Premier League preview: A look at how all 20 teams are shaping up
This Premier League season promises even more excitement than usual. Positive, attacking football is spreading from club to club like a disease that makes you young and invigorated. Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers. There's a new onslaught of talented players coming into various clubs.
That said, the top six clubs have been a bit disappointing. Excepting Liverpool, none made a dent in the market. The lower table clubs are splashing cash like children whose parents have purchased an inflatable wading pool.
Wolves and Fulham have taken the market by storm. Brighton have brought in new talent for the upcoming season as well. West Ham and Everton joined the fun thanks to new management.
Here's a look at all 20 clubs.
Manager: Unai Emery
Last season: 5th
Remaining needs: Unai Emery addressed the areas that needed work but didn't insist on top quality. Sokratis, Stephan Lichsteiner and Bernd Leno aren’t exactly the first names that come to mind when you want to build a title-winning backline. Lichsteiner is a quality signing on a free transfer but his age  rules him out as a long-term solution. Emery is known to ask for intensity from his players. The Swiss right-back will be rotated heavily to maintain that level.
Season outlook: We might see a revolution at the Emirates but don't expect them to finish higher than fourth. The Gunners' paper thin defence still makes them the least likely among the top-six to nail down a Champions League place.
Manager: Eddie Howe
Last season: 12th
Remaining needs: The Cherries' summer was all about consolidating for the future. Older and less productive players were dispatched. Harry Arter is on loan to Cardiff. Lewis Grabban signed with Nottingham Forest. Max Grabel went to Toulouse in Ligue 1. Youngsters from La Liga and the Championship filled the void. Jefferson Lerma [DM], Diego Rico [LB] and David Brooks [AM] set the club back €51.3 million euros. Eddie Howe's true needs are a bigger war chest and more leadership in the squad.
Season outlook: Howe did extremely well to keep the club competitive in 2017/18, especially after a slow start had some calling for Graham Norton to pull the lever on the Dean Court hot seat. This will be his fourth season in the top flight. You can expect the occasional upset, although a top-ten finish will be difficult.
Manager: Chris Hughton
Last season: 15th
Remaining needs: Ambition sums up Brighton's summer. Chris Hughton intends to compete. Alireza Jahanbakhsh's signature is testimony. Several other purchases add to a solid foundation.
Season outlook: The manager is straightforward and honest. So is the squad. Now that Pascal Gross has a legitimate connection in attack, expect the Seagulls to fly up the table. Chris Hughton’s team looked defensively tight at times, last term, but failed to take their opportunities. Inconsistency brought a 15th-place finish. Fresh faces and legs should carry them to the table's top half.
Manager: Sean Dyche
Last season: 7th
Remaining needs: Like the other B-clubs preceding the Clarets here, a slow boil is the cooking method. Burnley are more advanced in their development than Brighton and Bournemouth and did less business. Filling the corners if you will. Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra are astute long-term buys. Joe Hart is a short-term gamble who provides leadership for Nick Pope and Tom Heaton, or if he works out, the option to sell one.
Season outlook: Sean Dyche was arguably one of the best managers last season. He took Burnley to European competition and even occupied fourth place at one point. Vydra should remedy their scoring problems. He was tops last season in the Championship. Dyche is writing a recipe for a top-six finish.
Manager: Neil Warnock
Last season: 2nd Championship, Promoted
Remaining needs: Warnock has strengthened the Bluebirds via the traditional methods. He signed the best Championship players he faced on the road to promotion. Josh Murphy [LW], Bobby Reid [AM], Greg Cunningham [LB] and Alex Smithies [GK] joined from Norwich, Bristol City, Preston and QPR respectively. Premier league-tested Harry Arter adds experience and leadership by coming over from Bournemouth.
Season outlook: Warnock is a rah-rah motivator stepping into a stat-driven, technical league. If results don't come early, enthusiasm will melt and he'll lose the room. Against teams that are strengthening with talented players, Cardiff might lose the fight. Survival should be the key target. I don’t see them finishing higher than 15th this season.
Manager: Maurizio Sarri
Last season: 5th
Remaining needs: Chelsea has had a mix-and-match summer. They brought in talented players like Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, but have not addressed the elephant in the room. After Diego Costa’s departure, they are without a prolific striker.
