The summer transfer window is hotting up. Every team is spending (or preparing to spend) millions of pounds to try and improve ahead of next season, while managers and coaching across England will have put in hours of work to try and find a way to get even more from the players already at their disposal. Each team has a weakness – yes, even Manchester City – that the staff will need to address this summer, either through recruitment or tactical tweaks on the training ground.

Here, we have highlighted an area of the game that each Premier League team could do with improving (that they haven’t already addressed) ahead of next season. Read on to see where your team needs to strengthen.


Arsenal need to figure out what to do with their options behind first-choice striker, Gabriel Jesus.

Are they comfortable with Eddie Nketiah being his back up? Do they stick or twist with Folarin Balogun? Or do they just decide neither are ready to command serious minutes in a title-contending side and look to dip into the transfer pool.

For all the qualities that Jesus brings – and there are a lot – finishing has never been his strong suit.

Gabriel Jesus historic underperformance compared to his xg
Jonathan Manuel / Data Analyst

Jesus has played in the Premier League for seven seasons now. Over that time, he’s accumulated a total of 83.6 expected goals. But from those chances he’s scored just 69 times. That works out as an underperformance of 14.6 goals. Since his first season at Manchester City in 2016-17, no player has underperformed their expected goals tally by a larger margin.

The work he does off the ball and his ability to elevate the game of his teammates is worth that trade off.

But should Arsenal’s plan A fail, or if they need to bring a more clinical finisher to make the most of a scrappy half-chance, they need other options.

You get the sense that Arsenal will keep one of Nketiah or Balogun, but not both, particularly as players like Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz have both operated as false nines in the past.

Nketiah only signed a long-term contract last year – worth a reported £100,000 per week – and although he deputised admirably for Jesus at the start of 2022, he struggled for fitness and playing time once the Brazilian returned. His underlying numbers are strong though. In his 1,070 Premier League minutes, he averaged 0.69 non-penalty xG per 90, which was more than any Arsenal player. As a homegrown talent, Nketiah is likely never to be short of suitors should Arsenal want to move him on.

Balogun, who scored 22 goals in 39 games for Reims last season while on loan, would likely command a much higher transfer fee and could be used to offset Arsenal’s heavy spending this summer. The American certainly has the higher upside of the two players, but Mikel Arteta and Edu may feel like cashing out while the price is high.  

Or perhaps they double down and dip into the transfer market again. Whichever way they decide to go, Arsenal need to make sure they are 100% happy with the reinforcements behind Jesus.


Aston Villa

The arrival of Unai Emery sparked a turnaround at Aston Villa last season. Villa parted ways with Steven Gerrard with the club sitting just three points above the relegation zone, but Emery’s arrival from Villarreal saw them surge up the table. They ended the 2022-23 season with a Europa Conference League play-off spot after a seventh-placed finish.

One thing that won’t have pleased Emery – by all accounts a meticulous planner – was the number of goals his side conceded from set-pieces. 41% of all Villa’s goals against last season came from set-pieces, which was the highest proportion of any team in the league, and way above the average ratio of 28%.

Goals conceded from set-pieces, Premie rLeague 2022-23

The mooted signing of Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres – while an exciting prospect in possession – won’t do much to bolster Villa’s defensive aerial prowess. Torres won just 55.1% of his aerial duels in La Liga last season, which was one of the lowest rates among central defenders.

As a left-sided central defender, Torres’ arrival could raise questions about Tyrone Mings’ spot in the starting XI, but Torres’ deficiencies in the air could be countered by the England international. Mings’ aerial win rate of 72.1% was bettered by only five other centre-halves in the Premier League last season. There’s a good chance both will feature heavily throughout the season in complementary roles.

Emery takes a hands-on approach in training and has put full faith in Villa set-piece coach Austin MacPhee. The Scot has instigated a “culture” of set-pieces at Villa, and has overseen the integration of TrackMan, ball-striking technology borrowed from golf, to improve his players’ set-piece delivery.

