SPORTSMAIL’S PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW: Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham and Wolves


The new Premier League season gets underway this Friday evening when Crystal Palace take on Arsenal, with plenty of twists and turns expected once again as the top-flight action edges closer.

Sportsmail is bringing you a comprehensive preview of every side in the division and assessing how their fortunes could fare over the season. 

You can read Part One, Part Two and Part Three.  In part four, we take a look at Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Wolves, who will have various targets at both ends of the table.

Tottenham will be looking to push powerhouses Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race

Tottenham will be looking to push powerhouses Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

Arrivals: Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, £18.45m), Neco Williams (Liverpool, £18m), Orel Mangala (Stuttgart, £11.7m), Moussa Niakhate (Mainz, £9m), Giulian Biancone (Troyes, £9m), Omar Richards (Bayern Munich, £7.65m), Lewis O’Brien (Huddersfield Town, £5.31m), Harry Toffolo (Huddersfield, £5.31m), Brandon Aguilera (LD Alajuelense, £855,000), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United, free transfer), Wayne Hennessy (Crystal Palace, free transfer), Dean Henderson (Manchester United, loan deal).

Departures: Brice Samba (Lens, £4.5m), Tobias Figueiredo (Hull City, free transfer), Nikolas Ioannou (Como, undisclosed), Lewis Grabban (released), Carl Jenkinson (released), Gaetan Bong (released), Jonathan Panzo (Coventry City, loan), Ethan Horvath (Luton Town, loan).

Stuttgart have completed the signing of Orel Mangala from Stuttgart for £12.75million

Stuttgart have completed the signing of Orel Mangala from Stuttgart for £12.75million

Good summer? 

It’s been an extremely busy summer for newly-promoted Forest, bringing in 12 new summer signings worth a combined £85million. 

A huge question remains whether those signings will pan out, but either way it’s been a good summer so far for Forest, who have added some much-needed depth in preparation for life back in the Premier League after 23 years away.

Steve Cooper’s are still targeting more signings and time will tell whether too many recruits could back-fire on them, although looking from the outside in, it feels like they’ve done some shrewd business. 

Success would be? 

Avoiding relegation. Much like any newly-promoted side that is the main goal for the first season, but you do feel with Forest splashing so much money on transfers, that perhaps they may expect to not be in too much trouble at all.

They’ll be looking at how Brentford fared last season as the aim, finishing 13th in your first campaign after promotion is a huge achievement, perhaps even an over achievement.

Steve Cooper likes to play attractive football and had a huge impression after arriving at the City Ground. He could help them pull off a shock. 

Disaster would look like? 

Being relegated. It goes without saying that slipping straight back down to the Championship would be a disaster, especially after forking out so much money on transfers in an attempt to help them succeed. 

The fact that Forest beat West Ham to the signature of Jesse Lingard due to a heftier wage package shows the intent, but also spells financial issues should they head back down. 

Steve Cooper (pictured) done an incredible job to get Forest promoted from the Championship

The man in charge: Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper did an incredible job last season as he arrived with Forest in a relegation scrap in the Championship. 

At the end of the season they just missed out on automatic promotion and gained promotion via the playoffs as they played an attractive, attacking brand of football.  

Forest also reached the FA Cup quarterfinals, knocked out by eventual winners Liverpool after beating Leicester City and Arsenal in earlier rounds. 

Cooper loves to work with young players and has enjoyed plenty of success in the England youth set-up, even winning the under 17 World Cup title in 2017.

He encourages his side’s to play possession football and build play out from the back. 

The key man: Jesse Lingard

If Jesse Lingard can find the form that he provided for West Ham United during his loan spell in the 2020-21 season, he could prove to be the key man for Forest.

The former Manchester United attacking midfielder became integral to the Hammers and showed just how good he can be, after sitting on the sidelines for United.

Lingard, however, returned to United and barely featured last season which could have a negative affect on his performances. 

But if he can perform, you’d imagine he could be vital in helping Forest avoid relegation. 

Sportsmail’s prediction: 15th

Forest will be riding on confidence after promotion and will be underdogs in almost every single match this season. A big summer in the transfer market should prove enough for them to avoid relegation. 

