division, (1) Second Division, (5) F.A Cups, (9) Community Shields

Main Rivals: Liverpool

Biggest Win v Brighton: 4-3 (December 1980)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 5-2 (February 1924)

Last Meeting: Brighton 1-2 Everton (9/4/83)

When Do They Play Brighton: Saturday 14th October (AMEX Stadium), Saturday 10th March (Goodison Park)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

Defender: Michael Keane

Midfielder: Idrissa Gueye

Striker: Wayne Rooney

 

Everton would of been happy to qualify for Europe at the start of the season, and that’s just what they achieved with a strong 7th place finish; a position they had occupied since matchday 18 all they way til the end of the season. 4 wins in their opening 5 games saw them in second place, before 1 win in 10 dropped them back into 9th, including a 5-0 threashing away at Chelsea. A strong second half of the season saw them lose just 5 games, with a superb 4-0 win against Manchester City. Everton have recruited well so far this summer, and it would be a shock if they couldn’t improve on their 7th place finish; possible dark horses for a Champions League place? Who knows?

 

Last Season’s Finish: 7th

Predicted Finish; 6th

Build-Up To The New Season – Crystal Palace

Team: Crystal Palace

Nickname: Eagles

Founded: 1905

Manager: Frank de Boer

Stadium Name: Selhurst Park

Stadium Capacity: 25,456

Major Honours: (2) Second Division, (1) Third Division

Main Rivals: Brighton, Millwall, Charlton

Biggest Win v Brighton: 6-0 (February 1950)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 5-0 (January 1956)

Last Meeting: Brighton 0-2 Crystal Palace (13/5/13)

When Do They Play Brighton: Tuesday 28th November (AMEX Stadium), Saturday 14th April (Selhurst Park)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Wayne Hennessey 

Defender: Patrick van Aanholt

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha

Striker: Christian Benteke

 

After smashing their transfer record to bring Benteke to South London, Palace were looking to set their sights on a top 10 finish; it was looking pretty good up to matchday 7, until a run of 6 straight defeats saw them plummet from 8th to 17th. 1 win in their next 9 saw them in the relegation places at the end of January, and fearing the worst, but 5 wins in their next 7 helped them clamber out of the drop zone, and with a good enough end to the season they managed to secure 14th spot.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 14th

Predicted Finish; 15th

Build-Up To The New Season – Chelsea

Team: Chelsea

Nickname: The Blues

Founded: 1905

Manager: Antonio Conte

Stadium Name: Stamford Bridge

Stadium Capacity: 41,631

Major Honours: (6) Division One, (2) Division Two, (7) F.A Cups, (5) League Cups, (4) Community Shields, (1) Champions League, (1) Europa League, (1) UEFA Super Cup

Main Rivals: Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, West Ham, QPR, Fulham, Brentford

Biggest Win v Brighton: 4-0 (February 1967)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 2-1 (January 1933)

Last Meeting: Brighton 0-1 Chelsea (15/3/89)

When Do They Play Brighton: Tuesday 26th December (Stamford Bridge), Saturday 20th January (AMEX Stadium)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois

Defender: David Luiz

Midfielder: N’Golo Kante 

Striker: Eden Hazard

 

After a dissapointing season previously, Antonio Conte had his work cut out, to propel Chelsea back up the table and back into the Champions League. After 3 wins for 3 at the start of the season, Chelsea failed to win the next 3 including defeats against rivals Arsenal and Liverpool. However, a superb run of 13 straight wins helped them go to the top of the table by the end of the year. Tottenham inflicted their first defeat since September when the two London rivals met just after New Years Day, but 14 wins in the remaining 18 games saw them win the title by 7 points, also setting a new Premier League record for most wins in a season, eclipsing the previous record of 29 wins set by themselves during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 1st

Predicted Finish; 3rd

Build-Up To The New Season – Burnley

Team: Burnley

Nickname: The Clarets

Founded: 1882

Manager: Sean Dyche

Stadium Name: Turf Moor

Stadium Capacity: 21,800

Major Honours: (2) First Division, (3) Second Division, (1) Third Division, (1) Fourth Division, (1) F.A Cup, (1) Community Shield

Main Rivals: Blackburn, Preston, Rochdale, Blackpool, Halifax Town, Stockport County

Biggest Win v Brighton: 3-0 (April 1973, October 1978, September 1993, October 1995)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 3-0 (December 1992)

Last Meeting: Brighton 2-2 Burnley (2/4/16)

When Do They Play Brighton: Saturday 13th December (AMEX Stadium), Saturday 28th April (Turf Moor)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton

