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/r/Championship's Championship club by club season preview - part 1!

Part 2 here - Part 3 here - Part 4 here

On Friday at 8pm UK time, Reading and Derby County will kick off the 127th season of the English second division - also known as the Championship! 24 clubs will compete for 3 promotion spots to the Premier league (2 via automatic promotion and 1 via playoffs) and to avoid the 3 relegation spots to the third tier a.k.a League One.

Its looking like a really tight and competitive season. The league is absolutely full of ambitious player and managerial talent - the more time goes by the more it looks like a Premier League 2. If you want a competitive league with proper English football, that also has the spice of skilful players and forward thinking managers, it really is the place to go.

This is guide written by the fans who have come together on /Championship - an absolutely huge thanks to them. Do check out the sub, we try to keep it a good place to discuss the EFL, away from the rancid gloryhunting shithole that is /soccer (just kidding - I like this place). Lots going on, including a score predictor thread which is running all season.

This guide is in table order with the PL demoted sides first. Only 5 clubs today (because the Swansea one is a fucking novel and I can't fit any more in), the rest will be submitted tomorrow and Friday. Do bare in mind that not all the transfer news will be up to date as these guides were largely written a week ago. Point out to me if there are any clear errors with formatting or spelling.

Championship info, links and media

/Championship's 17/18 player of the season review

Season previews: The Guardian | Sky Sports | The Mirror
EFL focused podcasts: Not the Top 20 | The Totally Football League Show
The 17/18 table - Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham went up. Barnsley, Burton and Sunderland went down. This season West Brom, Swansea and Stoke join from the PL and Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham join from League 1.
These are the bookies' favourites for promotion (via Oddschecker):
Club Odds
Stoke 2.75
Middlesbrough 4
West Brom 4
Nottingham Forest 4.5
Leeds 4.75
Swansea 5
And relegation:
Club Odds
Rotherham 2.2
Bolton 2.25
Ipswich 4.5
Reading 5
QPR 6
Hull 6
How to watch in the UK: Live rights are owned by Sky Sports. They are upping the number of televised matches this season. Reading v Derby on Friday is televised. The weekly highlights show previously on Channel 5 is moving to Quest TV, which apparently is on Freeview.
How to watch abroad: Depends, but in most territories, the iFollow Service is available, which is £110 to watch all a single club's matches. Bargain. I think the clubs that aren't on iFollow have their own similar streaming services.
Check out club Youtube channels - quite a few of them post extended highlights now with their own commentary, including Derby, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford and more. (You may need VPN to watch if you're abroad.)