Jesse Lingard (pictured) could be key in helping Nottingham Forest avoid relegation

Jesse Lingard (pictured) could be key in helping Nottingham Forest avoid relegation 

SOUTHAMPTON

Arrivals: Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City, £14m), Sekou Mara (Bordeaux, £13m), Romeo Lavia (Manchester City, £12.3m), Armel Bella-Kotchap (VFL Bochum, £10m), Joe Aribo (Rangers, £7.1m), Mateusz Lis (Altay SK, free transfer).

Departures: Fraser Forster (Tottenham, free transfer), Shane Long (Reading, free transfer), Harry Lewis (Bradford City, free transfer), Will Smallbone (Stoke City, loan), Dan N’Lundulu (Cheltenham Town, loan).

Good summer? 

Southampton have built a more youthful side this summer, clearing out a few older heads, and bringing in potential bright new talents. 

The Manchester City duo Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia are two of the biggest signings, but there is a huge factor of unknown, having only really feature for City’s under 23s last season.

They have brought in Joe Aribo who played a huge part in helping Rangers reach the Europa League final, where they eventually lost to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Saints never splash the cash, so the summer will depend on whether the new signings can adapt to the Premier League. 

Youngsters Romeo Lavia (pictured) and Gavin Bazunu have been signed from Manchester City

Youngsters Romeo Lavia (pictured) and Gavin Bazunu have been signed from Manchester City

Success would be?

An improved mid-table finish would be a success for the Saints after finishing just outside the relegation zone for numerous seasons.

Southampton were almost pulled into an unwanted relegation battle last season after winning just one of their last 13 league fixtures. 

Therefore an improvement on last season would be a success or a mid-table finish rather than flirting with the bottom three once again. 

Despite bringing in some bright young talent, it might be unlikely that a mid-table finish is the case, especially given the transfer business across the league.

Disaster would look like? 

Much like any of the lower-end Premier League clubs, relegation would be an absolute disaster.

Southampton have been back in the top-flight since 2012 and will want that to remain the case after working so hard to claw their way back from down in League One. 

They have too many stars, including James Ward-Prowse, Kyle Walker-Peters, and Tino Livramento for relegation to be an option. Otherwise it could be bad news for the club.

Ralph Hasenhuttl (pictured) is the third long-serving manager in the Premier League

The man in charge: Ralph Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl is the third long-serving manager in the Premier League, but seems to have flirted with relegation on many occasions during his time on the south coast.

The Austrian can’t afford a slow start this season, as he needs to impress Saints’ new owners as they have ambitious plans to rebuild the squad with talented youngsters.

They have been an inconsistent side under Hasenhuttl since his arrival back in 2018, one week they can be world beaters, while another they could suffer a huge defeat.

Finding consistency will be key and it seems the boss is determined to do exactly by even changing his high pressing style and formation during pre-season. 

The key man: James Ward-Prowse

The England international will be pivotal for Southampton after signing a new long-term contract. 

The 26-year-old has already made 323 first-team appearances for Southampton, becoming only the 28th player in club history to surpass 300, while he has also contributed 33 goals, 14 of which came across the past two campaigns.

His set-piece ability and the fact he has become a top midfielder in the division, means a lot of the Saints success will depend on Ward-Prowse’s form this campaign.

Sportsmail’s prediction: 16th

The Saints should avoid any real danger of being relegated, but we are predicting they may flirt with the bottom three once again this season.

James Ward-Prowse (pictured) will be key for Southampton in midfield once again this season

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Arrivals: Richarlison (Everton, £52m), Yves Bissouma (Brighton, £26m), Djed Spence (Middlesbrough, £13m), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan, free transfer), Fraser Forster (Southampton, free transfer), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona, loan).

Departures: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax, £28m), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic, £6m), Jack Clarke (Sunderland, undisclosed), Joe Rodon (Rennes, loan).

Good summer?

Antonio Conte has been able to stamp his own mark on the Spurs squad, which bodes well given his track record of winning silverware and turning teams fortunes around.

The new additions have all bolsters areas important to the Italian in midfield and at wing-back as well as another option in attack.

Tottenham have even managed to shift a few unwanted players with more expected to pushed out of the exit door before the transfer window slams shut. 

Tottenham have backed Antonio Conte this summer with big signings including Richarlison

Tottenham have backed Antonio Conte this summer with big signings including Richarlison

Success would be?

Success to Spurs would be silverware, but that’s more likely to come in a cup competition, not the Premier League.

Manchester City and Liverpool are expected to be powerhouses once again, meaning it will be Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United battling it out for third and fourth.

