Premier League Newcomers
Norwich City held off the challenge of Sheffield United to claim a shock title win. Few would have tipped them to be on top of the table at the end of May, but they achieved it thanks largely to the 29 league goals of Teemu Pukki.
The Blades were the runners up, having only been promoted from League One two seasons before. They battled with Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, but even the Argentinian couldn’t spy a way past Chris Wilder’s side.
Aston Villa came up through the play-offs, putting together a late run and beat Frank Lampard’s Derby County in the Wembley final.
Champions: Norwich City
Stadium: Carrow Road
Location: Norwich, Norfolk
Best way to get there/transport links: Carrow Road is within walking distance of Norwich Railway Station; it’s no more than a 10-minute stroll. If travelling by car, the ground is well signposted from the A11 and A47.
There is ample car parking at Norfolk County Hall, which is well signposted on the left of the A146. Be advised; if you want to get out in good time, make sure you’re in before 1pm!
Things to do in Norwich: Norwich Cathedral, Norwich Castle, City of Norwich Aviation Museum
Manager: Daniel Farke
Star players: Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons, Emiliano Buendia
Kits: Yellow and Green
Norwich City’s promotion to the Premier League was a surprise to many, including their own supporters. Former Borussia Dortmund reserve coach Daniel Farke got them playing some wonderful football on their way to the title.
The goals of Finnish star Teemu Pukki will be vital in ensuring they stay in the Premier League. He hit 29 in their title winning season and will be joined in attack this season by new signing Josip Drmic from Borussia Mönchengladbach.
In the stands, celebrity chef Delia Smith will be hoping they can cook up some success; she’s not only their most famous fan but also the owner of the club. She famously took to the field in 2005 to gee up the crowd, slurring the immortal words ‘Let’s be having you’ at the home supporters.
Runners Up: Sheffield United
Stadium: Bramall Lane
Location: Sheffield, Yorkshire
Best way to get there/transport links: The ground is approximately a mile walk from Sheffield Railway Station, or ten minutes from Granville Road Tram Stop.
There is no car parking at the ground, but plenty of off-street matchday parking available on roads such as Eyre Street, Furnival Gate, Matilda Way and Sidney Street.
Things to do in Sheffield: Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Sheffield Winter Gardens, Crucible Theatre.
Manager: Chris Wilder
Star players: Billy Sharp, Lys Mousset, Oliver Norwood
Kits: Red and White stripes
Sheffield United made their way into the Premier League with a team spirit that ensured they were far stronger than the sum of their parts. Players like David McGoldrick looked to be at the end of their careers but proved to be wise acquisitions.
Led by evergreen homegrown hero Billy Sharp, as much a part of Sheffield as steel and The Full Monty, the Blades will be hoping that Chris Wilder’s golden touch in the transfer market pays off once more. Their big summer signing is forward Lys Mousset, a club record signing from Premier League side Bournemouth.
They play with three central defenders at the back and will be dogged and hard to break down, much like the characters normally played by one of their famous fans, Sean Bean. Given Wilder’s transfer policy of late, it’s a surprise he hasn’t tried to sign Bean up.
Play off winners: Aston Villa
Stadium: Villa Park
Location: Aston, Birmingham
Best way to get there/transport links: There are two train stations close to Villa Park. Aston Station is approximately 15mins on foot, whilst Witton Station is only five minutes away.
There is limited car parking on matchday around the ground, it’s permitted only on matchday. The A38M does run right past the ground, but the club advises that ‘the further you park away from the ground, the easier your return journey will be’.
Things to do in Birmingham: Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, The Bull Ring, National Motorcycle Museum.
Manager: Dean Smith
Star players: Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Wesley
Kits: Claret and blue
Aston Villa are perhaps the biggest name to emerge from the Championship last season. They’ve been a staple of the Premier League since it began in 1992 but struggled to get back after relegation in 2016.
They relied heavily on the goals of Chelsea loan star Tammy Abraham, one positive to come out of Steve Bruce’s ill-fated reign.
Dean Smith has recruited plenty of new faces though. Brazilian striker Wesley has cost the Villans £22m, with Tyrone Mings joining from Bournemouth for £20m after he stamped his authority on Villa’s side during a loan spell last season.
They’ll be hoping to remain in the Premier League after sneaking into the play-offs in the Championship last season. The club will also have a few famous fans that will be urging them on too. Prince William is an Aston Villa fan, as are former Prime Minister David Cameron and Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England.
Promoted clubs are often amongst the favourites for the drop and despite Villa’s spending, Sheffield United’s spirit and Norwich’s Pukki, all three are tipped to be around the bottom six. However, each season at least one of the sides that come up do seem to surprise everyone, so the race is on for one of these three to escape the drop zone and prove their worth as a top-flight side.
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