Swansea City by RafiakaMacakaDirk and my_knob_is_gr8

Location: Swansea, Wales
Nickname: Swans, The Jacks
Major honours: Football League Cup (2013), Championship Play-off Winner (2011), League One Winners (1925, 1949, 2008)
17/18 finishing postion: 18th (Premier League)
Transfermarkt squad value: €115.5 mil NOTE: This number is as of July 22nd, when we still have Mawson (€15 mil), A. Ayew (€15 mil), Bony (€10 mil), Clucas (€8 mil) and Fernandez (€8 mil), who are all pretty much expected to be sold, or loaned out, before the season starts. Without all of these players except Bony (who's injured for a while so it makes it unlikely he'll be sold soon), the squad value would be around €70 mil.
Manager: Graham Potter joined the Swans on 11th June 2018. In 2010, he became head coach of Östersund, who were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. 5 years later, he got the club promoted into the Swedish top flight and in 2017, they won Svenska Cupen which qualified them for the Europa League where they managed to get through the group stage. He’s been applauded for what he did at Östersund and the way he managed to build the club up from nothing. The year after his success in the Europa league he signed a 3 year contract with Swansea.
Potter is well respected by The Swans and after a few years of poor managerial and financial decisions his appointment is seen as a step in the right direction to bringing us back to our old ways of being a well-run club. Potter has been recognised for his "progressive" and "unconventional" coaching methods. At Östersund, he encouraged his players and staff to engage in community activities, such as performing in theatre and music productions which was designed to take them out of their comfort zone. Potter describes his style of football on the pitch as "tactically flexible, attacking, and possession-based". At Östersund, he deployed a flexible 3–5–2 formation centred on ball possession.
Best player(s)/ talisman:With many of our best players being rumoured with a move away what good players that remain at the start of the season is yet to be seen.
Alfie Mawson is probably our standout player. He’s been amazing for us since we got him and was a bargain at about £3m. He’s great in the air and is just an all round tank. Keeping him will be a huge boost for us and should be solid in the championship.
Federico "El Pajaro" Fernandez has also been strong at the back with Alfie. The pair played with each other for the majority of last season and together became a solid unit. We will most likely sell him to reduce wages though.
Jordan Ayew put in a great shift last season and was our top goal scorer. His work rate was immense and was able to drop back and defend when needed. He’s fast, able to beat a man and a decent finisher. Sadly all these players are transfer targets for other clubs and might not even be here at the start of the season. If we can keep a lot of our players we should have a decent season but who knows who'll be left by the end of the window…
Rising star: Swansea’s U23 had a great season last year and with Potter wanting a young and fresh squad, a handful have moved up into the first team.
Our standout youngster, Oliver McBurnie, joined Barnsley on loan in January last season where he went on to win a Championship player of the month award after 6 goals in 8 games and went on to win Barnsley’s Player of the year award. While only 22, he’s struggled to break into our first team but will most likely be our main striker for the coming season. Be on the lookout for his long legs, miniature shinpads and ridiculous sock length! LEGS LEGS LEGS!!!
Connor Roberts performed well at RB last season and adapted quickly to the premier league where he battled Kyle Naughton to be in the starting line up and did great when given the chance. Decent at going forward and professional at the back. Hopefully potter puts him ahead of Naughton.
What happened last season?: What Happened last season?: After our great escape the season before and with Paul Clement at the helm there was optimism that the 17/18 season could be our turning point where we start rebuilding 'The Swansea Way". How wrong we were.
After a disastrous transfer window where we sold Sigurdsson and never replaced him and started panic buying the week before the transfer window closed we were left an obvious hole in our team. We had no creativity in midfield and no one could kick the ball into the box to save their life. And just to rub it in further Renato Sanches turned out to be more disappointing than Bob Bradley. With the team sitting bottom of the table Clement was sacked in late December.
Then along came the wise talking Carlos Carvalhal who managed to rebuild the confidence the team had lost. Our results took a turn for the good, beating Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham consecutively at home. He pulled us out of the relegation zone and things were looking good. However, the good times were quickly followed by the bad times. Our form turned and we didn’t win a single one of our last 9 matches. We were quickly relegated after pitifully losing to both Southampton and Stoke in our last 2 games of the season.
Highlights (Or lowlights):
The pass by Renato Sanches that summed up his and our season
Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal
Summer transfer business (so far): At the end of last season, it was clear we needed several transfers, both in and out. However, this would all depend on the manager we got.
Yan Dhanda (Free, Liverpool): A 19 year-old Midfielder, Yan Dhanda left Liverpool this summer and joined the Swans in a free, before we even hired Graham Potter. At one time one of the most promosing youngsters in Liverpool's Academy, injuries slowed down his progress, and ultimately made him fall behind other players. Citing lack of first-team playing time, Dhanda decided to join us this summer in hopes of getting regular playing time in the senior squad. Through 3 pre-season games, Dhanda has been one of the brighest and most impressive players in the squad, even scoring a game-winning goal and smashing a penalty in a shootout against Genoa. With our current injuries and shenanigans involved in our midfield, Dhanda has a good chance of becoming a starter and hopefully guide our midfield during the season.
Jordi Govea (Free, Real Madrid): Another 19 year-old from Ecuador, Jordi was the first signing under Potter. Not much can be said about the lad, but this is what Real Madrid had as his bio:
Jordi is an Ecuadorian defender who possess three key qualities for a player in his position: he's skilful, is able to go past a player and has a good shot on him. He's left footed and is able to send in good crosses on the run.
With Martin Olsson currently as our starting LB, and Kyle Naughton as the backup, the hope is that Jordi can develop on our U-23 squad and hopefully move up to the senior squad in coming years. Also the only man I've seen do a medical while wearing jeans (https://twitter.com/SwansOfficial/status/1015251916132057089)
Joel Asoro (€2 mil., Sunderland): Yet another 19 year-old, a Swedish winger who has represented his country in the younger levels, he was Potter's first senior signing. With world-class speed, and some impressive skills, Asoro was able to score 3 goals and get 2 assists last season in 26 apperances for Sunderland. While these numbers may seem a bit disappointing, many of these games were sub appearances on a very dysfunctional team. Along with Dhanda, Asoro has been one of the most impressive players during preseason, constantly beating his man with either speed or skills, and whipping in good balls to Legs. At the current rate, Asoro appears to have a good chance of starting on the right wing spot, with Nathan Dyer and Luciano Narsingh backing him up.
Predicted starting XI: NOTE: This is gonna be assuming Mawson, A. Ayew, Clucas, and Fernandez are all sold by the start of the season. If by some reason they end up staying, they are pretty much guaranteed to start. Based on the pre-season games so far, a lineup looking like this would be plausible, with Rodon most likely to be replaced by a CB (possibly Scott McKenna) when we buy one. Our second unit is looking something like this.
Best case scenario: Graham Potter is able to motivate and make sure our senior players (Fer, Carroll, etc.) stay fit, along with our youngsters being able to make an impact as expected, and also we retain Mawson, Fernandez, and Clucas, we can finish in the top 2 and get promoted automatically.
Worst case scenario: Our worst case scenario, and something many of us fear of happening, consists of primarily 3 things. 1. Graham Potter isn't given enough time to build an identity with our squad and is sacked by the midway point of the season by the greedy, dumb American owners. . 2. We end up not replacing the players we sold properly like last summer, therefore having a squad with holes everywhere and no chemistry. 3. Our youngsters such as Asoro, McBurnie, Dhanda and company don't pan out and progress at all, thefore becoming mediocre players. This would all culminate in us looking like Sunderland, and making relegation a probability.
Prediction: Realistically I see us selling Mawson and company in the last days before the season starts and not replacing them properly until later on. Because of this, as well as our current injuries with Fer and Clucas, I can see us initially struggling to build an identity but over time, we will start playing like Potter wants us and finishing the season strongly.
8th place, missing the play-offs by 4 points
What will happen to your closest rivals?: The scum that is known as Cardiff City will break the record for lowest points ever accumulated in a Premier League season, getting 5 points all from draws, and will therefore get relegated with 17 games to spare.

