West Ham among three clubs that can crash top-six party

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Liverpool returned to prominence, Manchester United were no longer top-six staples while Everton and Southampton tried to nab themselves a Champions League spot, with differing results.

If this coming Premier League season is to be remembered as fondly as the last, then another open campaign is needed.

Luckily there are a few clubs making off-season moves that have us eyeing up their top-six odds. Here’s our lowdown on the three most likely gate-crashers:

West Ham – 28/1 for a top-six finish

West Ham didn’t exactly set the world alight last season, losing eight of their final 11 top-flight games to finish 13th.

But with a sturdy defence to build on (they conceded just 10 more goals than Arsenal) and a new directive to excite, they have the armoury to push on to bigger things this season.

Should World Cup star, Enner Valencia, pass his medical, Sam Allardyce will have the perfect “little and large” strike force to make the Hammers more potent, with the Colombian partnering Andy Carroll.

Stoke – 14/1

Another side shedding their spiky exterior, although doing so under less duress, is Mark Hughes’ Potters.

The Welshman delivered the club’s first top-half finish in the Premier League last season and has refined his squad by bringing in more experienced pros like Steve Sidwell and Phil Bardsley, both of whom impressed for their former employers in 2013/14.

Crystal Palace – 33/1

Transfer unveilings haven’t been a regular occurrence at Selhurst Park so far this summer, but with a miracle worker as a manager, the top six isn’t all that implausible.

The Eagles lost just 10 of the 26 league games Tony Pulis was in charge of last season, as opposed to nine of the first 12 outings they had before he arrived.

With a full season to operate in, the former Stoke manager can certainly propel Palace into the top half with his defensive mastery, if not into Europe.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.