Now they must turn their attentions to the defensive side of the ball, too.



It wasn’t a straightforward first campaign back in the top flight for Bournemouth by any stretch of the imagination, particularly given Scott Parker’s sacking as manager as early as August following the 9-0 demolition by Liverpool.

But in the end, they preserved their Premier League status with weeks to spare, defying many pre-season predictions. Clearly, though, they are now aiming significantly higher than just avoiding relegation, hence the decision to replace Gary O’Neil as manager with the highly rated Andoni Iraola.

The former Rayo Vallecano coach likes his team to press relentlessly and high, with their 68 shot-ending high turnovers eight more than any other side in La Liga last term. The physical demands will be significant; Bournemouth’s forward options are already fairly dynamic, so the area they’ll likely need to strengthen the most is in midfield.

Jefferson Lerma averaged the most recoveries (7.2) per 90 in the squad last season among players to feature for at least 500 minutes, while his 260 total was bettered by only four players in the entire league. Similarly, his distance covered (387.2 kilometres) saw him rank 10th of all top-flight players.

The Colombian’s industry and reliability need replacing; even if he hadn’t left, they could’ve done with midfield reinforcements as their central options are hardly plentiful.

An energetic but technically sound ball-winner would be ideal, otherwise they could do with two players who tick at least one of those boxes. Highly rated 19-year-old Bristol City midfielder Alex Scott has been linked and certainly qualifies as technically sound. Enzo Le Fée was also apparently a target in January; he’s since joined Rennes, but Bournemouth’s reported interest in him does at least back up the idea they’re keen on a midfield technician.

As for a Lerma replacement, Iraola could do worse than turn his attention back to Spain, where Real Betis midfielder Guido Rodríguez has less than a year left on his contract.

guido rodriguez defensive actions



It was another impressive season for Brentford in 2022-23. Manager Thomas Frank led his team to a ninth-place finish, with his teams scoring 58 goals – as many as Manchester United – and conceding 46 – fewer than Liverpool (47).

However, they narrowly missed out on European qualification, in no small part due to their tally of draws, with only Newcastle United having as many as their 14. Chief goalscorer Ivan Toney was so often the difference-maker for Brentford, but of course he will not be available to Frank until mid-January 2024 due to his betting-related ban.

Toney will be missed, having scored more than a third (20) of Brentford’s 58 Premier League goals last season, with no other player reaching double figures. But he will also be missed as a generally influential presence, both in terms of his aerial ability and effectiveness at bringing others into play. No striker in England’s top flight won as many as his 109 aerial duels last season, while only Mohamed Salah (15) and Harry Kane (14) created as many as his 12 big chances.

Brentford have been linked with a move for Rodrigo Moreno as a possible immediate replacement, which makes sense given Leeds United’s relegation and that he stood out with 13 goals in 31 Premier League games last season. He was also the player in Europe’s top five leagues who profiled closest to Toney last season according to our player radars, though the Spain international clearly doesn’t have the same aerial presence.

Habib Diallo is another name that has been mentioned in the media, with the Strasbourg striker scoring 20 goals in Ligue 1 last season, as well as winning 135 aerial duels and creating the same number of overall chances as Toney (27).

Habib Diallo xG map



The neutrals’ favourite team of the 2022-23 season, Brighton were a joy to behold for much of the campaign. They played vibrant, attacking football with a host of talented young players thrown in for good measure.

It was like a Football Manager player’s dream come true – and they were really good as well!

Of course, with such a season comes some unwanted attention. That’s already led to Alexis Mac Allister departing for Liverpool, but they’ve been busy with incomings. João Pedro, Bart Verbruggen and Mahmoud Dahoud are all interesting acquisitions, while James Milner will bring some valuable experience.

Still, given they’ll be in the Europa League next term, Brighton need to continue adding depth. Centre-back appears to be the area in most need, especially with it looking increasingly likely Chelsea will opt to keep hold of Levi Colwill, who was so impressive on loan at the Amex Stadium in 2022-23.