West Bromwich Albion by Joelwba

Location: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, West Midlands
Nickname: The Baggies, The Throstles
Major honours: 1x League title, 1x League Cup, 5x FA Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 20th in Premier League (relegated)
Transfermarkt squad value: £101.16m
Manager: Darren Moore or Big Dave as he's known to Albion fans. A club icon as a player in the early 2000s, he returned to look after our U23 squad before being promoted to assistant manager by Alan Pardew in January. Following the end of Pardew's horrific reign, Moore took temporary charge with Albion facing inevitable relegation. He led us to wins over Newcastle, Spurs, Man Utd and a draw with Liverpool, somehow taking our futile battle for survival to the final week of the season. Following this he earned the head coach role permanently. Moore is loved among the Albion faithful, largely due to his reputation as a player here. He heavily favours a 4-4-2 formation and at the back end of last season, tended to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how his approach differs in a league where we are one of the favourites, not fighting to survive (hopefully)
Best player(s)/ talisman: It's an interesting situation for Albion currently. There are plenty of Premier League quality players still in the squad. A lot depends on if they are picked off before the deadline shuts. Chris Brunt is a club stalwart and likely to be reappointed as captain. He is adored by the fans and in my opinion will be an incredible asset in the championship. His set pieces alone will bring 10+ goals to the side. Kieran Gibbs is a high quality player who appears to be set to stay and should make a big difference. Jay Rodriguez, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli should all make a big difference in this division IF they stay. In all honesty I expect to lose a few of the above. Sam Johnstone appears to be an astute signing to replace the outgoing Ben Foster.
Rising star: Sam Field he's one of our own! He looked completely at home against some of the top Premier League sides last campaign. A box-to-box midfielder, he's full of energy and looks so comfortable on the ball. I expect him to be a major part of our side this season, having just signed a new long-term deal.
Kyle Edwards is an exciting attacking midfielder who has been impressing in pre-season. He may have a part to play following a loan spell at Exeter last campaign.
Jonathon Leko looked like a potential world-beater when he first came through a couple of years back. A lightning quick winger full of tricks. A loan spell at Bristol City and limited appearances later he seems to be losing his way. Will be an interesting one to watch.
Finally, the enigma that is Olly Burke. After signing with us last summer for £15m, he failed to impress any of the four managers we had over the season. He looks exciting when he comes on, without any end product so far, and was unfairly blamed for a loss at West Ham by Alan 'Coward' Pardew. We all know the talent he's got. Hopefully we can see it this season.
What happened last season?: Let's not talk about it... We finally escaped the stranglehold of Tony Pulis, only to opt for the human joke that is Alan Pardew and duly hurtled towards relegation. Four of our players stole a taxi and then played (and lost) the following weekend.
Pardew was sacked about 3 months too late, and Moore took over, restoring pride with some notable wins over Man Utd and Spurs.
This season we also lost the great Cyrille Regis, and the outpouring of emotion and the coming together of the club during the weeks after his passing was something special.
Summer transfer business (so far): We started by releasing Claudio Yacob, Boaz Myhill and Gareth McAuley. Yacob and McAuley will be greatly missed but it is perhaps the right time for them to go.
Jonny Evans departed for Leicester for a cut-price £3m, Ben Foster left for Watford and James McClean has departed for Stoke City.
Sam Johnstone has been bought in to replace Foster, with Jonathon Bond arriving as backup. Kyle Bartley has joined from Swansea City and it appears that Harvey Barnes will soon be arriving on loan from Leicester.
Finally, James Morrison is currently out of contract but still with the club. His future is uncertain.
I am very happy with Johnstone and Bartley. It has been a quiet window for Albion so far but that is largely a good thing. The squad is packed with Premier League talent and the window is more about keeping hold of them.
There is major interest in Dawson and Rondon, along with interest in Rodriguez, Hegazi and Chadli. If any of the above go, then we would need to replace. Otherwise I would be happy with another striker and another CB.
It is also worth mentioning that every player in the Albion side suffered a 50% wage cut upon relegation which means that we are financially sound despite relegation, but may lead to more big names leaving.
Predicted starting XI: This is my best attempt. It will undoubtedly be 4-4-2. We may see Nyom in at right back and perhaps Barry in for Field.
Obviously about half of this side could leave, so we shall see.
Best case scenario: The bulk of the side remains and the quality in the side shines through as we breeze to automatic promotion.
Worst case scenario: The better players leave or do not put the effort in. Moore cannot transfer his great start into his first full season in management. We become embroiled in a relegation battle
Prediction: It will be somewhere in the middle. I'd like to think we'll go up automatically but I think play-offs are more likely. 6th
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Villa won't go down but will settle into mid-table, despite the recent takeover.
I think Wolves will do well in the PL, although I don't know how long Nuno will last before a big club comes in.