Antonio Conte’s side finished fourth last term, so success would be an improvement on that by finishing third or above, with the expectation to give both the front-runners a good run for their money this season. 

Disaster would look like?

Missing out on the top four and falling back out of the Champions League, despite backing a proven winner in Conte in the transfer market.

Spurs tend to not to spend big and the fact they’ve trusted the former Chelsea boss to spend this summer, would mean missing out of European’s elite competition would be pricey.

The north London club want to edge closer to title success and add some silverware, therefore anything other than a top four finish and potential a trophy is a disaster, and could led to Conte walking away from the project.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte (pictured) is relentless and a proven winner wherever he goes

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte (pictured) is relentless and a proven winner wherever he goes

The man in charge: Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte is relentless and a proven winner. He has even won the Premier League previously with Chelsea and will be looking to do the exact same at Spurs.

Much like his previous title winning seasons, the theme of Italian’s summer recruitment drive has been to target players with aggression and desire as well as proven quality and a winning mentality that fit into his tactics.

He has freshened up the squad that he managed to finish the season so strongly with and they’re seen as a step above the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United as it stands under Conte.

The former Inter Milan has put his players through a grueling pre-season with star players Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane even throwing up after a session in South Korea, as he bids to make his team extremely fit to play with aggression and energy.

The key man: Harry Kane

Harry Kane started last season slowly, but after Conte’s arrival became the free-scoring striker we all know, and more importantly expect.

A full season under the Italian could get the best out of Kane, especially given they’re back in the Champions League, and the 2022 Qatar World Cup is coming up will be a huge one for Kane.

The England captain thrives under a challenge and therefore you would expect him to have a big season and be integral to Spurs success.

If Kane can hit top form alongside Son Heung-Min and the further depth Conte has added this summer, it could be a good season. 

Sportsmail’s prediction: 3rd

Spurs could provide the main competition and threat to powerhouses Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League title race this campaign. 

WEST HAM UNITED

Arrivals: Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo, £30m), Nayef Aguerd (Rennes, £28m), Flynn Downes (Swansea, £9.5m), Alphonse Areola (PSG, £7.75m).

Departures: Andriy Yarmolenko (Al-Ain, free transfer), Ryan Fredericks (Bournemouth, free transfer), Arthur Masuaku (Besiktas, loan), Mark Noble (retired), David Martin (released).

Good summer?

West Ham have finally brought in another striker to help Michail Antonio, so that is a huge summer after achieving so much in the last two seasons with just one senior striker.

Gianluca Scamacca, Nayef Aguerd, Flynn Downes and the permanent addition of Alphonse Areola has bolstered the squad depth while out of favour players such as Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks, and Arthur Masuaku have been allowed to leave to free up wages.

I’d call that a reasonable summer with four new additions replacing the five exiting players including club legend Mark Noble who has retired.

West Ham have brought in a striker to help Michail Antonio in the form of Gianluca Scamacca

West Ham have brought in a striker to help Michail Antonio in the form of Gianluca Scamacca

What would success be?

After reaching the Europa League semi-finals last season, where they lost to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt, success will be getting back into that competition.

Upsetting the big six to get back into that competition will be the goal, but realistically everyone knows that will be an incredibly tough task.

Remaining in the mix for those positions right until the final stretch of the season would be a big achievement in itself, especially given their resources compared to a number of the teams in the Premier League. 

Disaster would look like?

It would be simply a disaster to see West Ham fall off the pace and become a mid-table or lower half team once again.

Moyes and his squad have worked so hard in the last two seasons to change that imagine and make them a hard team to get points off.

The fear remains the same as the last two seasons, the lack of depth in the squad, meaning they could tail off towards the end of the season to miss out on their goals or fall down the league table.

David Moyes has guided West Ham to consecutive top eight finishes in the Premier League

David Moyes has guided West Ham to consecutive top eight finishes in the Premier League

The man in charge: David Moyes

The Scotsman has been a breathe of fresh air in his second stint at West Ham. He helped them avoid relegation when he joined in December, 2019. 

Since then Moyes has guided the Hammers to consecutive top eight finishes (sixth and seventh) in his two full seasons in charge and we should expect another strong campaign ahead.

Experiencing a Europa League run will bode well for the players at the club and should be well-equipped to manage both the Premier League and Europa Conference League.

