Every Premier League Club's Leading Narrative Ahead of 2020/21 Season

Sep 12, 2020, 8:45 AM GMT+1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Frank Lampard
Big seasons for both these two | Getty Images/Getty Images
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Just like in any good film, you need a solid plot.

A really engrossing storyline that keeps you hooked from the first moment to the last. Twists in the tale that throw up any number of wild guesses and expectations for what is to come.

Football is no different.

As the new Premier League season approaches, the leading narratives we're faced with are Oscar-worthy. The footballing side, much of the time, takes a backseat. 'Can X pull Y off?', or 'will exhibit A find the right balance to make exhibit B successful?'. It's all invigorating stuff. Sometimes, it ends up a bit like wrestling. Less of the rough and tumble lads, I want to know what your feelings on the matter are.

With 2020/21 here for our endless, mindless viewing, we've got you covered with the narratives for each of the 20 clubs. Strap in.

1. Arsenal - Is Top Four Achievable?

Mikel Arteta
Can Arteta do it? | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Lyrics. Lyrics getting waxed EVERYWHERE.

There is almost no room left to praise Mikel Arteta after the mounds of it he's received already. Yet while it still seems a big ask for him to get Arsenal back into the top four places, plenty still back him to do.

Too much, too soon you'd think. But that's the goal the club have: Champions League or bust.

2. Aston Villa - Was Last Season Just a Fluke?

Dean Smith, Jack Grealish
Were Villa deserving of staying up? | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Aston Villa stayed up last season. Well done to them.

Did they deserve it, though? Or was it merely the fact that there were three worse teams than them? It's definitely the latter, which is saying something because they were pretty shocking for 95% of the campaign.

Money is getting thrown at the team again, a dangerous model to adopt for a club that despite that monumental investment, are still just Jack Grealish and ten others.

3. Brighton - Building on Graham Potter's Philosophy

Graham Potter
Is Potter's style sustainable? | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Staying up then sacking the manager straight after is a ballsy call. Doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong. Still ballsy.

If you are going embark on a mass overhaul of your playing style, then you've got to get it right. As is, Graham Potter seems to be doing that, but the question remains as to whether that is sustainable for a club the size of Brighton.

4. Burnley - Lack of Investment Can't be Sustained

Sean Dyche
When will the wheels come off for Burnley? | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's not pleasing on the eye, nor is it revolutionary, but by hook or by crook, Sean Dyche makes it work, and with no money to back it up.

There has to come a point where it does falter. It seemed like last season that was going to happen, but then the Ginger Mourinho pulled it out of the bag with just two defeats in 16 matches.

Without the money to improve the squad, however, that amount of quality can't get by on sheer grit and determination. Can it?

5. Chelsea - Thin at the Back & Heavy on Top

Hakim Ziyech
Chelsea have signed several star attackers | Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Nearly the biggest single summer outlay from any Premier League club in history; all of which went on forwards.

Two defenders (one going out on loan and the other 35 years old) doesn't sound like the ideal formula to prevent another season of defensive shambles. Frank Lampard has a stupidly talented and packed forward line, but their issues didn't lie there last season.

He's being given the pennies now. No excuses can be made if they drop out of the Champions League spots.

6. Crystal Palace - Remembering How to Score

Jordan Ayew, Wilfried Zaha
He probably missed this | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

It's all well and good securing shock wins at Manchester United, but if you average a season with one goal a game, such results will come about once in a blue moon.

Crystal Palace can't score. If Crystal Palace could score, they'd probably be much better off. Over to you, Michy Batshuayi...

7. Everton - Will the Spending Go Right This Time?

Having seemingly spent all their life savings about four times, maybe it's fifth time lucky for Everton. The midfield has been re-done each year to no avail, although the players coming this time in are without doubt an improvement.

Can that gel in time? Great signings, but maybe over the course of a few windows, not all crammed into the week before the season starts.

Carlo Ancelotti has got who he wants, but the work is far from over.

8. Fulham - How Much Has Changed Since 2018/19?

Scott Parker
Parker is back in the Prem | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Fulham were, let's make no bones about it, pretty dreadful in their most recent flirt with the Premier League. Relying too heavily on Aleksandar Mitrović to score their goals, obvious flaws across the defence and with host of inadequate midfield signings, they went crashing straight back down.

Two years on, it's still on Mitrović to hit the back of the net, their defensive areas are quite weak and Mario Lemina is hardly the midfield enforcer to ruffle top-flight feathers. Plenty expect them to come crashing down at the first time of asking.

9. Leeds - Lack of Home Atmosphere May Be Telling

Marcelo Bielsa
Is Bielsaball ready for the Premier League? | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa had Leeds playing the best football in the Championship last season. Taking a quick glance at the expected bottom half of the 2020/21 Premier League table, and you can argue they're among the better footballing sides in that group.

But that is all hypothetical. Seeing whether Bielsa-ball is manageable against better quality opposition, with a squad that expected to be lead by Patrick Bamford up top, might not be the fearful sight many had hoped from Leeds.

With some of the loudest, most dedicated supporters in Europe, let alone the country, that fiery atmosphere and intimidating environment was key to their success. As is, they won't have that (to start with, anyway), which could be damaging.