Stoke City by mrmariomaster

Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Nickname: The Potters
Stadium: bet365 Stadium, 30,089 seats
Major honours: 1972 League Cup
17/18 finishing position: 19th, Premier League
Squad value: £127.8 million
Manager: Gary Rowett signed from Derby in May. His honest attitude has brought lots of optimism to fans, who are looking forward to an overhaul of the Club. His style of play seems to change based on the squad he has available.
Best Player: Joe Allen was vital to the Club last season, giving us hope that we would avoid relegation. His massive new contract signed this summer shows how loyal and committed to the Club he is, and will be a vital player this season.
Rising star: Tom Edwards is a local lad who has won the Under 18 Player of the Year award twice in the Club. In the latter parts of last season he played some good first team football.
What happened last season: A pathetic attempt at a season that had been coming for a while under Mark Hughes. Paul Lambert was appointed in January, but a win rate of just 2 in 15 matches wasn’t enough for him to keep his job and miss out on the million pound bonus offered to him.
Transfer business so far: So far this has been a decent transfer window. Peter Etebo had an amazing World Cup for Nigeria and Benik Afobe looks really promising. Adam Federici has also been appointed to replace Lee Grant. Xherdan Shaqiri has left along with a few players like Stephen Ireland and Glen Johnson who will not be missed. Badou Ndiaye also looks to be on his way out, but it looks like Jack Butland will stay with us, which is massive. Perhaps most surprising are the new contracts signed by our 2 best players last season, Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer.
Predicted Line up: Here is our predicted squad. I’m not sure what formation we will have. EDIT: This is a new version, complete with our rumoured new signings and in the right formation.
Best case scenario: Stoke will finish top with an all-time Championship points record.
Worst case scenario: A mediocre start to the season will see Rowett sacked and Stoke with a disappointing mid-table finish.
Prediction: I think with our squad and our new manager, we will finish 1st.
What will happen to our closest rivals? Port Vale will be relegated to the Vanarama National League.

Aston Villa by trueschoolalumni

Location: Villa Park, Trinity Rd, Birmingham B6 6HE
Nickname: The Villans, The Villa, Prince William's Club, David "Twat" Cameron's Second Club.
Major honours: 7 First Division wins, 7 FA Cups, 5 League Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intertoto Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 4th
Transfermarkt squad value: £67.77m and dropping fast
Manager: Steve Bruce (for now). Former Man Utd playing legend who's been a fixture of English football for decades. He joined Villa in 2016 after successful runs at Hull, Sunderland (yes they were good once) and Birmingham City. A bit of a promotion specialist, he's taken Championship clubs up to the Premier League 4 times in the past and just missed out last season, losing 1-0 to Fulham in the Playoff Final. Tactically, he's fairly old school who prefers 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1, usually involving a big man up top. Fun fact: while managing Huddersfield in 1999 he wrote three novels, "Striker!", "Sweeper!" and "Defender!", which focus on main character Steve Barnes, a football manager. Barnes solves crime and takes on terrorists, and the books have become prized rarities. The Guardian's Football Weekly podcast managed to get a copy and read out some of the copy - suitably awful.
Best player(s)/ talisman: There's only one Jack Grealish. A Villa boy through and through, he's been with the club since 2001 (aged 6), and made his way into the first team in the 2013-14 season. He's been the centre of controversy a few times, most notably getting on the beers and passing out on a Tenerife street. Playing as a number 10, his quick feet and dribbling skills provide a number of goals and assists, as well as fouls. He probably went down a bit too easily when first in the Premier League, but time in the gym has noticeably toughened him up and he's a much more solid player as a result. One of the better players in the Championship, and due to Villa's abject finances, a transfer target for the likes of Leicester.
Rising star: Keinan Davis could possibly be it, potentially Andre Green and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy as well.
What happened last season?: Have you ever walked into a casino, spotted the roulette table and popped £10,000 on red? It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off. You've doubled your money if you win, but look like a right git if you lose. Villa figured this was a good way to approach 2017-18: spend millions on players, get in lots of loans, gamble everything on achieving promotion. After a so-so start, Bruce got the team playing well, stringing together a number of wins and moving through the playoff spots. Unfortunately they ran into a few teams playing out of their skin - champions Wolves ran away with the league and boasted a squad that included several Champions League players. Neil Warnock's Cardiff couldn't stop winning and grabbed the second automatic promotion. In the playoff final Villa came up against a Ryan Sessegnon-led Fulham and were just pipped at the post 1-0.
Summer transfer business (so far): It's one-way traffic, due to absolutely abysmal finances. Loan spells for Lewis Grabban, Robert Snodgrass, Josh Onomah and Sam Johnstone have all ended, which is almost the spine of the team (Johnstone in particular - he was arguably the best keeper in the Championship and personally bagged a number of wins). Plus clubs are circling to pick off whatever assets we have left (eg. Jack Grealish, James Chester). With no prospect of anyone new coming in, it looks like the youth academy will be getting a lot more game time.
Predicted starting XI: Possibly this, but half these players could be gone before the first match.
Best case scenario: Mid-table anonymity would have to be best case - Villa are a mess and could go down this time around.
Worst case scenario: Our finances are the real issue - they are dire. Villa need to find £9 million this month to avoid going into administration. Owner "Dr." Tony Xia is a billionaire, apparently, but tax bills went unpaid and the question remains if he's able to support the club as generously as he has in the past. Administration, points deductions and potentially relegation to League One are all real possibilities right now. It's not looking good.
Prediction: Due to financial irregularities in the 23 clubs above us, Villa will get into the Champions League and take out the likes of Atletico, Bayern and Real Madrid on the way to our second European Cup. "Taylor, Green, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball played in for Jack Grealish. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Keinan Davis!"
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Unfortunately the Scum managed to avoid League One in the final rounds of the season. Here's hoping they go one better. Agbonlahor to re-sign for one game: the Derby. And score the winner, again.