Colwill’s positive and progressive style of play was a real feature for Brighton, but he’s not a unique centre-back in that regard. Lens’ Argentina international Facundo Medina has already been touted as a potential replacement, and he would seemingly fit in well.

Facundo Medina long progressive carries

The 24-year-old is comfortable playing on the left side of a back three and was one of the best progressors of play from the back across the top five leagues last season. Among centre-backs, he ranked third for forward passes (989), top for progressive carries (588) and second for total carry progress (5,722.1 metres).

Medina has been a regular pretty much ever since he made the move to Lens from Club Atlético Talleres in Argentina three years ago, helping them to only their third top-two finish since the 1970s as they ended the 2022-23 campaign runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain.

He could potentially also provide back-up cover at left-back for Pervis Estupiñán, another area Brighton will likely be aiming to bolster in pre-season.

Whoever they sign, expect curious eyes to be fixed on those recruits given their recent track record of unearthing gems.



Burnley are going to have to get used to having less possession this season. Across their title-winning campaign of 2022-23 in the Championship, Vincent Kompany’s side averaged 65% of the ball, but the last promoted team to average more than 50% in a Premier League season were Leeds United in 2020-21 (58%) under Marcelo Bielsa.

The Lancashire side relied on Josh Brownhill in the middle of the park for their chance creation last season, with the 27-year-old creating the most chances overall (72) and from open play (56) in the Burnley squad. He’s already played two and a half Premier League campaigns for the club, but that Burnley side had a very different style to the current team, so it’s hard to judge how Brownhill will cope in the top flight again.

Burnley's chance creation in 2022-23

Kompany has already recruited wisely in central defence, with Jorden Beyer coming in permanently from Gladbach and Dara O’Shea from West Brom. They have been linked to Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga, but they will still need a creative force through the middle.

Should Kompany want to raid Belgium for talent, much like he did last season, he could do a lot worse than Gent’s Mike Trésor. The Belgian international was the leading creator in the Belgian Pro League last season (109) while only four players created more chances from open play. He’s also a player that’s used to getting a lot of the ball, with an average of 58 touches per game last season – not far off the 65 Brownhill managed in the Championship for the club in 2022-23.



Mauricio Pochettino’s first priority at Chelsea has been to trim down a hugely bloated squad.

He’s got to work quickly. We have only just entered July and Chelsea have already moved on N’Golo Kanté, Mateo Kovacic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Édouard Mendy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, while Tiemoué Bakayoko and Baba Rahman have also left. Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are expected to leave as well, while some of the older members of the squad like César Azpilicueta, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could also depart.

His second priority is to bring some stability and consistency to his side.

Last season was a chaotic one at Stamford Bridge. The upheaval that comes with having three head coaches (Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard) can be best reflected in the fact that Chelsea made the most starting XI changes of any Premier League side and 32 more than the next most, Liverpool. They also did not start a single game with an unchanged XI.

Chelsea starting XI changes

Thirty-one players started one or more games for Chelsea last season, a figure that was the highest of any team in the league.

Pochettino likes to work with a streamlined squad and the deadweight is being cut. Now he needs to bring back some stability to a club enveloped in disorder.


Crystal Palace

After the return of Roy Hodgson as manager, Palace finished the 2022-23 season rather well, winning five and losing only two of their final 10 matches.

Clearly, though, their troubles under Patrick Vieira – and generally over the whole season – highlighted some glaring inefficiencies. They are said to be in the market for a right-back, centre-back and potentially a winger if Wilfried Zaha doesn’t re-sign.

But arguably the area they are most in need of refreshing is up front. Eberechi Eze was their top scorer last season with 10, but six of those came from April onwards. Of their out-and-out strikers, Odsonne Édouard was the most prolific with an unremarkable haul of five. Jean-Philippe Mateta got just two.

