Premier League 2019-20 A first impression of the new boys

Jack Grealish of Aston Villa
“Is Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish going to make the Premier League his this season?” (CC by 2.0) by Ben Sutherland

On the one hand, it’s early, sure, but on the other hand, is it ever too early to start preparing for the Fantasy Premier League? Exactly, that’s what we figured as well and after all the EPL fixtures for 2019/20 were released today. Welcome back and let’s get this show on the road. It’s promising to become another teeth-crunching, brain-munching, wall-punching season, so why wait?

Today, June 13th 2019, is the day on which the fixture calendar for the 2019-20 season of the Premier League are announced, so we figured it was the perfect day to get a first impression of the newly-promoted teams this season: Championship champions Norwich City, Sheffield United, and Aston Villa. Seeing as the transfer window hasn’t officially opened yet, we’ll just take a look at what each club’s performances last season might say about their expectations this season and what each of them has been doing so far to make their stay in the Premier League last longer than just a single season. Later on, we will, of course, be looking at each of them in more depth, but a first impression can be useful to get your own FPL pre-season started, just as taking advantage of the best bonuses with online UK casinos can get you a useful start at NetEnt Casino.

Norwich City

Position in the Championship last season: champions

Major imcoming transfers so far Major outgoing transfers so far
Patrick Roberts (RW) from Man City: loan None yet

When the Canaries beat Blackburn Rovers on the 27th of April, 2019, they secured promotion to the Premier League after an absence of three years. In the trend of several other young German coaches who have made it in Europe’s top leagues over the past years, like ex-Huddersfields manager David Wagner and PSG’s Thomas Tuchel, it was the now 45-year old Daniel Farke who played an important role in Norwich success’ story. Advocating a possession-based, dominant brand of football with a clear focus on youthful talent and tactical maturity, the young German generally prefers a 4-2-3-1 set-up. He has done so successfully in the Championship and he’s not expected to change these formational tactics too much, though he will surely be wary of the Premier League’s unique challenges.

The German influence at the club has not been limited to the coaching staff though, as several key players hold a German passport as well. Midfielders Marco Stiepermann and Mario Vrancic, for example, are both products from the German youth system (Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, respectively) and are expected to play a significant role coming season as well. Where Vrancic scored 10 goals and provided 7 assists last season, Stiepermann was just a tad less productive with his 9 goals and 6 assists.

The eye-catcher in the Canaries has been topscorer and Championship Player of the Year, Teemu Pukki, though. His 29 goals and 9 assists in 42 games underline his crucial importance to the team and he will be heavily looked at in the coming season to deliver in the Premier League as well. From an FPL point of view, the Finnish striker might become an interesting start-of-the-season punt, though that will depend on various factors, including what his price will be and what Norwich’ starting fixtures will look like and an Away match at Liverpool is not very enticing to start with.

It will also be interesting to see to what extent the young English prospects in the Canary ranks will be featuring among the elite, because Norwich have focused heavily on homegrown talent as well. The likes of right-back Max Aarons, just 19 years of age and voted the Championship’s Young Player of the Year, left-back Jamal Lewis, and central midfielder Todd Cantwell are all 21 years old or younger. Farke has shown that he’s not afraid at all to give his talents considerable responsibilities on the pitch and the hope is that he’ll be continuing to do say in the Premier League.

Sheffield United

Position in the Championship last season: runner-up

Major imcoming transfers so far Major outgoing transfers so far
None yet None yet

For many of us, Sheffield United were a familiar face in the Premier League for a long time, but the Blades might not enjoy that same kind of recognition among the younger FPL managers. After their direct rivals for second place, Leeds United, tied against Aston Villa on April 28th, 2019, United secured a return to the Premier League for the first time in no less than twelve years. Under the leadership of experienced local hero Chris Wilder, who joined his boyhood club back in 2016, Sheffield have deservedly been promoted to the elite of English football after a typically long and exhausting Championship season in which they spent the majority of their time among the top six.