Middlesbrough by OneSmallHuman

Location: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Founded: 1876
Nickname: The Boro (Or just Boro)
Major honours: The League cup 2003-2004 season
17/18 finishing position: 5th
Transfermarkt squad value: 79.34m
Manager: Tony Pulis became manager of us in late December 2017, replacing the sacked Garry Monk after a pretty lacklustre few months of the campaign (despite where our league position was). Pulis is known in England for being the man that is never relegated when in charge of someone in the top flight. We are all aware of Tony Pulis' style of football. You start by having a strong and massive defence and maximise your use of set pieces to gain an advantage. Pulis is a lover of all set piece plays, whether that is crossing the ball in from a corner or free kick, or launching a ball into the box from a throw in, they're all in his arsenal of weapons. 'Pulisball' as it is pretty much known. Pulis has achieved promotion from the championship once before with Stoke, and I hope he achieves it again with us this season
Best player(s)/ rising star: I mean, where else do I begin. Adama Traore. Arguably the best player in the championship on his day and is one of the most frightening dribblers in English football, maybe even world football. The winger is known for his speed and dribbling ability although is usually criticised for his lack of end product. Before last season I would've agreed, however 5 goals and 10 assists, with all but 2 assists coming before Pulis' arrival show the progression of the Spanish winger.
As for other members of the squad, Ben Gibson, the prodigal son. Boro through and through he's progressed into a commanding centre half with the ability to play out from the back thanks to Karanka. He gained attention and emerged as one of the few given credit after our disappointing premier league campaign but was only the subject of one bid upon our relegation, from now manager Tony Pulis. It remains to be seen whether he'll be here come the first game of the season, but I hope he will be.
As for future stars, Dael Fry, already has played 2 championship campaigns for us and looks as assured as a veteran of the game. Another centre half produced by our academy and he is being played in cdm this pre-season by Pulis, to add to his versatility. Hopefully a standout season for him, especially if Gibson does end up leaving. Finally, yes, he does always look as confused as images of him show.
What happened last season?: Well, the first half of the season was tragic under Monk. We played really poor football at times and looked like we hadn't defended a day in our lives. There was also no consistency in the team, we'd win one game then lose the next. A key theme under both managers however, was our inability to beat those around us in the table. After Pulis' appointment the results picked up and it ended with us finishing 5th in the table. We ultimately lost in the playoff semi finals to Aston Villa but honestly, we didn't think we'd even be in the top half around Christmas.
Summer transfer business (so far): Just the three deals to talk about so far. We've acquired Paddy McNair from Sunderland who looks like a decent player. He's been utilised in right back and midfield during pre-season so it looks like they'll be his positions for the season. I imagine he'll play alongside Clayts and Howson in a midfield three.
Aden Flint was signed from Bristol City and I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't like how much we paid for him. Obviously the man is a Pulis player but I'm a bit unsure about his defensive ability. That being said he's looked strong during pre-season and I'm sure Pulis will get the best out of him. Fabio departed our club for Nantes so we'll need more full back cover.
As for the rest of the window, I expect Gibson to leave but will be delighted if he doesn't. One of our strikers will also leave and Braithwaite should follow after his decent World Cup performances. We'll probably bring in a striker and a winger and hopefully hold onto Adama. That'd be a successful window in my eyes.
Predicted starting XI: My best guess The only other guess I could make is that Gibson might leave and then Ayala would start, but he's injured at this point in time. Britt might play over Gestede too if Pulis is feeling fancy.
Best case scenario: It has to be top of the pile right? It's not out of the question to imagine us up there and if everything clicks then we've got a chance. A defence that scores more than some teams' strikers, Adama channelling his inner Messi and finding consistency, Rudy/Britt/Bamford scoring for fun. It could be carnage.
Worst case scenario: I can't see us finishing outside the playoffs, if we did then that would be gut-wrenching. But if we did then that would most certainly be the worst. Realistically, it'd be losing in the playoffs... again, and if it were in the final again then god help me. Although saying this, now losing Bamford and maybe Traore will be a worst case scenario in itself, definitely if they're not replaced.
Prediction: Have to be confident, although it always kills me. 1st or 2nd. Tony Pulis and his nice white trainers carry us to the promise land. That being said, we never do it the easy way.
Best Match of Last Season Sorry Leeds fans, but it had to be. "Hattrick Bamford" as our Twitter account tweeted, 3-0 against Leeds with Adama running the show. Leeds clearly found some positive from the game as they're set to sign him off us. This was the sign of what we should've done more last season. Showed what Paddy could've been too if given an even more extended period in Striker by himself. Oh well.
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Who even are our closest rivals in this league? We're in geographical purgatory. Can't say Sunderland anymore so what? Leeds? Bielsa either turns them into the well oiled machine they hope for or he succumbs to the old Leeds ways and is sacked by December. As for the Mackems, probably promoted from League 1.
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Squad Profiles 2016-17 - Leicester City [8/20]

