32 Flags previews the 2016-17 Premier League from Manchester United to Sunderland

The English Premier League season is less than a week away and we are entering what could be the most unpredictable EPL season in years. We at 32 Flags are here to preview what each team is expected to do this season and where they could finish, as well as letting you know who to look out for from each team. Today, we’re going in alphabetical order, covering Manchester United to Sunderland. This is Part 3 of 4 of our EPL preview. Click to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4

Manchester United

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his sides second goal during The FA Community Shield match between Leicester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on August 7, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his sides second goal during The FA Community Shield match between Leicester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on August 7, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Transfers:

Notable Ins:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Forward, from Paris Saint-Germain on a Free Transfer

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Midfielder, from Borussia Dortmund for an Undisclosed Fee

Paul Pogba, Midfielder, from Juventus for £90m

Notable Outs:

Victor Valdes, Goalkeeper, Released

Probable Starting XI:

Predicted Finish:

3rd (Placed as high as 1st and as low as 7th among 32 Flags writers)

With the signings of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, anything short of a title run will be considered a failure for Manchester United. They will almost certainly be there or there about for most of the season, which was reflected in our roundtable discussion. Manchester United tied for the most votes to win the Premier League. The also received as many votes to finish 4th place or lower, which reflects that there are still some big holes in this team. Namely, they are still lacking a controlling midfield presence, which could get worse now should Pogba take one of the two midfield spots, and a sturdy defense. De Gea will cover for many of these frailties, however, and a title run will certainly happen.

Player to Watch:

Paul Pogba

The world’s most expensive player has to be the player that everyone will be watching this season, for a variety of reasons. He is undoubtedly a skilled player when given a free role, but there are still questions about how he will be used in Manchester United’s system. After his often lethargic display at Euro 2016 in a more holding role, there must be concern over where he will fit and how he will do. If the transfer clicks, though, Manchester United will have brought in a player that can turn a game on its head.

Middlesbrough

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Middesbrough forward Alvaro Negredo celebrates his goal during the pre- season friendly between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on July 30, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JULY 30: Middesbrough forward Alvaro Negredo celebrates his goal during the pre- season friendly between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on July 30, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Transfers:

Notable Ins:

Marten de Roon, Midfielder, from Atalanta for £12m

Gaston Ramirez, Midfielder, as a Free Agent

Brad Guzan, Goalkeeper, from Aston Villa on a Free Transfer

Notable Outs:

Rhys Williams, Defender, to Perth Glory on a Free Transfer

Luke Coddington, Goalkeeper, to Huddersfield Town on a Free Transfer

Probable Starting XI:

Predicted Finish:

14th (Placed as high as 12th and as low as 17th among 32 Flags writers)

Middlesbrough have the potential to be this year’s Bournemouth. They have some great attacking talent and a team that will be comfortable playing together. They can also brag about having pretty solid depth for a promoted team. Middlesbrough have many of the pieces required to become a consistent Premier League team. Having said that, my vote of confidence will almost certainly resign them to relegation this year. All joking aside, a 14th place finish would be a great result for them, as it would offer them clear safety from relegation and a chance to build for next year.

Player to Watch:

Viktor Fischer

The former Ajax wunderkind is still only 22 and the player that drew so much attention is still in there somewhere. Middlesbrough will be hoping that a change of scenery was all that is needed to take the Danish attacker to the next level in his development.

 

Southampton

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  Nathan Redmond of Southampton tackles with Oscar de Marcos of Athletic Bilbao during the pre-season friendly between Southampton and Athletic Club Bilbao at St Mary's Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Nathan Redmond of Southampton tackles with Oscar de Marcos of Athletic Bilbao during the pre-season friendly between Southampton and Athletic Club Bilbao at St Mary’s Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Transfers:

Notable Ins:

Nathan Redmond, Midfielder, from Norwich City for an Undisclosed Fee

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Midfielder, from Bayern Munich for an Undisclosed Fee

Notable Outs:

