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Premier League 2016-17 preview: Improvement needed

Premier League. Everton versus West Ham. Everton forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his teams first goal (1-0)****NO AGENTS----NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY----NO AGENTS----NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY**** Photographer: Paul Keevil/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire
(Paul Keevil/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)

With less than a week remaining before the start of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign, it’s time to take a look at the teams and see what they have done over the summer. In part two, we’ll take a look at Everton, Swansea, Watford, West Bromwich, and Crystal Palace as they finished 11th to 15th in the table last season. Click here for Part 1.

Crystal Palace FC:

After a very promising start to last season, which saw the Eagles sitting in fifth place halfway through the campaign, they plummeted down the table and ultimately finished in 15th place. With a few signings and a lot of players leaving the club, they will try to bounce back and regain the type of form they had at the start of last season.

Palace has brought in three players so far during the transfer window in winger Andros Townsend from Newcastle United, defender James Tomkins from West Ham United and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from Marseille. They are all players that should go straight into the starting XI and make the team significantly better on paper. Among the losses, they have let go of three strikers, with Emmanuel Adebayor and Marouane Chamakh getting released while Dwight Gayle was sold to Newcastle.

Comment: Palace showed great resiliency during the first half of last season, but absolutely collapsed during the second part of the season as they lost 12 out of the last 19 games and only picked up two wins. Manager Alan Pardew has a big challenge ahead of him as he needs to get the players to believe in themselves again and find a way to play like they did during the first half of last season.  

West Bromwich Albion:

WBA are coming off another pedestrian season, as they finished in 14th after ending up in 13th the previous season and 17th the season before that. With new owners coming in from China, the club is expected to make a few more signings before the window closes. So far, winger Matt Phillips is the only signing for the Baggies, joining the club from Queens Park Rangers for £5.5 million. The new owners are said to be happy with manager Tony Pulis, and he’s expected to stay on at the Hawthorns.

There’s still uncertainty regarding striker Saido Berahino, who’s been linked with a move away from the club for more than a year. Salomon Rondon lead the team in scoring with nine goals in his first season in the Premier League.

Comment: WBA has been an extremely drab team to watch for the past couple of seasons. They manage to pick up the points they need to stay safe, but they rarely put in any flashy performances. If they end up keeping Berahino, they will need to make him the starting option up front once more as he is one of few players on the team with some flair, which he showed during the 2014-15 season when he scored 14 league goals.

Watford FC:

Watford had an excellent season as newcomers last season, finishing in a very respectable 13th place (highest position of the promoted teams). They had a series of good results in the opening half of the season, picking up eight wins and five draws. Much of that was thanks to the striking duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, along with some strong goaltending by Heurelho Gomes. The second part of the season didn’t go as well, but they were already in a very good place points-wise.

The Hornets have made a couple of additions to the squad during the summer, with the most prolific one being forward Jerome Sinclair from Liverpool, who will provide some competition for Ighalo and Deeney. Ighalo led the team in scoring with 15 league goals, with Deeney finishing in second with 13. Together they scored 28 out of the team’s 40 league goals.

Comment: Watford struggled in the second part of the season, when the goals from Ighalo and Deeney came at a much slower rate. They could be in for a rough sophomore season unless they find a way to spread out the scoring a bit.

Swansea City AFC:

Swansea City had a rough start to the season, which saw the Swans in the relegation zone after 17 matches. It ending up costing manager Garry Monk his job as he was let go in early December. He was replaced by Francesco Guidolin, and the team did perform a lot better during the second half of the season to finish in 12th place with 47 points.

Andre Ayew led the team in scoring with 12 league goals, and Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson finished second with 11 goals. The club has brought in striker Fernando Llorente from Europa League winners Sevilla to bolster the offense, but rumors still surrounds Ayew as he’s linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium.

Comment: Swansea picked things up under Guidolin, and he’s now had a full preseason to work with the team. With Sigurdsson signed to a new contract, the Swans will look to push up the table and finish in the top half. If they lose Ayew, they will have to go out on the market and bring in a proven goalscorer, as Llorente is a solid player, but not the most prolific scorer in recent years.

Everton FC:

Everton had another disappointing season that saw them finish in 11th place for the second straight year. Manager Roberto Martinez was let go with just a few games remaining, and Ronald Koeman has been brought in from Southampton to get the club back on track. The Dutchman did a great job with the Saints, and expectations will be high at Goodison Park.

The Toffees have brought in midfielder Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa along with veteran goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg from Fulham to replace the departing Tim Howard. They’ve also brought in Swiss striker Shani Tarashaj on loan from Grasshoppers. Star striker Romelu Lukaku has expressed that he wants to leave the club, with his former club Chelsea expressing interest, but Koeman is said to want to build the team around the Belgian international.

Comment: With Koeman on board, things are looking up for the club. They were poor defensively last season, so that will be one area where the Dutch manager will look for improvement. They also had a large number of draws, 14, which was tied for the most in the league with Chelsea and West Ham. As long as they have Lukaku they should have a good chance of improving on last season and pushing for a European cup spot.

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