As far as expectations for the 2019-20 campaign go, Sheffield are probably looking forward to a tough season in which they will be fighting in the lower side of the bottom of the table for most of the season, but if there’s one thing that Wilder’s exceptional at, it’s squeezing every single drop of quality and intensity from his players. He’ll be looking to create a hard-to-beat unit based on his preferred 3-5-2 formation in which the overlapping wing-backs in particular play an important role, both in terms of offensive threat and defensive versatility. If the Blades manage to bring in some new blood, hopefully infused with Premier League experience, they could be in it until the very end.

The new recruits are most likely to find another local hero up top in the shape of Billy Sharp. He started his third spell at Bramall Lane back in 2015 and he hasn’t looked back since. The now 33-year old scored 23 goals and provided 4 assists in 40 Championship games last season, and he’ll be raring to continue this excellent form at the very highest level. Irish striker David McGoldrick, their Player of the Season 18-19, is likely to feature next to Sharp up front after scoring 15 goals and providing 4 assists last season, although the Blades would probably be wise to at least supplement the pair with a forward of proven Premier League quality. In the midfield, the 28-year old Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood has also been an outstanding performer for them and he’s expected to keep pulling the strings at the center of the park in the Prem as well.

Aston Villa

Position in the Championshop last season:

Major imcoming transfers so far Major outgoing transfers so far
Anwar el Ghazi (RW) from Lille: £8 million Micah Richards: out of contract
  Ritchie de Laet: out of contract
  Mile Jedinak: out of contract

Out of all of the promoted teams, Aston Villa has made the biggest signing so far, in the person of Dutch winger and play-off hero Anwar el Ghazi. He is a bright prospect who came up through the famed Ajax Amsterdam ranks before joining French side Lille in 2017. After a year and a half in the Ligue 1, he was loaned out to Villa, who have now splashed a cool £8 million to sign the 24-year old. Including the play-offs, El Ghazi scored 6 goals and provided 6 assists in 34 games, and the Dutchman has shown an overall quality to worry opposition defences with his pace and powerful right foot. He has played at the highest level in different countries as well as in Europe, and he even earned two caps for the Dutch national team during his years at Ajax. It will be interesting to see what his price will be in FPL,  as he might just turn into a popular third-striker or fifth-midfielder option.

As far as the club goes, the Villans are returning to the English top flight after an absence of three years, an absence that hurt among the faithful of the seven-time champions of England. They’ve got the history, they’ve got the fan base, and they’ve even got the wealthy owners to back a successful return bid to the Premier League, but the challenge is real. This starts with the fact that several of their key players were actually on loan last season, including Man United defender Axel Tuanzebe, Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings and Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham. Villa have managed to convert the loan agreement for El Ghazi into a permanent contract and they’ll probably try to do so with one or more of the previous names as well, if only for the sake of consistency after a successful Championship season.

The key player at Villa Park is highly-rated youngster Jack Grealish, who has attracted interest from England’s top clubs over the past few seasons. The still just 23-year old attacking midfielder is currently the most prized asset among the Villa ranks, something that’s underlined by the £60 million escape clause in his current contract. He scored 6 goals and provided 8 assists in 34 games, including 3 play-off games, last season and he’ll be part of the foundation for the coming season. If Villa’s opening fixture are a bit decent and his FPL price is reasonable, Grealish could well become a popular early-season FPL asset, although they start with an Away fixture at Spurs. Let’s just hope he keeps himself out of the tabloid headlines a bit more this coming season though…

Manager Dean Smith likes to field a balanced mix of young talent and more experienced players, in this particular case spearheaded by the earlier mentioned Birmingham boy Jack Grealish. At the beginning of 2019, Villa looked doomed for another anonymous mid-table season in the Championship, until Smith engineered a remarkable run of 10 consecutive victories that saw his team back in the top six. After an up-and-down season, and keeping in mind the number of transformations that will be taking place over the coming summer in terms of players, it’s hard predict how Villa will turn up for the first game of the season. Be sure to keep an eye on activity in and around Villa Park though, because they have already been linked to the likes of Southampton right-back Matt Targett and Stoke goalie Jack Butland, while several established names from Spain’s La Liga and France’s Ligue 1 are rumored to consider a transfer to the Villans as well.

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