This general lack of threat from the strikers contributed to Palace’s open-play xG total being just 25.3 for the season; only Nottingham Forest (24.5) were poorer at creating clear-cut chances. Admittedly this isn’t just on the strikers; some responsibility also lies with those creators, but Édouard’s non-penalty xG of 4.2 over the season and just 1.3 shots (excluding blocks) per 90 minutes also raises questions of his positioning.

Viktor Gyokeres' chance-creating carries

Coventry City’s Viktor Gyökeres could be a good fit for Palace in that role. He scored 21 times in the Championship last term, a tally bettered by only Chuba Akpom, yet there was no specific ‘type’ of goal that he was particularly known for, highlighting adaptability and the fact he was capable of creating something out of nothing.

Gyökeres carried the ball further upfield than any other forward in the Championship (4,544 metres) and attempted the most dribbles (310). This direct style and his dynamism, coupled with physical prowess and ability to create chances for himself, would make him a fine fit for Palace’s attack – they’d need to act quickly, however, with Sporting CP said to be pushing ahead with attempts to sign him.

Another striker linked with Palace is Eddie Nketiah. He’s also dynamic and he “knows the league”, though some supporters might be concerned with his underwhelming record in front of goal, given he scored only four times for Arsenal last term from 8.3 xG.



You could argue Everton most need a striker given they were the second-lowest scorers in the Premier League last season, largely due to the persistent injury issues of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the underwhelming debut campaign of Neal Maupay, who managed just one goal in 27 league appearances (11 starts).

However, while a striker would be most welcome at Goodison Park, manager Sean Dyche never needed his Burnley teams to score lots of goals. In the 2017-18 season when they finished seventh in the top flight, Burnley did only score 36 times, but their 39 conceded was just one more than Liverpool and Chelsea.

Dyche builds his best teams on a solid defensive base, something else Everton were missing last season. Only Bournemouth (626) faced more shots than Everton (576) in the Premier League in 2022-23, while Leeds (68.0) were the sole team to record a higher expected goals (xG) against than their 66.9, showing that Everton were both conceding a high number of chances and that those opportunities weren’t just shots from long range.

Brentford’s Ben Mee would be an ideal target, with him and James Tarkowski being the defensive pairing Dyche mostly relied on in that 2017-18 campaign, but it is highly unlikely he’d be allowed to leave the Gtech Community Stadium.

One of the more basic but noticeable metrics that Mee and Tarkowski always stood out in, and still do, is aerial duels won. Both finished in the top four for defenders in Europe’s top five leagues last season (132 and 120 won respectively). Only Ivan Ordets (138) for Bochum and Marc-Oliver Kempf (132) for Hertha Berlin recorded more. It may be that Dyche looks for another player with lots of aerial ability to strengthen his defence.



Fulham’s biggest strengths last season could ultimately prove to be weaknesses next term. In 2022-23, they overperformed their xG at both ends of the pitch, with their forwards scoring at a better-than-average rate and goalkeeper Bernd Leno keeping opponents out more effectively than any other goalkeeper. Fulham scored five goals more (52) than their expected goals (47.0 xG) last season – the fourth biggest such difference – while Leno conceded 10.7 goals fewer than our expected goals on target model suggests the average goalkeeper would have, which was the best such rate in the whole Premier League.

The question going into next season is whether they can rely on overperforming individuals or if the collective needs to improve. The way these models work, it tends to be that mid-table teams can’t assume that overperformance will be repeated as they don’t have world-class players who can consistently outperform the models.

Highest xG against by team

The biggest differential was in defending their own goal, so that should be the easiest area to make an improvement. Only Leeds (68.0 xG) and Everton (66.9 xG) allowed their opponents higher xG chances in the Premier League last season than Fulham (65.6), with their xG per shot faced of 0.13 second only to Liverpool (0.14).

So, what does that mean? It’s simple, really: stop the opposition from having so many high-quality chances. Easy.