Off the pitch, one of Moyes biggest accomplishments has been transforming the club’s recruitment policy and appeal to potential new signings.

The key man: Declan Rice

An obvious choice, captain Declan Rice is the heartbeat in the Hammers side, and has been influential in West Ham’s recent success. 

The England international is an almost ever-present and has helped them qualify for European competitions in the past two seasons.

He is consistent, so perhaps a dull choice as there success will more likely depend on new signings, and the continued progression of other key figures.

But if you took Rice out of this team, you would see them fall down the league table, hence why he is the key man. 

Sportsmail’s prediction: 8th

West Ham have been mixing with the league’s big boys in the last two seasons and are expected to remain among them, but perhaps drop down one place with big-money Newcastle United joining the pack.

Declan Rice is the heartbeat of the Hammers and has been influential in West Ham's success

Declan Rice is the heartbeat of the Hammers and has been influential in West Ham’s success

WOLVES

Arrivals: Nathan Collins (Burnley, £20.5m), Hee-chan Hwang (RB Leipzig, £15m).

Departures: Ruben Vinagre (Sporting Lisbon, £9m), Romain Saiss (Besiktas, free transfer), Marcal (Botafogo, free transfer), John Ruddy (Birmingham, free transfer), Renat Dadashov (Grasshoppers, undisclosed), Fabio Silva (Anderlecht, loan), Ki-Jana Hoever (PSV, loan), Louie Moulden (Solihull Moors, loan).

Good summer?

The summer is far from done or at least Wolves fans will hope that’s the case, as they desperately need to add some depth to the current squad, especially in midfield and up front. 

Raul Jimenez is injured heading into the season leaving them with a real lack of options in attack and perhaps a makeshift front line to begin the campaign being their best option.

The club openly revealed they will not be rushed into signing a striker and will be patient to ensure they find one that fits their system. 

Raul Jimenez is injured heading into the season leaving them with a real lack of options up top

Raul Jimenez is injured heading into the season leaving them with a real lack of options up top

What would success be? 

A top 10 finish would be considered a success for Wolves this season. After starting off so brightly when they returned to the Premier League by qualifying for the Europa League and being a solid top-half of the table side.

The past few seasons haven’t been so successful with less shrewd transfer business and a slight free fall into a bottom half team.

They’ll be hoping they can once again climb back into the top half and improve on last season, where they finished so poorly.

Of course, they’ll be dreaming of causing an upset by once again competing for a place in Europe, but it seems unlikely unless they bring in reinforcements. 

Disaster would look like?

Being unexpectedly pulled into a relegation battle or even having the fear of looking over their shoulders.

The squad is thin, therefore injuries stacking up could make that a reality or a lack of goals once again could also see that happen.

They should, however, have too much quality in the squad with the likes of Ruben Neves, Pedro Neto and Joao Moutinho as well as their impressive defensive record. 

The man in charge: Bruno Lage

Bruno Lage came to Wolves, replacing compatriot Nuno Espirito Santo, and has done a solid job in England.

In his first season in charge at Molineux, the Portuguese took his side back into the top half. 

Meanwhile, they boasted one of the best defensive records in the division, conceding the fewest goals out of everyone outside the top four.

But there was a price to pay for this defensive solidity. They scored only 38 goals – a tally bettered by everyone except Burnley, Watford, and Norwich City. All three were relegated. 

They will need to find a better balance this season, if they are to continue to be successful. 

Winger Pedro Neto (pictured) will be key for Wolves if he can get back to his best this season

Winger Pedro Neto (pictured) will be key for Wolves if he can get back to his best this season

The key man: Pedro Neto

It could have easily been Ruben Neves or even Rayan Ait-Nouri for his impressive pre-season form, but Pedro Neto will be key, if he can get back to his best.

The Portuguese winger has got a full pre-season under his belt after missing out last time round due to a knee injury.

The 22-year-old returned a week earlier than most of the squad and it seems to have paid off with him notching three goals in four friendly matches.

Neto is expected to form part of an attacking unit with compatriot Daniel Podence and Morgan Gibbs-White – both of whom have also impressed in pre-season at least to start the new campaign.

Sportsmail’s prediction: 13th

Wolves will miss out on a top half finish this season with the competition in the top-flight being so fierce.

Other teams in and around them have gone much bigger in the transfer market, which could prove costly for Wolves. 



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