Last season came right down to the wire at both ends of the table, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea fighting for the top spot, while the likes of Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom and Fulham were all apart of a eight-team relegation battle, which ultimately ended with Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff dropping down to the Championship.
However, it has been a busy summer for most Premier League sides, with the majority of clubs making an effort to strengthen their squad ahead of the new season, and it could prove to be even tighter than the last.
Many of the players brought in have yet to grace the Premier League, so here is my 11-man squad of Premier League new-boys:
Thibaut Courtois – Goalkeeper
Courtois doesn’t really count as a new signing, but since moving to Chelsea in 2011 he has yet to make an appearance for the club, having spent the past three seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid. The Belgian youngster will still have to prove that he is a better option than club legend, Petr Cech, but he will surely finally be given a chance in the Premier League.
The 22-year-old already has plenty of experience, having claimed a La Liga winners’ medal last season and a place in the Champions League finals, and should be a mainstay in the Premier League for the next decade.
Filipe Luis – Left-back
Another player coming from La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid. The left-back was impressive for Atletico last season, and formed a good relationship with Courtois, which surely played a part in Chelsea’s desire to snap him up.
At the age of 28, Luis won’t have many years left in the tank, but definitely isn’t a bad replacement for Ashley Cole, who joined Roma on a free transfer.
Cheikhou Kouyaté – Centre-back
West Ham were one of the clubs that narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing just seven points above a relegation spot. However, the Hammers’ fans weren’t happy just to avoid relegation, and voiced their dissatisfaction with the ‘boring’ style of football adopted by Sam Allardyce.
The club’s owners warned Allardyce that he has to start providing some entertainment or face the sack next term – and Kouyaté could be just the man to help him deliver that promise, despite being a defender. The 6ft 4in Senegalese international will provide the assurance at the back needed to play the attacking football that West Ham fans desperately want.
Eric Dier – Centre-back
Despite being English, Dier has never actually placed in the Premier League. Sporting Lisbon agreed to sell him Tottenham for just £4million, which could prove to be a bargain in years to come, for a player with the potential to become an England regular.
Dier isn’t completely new to English football, having joined-up with Everton’s youth team on an 18-month loan, but has yet to play in the top division. Whether Dier can force his way into the starting-eleven at White Hart Lane is unclear, but he will surely feature – and for £4million, you can hardly go wrong.
Javier Manquillo – Right-back
Manquillo isn’t quite a Liverpool player yet, but he has joined the club on a two-year loan deal. It is believed Liverpool are considering the Spanish youngster as an eventual replacement for Glen Johnson, but are wary of handing over their money before they have the chance to properly evaluate the player.
This is his chance to impress, and he will have to take it if he wishes to make the switch to the Premier League permanent.
Dusan Tadic – Left-midfield
Southampton haven’t had the best of summers. Sure, they have over £90million to spend on improving their squad, but nobody wants to lose the likes of Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert all in one go.
Tadic is one of two players brought in on permanent deals, both of which look likely to be great signings for the club.
Fernando – Central-midfield
Brought in from Porto for a fee of around £12million, Fernando joins a midfield already filled with talent. Fernando will have to complete with the likes of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Frank Lampard and James Milner for a place in the starting-eleven.
Porto always seem to produce top players (think Hulk, James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao to name a few) and Fernando could add his name to that list over the next few years.
Ander Herrera – Central-midfield
Manchester United have been chasing Herrera for well over a year, and if they had brought him in sooner, David Moyes might still be in charge at Old Trafford.
United’s midfield is usually pin-pointed as the place in the team which is most in need of strengthening, and Herrera fills that gap perfectly. United reportedly turned their noses up at the prospect of signing Cesc Fabregas in favour of landing Herrera, which shows you just how impressive the 24-year-old has been in recent seasons, and just how impressive he could prove to be for United.
Alexis Sanchez – Right-midfield
The portrayal of Arsene Wenger as football’s answer to Scrooge is slowly fading. After bringing in Mesut Ozil last summer, Arsenal have added another brilliant player to the squad.
Sanchez’s move to the Premier League came as a shock to many, as he has been outstanding since joining Barcelona, but the club clearly want to re-mould the squad, and Arsenal – as well as the Premier League – will be much better off because of it.
Diego Costa – Striker
Chelsea were unable to find the back of the net at times last season, which ultimately cost them the Premier League title. However, their £32million man will surely fix that next term.
The Brazil-born, Spanish international has already begun to show glimpses of brilliance during pre-season, like this goal, and should he score anywhere close to the amount of goals he scored for Atletico last season, he will prove to be a great addition to the Premier League.
Graziano Pellé – Striker
This was the one position that I struggled to pick, not because there wasn’t anybody decent, but because there were too many players to choose from. Eder Valencia to West Ham, Divock Origi to Liverpool and Bafetimbi Gomis to Swansea were all contenders, but Pellé prevailed for one reason – his goals to games ratio over the past two seasons.
Pellé has spent the past two years at Feyenoord and notched up 50 goals in 57 games – a more than impressive record.
While the Premier League is undoubtedly a step-up from the Dutch league, should he keep up his impressive goal-scoring tally at Southampton, he will definitely soften the blow suffered by losing half of their first-team players.