Fulham allowed their opponents 77 big chances last season – the third most in the Premier League behind Leeds (89) and, somewhat surprisingly, Liverpool (79) – and only those two teams and Leicester (each 27) conceded more chances from through balls than Fulham (26). Opponents cut through the heart of Fulham too often, so they could do with tightening up in the middle of the pitch.

Fulham are one of only three Premier League teams yet to make a single signing this summer, so Marco Silva clearly isn’t in a massive rush to shake up his squad, but he might want to reinforce central areas. João Palhinha was their only real ball-winner in midfield last season, and there is talk of West Ham wanting him as their replacement for Declan Rice. It could be a good idea for Silva to prioritise one – or maybe even two – big presences in central midfield.



The correct answer to this until recently was midfield. They desperately needed to strengthen there after a timid showing from their options last season, as well as the exits of James Milner, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the end of the campaign.

However, the additions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have largely addressed those issues already, with a rumoured move for a third likely to complete that particular rebuild.

They should not stop there, though. Liverpool struggled defensively last season, saved often by Alisson but still conceding 47 goals, more than both Aston Villa and Brentford, and as many as bottom-half Chelsea.

Jürgen Klopp ended the season with a formation that looked to get the best out of Trent Alexander-Arnold, and it did. He registered just two assists in his first 27 league games from right-back, before managing seven in 10 games once he was allowed to roam into midfield. You would therefore assume Klopp will continue with this setup, meaning he must think about the left side of his defence.

Andy Robertson is a fine left-back, but in the new system he’s had to play more like a centre-back, while there is also the fact Virgil van Dijk remains the only senior player at the club who primarily plays as a left-sided centre-back. It is therefore surely time for them to bring in another.

Levi Colwill possession won map

Levi Colwill was outstanding for Brighton during his loan spell from Chelsea last season, making comfortably more progressive passes per 90 than any other defender in the Premier League (4.8). Reports suggest Chelsea are unwilling to part with Colwill, but if he wants to continue playing regularly ahead of Euro 2024 next year, those prospects are arguably greater at Anfield given their shift in formation and lack of other options on the left of defence.

Liverpool also only have one more non-homegrown space in their squad unless they sell someone, so buying a player who counts as homegrown would be very useful.


Luton Town

It’s going to come as little surprise to Luton Town supporters that their own goal will be a little busier than it was in the Championship last season.

Taking part in their first top-flight English season since 1991-92 (and the first in the Premier League era), Luton come into the 2023-24 campaign as the underdogs… but they like it that way. The Bedfordshire club won promotion last season against all the odds under new manager Rob Edwards and will be looking to make it as difficult as possible for opponents again in this campaign.

The goalkeeper that helped them achieve promotion has gone. Ethan Horvath was sent back to parent club Nottingham Forest after Luton decided against making his deal permanent this summer. The US international was a little like marmite to Luton fans, with some seeing him as a key player and others as a weakness following a couple of high-profile errors. But most fans will agree that they can find a shot-stopper with more top-flight pedigree than Horvath.

Current goalkeeping options within the squad are formed of the trio of James Shea, Jack Walton and Matt Macey. All lack the quality to become a regular Premier League standard number one, so it looks likely they’ll have to delve into the transfer market.

But fear not, Luton fans. There’s little doubt that the newly promoted club already have this position covered in a top-secret document somewhere – after all, their recruitment team were arguably the strongest in the Championship last season. They have already raided the EFL for two summer signings in Mads Andersen from Barnsley and Chiedozie Ogbene from Rotherham. Luton could do worse than make another raid on Rotherham and grab goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, who prevented more goals than any other Championship goalkeeper in 2022-23, based on Opta expected goals on target model (9.3).

Viktor Johansson shots stopped


Manchester City

How do you improve the best team in the world; a team that has just completed what was arguably the most convincing treble of all time? It’s a tricky one to be honest, guys.