Hi /soccer,
As we get closer to the season, I've decided to post squad profiles for each team in the Premier League. I've had a good response to the request for contributors from /LCFC for this post, so if you're interested in writing a paragraph about your favourite player or a young player who people might not know much about, let me know a few days before your team comes up or look in your team’s subreddit as I’ve posted in each one asking for contributors. Thanks to all who read and commented on the previous posts, I got some great feedback, there were some good discussions in the comments, and I wasn't met with hateful abuse which was nice! A link to all posts in the series will be at the bottom of this post. All photos are courtesy of the club website unless otherwise credited.
Apologies (again) for how long this one took. I’ve had some internet issues and only been able to get on on my phone, and then my laptop crashed and I lost the entire thing, hence why it’s kind of half-arsed which I also apologise for. Leicester are probably the most boring champions ever, re-writing this from scratch on Friday evening and this morning is the closest I’ve come to just giving up. But I’m hoping to get them back to being fairly regular now because I have a lot of help for the next few and should be able to get them out quickly and be back in the rhythm.

GOALKEEPERS

#12 Ben Hamer - After spending time out on loan last year and with Ron-Robert Zieler joining the club this summer, Hamer doesn’t seem likely to feature in the club’s first team plans much this year. He will probably go out on loan, unless a Championship team with keeper problems comes in with a decent bid in which case Leicester may consider selling.

#1 Kasper Schmeichel - Who would’ve thought that a keeper who originally found himself at Leicester because of a habit to follow Sven-Goran Eriksson around would go on to play a crucial role in winning them the Premier League title? Schmeichel kept 15 clean sheets last season, tied for second in the league with David de Gea and Joe Hart. This season he will have more competition for his place with Ron-Robert Zieler coming in, but he will still be the favourite.

#21 Ron-Robert Zieler - Leicester getting Zieler from Hannover for under 3m while teams like Everton are frantically scrambling for a keeper is fantastic business. The German could’ve easily commanded a £7-8m price tag, maybe even a bit more to a desperate team, and Leicester have paid pennies for him. I’m a big fan of the former Manchester United youth product, he has an air of calm about him when he plays, yet still is a commanding presence in goal and will definitely have Schmeichel on his toes this season.

DEFENDERS

#3 Ben Chilwell - Despite Arsenal and Liverpool knocking at the door, Ben Chilwell committed his future to Leicester this summer, repaying the faith the club have showed in him. Despite just three senior appearances to his name, Leicester put a price of £10m on the 19 year old’s head this summer, and Chilwell looks to be getting a bigger role in the team this year. With all the potential to be a top Premier League left back, Chilwell just has to put in the performances on the pitch to back up the club’s valuation.

-- Richie De Laet - Last season Richie De Laet became the first player to win Premier League winners medal and a Championship promotion medal in the same season, having played for Middlesbrough on loan for the second half of the season. This season, however, De Laet’s future is uncertain. With new signing Luis Hernandez taking De Laet’s number 2 shirt, De Laet was not given a number when the shirt numbers were announced last week. This could suggest that the Belgian right back is on his way out, although right back is the position with the least depth and the weakest starter for the club.

#28 Christian Fuchs - A free transfer from Schalke last summer, Fuchs took over the left back spot from Jeffrey Schlupp and will be the presumed starter this season. An incredible crosser of the ball, Fuchs assisted four goals last season including this crucial winner against Spurs, a corner that Fuchs made look effortless as he picked out a completely unmarked Robert Huth perfectly, and this gorgeous ball to Jamie Vardy against United.

#2 Luis Hernandez (by Daz93) - Hernandez looks very composed on the ball and reads the game very well. I wouldn't be surprised to see him carry on in place of Huth after Hull, since Huth will be suspended for that game.

#6 Robert Huth - HUUUUUUUUUUUUTH. Robert Huth, as well as being a big fucker and an incredible centre back, is goddamn hilarious. Let’s just get that clear first. Dude was suspended by the FA for playing “cock or no cock” on twitter, a game where people are asked if they think a picture is of a transsexual or not, and the rest of his feed is an absolute goldmine. Anyway, Huth signed for Leicester on loan from Stoke one game into the aforementioned tranny ban, and missed his first Leicester game due to it. He soon made his debut and was a big part of the miraculous push for survival at the end of the season, including the lone goal he scored that season in a 3-2 win at West Brom. His arrival really helped Wes Morgan and the two have built a strong partnership at the back.

#5 Wes Morgan - The Leicester captain. He seemed to struggle a bit in the first half of Leicester’s first season back in the top flight, but last season he was excellent. A powerful centre back who is as good in the air as he is at tackling on the ground and muscling opponents off the ball. Morgan and Huth will be a force to be reckoned with again this year, especially if Mendy can help by going some way to replacing Kante’s defensive contributions.

