Whilst the 26th Premier League season is likely to be dominated by the Top 7, here are a few dark horses to watch out for in the 2017-2018 this season.
Having retained their top-flight status for a second successive season, confidence is sky high at Bournemouth. A young hungry manager making his mark on the south coast with an exciting attacking brand of football, there has never been a better time to support the Cherries.
Bournemouth enjoyed a fantastic season last year, finishing ninth in the Premier League! Just nine years after surviving liquidation and avoiding the drop to non-league. This year, Bournemouth could really surprise a few.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth conceded 67 times last campaign, and he has looked to fix The Cherries’ defensive woes with the acquisitions of Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Chelsea defender Nathan Ake for a combined total of £35 million! Howe has also added firepower to an already potent striking force, with Jermain Defoe joining a promising front-line.
Expect Eddie Howe’s side to turn heads this term.
2. West Ham
As West Ham bid farewell to the Boleyn Ground back in May 2016, few could’ve predicted the nightmare season that would await them at their new home (London Stadium).
The Hammers fell from seventh to eleventh in the space of a year, as well as selling star-man Dimitri Payet. Crowd disputes, a pre-mature European exit and Simone Zaza made this campaign one to forget. Slaven Bilic’s side had little to celebrate last season apart from a 1-0 win against city rivals Tottenham Hotspur, to end their faint title hopes.
However, I think that there could be a change in fortunes this season for West Ham should their transfer dealings be anything to go by, with Pablo Zabaleta providing a short term solution to their right-back troubles. As well as the loan signing of England keeper Joe Hart and the imminent arrival of Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic. But, the deal that is really exciting Hammers fans is that of Javier Hernandez. The Mexican has gained himself a reputation for being a proven goalscorer, registering 39 goals in two seasons for Bayer Levurkusen. ‘Chicharito’ could be the striker that West Ham fans have been crying out for in recent times.
The Hammers could definitely be an outside contender to challenge Everton for a Europa League place.
3. Leicester City
It has been an incredible few years for Leicester City, with just three years separating promotion to the Premier League and title glory. Claudio Ranieri was controversially relieved of his duties in January, due to a slump in form. This paved the way for Craig Shakespeare to make his first foray in management.
Shakespeare lifted the fallen champions from 19th to 12th in the Premier League, as well as progression into the Champions League quarter finals, boasting a 50% win record along the way.
Craig Shakespeare has already conducted some shrewd business this summer, bringing in defender Harry Maguire from Hull City, and edging closer to the signing of Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho for £25 million. They have also expressed their desire to make a move for Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdson despite the hefty price tag.
All this as well as keeping star player Riyad Mahrez, means that the script could be written for Shakespeare’s foxes to hunt for Europe once more.
Do you agree with these selections? Which of these clubs is most likely to break the top 7? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Ungry Young Man