But they aren’t completely perfect, believe it or not. Pep Guardiola is a perfectionist, and his reported interest in €100m RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol this summer suggests he thinks there is room for improvement. The City manager said after they wrapped up the Premier League title that he has only recently realised just how important it is to have “proper defenders to win duels,” which might in part at least explain why he is after Gvardiol. He was talking in the context of facing tricky dribblers, listing the likes of Vinícius Júnior, Bukayo Saka and Mohamed Salah as examples, but his logic also presumably applies to defending set-pieces.

City only faced 97 corners in Premier League games last season, which was 39 fewer than any other team. Chances conceded at set-pieces, however, accounted for 28% of their xG against total in 2022-23, which was the second-highest proportion in the top flight (9.1 xG). As the below graphic shows, there were a lot of decent chances that opponents squandered from inside the six-yard box.

Manchester City xG against at set-pieces in the Premier League in 2022-23

Whether recruiting someone like Gvardiol makes enough of a difference or Guardiola needs to work on defending set-pieces on the training ground more, this is one way in which the champions could get even better next season.


Manchester United

Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge was undoubtedly a positive one as United ended a six-year trophy drought and got back into the Champions League with a third-place finish. They can’t afford to stand still, however, with Newcastle United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham all making waves in the transfer market.

United have been surprisingly quiet on the incomings front so far, but Mason Mount is through the door and the gossip columns are providing constant updates on their apparent pursuit of goalkeeper André Onana, with David de Gea’s contract coming to an end last week.

Nevertheless, the area fans are seemingly most eager to see at least one new face in is attack, with Atalanta’s Rasmus Højlund and Gonçalo Ramos of Benfica said to be among United’s primary targets for the position.

Despite the heroics of Marcus Rashford last season, United often flattered to deceive in front of goal. Only City (59) boasted more open-play xG (56.6) than them, but the champions turned their total into 69 goals; Ten Hag’s side only managed 48.

Wout Weghorst isn’t good enough and unsurprisingly hasn’t had his loan move made permanent or extended; Antony Martial chipped in with six goals but simply isn’t reliable in terms of fitness; and Rashford prefers to play off the left, where he’s also more effective.

Premier League sequence involvements

In Bruno Fernandes they have arguably the best creator in the Premier League, with the Portugal midfielder’s xG assisted in open play last season at 14.0, significantly higher than any other player. Yet, it could be argued they’re not making the most of him.

Højlund appears the most likely to arrive. The young Denmark international has been likened to Erling Haaland for his powerful all-round game and predatory instincts in the box. Sure, he only scored nine Serie A goals in 2022-23, but the signs were promising from the 20-year-old.

Rasmus Holjund xG

Regardless of whether they end up with Højlund or Ramos, it’s at least positive that United have seemingly identified this as a key area for improvement and they’re not just looking at short-term stopgaps.

They’ve arguably needed to invest in a bright young striker for several years, but they continued to put faith in Martial and then brought in experienced players such as Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo, players who were never going to be the answer in the long run.

Højlund or Ramos could be.


Newcastle United

While undoubtedly enjoying one of his best seasons as a professional footballer so far, there’s little doubt that Newcastle United could recruit a left-back with more qualities in that position than Dan Burn.

Burn proved to be a revelation as a makeshift in 2022-23 as the north-east side qualified for the Champions League, but their attacking play from full-back looked lopsided with Kieran Tripper bombing down the right to provide more passes into the final third than any other defender in the Premier League (566). Burn provided just over a third of Trippier’s per 90 average (6.4 vs. 15.2) across the season.

Dan Burn's open-play touches for Newcastle
Kieran Trippier's open-play touches

True, Burn’s aerial dominance in both boxes is a useful weapon for Eddie Howe’s side – especially from Tripper’s pinpoint set-piece delivery, but his role in a squad hunting for the Premier League title should arguably be as backup in central defence, while Matt Targett is the other left-back option and someone who they can improve on.

Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney has been linked, while Newcastle have missed out on free transfer options Raphaël Guerreiro and Álex Grimaldo, who have joined Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen respectively. Another option could be Inter Milan’s Federico Dimarco, who would certainly provide the creative outlet from left-back that Newcastle require. The 25-year-old fired in the third most open-play crosses of any defender in Serie A last season (130), while only three defenders created more open-play chances than he did (35).