#15 Jeffrey Schlupp - Striker turned left mid turned left back, Jeffrey Schlupp is an incredibly versatile option for Leicester. With Fuchs at LB and Ahmed Musa and Demarai Gray both likely to be preferred at LM, Schlupp will probably be used primarily from the bench this season, providing an option who can come on to help out defensively and hit quickly on the counter. He is a powerful runner with impressive speed, and always causes problems to the opposing defence when running at them.

#17 Danny Simpson - Right back is Leicester’s weakest position, however Danny Simpson has played well enough under Ranieri to convince the manager not to look for a new RB in the transfer window so he is likely to be the mainstay at right back again this season.

MIDFIELDERS

#11 Marc Albrighton - Albrighton played on the left side of Leicester’s four man midfield last season, linking up very well with Christian Fuchs and providing defensive cover when Fuchs played on the overlap to put crosses in. Despite playing every game last season, Albrighton will probably see less of the field this season with Ahmed Musa, Demarai Gray and Bartosz Kapustka all available as wing options and Riyad Mahrez likely playing most weeks.

#13 Daniel Amartey - Ghanian midfielder Amartey joined Leicester in January and made just five appearances last season, four of them from the bench. His only start came at right back in a 1-0 win over Norwich. He will be competing for time with Matty James and Andy King as Mendy and Drinkwater look set to see the bulk of the starting time.

#4 Danny Drinkwater (by Daz93) - I think Drinky has a lot to show this season after the disappointment of being left out of the England squad for the Euros. He's looked immense in pre season, very fit and very sharp. We'll of course be missing Kante a lot, so I'm hoping he can fill his role more and help Mendy adapt to the league.

#22 Demarai Gray - Signed when Leicester activated the release clause of just £3.7m in his contract at Birmingham, Gray made 12 appearances last season for Leicester, all but one of them from the bench. A very talented wide midfielder, he will be pushing for more appearances this season and will likely be the first option on the left when Ahmed Musa is deployed up front.

#8 Matty James - OK so story time: I kinda know Matty James. He went to my high school’s rival school and I played football with him a few times. I know his brother Reece (who currently plays for Wigan) better, and he destroyed me (and basically everyone) at cross country a lot of times. There’s no point to this story really, it’s just cool to think that I’ve played football with a premier league winner (albeit one who didn’t play a single game because of an injury). Anyway, for obvious reasons I’m a big fan of Matty James. He missed last season with a cruciate ligament injury, but will be back in the Leicester side this season, competing for rotation time with Andy King and Daniel Amartey. He started 20 games in 2014-15 prior to his long-term injury.

#14 Bartosz Kapustka - A new signing this summer, the young Polish winger joins Leicester from Cracovia following a very strong season in the Ekstraklasa where he scored four times and set up nine goals, followed by an impressive showing at the Euros. Capable of playing on either wing and as an attacking midfielder or a centre mid if needed, Kapustka will be a vital utility player this season.

#10 Andy King - The first player in the Premier League era to win the top 3 divisions of English football with the same team (#FACTS), Andy King made 25 appearances last season, 16 of them from the bench, scoring twice. He will be the third choice CM again this season, ready to fill in if Drinkwater or Mendy get injured or need a rest. The Welshman is a good backup, but isn’t really good enough to be starting for a Premier League team.

#26 Riyad Mahrez (by abxdsays) - One of the most talented and enjoyable players to watch, even if he makes a simple pass or squirms his way out of a tight spot, he's just pure entertainment from kick-off. Obviously his close-control is often talked about, but his ability to pick a pass or find the right angle to curl one in is second-to-none. However his qualities are known to the world and defenders will close him down and limit his space.

#24 Nampalys Mendy - Signed for £13m this summer with the daunting task of replacing the giant Kante-sized hole in Leicester’s midfield, Mendy seems like an ideal choice. Comparisons to Claude Makelele (the best pure DM in Premier League history) are apt, Mendy is a consistent player who is a talented passer of the ball as well as a solid tackler. It will be very interesting to see how quickly he forms a partnership with Drinkwater and whether he can adapt to the PL style quickly and help Leicester to perform in the league and in Europe.

STRIKERS

#7 Ahmed Musa (by Daz93) - Musa's pace is frightening and I'm sure he's every bit as quick as Vards. It was interesting to see them play together in the Community Shield but I'm more interested to see some varied formations with him playing more on the wing, where I think he will thrive.

#20 Shinji Okazaki (by abxdsays) - To me Shinji is the ultimate defensive forward, his contributions are widely overlooked and his hold up play is quite decent. He has an incredible knack of either winning headers or fouls, it's seemingly always one or the other. He is virtually a 5th Midfielder in our system, you could argue he vacates the spot of a false 9, but in our case we still have Vardy as the most offensive player. It's quite a different system to many other clubs and arguably one of the reasons we did so well. When you see Musa and Vardy together, you'll notice the gap between Midfield and the Strikeforce.

#23 Leonardo Ulloa - Poor Leo Ulloa. While the rest of the Leicester team were fighting relegation two seasons ago, Ulloa was lighting it up and was the sole bright spot in the mess that was Leicester. Then Leicester bring in Okazaki and Vardy stops fucking about and starts playing well, and Ulloa is kicked to the curb. OK so that may be an exaggeration, because Ulloa made 29 appearances (mostly from the bench) last season, and scored six goals including a late winner against Norwich.