Season outlook: New manager Maurizio Sarri should see success in his first season. Without an in-form striker I doubt if he'll beat Manchester City and Liverpool. They'll hold their place in the top six but not much more.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Last season: 11th
Remaining needs: Palace weren't especially busy this summer. Max Meyer arrived from Schalke to replace Saudi-bound Yohan Cabaye. Cheikhou Kouyate commutes from West Ham to hold down the midfield. Jordan Ayew adds goal depth, though not nearly enough, on loan from Swansea.
Season outlook: Roy Hodgson was used to working with a limited recruiting pool as England boss. Citizenship no longer impedes but finances do. With Wilfried Zaha unhappy, circumstances may drag the Eagles into a relegation battle.
Manager: Marco Silva
Last season: 8th
Remaining needs: Marco Silva delivered the makeover Toffees fans craved. Davy Klaassen, Ramiro Funes Mori, Kevin Miralles, Ashley Williams and Wayne Rooney no longer haunt Goodison Park. Richarlison, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Andres Gomes and Bernardo do. Optimism abounds.
Season outlook: Silva has a job on his hands. He has the players to do it. Bernard did well for Shaktar Donetsk and Gomes was once regarded highly. If he manages to get the best out of his players, the Toffees will be a wildcard this season. The top eight beckons.
Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic
Last season: 3rd Championship, Promoted via playoffs
Remaining needs: Marco Silva was sitting back sipping on a pina colada in comparison to Slavisa Jokanovic. Fulham and NFL owner Shad Khan spent in the neighbourhood of €114 million to upgrade the Cottagers into McMansioners. Jean Michael Seri was the marquee signing, the central midfielder leaving the French Riviera [OGC Nice] for the depths of London. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson rival the Frenchman for top billing. Andre Schurrle, Calum Chambers and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all on loan make for a strong supporting cast. The Serbian boss must infuse them with common purpose quickly.
Season outlook: The money spent coupled with the young talent already on hand, most notably Ryan Sessegnon, suggests Fulham should be the Premier League's newest Cinderella story. If the shoe fits...
Manager: David Wagner
Last season: 16th
Remaining needs: There can be only one Cinderella. Wagner and Huddersfield had their chance last season but the slipper turned out to be too big to fill. Consequently, there's been a heavy roster turnover based upon the trendy philosophy 'when in doubt, shop for youngsters in Monaco'. Terence Kongolo and Adama Diakhaby were found in the rear aisles, with Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Le Mar and Fabinho overpriced and out of stock. Wagner doesn't seem to value an experienced field lieutenant, however.
Season outlook: The German-American's team escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season. Despite their new hires, they look ill-equipped this season. Their rivals have strengthened but Wagner doesn't have sufficient veteran talent to keep pace. The squad is too young and untested. The Terriers are prime candidates for the Championship kennel.
Manager: Claude Puel
Last season: 9th
Remaining needs: The Foxes French manager understands a balanced squad better than David Wagner. Youngsters James Maddison and Ricardo Perreira were joined by former West Brom captain Jonny Evans in the orientation lecture. Rachid Ghezzal is there, too, although the 26-year-old Algerian right wing seems a naively nostalgic signing.
Season outlook: With Riyad Mahrez, Ahmed Musa and Robert Huth gone, Puel played a decent game of whack-a-mole at the UEFA summer fair. Treading water leads to drowning more often than the beach, however. Leicester won't sink into relegation but the undercurrent from the table's bottom half will pull them away from Europa League contention.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Last season: 4th
Remaining needs: Whee! Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri. Jurgen Klopp understands style. All that's missing is a number ten where Philippe Coutinho used to be. Can Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fill that role when he recovers from his ruptured cruciate ligament? The latest reports say that won't happen this season.
Season outlook: Jurgen Klopp continues at the Kop, but his streak of trophyless seasons continues as well. Is this the one where that changes? The Reds' attack was already among the best in the world but with Naby Keita and Fabinho behind them, they can really do damage. Additionally, Alisson Becker should change their goalkeeping fortunes. Everyone is calling for the Merseysiders to win their first Premier League but I expect a top-three finish.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Last season: Premier League Champions
Remaining needs: The exposed flesh in Pep Guardiola's scaly dragon was at left back. Benjamin Mendy is healthy now. Without spending, City are even better than the Smaug that made the Premier League look like Laketown last season. Still, a chink or two remain. Gabriel Jesus' maturity is a major question given Sergio Aguero's brittle nature. Nicolas Otamendi is pegged for a regression to the mean, which will test Aymeric Laporte. The interesting question is whether Pep Guardiola will field test Daniel Arzani after promoting the Australian World Cup prodigy from Melbourne City? With Kevin de Bruyne, David and Bernardo Silva queued up, minutes will be few and far between for the young sorcerer.
