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Contenders, pretenders, dreamers: Ranking every Premier League club by tier

Here, theScore ranks the 20 teams competing in the 2019-20 Premier League season. Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Contenders

1. Manchester City

Matt McNulty – Manchester City / Manchester City FC / Getty

Pep Guardiola is never satisfied. The Manchester City XI can wriggle and warp into even more formations following the arrival of explosive right-back Joao Cancelo, and Rodri is the perfect long-term replacement for Fernandinho. And, following an injury-riddled 2018-19 campaign, Kevin De Bruyne looks sharp after getting a full preseason under his belt.

2. Liverpool

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool hierarchy resisted the urge to make major changes to a Champions League-winning squad, and they should benefit from that continuity. Expect to see better showings from Naby Keita after a year acclimating in England, Joe Gomez to develop into a top-class center-back, and more youngsters like Rhian Brewster to blossom in the senior ranks.

Pretenders

3. Tottenham Hotspur

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Tottenham should probably be in their own tier: not as good as City or Liverpool, yet much stronger than the others. But Harry Kane can prosper in front of Giovani Lo Celso and the bulldozing Tanguy Ndombele, and Mauricio Pochettino may possess the Premier League’s best defensive duo in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Spurs’ rise isn’t momentary; they’re here to stay.

4. Manchester United

Manchester United / Manchester United / Getty

Manchester United were widely mocked in the days leading up to this season, and much of the rib-poking is deserved. There’s no sporting director. Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian, and Marcos Rojo are still on the wage bill. Nemanja Matic trundles around in midfield to no great effect. Nevertheless, new boys Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka might just be enough to edge a fourth-place finish.

5. Arsenal

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC / Getty

Arsenal needed fresh faces, but they did so much more than that. The Gunners turned heads over the summer window by supplementing a stacked attack with Nicolas Pepe and bringing in defensive numbers with David Luiz and Kieran Tierney. Midfielder Dani Ceballos was also a wise borrow from Real Madrid. Arsenal are serious contenders for a Champions League spot.

6. Chelsea

Darren Walsh / Chelsea FC / Getty

Chelsea have relied heavily on huge transfer splurges in the past but now must work with what they’ve got after their one-year transfer ban was upheld. Blues icon Frank Lampard and Jody Morris, another former Chelsea player who once headed up the club’s Under-18s, have been charged with negotiating this fascinating era for the club, but don’t expect too much.

Dreamers

7. Everton

Tony McArdle – Everton FC / Everton FC / Getty

Everton lacked ruthlessness up front last season, but in Moise Kean – easily one of the signings of the summer – they’ve acquired a natural finisher who has a frighteningly high potential. Juventus fans weren’t pleased to see him leave. The Toffees should be the best of the rest and can challenge Chelsea during their transfer ban. If that doesn’t happen, Marco Silva may be given the boot.

8. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Sam Bagnall – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Wolves were thrilling newcomers in the 2018-19 Premier League season. Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota were a breathtaking attacking tandem, but that didn’t prevent the West Midlands side from swooping for the promising Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan this summer. If they can work out how to beat the supposedly lesser sides, Wolves can make a charge for the top six.

9. Leicester City

Plumb Images / Leicester City FC / Getty

Maguire’s gone and Leicester City will undoubtedly feel that loss, but there is enough in reserve to lock down a top-half finish or even better. Ricardo Pereira, Ben Chilwell, and James Justin are excellent full-backs, midfielder Youri Tielemans is flourishing under Brendan Rodgers, and there is plenty of variety going forward. Ayoze Perez isn’t worth £30 million, though.

10. Bournemouth

Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth / AFC Bournemouth / Getty

Bournemouth’s transfer activity has improved greatly since Eddie Howe relinquished control of that department. Lloyd Kelly is certainly capable of strengthening the Cherries’ leaky backline. Jefferson Lerma and Harry Wilson pose magnificent options in midfield and, most crucially, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson are still Bournemouth players.

Middling bunch

11. Southampton

Matt Watson / Southampton FC / Getty

Mark Hughes left and everybody was happy. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s revolution got off to a promising start, and he now has a focal point in marksman Che Adams. With Adams’ arrival, the rise of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Nathan Redmond’s newfound consistency, relegation battles should be a distant memory for the Saints.

12. West Ham United

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Rather than grabbing offcuts from Europe, West Ham signed prime striking talent in the shape of Sebastien Haller. Pablo Fornals has joined Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, and others in attacking midfield to ensure Haller is well-served. Marko Arnautovic, a toxic presence in east London, was sold and Issa Diop stayed in defense. In short, the Hammers can join the dreamers.

13. Watford

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The constant turnover that Watford were renowned for is a thing of the past. Javi Gracia will begin a second campaign in the dugout, and much of his roster looks the same. The defensive shakiness will be helped by the addition of Craig Dawson, while Ismaila Sarr brings bustle and pace to the attack. Free acquisition Danny Welbeck was also worth a punt.

14. Aston Villa

Neville Williams / Aston Villa FC / Getty

Aston Villa bought lots of players, but they’re no Fulham. Tyrone Mings, Anwar El Ghazi, and Kortney Hause were signed permanently after impressive loan spells, Matt Targett and Tom Heaton are reliable performers, and Dean Smith has already worked with Ezri Konsa and Jota at Brentford. The Wesley and Trezeguet buys are gambles, but Villa are good enough to claim a respectable standing.

At-risk pack

15. Burnley

Clint Hughes – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Given Nick Pope’s form two seasons ago, fellow goalkeeper Heaton was dispensable. Otherwise, Burnley held onto their best players – James Tarkowski, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, the injured Steven Defour, and the exciting Dwight McNeil chief among them – and added experience in the summer window. They should survive but don’t bank on them for entertainment.

16. Norwich City

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Max Aarons and Emiliano Buendia should shine in the top tier, but the rest of Daniel Farke’s squad are an unpredictable bunch. It will be difficult for Teemu Pukki to maintain his scoring form in the top flight, while Patrick Roberts and Sam Byram have never proven themselves in the Premier League. Also, despite finishing top of the Championship, the Canaries’ backline was susceptible last term.

17. Brighton & Hove Albion

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Brighton skipped over the sterile pool of jaded British managers and instead called in one of the island’s brightest tacticians: Graham Potter. But he has his work cut out. Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk weren’t as airtight in the second half of last season, and pricey players like Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jurgen Locadia threaten to upset the dressing room if they remain in exile.

18. Crystal Palace

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Wilfried Zaha is everything for Crystal Palace – their chief source of goals and craft, a leader, a spokesperson – and he doesn’t want to be at Selhurst Park. What is left after him? Christian Benteke, Jordan Ayew, and Connor Wickham are their recognized strikers, and winger Andros Townsend has never surpassed six goals in a Premier League term. The Eagles are in trouble.

19. Newcastle United

Serena Taylor / Newcastle United / Getty

Signing Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin isn’t enough to disguise owner Mike Ashley’s neglect of Newcastle. Rafa Benitez (who boasts titles in the Champions League, Europa League, and La Liga) being replaced by Steve Bruce (two promotions via the playoffs with Birmingham City and Hull City, and that’s it) is a monumental drop-off in managerial quality.

20. Sheffield United

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Chris Wilder will surprise some with his inventive tactics, but the recruitment doesn’t spark much optimism. Oli McBurnie and Callum Robinson were fine players in the Championship, but Lys Mousset and Mo Besic were Premier League flops who most fans forgot existed. At least Blades fans were given some fuzzy sentimental warmth by Phil Jagielka’s Bramall Lane return.

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