#9 Jamie Vardy - A brief note before we begin: I don’t like Jamie Vardy. (Please don’t all brigade to the comments with abuse, this is my opinion and is basically going to be an entirely biased rant. I’m going to say a lot of very nice things about him afterward. Maybe skip this paragraph if you’re a Vardy fanboy.) He’s a colossal shithead, and looks like the kind of person who turns up to a club in a tracksuit, spills his drink on you and then demands you buy him another one, or else his mates will “fuckin bottle you mate.” I find it interesting, as a Liverpool fan, that people are so quick to vilify Suarez for the biting incidents (quite rightly, they were disgusting) and the racial term used toward Evra, yet are tripping over themselves to verbally fellate Vardy despite the fact he has an assault conviction and was caught on camera LAST SUMMER shouting a racial slur in a casino. In my mind, the fact everyone says “Suarez is a great player, but he’s a chompy racist” should also apply that “but” to Vardy, but no, he’s just The People’s Striker. People talk about Vardy playing while wearing an ankle tag like it’s some badge of honour that helps his underdog story. It fucking isn’t. Cristiano Ronaldo could play in an ankle tag; he’d just have to be stupid enough to beat the shit out of someone outside a pub. On top of all that, he got sent off for swearing at a ref last season. Chat shit, get banned you dick. How fucking dense do you have to be to get sent off for that? I’ve watched Wayne Rooney call a ref a cunt right to his face and only get a warning, come on Vards.
Anyway, now that I’ve vented about Vardy the person, I’m going to write a completely fair and unbiased review of Vardy the player: he is a damn good striker. I use Suarez as a comparison up there, and it’s surprisingly apt for his playing style too. They have a lot of the same strengths. Finishing? Here’s Vardy, and here’s Suarez. Ability on the ball? VardySuarez. Getting in behind defenders quicker than they can react? Vardy,, and Suarez. The ability to create something magical from nothing? Jamie Fucking Vardy. Luis Fucking Suarez. One more highlight for each because I’m enjoying this? Vardy with his first touch for England, Suarez with a great header (with bonus Aly Cissokho making the greatest cross of his life completely by accident). The only difference really is Vardy’s acceleration vs Suarez’s free kicks It’s part of what makes him such a popular figure in spite of the personal issues he’s had – he’s a joy to watch and it’s difficult to dislike him when you’re watching the things he can do on the pitch. Hell I’m as anti-Vardy as they come, and watching these highlights I find myself starting to like him, although I’m sure at least one person in the comments will insult me for daring to dislike him, or post "DAE chat shit get banged hur dur" and I’ll go back to the dark side. Vardy got his first England call-up this year, and made the Euros squad. He was one of the few decent performers this summer, and despite my dislike for him, I’m excited to see him hopefully contribute some more big moments for the Three Lions in the future. A couple of half decent seasons and he’ll have a shout for the World Cup squad, and I’d take him. He’s a kind of player England have struggled for, a little menace with a nose for goals. Jamie Vardy is, in my opinion, the best pure finisher in the league. You put the ball at his feet ten yards from goal, and he’ll score 99% of the time. He may not be as complete a striker as Aguero, or as strong as Kane or Rooney, or as dynamic as Sturridge if he ever manages to avoid injury long enough play 100% again, but he’s damn quick, he’s good on the counter and he puts the ball in the net. I may not like him, and I would be very surprised if he ever has a season as good as 2015-16 again, but he’s damn talented and he’ll be drawing the attention of a lot of defenders this year.

STRONGEST ELEVEN

This was tough. This is how I expect them to line up the majority of the time, which is why I’ve gone with it, but I really struggled with it. Demarai Gray is the biggest sticking point for me, he’s an incredibly talented young player and I’m a huge fan but I couldn’t drop Mahrez and Leicester spent so much on Musa (and with good reason), it’s hard to leave him out too. I also think Ulloa is too good to be on the bench but not good enough to crack the lineup. It hurts to leave Inler out too, but he’s just not shown enough yet in a Leicester shirt and Drinkwater and Mendy are in by default at this point. Similarly Ben Chilwell is supremely talented, but the spot is still Fuchs’ to lose. Leicester’s biggest strength in my opinion is the fact that they have two players at almost every position who could realistically break into the team with a bit of good form.
Aaaaand they just lost to Hull. Fucking great start Leicester.

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ARSENALBOURNEMOUTHBURNLEYCHELSEA CRYSTAL PALACEEVERTONHULL CITYLEICESTER CITY ● LIVERPOOL ● MANCHESTER CITY ● MANCHESTER UNITED ● MIDDLESBROUGH ● SOUTHAMPTON ● STOKE ● SUNDERLAND ● SWANSEA ● TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR ● WATFORD ● WEST BROM ● WEST HAM
Thank you to the people from /LCFC who contributed. If you want to contribute to your team's post, either look in your team's subreddit for the post or message me in the few days leading up to it. I have now posted in every team’s sub asking for contributors.

Any comments, questions, rebuttals etc please comment, one of the reasons for doing this series was to promote discussion as I frequently see comments complaining that there isn't enough discussion. Even if you just want to tell me my strongest eleven is shit (it's probably wrong) drop a comment!

Tomorrow’s Team: Liverpool
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