Season outlook: Even a successful title defence will probably be a step back for City. The Premier League is too deep and adaptable for last year's dominance to be repeated.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Last season: 2nd
Remaining needs: United are quickly overtaking East Enders and Coronation Street as the UK's most fascinating soap opera. Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho are feuding again. Luke Shaw can't be far behind once Ashley Young is match fit and Diogo Dalot recovered from his preseason injury. Anthony Martial is a proud papa but still a frustrated left winger. The real fight is between manager and CEO if you believe the broadsheets. All the drama obfuscates the fact the club watched another transfer window shut without buying a legitimate right winger to give Mou's attack the necessary width.
Season outlook: Here's the thing about Mourinho. When all the pieces seem to be in place, he self-destructs. When it looks like he's lost the plot entirely, his team rips through opponents like a serial killer convention at Margate in August. While they haven’t strengthened to expectations, they still are a better team than last season. We’ll see what Diogo Dalot brings to the table from September onwards. Fred has already shown his dynamism and technical ability in midfield. With Alexis Sanchez expected to be back in form, don't sleep on United.
Manager: Rafael Benitez
Last season: 10th
Remaining needs: If you need some kip, St James Park is the place. Mike Ashley has left Rafa Benitez high and dry again. The club's most notable transfer wasn't Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto, who came from Mainz for £10.7 million. It was buying Mikel Merino for €7 million from Borussia Dortmund then selling him to Real Sociedad for €12 million 11 days later. Tells you all you need know about Toon.
Season outlook: Rafa Benitez will be eager to do better than a 10th place finish. He has strengthened the backline this summer along with some additions up-front. The competition for a top-ten finish might be too much. Despite Rafa’s technical acumen, the team will lose out to stronger squads.
Manager: Mark Hughes
Last season: 17th
Remaining needs: Southampton’s front line needs someone better than Danny Ings. Unfortunately, their other centre-forward options are worse. So'ton need consistent scoring and Hughes will find that hard to come by. Sparky is in for a long season.
Season outlook: The Welshman may not stave off relegation this term even with a full start. The Saints rank among the UK's best academies but do not have the squad required to survive in the Premier League.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Last season: 3rd
Remaining needs: Tottenham Hostpur is the only team in the history of the Premier League to not sign a single player in the summer transfer window. Fortunately, apart from the central defensive midfield position, there isn’t a lot that needs work.
Season outlook: Mauricio Pochettino will look to Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen et al for another top-four finish but it’s unlikely they’ll beat Liverpool or City to the title. For reasons unknown, despite a solid squad, the Spurs continue to be without a trophy. I don’t think that will change this season.
Manager: Javi Gracia
Last season: 14th
Remaining needs: Watford has picked up some bargain signings this summer, but their centre-forward signings matter most.
Season outlook: Gracia barely managed to survive last season. Unfortunately for Watford, the talent available in other teams is likely to outshine the Hornets. The Spaniard isn't a manager famed for doing wonders with budget teams. Can you say Championship?
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Last season: 13th
Remaining needs: West Ham has a strong squad this season with plenty of depth. They did well in the transfer window and have addressed the right positions.
Season outlook: Manuel Pellegrino returns to the Premier League. He left after winning it. Though he might not have the same financial muscle behind him, Messrs Gold and Sullivan have been accommodating. Andriy Yarmalenko, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere are quality additions. A top-ten season may have to wait but they'll be competitive.
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo
Last season: Championship Champions, Promoted
Remaining needs: The Wolves have run riot this summer. They have signed 10 new players, adding plenty of edge to their midfield and attack.
Season outlook: Nuno Espirito Santo will be in the spotlight. The club has pushed forward to bring in some really exciting talent and experienced campaigners. Joao Moutinho, Adama Traore and Diogo Jota will be productive. Ruben Neves adds steel to the spine. Like Fulham, Wolves will be eager to make a mark. They might even wander into the top ten.