Nottingham Forest

Steve Cooper’s side improved sufficiently in last season’s run-in to pull off a dramatic and fully deserved escape act that few expected them to make, and that will surely give them confidence going into next term. They changed their tactics and shape-shifted enough to address most of the issues that cropped up mid-season.

One consistent problem, though, was their reliance on their home form. Forest won 30 points at the City Ground, giving them the 10th best home record in the top flight, but picked up just eight points from 19 away games – which was unsurprisingly the worst record in the league.

Given throughout the campaign they flitted between trying to dominate possession, playing on the counter-attack, narrow defensive lines and expansive attacking, all while mixing up their formations – they played nine different formations last season – one might be forgiven for expecting that they could change their approach for away games effectively. The truth was they struggled on the road all campaign.

Cooper will need to address that. He showed admirable tactical flexibility and an awareness of when things need to be changed, so he will surely have something else up his sleeve for next season. While their defensive record on the road was poor (44 goals conceded) it was creating and finishing chances that was their downfall, with a league-low 11 goals scored from a league-low 16.2 xG. Their underlying numbers suggest they weren’t quite as bad as their goal tally suggests, but they still need to do more to get better chances.

As was key in their run of form at the end of the season that ultimately saved them, the key will be to getting Morgan Gibbs-White and Taiwo Awoniyi into better positions. That might mean taking a few more risks on the road, but as Cooper showed last season, he certainly isn’t averse to risk-taking.

Morgan gibbs-white touches in home games
Morgan gibbs-white touches in away games


Sheffield United

It was an excellent effort from Paul Heckingbottom and his team to get themselves back into the Premier League after two seasons away, and no one can say they didn’t deserve it.

Sheffield United were efficient at both ends of the pitch. In Championship games last season, they took the second most shots (628), scored the third-most goals (73), and recorded the second highest xG, interestingly almost exactly 73. In defence, they conceded the joint-second fewest goals (39), faced the third-fewest shots (460) and had the third lowest xG against (44.7).

It is therefore difficult to look at areas for improvement. They are clearly well balanced and will be hoping to use the momentum that saw them earn second place and an automatic spot in the Premier League last season to make a similar impact to Chris Wilder’s team that finished ninth in the top flight in 2019-20.

However, there may be a need to replace one of their key players before long. Iliman Ndiaye has been strongly linked with a move to Marseille as well as Everton.

Losing the Senegal international would be a huge blow for Heckingbottom. Ndiaye featured in all 46 league games for Sheffield United in 2022-23, with 24 goal involvements (14 goals, 10 assists). Only Viktor Gyökeres (31), Chuba Akpom (30) and Carlton Morris (27) had more. His impressive dribbling skills created plenty for his side. Only Gyökeres, Patrick Roberts and João Pedro attempted more dribbles, and none could match his 56.9% success rate.

Lukebakios carries

As for a possible replacement, Hertha Berlin’s Dodi Lukébakio profiled most similarly with Ndiaye in Europe’s top five leagues last season according to our player radars, and it’s not a bad shout. The 25-year-old scored 11 and assisted three for Hertha in the Bundesliga in 2022-23 despite their relegation, and averaged 5.5 dribbles per 90 minutes, more than Ndiaye’s 4.7, albeit with a lower success rate of 46.9%.

He has apparently garnered interest from Bayer Leverkusen and Roma, as well as Saudi Arabia, but should he have a desire to play in the Premier League, Lukébakio could do worse than head to Bramall Lane.



The good thing about having as long a list of areas for improvement as Tottenham’s is that it’s easy to forge a feeling of progress. In Ange Postecoglou’s first weeks at the club, he has already addressed a few areas of concern, with James Maddison filling the creative void in midfield and goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario coming in as a long-term replacement for the ageing Hugo Lloris. It quickly feels as though Spurs are heading in the right direction under the Australian.

