Rooney nowhere near the player he was to step up after Lukaku's exit from Everton

Matt Jones 9/08/2017
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MANAGER

Ronald Koeman

STAR MAN

Wayne Rooney

LAST SEASON

7th

TOP SCORER

Romelu Lukaku (25)

KEY INS

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland, £30m), Michael Keane (Burnley, £25m), Davy Klaassen (Ajax, £23.6m), Sandro Ramirez (Malaga, £5m), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, free)

Sandro Ramirez

Sandro Ramirez

KEY OUTS

Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, £75m), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, £10.5m), Tom Cleverley (Watford, £8m)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

Have done some good business and did it early, allowing their arrivals to integrate. Koeman has bolstered his spine, with Pickford, Keane and Klaassen all solid additions.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

Replacing Lukaku’s 25 goals will be tough. For all the romance of Rooney’s return, he is nowhere near the player he was.

ONE TO WATCH

Jordan Pickford. Can theoretically become England’s No1 for the World Cup.

Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford

EXPECTATION

Capable of a push for a top six finish, and they are the team best equipped to pounce should one of the big boys stumble.

REALITY

With Lukaku gone, they are lacking an X-factor star, with too many 7/10 players only fleetingly capable of the fantastic. Europa League beckons.

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Wilfried Zaha is the key as Frank De Boer looks to bring Ajax template to Crystal Palace

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MANAGER

Frank De Boer

STAR MAN

Wilfried Zaha

LAST SEASON

14th

TOP SCORER

Christian Benteke (15)

KEY INS

Jairo Riedewald (Ajax, £8m), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, loan)

Jairo Riedewald

Jairo Riedewald

KEY OUTS

Steve Mandanda (Marseille, £2.5m), Fraizer Campbell (Hull, free), Mathieu Flamini (free agent), Joe Ledley (free agent), Zeki Fryers (Barnsley, free)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

An attack-minded Frank De Boer will take his Ajax template and unlock the attacking potential of Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Christian Benteke up front.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

Liverpool loanee Mamadou Sakho played a huge role in saving Palace last year and without him the defence looks frail.

ONE TO WATCH

Loftus-Cheek. Limited to only six appearances from Chelsea’s bench last season, a loan move to Palace offers the technical but rangey midfielder a chance to prove his worth in the Premier League.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

EXPECTATION

A mid-table finish in De Boer’s first season without the threat of relegation, building on the Sam Allardyce era.

REALITY

May not struggle as much as last year but will be looking over their shoulders in the lower half of the table.

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Sidelining Diego Costa strengthens Chelsea's unit but questions remain over squad depth

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MANAGER

Antonio Conte

STAR MAN

Eden Hazard

LAST SEASON

1st

TOP SCORER

Diego Costa (20)

KEY INS

Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid, £70.6m), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco, £40m), Antonio Rudiger (Roma, £31m), Willy Caballero (Manchester City, free)

Antonio Rudiger (L)

Antonio Rudiger (L)

KEY OUTS

Nemanja Matic (Manchester United, £40m), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth £20m), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus, £17m), Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth, £10m), Bertrand Traore (Lyon £8.8m)

REASONS TO BE POSITIVE

Last season’s runaway champions have added real quality in Morata and Bakayoko, plus Conte was a repeat title winner at Juventus.

REASONS TO BE PESSIMISTIC

Question marks exist about whether their squad is deep enough to handle the return of Champions League football.

ONE TO WATCH

Morata will be determined to prove he can start every week for an elite club. With World Cup 2018 on the horizon, he’ll be desperate to impress.

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata

EXPECTATION

Chelsea will pick up where they left off last term, with the sidelining of the fractious Diego Costa strengthening the unit.

REALITY

More points will be dropped as the demands of European football takes hold. Hazard will again need to be at his inspirational best to fuel a competitive title defence.

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