Once not so long ago it would have seemed odd to list Tottenham first in a piece like this. However, there’s fairly broad consensus that the Spurs are the best of the bunch at least heading into the season. Fresh off its Champions League runner-up campaign, Tottenham will enter EPL play with some believing they could win the league, and others expecting steady, top-four-caliber play at the very least. The club’s offensive core remains intact, and will be supported by the 22-year-old Tanguy Ndombélé, who makes the midfield significantly more formidable. Kieran Trippier’s departure could weaken the defence, but there aren’t major concerns there given the club’s prospective firepower and Hugo Lloris’s presence between the posts.
For the most part, the expectation among analysts and football pundits seems to be that Chelsea will be the next best among London teams, and could challenge Tottenham for the unofficial title of best in town. Eden Hazard’s transfer to Real Madrid will certainly hurt the Blues, but the effective swap for Mateo Kovacic kept Hazard’s departure from being an all-out disaster. Meanwhile it’s worth keeping in mind that Stamford Bridge will see a virtual legion of players returning from loan, some of whom should make an impact. There will be plenty of options on the defence, and up-and-coming American Christian Pulisic should provide a spark to the attack, and further mitigate the loss of Hazard. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from this club with a fair amount of change underway, but the ceiling is high.
Arsenal may be even more difficult to project than Chelsea, and indeed there’s no clear consensus regarding the Gunners. Depending on which of the UK’s betting outlets you look at, you might see them with odds suggesting a possible top-three finish, or odds suggesting they could drop out of the top six. Without citing specific odds though, the logical expectation is perhaps right in the middle of those extremes. That essentially means that we’d expect Arsenal to be capable of hanging with Tottenham and Chelsea and challenging for third or fourth in the league – but the likelihood of their finishing that high may be slightly less than that of Tottenham or Chelsea doing so. We will note that the attacking duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette has been augmented by £91-milliion man Nicolas Pépé, and William Saliba could finally stabilise the Gunners’ back line. But most still seem to be in a believe-it-when-they-see-it mode regarding the action at The Emirates.
West Ham finished 10th last season, and most expect them to more or less replicate that result in the coming season. From a pure talent standpoint the addition of Sébastien Haller should represent an upgrade over striker Marko Arnautovic, but it still represents a big change for the club. Pablo Fornals, newly added from Villarreal, could also give the offense a jolt, and if Declan Rice continues his rise to prominence from last season, the defence will be in reasonable shape. So all in all, it’s possible we could see some improvement – but climbing more than a spot or two from 10th is not particularly likely.
Of all the London teams, Crystal Palace is perhaps the only one that appears more than likely to take a step back. After a 12th-place finish, the club lost its top defensive talent in Aaron Wan-Bissaka and added little to speak of – and is also poised to lose Wilfred Zaha. Most don’t seem to expect Crystal Palace to drop into the relegation zone, and indeed that would represent a sharp decline. However, a finish in the 13th-15th range is probably a fair expectation.