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Assessing the New Premier League Arrivals in 2019-20

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One of the coolest things I ever heard Jerry Springer say (yes, you read that correctly) is that while most TV shows glorify power and success, his TV projects were always meant to illuminate another, less-glamorous side of America and showcase everyday people.

That was a great concept – too bad it didn’t last long. Springer’s shows have become synonymous with scripted arguments and fights, and with security guards who either have no idea what they’re doing or who are in on the act, because they sure don’t run interference very well.

Maybe in 5 or 10 years the sports blog will be like a modern-day Jerry Springer Show, making up fake quotes from Bill Belichick and other coaches that sound suspiciously like WWE wrestling promos. “You thought you were the MAN, Sean McVay, but then you had to WALK THAT AISLE against the 6 time – 6 TIME! – world’s champion. WoooOOOOoooo. Now you’re just ANOTHER GUY waiting for a chance. Not the man with the Golden Playbook, I mean, Golden Spoon!”

But for now, I’m feeling Jerry’s original plan. It’s time to turn away from the glamor in sports and give the little guys a break.

You are probably familiar with how the Premier League season ended this year – or at least we all think we’re vibing how things turned out. Manchester City, deserving champions. Liverpool, runners-up whose Champions League run was resurrected on a magic day at Anfield. Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and United winning crucial matches to cause a logjam around the top 4, with Spurs somehow finishing ahead of Gunners despite being without Harry Kane for the stretch run.

Ahh, but the Premiership has another side. Remember there’s a promotion and relegation system in English football. The league’s roster of clubs changes from year to year, an exciting element of handicapping which is missing from state-side sports…except in expansion days.

Here’s a peek at the 3 new 2019-20 arrivals, at least 2 of whom are no strangers to the modern Premier League.

Norwich City

The Canaries are the 2018-19 Championship winners, having lost only 6 matches throughout the course of a triumphant season. Norwich City was a successful Premiership bid in the 1990s but has bounced up and down the relegation “bubble” since then, and last played in the top flight in 2013-14.

Manager Daniel Farke has received widespread acclaim for reviving the squad’s attack. Farke strives for his teams to be in possession for the majority of each fixture. Players work the ball around with crisp, accurate short passes. Farke’s teams normally attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation but will retreat into a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 depending the opponent’s style.

There are talented cogs at each position. Teemu Pukki is a 29-year-old Finnish striker who could become a legitimate threat in the Premiership after taking home the PFA Championship Player of the Year award. He led the Championship division with 29 goals during the 2018-19 season. Pukki has also scored 15 goals in 72 appearances for the Finland National Team.

Keeper Tim Krul knows his way around a Premier League box. The former member of Newcastle United was one of the top GKs in the Championship this season, posting 13 clean sheets. His back line is patrolled by a youngin’ but a good’un in Max Aarons, a sensation who won the English Championship level’s Young Player of the Season award.

Although Aarons is normally positioned at right-back, he can make the switch to left-back if needed. Some of those “short, crisp” transition passes from Norwich City backs go to Emiliano Buendía, an attacking midfielder from Argentina who produced a Championship-best 22 assists in ’18-’19.

Not only a remarkable distributor, the 22-year old has shown the ability to put the ball in the back of the net with 8 goals during the squad’s stellar season. The versatile youngster’s knack for playing as a winger or a traditional midfielder has been an integral part of the Canary attack, confusing defenders who aren’t used to the club’s level of speed and talent…especially when the stars are moving around.

The club will meet some other fast and talented teams now, starting on Matchday 1. Bovada Sportsbook has cast the newcomers as a (+100000) wager to win the Premier League crown in 2020.

Aston Villa

It’s good for English soccer that the “Villains” are back in the thick of things at the top level. The club is simply too woven into too many enclaves of football support in the Kingdom for any eras outside the Premier League to count as justice.

Legend has it that an English rock star was once asked, “What has been your favorite moment since you joined the band?” “When Aston Villa won the League Cup,” he replied with a straight face.

New ownership (and nearly an EFL tournament win in 2018) has helped to propel the club back to Premiership grounds. Manager Dean Smith has helped a little bit too…not to be confused with March Madness legend “Dean Smith.”

