Foxes to prey on newly promoted Baggies
After a two-year absence West Bromwich Albion return to the Premier League under Slaven Bilic with a tricky introduction at the Hawthorns against 2019/20 fifth placed finishers Leicester City. Despite that position looking impressive and the fact they would have bitten your hand off for it at the start of the campaign, the Foxes fell off a cliff after Christmas where they were still in with a strong chance of finishing second, to be pipped to Champions League football by Manchester United on the final day was painful. Jamie Vardy did everything he could to drag his side onto Europe’s biggest stage but even though he claimed the golden boot they could not hang on.
The Foxes are going to have to dust themselves down, take Europa League football and get back to what they do best. It is a relatively young squad, such that may not have experienced such disappointment before, so Brendan Rodgers has a job on his hands to revitalise them. There are a lot of fresh faces returning from loan spells that may prove to be that little alteration in the dynamic the squad needs to refocus. With memories of their 9-0 win at Southampton in 2019 as inspiration, Leicester can push for the top four once again this term.
It is hard to argue that West Bromwich Albion are any stronger on the pitch than the side that limped towards automatic promotion after the Championship 2019/20 season resumed. They were so poor in the final exchanges of the campaign that Slaven Bilic admitted he was preparing for the playoffs and if Brentford did not get a little giddy towards the finish line, we may not be speaking about the Baggies in this preview. There are my favourites to be relegated.
Although injury woes hampered his development last term, the acquisition of Grady Diangana from West Ham United for just over £12million is a good bit of business. Coupled with Matheus Pereira on the opposite wing they will cause teams problems, however Charlie Austin as the main man through the centre does not inspire any battle against the drop. Nothing more worrying than their leaky backline that although is boosted by the addition of Cedric Kipre from Wigan Athletic, severely lacks Premier League experience.
Leicester’s key departures have been academy graduate Ben Chilwell going to Chelsea for over £45million and losing Ryan Bennett back to Wolverhampton Wanderers who provided excellent defensive cover at the back end of 2019/20. Belgium international Timothy Castagne has joined up with the squad for £21.6million from Atalanta to cover the full back berth on potentially both sides.
The returning players for loans as mentioned above are as follows: Islam Slimani, Adrien Silva, Rachid Ghezzal, Fousseni Diabate and Filip Benkovic. Benkovic will slot in as backup where Bennett did and Silva, Ghezzal and Slimani provide experience from Ligue 1 and Serie A last term. It remains to be seen whether Ghezzal and Silva have what it takes to make an impact on the Premier League.
Premier League experience will shine through in this affair, it will be a tough start to the season for the Baggies.