The Premier League Season begins next Friday at 3:00 p.m. EST when Crystal Palace takes on Arsenal. There are multiple significant storylines heading into this season, and it should be an exciting year in the Premier League.
This is the first part of a five-part series previewing the Premier League season. Each article will cover four teams ahead of the year; starting with the three teams promoted from the Championship and Leeds United, who finished 17th in the league last season.
Nottingham Forest F.C.
Nottingham Forest finished fourth in the EFL Championship last season, eight points away from being automatically promoted. They qualified for the EFL Championship promotion play-off, where they played Sheffield United in the semi-final.
The semi-final was very competitive, and eventually went to extra time after the second leg of the match. Nottingham eventually advanced to the finals after defeating Sheffield United in a penalty shoot-out.
In the final of the play-off, Nottingham faced Huddersfield Town, who had finished ahead of Nottingham Forest in third place. The team was promoted to the Premier League after a 1-0 win.
Nottingham Forest has been one of the most successful teams in England in the past. The team has won the FA Cup twice and won the European Cup, the predecessor to the Champions League, two times in back-to-back seasons in 1979 and 1980. Despite their prior success, the club spent more than two decades outside of the Premier League; this year will be their first year in the league since 1999.
The team has made several transfer signings this summer to try to ensure they don’t face relegation in their first season back in the Premier League. In total, Nottingham Forest has signed 11 players this summer. Overall, the team has spent $89.93 million on players so far in this transfer window.
Taiwo Awoniyi is arguably the biggest signing the club has made this summer. Awoniyi is a 24-year-old forward who joins the club from Union Berlin in the Bundesliga. He scored 15 goals last season for Union Berlin, and has experience in European competition after playing in the Europa Conference League last year.
One of the other major signings of the summer for the club is Neco Williams, who joins the team from Liverpool. Williams made 13 Premier League appearances for Liverpool before spending last season at Fulham on loan, where he made 14 appearances. He should help strengthen Nottingham Forest’s defense significantly.
Omar Richards was signed from Bayern Munich to play the other fullback position. Richards, who is 24 years old, and Williams, who is 21, will provide a solid defensive foundation for the team to build on in the future.
The team made another move to strengthen their defense when the club signed Moussa Niakhate from Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga. Niakhate is an experienced player with 128 Bundesliga appearances in his career, including 30 games last season.
Giulian Biancone, who joins the club from Troyes in Ligue 1, will further strengthen the defense. At just 22 years old he already has extensive experience in Europe’s top leagues, with 33 appearances during his time at Troyes.
Harry Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien both join the team from Huddersfield Town, which Nottingham defeated in the play-off final. Toffolo will provide depth at left-back and compete with Richards at the position. O’Brien is a midfielder who had 122 games with Huddersfield Town in the Championship before his move to Nottingham Forest.
Interestingly, the team signed two players who spent last season at Manchester United to strengthen the squad. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who was key for Sheffield United a few seasons ago in the Premier League, was signed to a loan deal to be Nottingham’s keeper this season. Additionally, Jesse Lingard, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2016 FA Cup Final, signed with the team after his Manchester United contract expired.
Henderson was expected to compete with David de Gea to be Manchester United’s starting goalie ahead of last season, but De Gea ultimately remained the starter. He already has extensive experience as a Premier League goalie. In addition, Nottingham signed Wayne Hennessey, who will serve as a quality backup to Henderson and provide depth if Henderson doesn’t play as well as expected.
This summer’s transfer strategy for Nottingham Forest has significantly strengthened the team ahead of this season. The club is determined to remain in the Premier League after spending so many seasons in lower leagues in England. Their transfer window could ultimately mean the team avoids relegation.
Bournemouth was one of the best stories in the sport when they were originally promoted to the Premier League in 2015. The team had been in League Two, the fourth tier of the English soccer system, as recently as 2010 before they had been promoted. However, in 2020 the team was relegated back to the Championship, finishing just one point behind 17th-placed Aston Villa.
The club came close to being promoted in 2020-21, reaching the promotion play-off, but ultimately lost in the semi-final. Last season, the team finished second in the league to return to the Premier League.
This summer, Bournemouth has not been as aggressive in the transfer market as Nottingham Forest. The club has made just a few signings, all of which were free transfers of players on expiring deals.
Joe Rothwell signed with the team after his contract with Blackburn expired. Rothwell has extensive experience in the Championship, with more than 150 games in the second-level of English soccer. However, he has never played in the Premier League in his career.
In contrast, Ryan Fredericks, who joins Bournemouth from West Ham United, has played more than 60 Premier League games in his career. He will help the team’s defense improve significantly as he will likely start at right-back.
However, Bournemouth still has time to add more players ahead of the end of the transfer window, and the club has been linked to several players over the last few weeks. In addition, the team already has a strong foundation to build on. Bournemouth allowed the fewest goals in the Championship last season, an important statistic for a team newly promoted to the Premier League.
Center-forward Dominic Solanke, who had 29 goals in the Championship last year, has Premier League experience both at Bournemouth and at Liverpool. He along with Jaidon Anthony, who scored eight goals last season, will hope to help Bournemouth avoid relegation this year.
Fulham was demoted from the Premier League after finishing 18th in 2020-21, with just 28 points during the season. However, it took only one season for the team to return to the Premier League after they won the Championship last season with 90 points.
Like Nottingham Forest, Fulham has made several significant moves on the transfer market to secure its position in the Premier League. While the club has only signed four players this summer, it has spent $40.15 million on new players this transfer window, although one important player left the club this summer.
