Every season the Premier League is gifted with three new sides to entertain us, as if there isn’t enough to be excited about already. Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich all bring plenty to look forward to after impressing in the Championship last season – bringing with them a pick of dynamic performers as well as new recruits that are also eager to impress.
It’s a rare occurrence that none of the managers at these newly promoted sides have ever managed in the Premier League, which makes it even harder to predict how these sides will fair. Bournemouth have made some big money signings as Eddie Howe has attempted to ready his Championship winning side for the top division. Watford have made a staggering 10 signings whilst Norwich manager, Alex Neil, has kept the core of the team that won 17 out of 25 league games under him relatively intact whilst conducting some very shrewd business for minimal spending.
To give you a guide on who to look out for this coming season, I’ve chosen three players from each newly promoted side so that you’re fully prepared when picking your fantasy teams:
Key Player – Max Gradel
Perhaps the most publicised signing of all the newly promoted sides; Max Gradel comes to Bournemouth with a hefty reputation following a stunning 17 goals in 23 starts in the French Ligue 1 last season. Bournemouth signed him for £7 million from St Etienne; which could prove to be a bargain if he continues to score in a similar vain.
With blistering pace and the ability to finish chances – expect him to feature in many important moments against some of the more average sides this season. Up against the bigger teams I do wonder if Gradel will still be so effective, but having played at the highest international level for the Ivory Coast he’ll fit right into the Premier League.
Mourinho has even come out and said Gradel is good enough to play for Chelsea, as if he doesn’t have enough pressure to be dealing with!
Key Player – Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie shone within the Bournemouth team last season, proving to be a brilliant outlet on the wings – contributing to more goals for his team than any other player in the Football League. After a successful 2013/14 season in which he scored 9 goals and made 2 assists, Matt Ritchie sprung into action like the rest of the Bournemouth side in 2014/15 scoring 15 goals and creating 17.
Matt Ritchie was voted best footballer in the Football League in a FourFourTwo Magazine fan poll (fun fact, not all people that vote on polls are Arsenal fans). Confident in the centre or out wide, it would be criminal not to consider Ritchie as a legitimate danger to Premier League defences this season.
Wildcard – Tyrone Mings
Tyrone Mings is one of the younger defenders from the newly promoted sides but he’s demonstrated some strong performances in the Championship which suggest he would be able to handle the demands of the Premier League.
He’s likely to be a key feature for Bournemouth and the youngster has continued to use his size and strength to his advantage whilst advancing the other sides of his game. At just 22, Mings has demonstrated a remarkable maturity to his game and should have no trouble developing at the highest level.
Key Player – Troy Deeney
Troy Deeney has been hands down one of the most important players for Watford over the last few years and he continues to look dangerous leading the line. The ex-Walsall man has been linked with Premier League moves in the last few transfer windows, but Quique Flores has done incredibly well to keep such a prolific striker.
Deeney offers pace and power up front and will not struggle to keep up with the physicality of the Premier League. Looking at all the strikers previously playing in the Championship last season, Deeney excites me the most as he looks well-suited to playing in the division. Due to his added technique and his ability to create assists (9 in 2014/15), he is more likely to excel than Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Norwich’s Cameron Jerome.
Having consistently scored 20+ goals for Watford, the 27 year old is likely to bang in a few more this season. Whether it’ll be enough to keep Watford up or not – I’m unsure.
Key Player – Étienne Capoue
Étienne Capoue will prove to be a key signing for Watford. Despite it not quite working out at Spurs, the former Toulouse man scored 7 goals and assisted 3 in the 2012-13 French Ligue 1 season. Once one of the most promising young players in Europe, Capoue has plenty of talent to bring to the new-look Watford side if he can recapture is previous form.
Robust enough that he’s able to fill in as a defender, Capoue will also add some class and creativity to an otherwise lacking Watford midfield. Despite making only 12 league appearances last season, he still had an impressive pass percentage at 87.4%. He’s likely to be key in ensuring other players shine around him such as Almen Abdi, who often needs the confidence to go forward. Capoue is going to be key to Watford’s performances this season as their designated midfield general.
Wildcard – Ikechi Anya
Versatile and quick; I’m interested to see what Scottish International Ikechi Anya brings to the Premier League. I’ve picked him as a wildcard because he has the potential to impress as either a bombing left-back or as an intelligent, yet pacey wide midfielder. Creating 7 goals last season, Anya could prove to be one of the surprise packages this season.
Key Player – Nathan Redmond
Nathan Redmond joins the list of many players looking to reintroduce themselves to the Premier League having spent some time improving in the lower leagues. Redmond was one of the only players to walk away from the Under 21 Euro competition this summer with a better reputation than he went in there with and looks set to have one of the most telling seasons of his career.
After moving to Norwich from Birmingham City, Redmond initially failed to live up to his earlier hype, until Alex Neil managed to hone in his talents on his arrival at Carrow Road. With 6 goals and 13 assists in the last campaign, the winger played a key role in the Canaries’ resurgence in the second half of the season. If they are to stay up, expect the 21 year old to have been at the centre of it.
Key Player – Robbie Brady
Whilst £7 million sounds like a huge sum for the young winger, he’s going to offer a lot in terms of helping Norwich achieve balance. At 23, Robbie Brady is a Republic of Ireland International and proved to be a versatile option for Steve Bruce at Hull last season. I predict that both wide players are going to be key for Norwich this season – to put in vital balls for Cameron Jerome.
Brady offers Premier League experience, as well as a talented left foot that could provide plenty of opportunities for Norwich. The Manchester United academy product failed to make a huge impact last season though having only made 2 assists in 17 starts. Despite this, Brady did have some impressive performances at wing-back and on the left side of midfield with a particular talent for crossing and passing; something that unsurprisingly went unnoticed at a Hull side without consistent forwards.
I expect Brady to fit right in at Norwich and gain more assists this season – so long as Cameron Jerome fires or Alex Neil manages to bring in another exciting forward.
Wildcard – Bradley Johnson
With so many midfield options available for Alex Neil such as Alex Tettey and new signings Mulumbu and Dorrans, picking Bradley Johnson as my wildcard felt a bit risky. What worries me is his previously unspectacular record in the Premier League and his tendency to get booked quite regularly.
His 15 goals and 2 assists do however tempt me into predicting Johnson will have a good season this time round since maturing as a player. Alex Neil is a great motivator and man manager, and there is no doubt he’ll be able to get the best out of an experienced Johnson that’ll be hungry for goals this season, especially with the competition surrounding him.