10. Leicester - Brendan Rodgers' Inconsistent Tendencies

Jamie Vard
Leicester threw it all away last season | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Having been 3,000 points ahead of fifth place last season, a dire run saw Leicester throw away Champions League football from a previously enviable position. Brendan Rodgers' sides of the past have been known to do this.

Is it all his fault? Does it come down to failing to gear his players up? Either way, consistency was the Foxes' Achilles heel last season and they must iron out those creases.

11. Liverpool - Keeping Up the Momentum

Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah
It was a walk in the park for Liverpool last season | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

When you secure the league title by a staggering 18-point margin, keeping up that momentum should, in theory, be easy enough. They were just that much better than everyone else.

Yet retaining the league title is damned hard task. Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have done it before, but with an almost identical squad for the coming season, keeping his Reds side focussed and invigorated will be Jurgen Klopp's biggest task.

12. Manchester City - Is This Pep Guardiola's Swansong?

Pep Guardiola
May we see the end of Pep in English football? | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Manchester City have, again, made pricey adjustments to their squad, but could it be Pep Guardiola's final season managing this group of players? With just one season left on his deal, that air of uncertainty hangs heavy.

It's tough to call. If he were to secure a major trophy, it may be seen as the next step in forging a legendary dynasty, while it could also be the perfect farewell to an already incredible foray in English football.

13. Manchester United - Make or Break for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer has done what was asked of him | Pool/Getty Images

Everyone's favourite Norwegian has done what was asked of him: guide Manchester United back into the top four. They are once again a Champions League club, but does he have the managerial acumen to take them to the next level?

He's been given the money to spend and the players to work with (even if a deal for Jadon Sancho hasn't been completed yet), but if United start losing matches on the basis of poor organisation and questionable tactics, the ruthless hand of Premier League management may come crashing down on Ole Gunner Solskjaer's head.

14. Newcastle - Have They Invested...Well?

Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser
These two will be reuniting on Tyneside | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Takeover turmoil aside, if you were to look at the business that Newcastle are doing in this transfer window, they're leaving nothing to risk. That's a four letter word that has come attached to nigh-on every signing the club have made in recent windows.

Now, spending money on players familiar with the division is their modus operandi, one that, for once, makes sense.

Yes, they're not Kylian Mbappe or Gareth Bale, but the change of tack will be a welcome relief to supporters fearing another Joelinton.

15. Sheffield United - Cementing Top-Flight Status

The Blades endured a great first campaign back in the Premier League
The Blades endured a great first campaign back in the Premier League | Pool/Getty Images

Sheffield United exceeded expectations last season with a remarkable push for the top four. That surge eventually tailed off and European football was missed out on entirely, yet the praise they earned was fully justified.

There is worry, though, that their lack of goals and the familiarity clubs now have with their style could see them be found out. As is, for Chris Wilder it could be all about ensuring they keep their Premier League status and continue building a solid top-flight foundation, no crazy ambitions.

16. Southampton - Ralph Hasenhuttl Justifying His Backing

Ralph Hasenhuttl
Hasenhuttl has been given his chance | Pool/Getty Images

Southampton's worst day in recent memory happened last season, they were in dire form, but still Ralph Hasenhuttl was handed a new contract. How so?

It's because the signs are there of methods and instructions starting to click. The Austrian is a very good coach, and Southampton started reaping the benefits of that. Incredibly, after the restart, only the two Manchester clubs picked up more points than the Saints.

It's now time to see whether Hasenhuttl can justify his backing and build on what he's done thus far.

17. Tottenham - Expensive Midfield Must Gel

Giovani Lo Celso, Heung-Min Son, Tanguy Ndombele
Ndombele flopped considerably last season | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have walked through the door in the last year, all for handsome fees. Jose Mourinho managed to guide Tottenham into Europe last season, but the midfield was a nut he simply couldn't crack.

Various systems and personnel changes didn't work, with the club record signing left to rot on the bench. Striking that balance and gelling those players is top of Spurs' checklist, otherwise it's more money down the drain.

18. West Brom - Can Slaven Bilic Last the Season?

Slaven Bilic
Bilic has it all to do this season | Michael Regan/Getty Images

West Brom made it into the top tier by the skin of their teeth last season. Failing to win any of their last four matches, they were spared by Brentford's own shortcomings.

It's generally accepted they'll be in a relegation scrap for much of next season, with the pressure expected to be heaped on Slaven Bilic's shoulders from the off. Can he see out the campaign? As their fifth manager in three years, it's hard to tell.

19. West Ham - Show Us What You've Got, David Moyes

David Moyes
Moyes is up against it | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

David Moyes loves a good sacking. Quite awful win percentages in his last four jobs tends to do that.

Heading into the new season with no notable additions, it's an almighty task on his hands this time around.

It's hard not to feel sorry for him. He's at a dreadfully run club (everyone saw Mark Noble's reaction to Grady Diangana's sale, right?), with a bang average squad and an infuriated set of supporters in the background. Ignore Man Utd, this job has its own difficulties.

20. Wolves - Can They Take the Next Step?

Nuno Espirito Santo
Who da man? | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Establishing themselves firmly in the Premier League top half since promotion into the division two years ago, it's remarkable to think we're now talking about Wolves as potential top four challengers.

They're on the cusp of being involved in that elite, currently following a similar trajectory en route to potentially becoming the new Spurs. Are they capable of making that next step yet, or are their 25 new Portuguese players not what they need to disrupt the status quo?

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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