Sadio Mane, Midfielder, to Liverpool for £30m

Victor Wanyama, Midfielder, to Tottenham for an Undisclosed Fee

Graziano Pelle, Forward, to Shandong Luneng for an Undisclosed Fee

Probable Starting XI:

Predicted Finish:

10th (Placed as high as 8th and as low as 13th among 32 Flags writers)

Southampton has once again lost some of their most valuable players and, this time, their manager. Without a doubt, it will be more difficult for them to rebound from losing an influential manager, since last time they hopped from Pochettino to Koeman. Now they have Claude Puel, who comes to them from Nice. The Frenchman can expect a lot of pressure to rebound, and the many of those hopes will be placed on the incoming players to replace those that left. A Top 10 finish should be right around where they’ll land this season.

Player to Watch:

Nathan Redmond

Many have forgotten that this young winger was once hailed as the next big thing. He still has his pace and the ability to pop up with a goal. He’s just looking for the right place to finally settle and grow into the player that many have predicted he would. In Southampton, he has found a club with a great tradition of growing younger players into greats. This could be a match made in heaven.

Stoke City

Bojan during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Stoke City at The King Power Stadium on January 17, 2015 in Leicester, England.

Bojan during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Stoke City at The King Power Stadium on January 17, 2015 in Leicester, England.

Transfers:

Notable Ins:

Joe Allen, Midfielder, from Liverpool for £13m

Ramadan Sobhi, Midfielder, from Al Ahly for £5m

Notable Outs:

Peter Odemwingie, Forward, Released

Probable Starting XI:

Predicted Finish:

9th (Placed as high as 8th and as low as 10th among 32 Flags writers)

If their growth as a team happened at any other point in the Premier League history, they would be in with a shot for Europe this season. They have built a squad that can play attractive ball but get gritty when needed. Unfortunately, the field is completely packed ahead of them, making it exceptionally difficult to move up the table. They will be in with a shot for a possible Europa League spot for much of the season, before falling behind as the teams fighting for Top 4 hit their stride.

Player to Watch:

Bojan

It has to be Bojan. Without a doubt, Bojan was a major coup when Stoke signed him initially and since then, they have evolved from the team of tough tackling grocks to a team with a solid defense that has a bit of flair and trickery. Bojan is a massive piece of that and can light up the pitch when he gets going.

 

Sunderland

ROTHERHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jermain Defoe of Sunderland during a Pre-Season Friendly match between Rotherham United and Sunderland at AESSEAL New York Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Rotherham, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

ROTHERHAM, ENGLAND – JULY 23: Jermain Defoe of Sunderland during a Pre-Season Friendly match between Rotherham United and Sunderland at AESSEAL New York Stadium on July 23, 2016 in Rotherham, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Transfers:

Notable Ins:

Papy Djilobodji, Defender, from Chelsea for £8m

Notable Outs:

Steven Fletcher, Forward, to Sheffield Wednesday on a Free Transfer

Probable Starting XI:

Predicted Finish:

18th (Placed as high as 16th and as low as 19th among 32 Flags writers)

This may have just been a season too far for Sunderland. They were able to scrape by last season with Sam Allardyce at the helm, but it’s going to be even tougher this season. While David Moyes is a good manager, the general feeling is that Allardyce got the absolute maximum out of those players. No amount of tactics, training regimes or motivational speeches will turn that team around when they looked utterly defeated and outclassed for most of the season. It will take a lot for Moyes to keep this team in the Premier League next season. A miracle and more signings to reinforce.

Player to Watch:

Jermain Defoe

If Sunderland are to survive the drop out of the Premier League, Defoe will have to be firing on all cylinders. He is the one player in that squad who is a consistent goal threat, a trait that they desperately need. All of the defensive solidarity in the world won’t save them if they don’t win a few games, and if that’s going to happen, Defoe will be at the center of it.

About Jeff Snyder

Jeff Snyder is a professional writer and has been in sports broadcast for almost half a decade. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheJackAnty.

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