Defender: Charlie Taylor

Midfielder: Steven Defour

Striker: Andre Gray

 

Burnley were looking to consolidate their Premier League status for the first time, after being relegated straight back down the previous 2 times they have achieved promotion to the Premier League. A large amount of their 16th place success was their home form, where they lost just 6 games and won 10 times, including scalps against Liverpool, Everton and a draw against champions Chelsea. On the contrary, their away from was completely shocking, winning only once on the road and that was in April against Crystal Palace. Fans of Burnley will be hoping they can at least get 2 away wins on the board this year, otherwise they could face the drop.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 16th

Predicted Finish; 19th

Build-Up To The New Season – Brighton

Team: Brighton and Hove Albion

Nickname: The Seagulls, Albion

Founded: 1901

Manager: Chris Hughton

Stadium Name: AMEX Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 30,750

Major Honours: (3) Third Division, (2) Fourth Division, (1) F.A Community Shield

Main Rivals: Crystal Palace, Southampton, Bournmouth, Portsmouth
Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Mathew Ryan

Defender: Lewis Dunk

Midfielder: Anthony Knockaert

Striker: Sam Baldock

 

After missing out on the last day of the previous season, before losing in the semi-finals of the play-offs, it just seemed that Brighton couldn't jump that final hurdle to head towards the finish line, after a 3rd semi-final defeat in 4 years. However, some shrewd signings and a massive togetherness within the squad, they finally reached the promised land with 3 games to spare, although their achievement might have been tarnished, after throwing away a 7 point lead over Newcastle to end up finishing 2nd place and missing out on the league title. Either way, it was a huge achievement giving what the squad had been through just 12 months earlier, and if they can keep a large bulk of the squad, make more decent signings and keep key players fit there is no reason why they can't look forward to a 2nd season in the English top flight.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 2nd (Championship) 

Predicted Finish; 16th

Build-Up To The New Season – Arsenal

Team: Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners

Founded: 1886

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Stadium Name: Emirates Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 60,432

Major Honours: (13) First Division, (2) League Cups, (13) F.A Cups, (14) Community Shields, (1) European Cup Winners Cup

Main Rivals: Tottenham, Chelsea, Fulham, West Ham, Manchester United

Biggest Win v Brighton: 4-0 (August 1979 & November 1979)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 2-1 (April 1982)

Last Meeting: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal (25/11/2015)

When Do They Play Brighton: Sunday 1st October (Emirates Stadium), Saturday 3rd March (AMEX Stadium)
Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Defender: Laurent Koscielny

Midfielder: Mesut Ozil

Striker: Alexandre Lacazette

 

Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years; yet they still managed to come out the season with some silverware, after beating Chelsea in the F.A Cup final; a record 13th triumph for the North Londoners. Arsenal started with a opening day loss to Liverpool, but did managed to beat Chelsea 5 games later, in a run of 14 games unbeaten which also included draws against rivals Tottenham and Man Utd. Costly defeats to Watford, West Brom, Chelsea and Liverpool left their top 4 hopes hanging by a thread. 8 wins in their remaining 11 games still weren’t enough to clamber into the top 4, and it will be Thursday night football for the Gunners this season.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 5th

Predicted Finish; 4th

Build-Up To The Season – AFC Bournmouth

Team: AFC Bournmouth

Nickname: The Cherries

Founded: 1899

Manager: Eddie Howe

Stadium Name: Dean Court/Vitality Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 11,464

Major Honours: (1) Second Divison Title, (1) Third Division Title, (1) Football League Trophy

Main Rivals: Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, Yeovil, Reading

Biggest Win v Brighton: 6-1 (February 1949)

Biggest Defeat v Brighton: 6-0 (April 1934)

Last Meeting: Brighton 0-2 AFC Bournmouth (10/4/15)

When Do They Play Brighton: Vitality Stadium (Sep 15th 2017); AMEX Stadium (Jan 1st 2018)

 

Players To Watch:

Goalkeeper: Asmir Begovic

Defender: Simon Francis

Midfielder: Lewis Cook

Striker: Jermain Defoe

 

After their excellent first season in the Premier League, Bournemouth were looking to kick on and establish themselves as a long-term club within the English top flight. After a shaky start to the campaign, with 2 wins in the first 11 games, they secured 3 wins in the next 5 including the thrilling 4-3 win against Liverpool. 1 win in 10 after that saw them looking over their shoulders, but a superb end to their campaign with 2 defeats in their last 12, saw them climb from 14th to 9th.

 

Last Season’s Finish: 9th

Predicted Finish; 10th