Ranked! How prepared is your Premier League club for 2017/18?
Pre-season results certainly aren’t the be all and end all, but it’s safe to stay Stoke would have rather not lost to second-tier opponents St. Pauli and Sheffield United.
It’s not been a great summer of business for the Potters either. Marko Arnautovic, their most productive attacker last season, has been sold to West Ham, while the exits of Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters brings the loss of two club stalwarts in the same window.
Kurt Zouma is a sound addition on loan, while Darren Fletcher will add experience in midfield, but there’s plenty of work to be done if Stoke are to challenge for the top half.
To put a positive spin on things, Southampton haven’t (yet) been forced to sell any of their key players in the current window. That makes a pleasant departure from the norm for the south coast side, but the summer still can’t be spun as a success - particularly as Virgil van Dijk is now all but certain to leave this month.
The 21-year-old Polish centre-back Jan Bednarek is the sole arrival up to early August. If he’s intended to be a replacement for Van Dijk, it’s a clear step backwards. Southampton should secure another solid mid-table finish, but it’s difficult to argue they look particularly prepared for the campaign ahead.
Burnley may be embarking on their second successive season at this level, but their budget remains among the lowest in the division. While that naturally makes recruitment difficult, it’s still been an underwhelming summer for the Clarets up to now.
Michael Keane’s exit robs Sean Dyche of his star defender, and Burnley are yet to secure a replacement. Jon Walters and Phil Bardsley are both in their 30s and, at best, only slight upgrades on what went before. Questions continue to linger about the team’s creativity.
Chris Hughton’s men were the first Championship side to secure promotion last term, yet they’re probably least ready for the upcoming Premier League campaign. Of the six permanent acquisitions Brighton have made, only three – Pascal Gross, Matthew Ryan and Markus Suttner – improve the first XI, with Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown an unknown quantity at this level.
It’s also a worry that soon-to-be 34-year-old Glenn Murray, who probably wasn’t a top-flight striker even in his pomp, could start the season as the first-choice line-leader. Brighton are likely to be one of the busiest sides in what’s left of the window.
The signing of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon is a promising one, while Sead Kolasinac provides another option at the back and didn’t cost a penny. Add to that the strength in depth they’ve managed to accrue in recent years and Arsenal would appear to be in a pretty good shape ahead of the big kick-off this weekend.
Incoming players don’t tell the full story, however. Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in the last years of their contracts and could still leave, while Alexis Sanchez seems keen for a change as he also approaches the end of his deal. Arsene Wenger insists the Chilean won’t be sold, but the issue will continue to hang over Arsenal until the window closes.