Smith led the Villains to a stunning turnaround in his maiden season leading the squad. Under his leadership, the team jumped from 14th to 5th on the Championship table, beating Derby County 2-1 in a playoff to win promotion for 2019-20.

The attacking freedom the skipper has lent his midfield has produced a higher possession-% mark and more scoring chances and goals. Midfielder John McGinn was a rock for the squad all season, notching 6 goals and 9 assists prior to scoring the winner to vanquish the Rams. McGinn has captained the U-19 and U-21 Scottish national teams and has made 14 appearances for the Scotland senior team.

Center-back James Chester joined the team in 2016 and didn’t get a whole lot of help in the box until recently. With a better supporting cast, Chester has thrived, even through injuries.

But the striker position is likely to be unsettled headed into a crucial campaign. Tammy Abraham scored an amazing 26 goals for Aston Villa this season, but he was on loan from Chelsea. Unless the promoted club’s front office steps up to the plate with a big-time offer, we can expect Smith to be re-tooling the nose of his lineup headed into autumn as the aristocrats of the EPL vie for Abraham’s services.

The Villains are also a (+100000) bet at Bovada.

Sheffield United

Much like Norwich City, the Blades were successful in the Premiership back when the league was founded in the 1990s, but has experienced a “dark” era since then, falling all the way back to League One for a time.

Big Oil money has been pumped into the club since then, and you know what that means – conspicuous uniform logos and winning matches. With the current keeper in place, it could be difficult for even the biggest clubs in the EPL to tally goals on Big Sheffield.

Dean Henderson is the man, on-loan from Manchester United in 2018-19 but currently negotiating a deal to return to Sheffield United for a top-level run. Henderson was a brick wall this season, leading the English Championship with 21 clean sheets. Henderson has been on the international stage for England on many occasions as a member of the U-16, U-17, U-20, and U-21 squads.

The backline is formidable. Jack O’Connell is an up-and-comer who has seen his club advance from League One to Premier League. The central defender was capped on the English U-18 and U-19 team and captained the U-19 team. Fierce Irish defender John Egan joined the Blades this season after spending 2 successful seasons with Brentford.

Meanwhile, club captain Billy Sharp powers the attack. The 33-year-old English striker scored 23 goals during the season in his 3rd stint with the team, giving him more than 100 in a Blades uniform.

Sheffield United skipper Chris Wilder had a “wild” start to his tenure, taking criticism for a 4-4-2 formation. Soon the 51-year-old coach adapted a 5-3-2 formation which has appeared to spark the team’s success.

It’s one of those decisions that works out great, but you wonder if someone upstairs had anything to do with it.

The unorthodox system utilizes back-liners in a high-paced attack. Center-backs possess the ball as the wings push high up the field. While it leaves the squad open to counter-attack when something goes wrong, Henderson is usually there to shut the door.

As with the other 2 new arrivals, the Vegas and London odds on Sheffield United prevailing in 2019-20 are grim…in fact even grimmer at 2500-to-1.

London Odds on the Clubs’ Chances to Stay Up in 2020

There aren’t a lot of prop betting odds popping up on American betting sites for the next Premier League season yet. Even though a wager on Norwich City to finish out of the cellar and stay on the top level for another year is really a “future” and will go in a sportsbook’s “futures” category, it’s also a “proposition” that takes extra time to handicap.

Thank goodness for those impatient London bookies. Judging from the consensus opening lines from across the pond for the 2019-20 Premier League season, we can see that Aston Villa is likely to be a favorite to remain – the Villains’ “prop-future” to avoid relegation is currently 4-to-5 in London.

Norwich City is garnering a UK line of 8-to-11, meaning that the club will be an even stronger favorite to finish out of the bottom 3.

As you might expect from the futures, Sheffield United (which is a (+250000) wager to win the Premiership title) is going to be the underdog bet-to-remain of the 3 teams, probably landing a preseason American line of something like (+150) or (+175).

That should make the less-heralded of the trio a decent bet at that price.

As always, strikers and colorful managers get the headlines…but goalkeeping and backline play will continue to win matches.