It’s always a very exciting time when a club moves up the Premier League from the Championship Division. Not just for the team, but for the entire city and all the fans who have long awaited this moment.
Newcastle United return after just one year back down in the Championship. Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town on the other hand, haven’t seen the top tier for decades. Brighton’s last stint in the Premier was way back in 1983, 34 years ago. For Huddersfield Town, it’s been even longer. The Terriers haven’t seen England’s top football division since 1972.
So what could these three teams bring to the Premier league? Can they stay afloat and play well enough to steer clear of relegation at the end of the 2017/18 Campaign? Let’s take a look.
Newcastle is the one club who are very familiar with the Premier League and don’t expect to see them relegated. Rafael Benitez’s squad tore up the Championship division last year, finishing in the number one spot. Led by English striker Dwight Gayle, who scored 23 goals for The Magpies last year, Newcastle knows exactly what to expect moving back up. Gayle has a great sense for scoring, and just always seems to be in the right position to bury the ball in the net. The midfield, however, is just as important to the success of this team offensively. Matt Ritchie, the second leading goal scorer for the Magpies last year with 16, is a vital piece of the midfield. He has the ability to set up his strikers for goal scoring opportunities, evident in his 10 assists last year. Jonjo Shelvey, who also plays center midfield, racked up 11 assists last year to go along with five goals. Spanish striker Ayoze Perez complimented Gayle’s 23 goals with 12 of his own last year.
Newcastle didn’t make a lot of moves in the offseason, but one that will play a role in the defense is Florian Lejeune. The Frenchman arrives from La liga club Eibar, where he led the entire league with successful clearances. He comes to England on a fairly cheap transfer rate of just 4.5 million pounds, which could end up being a real budget tightener for the Magpies if he lives up to expectations. If they can continue to score at the rate they did last year in the Championship, and play solid defense on a weekly basis, I don’t see any issue with Newcastle finishing in the top 15, maybe even the top 10. Like I said earlier, they aren’t newbies to the Premier League. They know what the EPL is all about and I expect them to do fairly well.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton moves up for the first time in 34 years, after a stellar campaign last year where they finished second to Newcastle. They had four players in double-digit scoring, led by English striker Glen Murray who tallied 20 goals. 25-year old winger Anthony Knockaert, who won player of the year in the Championship division last year, is a vital reason this team has been promoted. The Frenchman tallied 13 goals along with 8 assists last season. He’s an attacking midfielder who is a pinpoint passer, evident by an 81.3 pass success percentage. The winger has great speed and has proven that he’s an all-around player who can both score and set up his teammates. Brighton hasn’t made many moves this offseason. One of The main transfers was the acquisition of Austrian left back Markus Suttner. Suttner comes to England from Bundesliga club Ingolstadt. He scored four goals and had five assists in 31 appearances last season. Suttner should add some experience to an already strong Brighton defense who will need to be that much better in the EPL. The Second transfer was Mathew Ryan from Valencia. The Australian goalkeeper will be a solid addition to the squad in net. Ryan should be a great backup to David Stockdale.
Overall, this Brighton squad is a very strong team. They led the Championship last year in Aerial duels won, with a 54.9% success rate. Their defense is very good, led by central defender Lewis Dunk. Dunk ranked as one of the most aggressive players in the Championship last year. With the addition of Suttner back there, it should add some depth as they look to stay in EPL. Between a good offensive core in the midfield and up front, and a spectacular back line, I believe Brighton should hover around the 12-15 mark in the table this year.
The real Cinderella story of this year’s promotions to the top flight is this Huddersfield club. They were surprisingly promoted after winning the Championship play-off final over Reading in penalty kicks, even though they finished fifth in the table. Huddersfield may struggle this year in the EPL, mainly for one reason. The newly promoted team struggle to finish.
They only averaged 1.1 goals per game last season, despite 13.5 shots per game. They had an exceptional goal-scoring duo of Eli Kachunga and Nahki Wells. Kachunga had 13 goals, while Wells had 10 in last year’s campaign. Overall they’re a strong club with creating opportunities. They do a great job keeping possession, averaging a 55.6% possession rate last year. They tend to be light on aggressiveness, something that will need to change this year if they want to stay in the Premier League. Both Kachunga and Wells will need to keep scoring at the rate they were if they stand any chance. Midfielder Aaron Mooy, who recently signed a new three-year deal, is the anchor of the midfield for Huddersfield. He’s a great playmaker who was named the player of the year for the club last season. Mooy tallied 4 goals and 7 assists last year.
Knowing they were moving up, they made several moves to strengthen their team this offseason. Huddersfield acquired a total of nine players to get ready for their debut season in the Premier. Mathias Jorgenson, who is coming over from FC Copenhagen, will add some much-needed depth in the back line. Town has added depth in all positions, which will be nothing but help in their quest to succeed in the EPL.
I expect Huddersfield to stay up and bounce between the 15-20, but in the end, I believe they will just miss relegation. If they can score more frequently, and play strong defense, they will be just fine.
There’s what to expect from this year’s three new teams in the English Premier League.