Fabio Carvalho departed the club earlier in the transfer window. Carvalho departed for fellow Premier League team Liverpool after scoring 10 goals and assisting eight times in 36 games in the Championship last season for Fulham.
However, Fulham has also taken steps to improve its squad. Joao Palhinha joins the team from Sporting in Portugal. Palhinha has played 164 games in the Primeira Liga in his career along with eight matches in the Champions League and eight matches in the Europa League.
Fulham signed Andreas Pereira to further strengthen their midfield after the departure of Carvalho. Pereira formerly played for Manchester United and spent the last few seasons on loan at both Lazio in Italy and Flamengo in Brazil. In his career, Pereira has played 45 Premier League games, scoring twice to go along with 4 assists, along with 58 La Liga appearances and 26 Serie A appearances. He will help the team as an attacking midfielder, where Carvalho played, and his Premier League experience will benefit the team.
Kevin Mbabu is the team’s most recent signing. The 27-year-old right-back joins the team after spending the last few seasons with VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. Mbabu played 66 Bundesliga games in his career at Wolfsburg, and has also played in 23 matches in European competitions between the Europa League and Champions League.
In addition, Manor Solomon has joined the team on a one-year loan from FC Shakhtar Donetsk. He scored four goals in 16 games in Ukraine last season before the Ukrainian Premier League season ended early due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Solomon scored 16 goals across 70 appearances in the Ukrainian Premier League. In addition, he has scored four goals in 16 Champions League appearances during his career.
Aleksandar Mitrovic remains one of Fulham’s most important players heading into next season. He scored 43 goals in 44 games in the Championship last year, and his goal-scoring will be key this season if Fulham is going to remain in the Premier League.
In addition, Harry Wilson, who originally joined Fulham on loan from Liverpool last season before permanently joining the team, will be a key part of the club’s hopes to remain in the Premier League. Wilson scored seven goals in the Premier League in 2019-20 at Bournemouth, and his 10 goals and 20 assists for Fulham last season was one of the main reasons they were promoted back to the Premier League.
Players such as Antonee Robinson, Tosin Adarabioyo, and Harrison Reed will hope to help ensure the team remains in the Premier League. Robinson and Adarabioyo were part of a defense that was the Championship’s third-best last season, behind Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth, and they will hope to translate that to the Premier League alongside Mbabu.
While Fulham hasn’t made as many signings as Nottingham Forest this summer, the team has significantly improved during the transfer window. Fulham was already the Championship’s best team last season, and they will hope they avoid relegation after spending only one season outside the Premier League.
Leeds United has been one of the most interesting teams in this summer’s transfer window. Jesse Marsch, who was hired as the team’s manager last February, helped the team finish in 17th points, three points away from being relegated last year. This summer, Leeds United has made several signings to try to avoid the relegation battle altogether this season.
However, the biggest story for Leeds United may be the players that have left this summer. Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha, two of the team’s best players, departed for Manchester City and Barcelona respectively this summer. Phillips was one of the main reasons the team returned to the Premier League in 2020, while Raphinha was outstanding for the team last season.
While those departures will have an effect on the team, Leeds United has made several important signings as they hope to avoid the relegation battle. The team has spent a combined $119.51 million on six signings this summer.
The biggest signing is Brenden Aaronson, who reunites with his former coach Marsch after joining the team from RB Salzburg. Aaronson began his career in the MLS with the Philadelphia Union, scoring 7 goals during his MLS career. After joining Salzburg, he scored nine goals and had 10 assists in the Austrian Bundesliga, and played in both the Champions League and the Europa League, before moving to the Premier League this summer.
His United States national team teammate Tyler Adams is also one of Leeds United’s most important signings of the summer. Adams spent three and a half seasons at RB Leipzig, making 75 Bundesliga appearances, and playing in 13 Champions League games. He will be an important part of the Leeds midfield this season.
Luis Sinisterra joins Leeds United from Feyenoord in the Eredivisie. Sinisterra will play as a winger for Leeds United, and he had a phenomenal career at Feyenoord, with 19 assists and 20 goals across 76 games in the Eredivisie. He will help strengthen the group of forwards for the team after the departure of Raphinha.
Rasmus Kristensen and Marc Roca, who joined Leeds United from RB Salzburg and Bayern Munich respectively, will help add depth to the squad. Kristensen is a talented right-back who already has experience with Marsch after they were both at RB Salzburg. Roca will be an important midfielder for the team after making 15 Bundesliga appearances for Munich.
18-year-old midfielder Darko Gyabi joined Leeds this summer from Manchester City. Gyabi has not yet made his Premier League debut, but he could be an important player for Leeds in the future.
Leeds United finished 17th last season, but finished 9th in 2020-21. Important players such as goalkeeper Illan Meslier and Diego Llorente, along with the players who have joined the team this summer, will hope to have the same success this year that the team had in the 2020-21 season.
Daniel James, who joined Leeds United from rivals Manchester United last summer, will be an important player for the team this season after Raphinha’s departure. James scored four goals in the Premier League last season along with five assists, and he should continue to improve under Marsch.
Jack Harrison will be another key forward yet again this year, and the added depth of Aaronson and Sinisterra should help the group improve. The defense will be helped by the addition of Kristensen, and Llorente, Pascal Struijk, and Junior Firpo, along with Luke Ayling, are all likely to be important for the team this season.
Leeds United was almost relegated last season, and Phillips and Raphinha’s departures will be difficult for the team to deal with. However, Marsch and Leeds United have made several important signings this summer that could mean the team avoids the relegation battle.