The bad thing about having as long a list of problems as Tottenham’s, though, is that there are still a fair few more issues to resolve.

The Harry Kane situation is one that will rumble on, but as he is still there for now at least, scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem. The biggest problems are at the other end of the pitch.

Spurs had the sixth-worst defensive record in the Premier League last season, conceding 63 goals, which was more than every team outside the bottom six. They conceded 55 goals from inside the penalty area, which was better than only three teams. There is only so much a new goalkeeper will be able to do, so a huge part of the solution will be to stop the shots at source. This xG against graphic shows just how many high-quality chances Tottenham conceded close to goal.

Tottenham xG against in Premier League games last season

The expected switch of formation under Postecoglou to one with three players in central midfield will help crowd out the central areas and – he will hope – help prevent opponents from getting into quite so many shooting positions inside the penalty area.

Extra reinforcement at centre-back will be necessary, with positionally-aware players needed who are also better at reacting to sharp movements close to goal by opposition strikers than the often leggy-looking Eric Dier appeared last season.


West Ham

Across the last four Premier League seasons, there have been just five occurrences of a West Ham player reaching double figures for goals in a single campaign. Three of these have been Michail Antonio – in 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Last season (five goals) was his worst goalscoring return in the competition since 2017-18, and age is no longer on Antonio’s side, with the Jamaican international turning 33 back in March. While there is rightly plenty of respect put on his name – he’s scored a club record 61 Premier League goals, after all – it’s time that West Ham recruited a striker to take them further.

They signed Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca last summer, following an excellent 16-goal Serie A season at Sassuolo, but a mix of injuries and a failure to adapt to West Ham’s style under David Moyes have seen him struggle overall. There’s no doubt that the 24-year-old striker is talented, but despite being 6-feet-5 tall, he’s more than just a ‘head on a stick’ for West Ham to target. They also recruited Danny Ings last season, but he’s struggled at the London Stadium, too – returning just three goals in 22 competitive appearances.

West Ham's all-time top scorers

Of course, it’s imperative that West Ham recruit a replacement for the influential club captain Declan Rice in central midfield, but a striker to replace Antonio is something they’ve needed for over two years now.

Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri was linked to the club in January and would be an ideal candidate. Just 26 years old, the Moroccan is in the peak years of his career and scored 18 goals across all competitions for the UEFA Europa League champions in 2022-23. Over the last three seasons, only two players have scored more competitive non-penalty goals for La Liga clubs than En-Nesyri – Karim Benzema (84) and Vinícius Júnior (51) at Real Madrid.


On the face of it, Wolves need a striker. Their total of just 31 goals in the Premier League last season was the fewest by three. Their joint-top scorers in the league were Daniel Podence and the now-departed Rúben Neves (both six), while only five players scored more than one league goal. Their joint-second top scorer with three goals alongside Hwang Hee-chan was own goals.

The obvious solution would be to look to Portugal as they so often do, but the only Portuguese striker who stood out last season was Benfica’s Gonçalo Ramos, who is probably a little out of their price range.

Though Wolves didn’t score many, it wasn’t just poor finishing. Their creativity left a lot to be desired as well. Wolves made the fewest big chances in the Premier League by five (28). On top of that, two of their three most creative players last season in Neves and João Moutinho have left the club, so ideally they need someone who can score, but also create.

Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho recorded 10 goal involvements (five goals, five assists) despite their relegation, and only 10 players in the Premier League who created at least three big chances recorded better than his 0.56 big chances created per 90 (seven overall).

As a more left-field option, Genk’s Mike Trésor could really address the lack of creativity. The Belgian Pro League might not quite be the Premier League, but his numbers are not to be sniffed at. Trésor – who has been linked with Wolves as well as Burnley – scored eight goals but also registered 24 assists last season, at least six more than anyone else in Europe’s top 10 leagues.

most assists in Europe's top 10 leagues

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