Strength: Gylfi Sigurdsson will be a huge loss, but Spanish midfielder Roque Mesa is an interesting signing and, in Fernando Llorente, Alfie Mawson, Martin Olsson and Ki Sung-yueng, Swansea have retained some of their most important parts. The club have also added support in a few areas: Tammy Abraham bears enough comparison with Llorente to be considered a genuine back-up, which is an important development.
Perhaps, though, Paul Clement is their real strength. He certainly blended some necessary pragmatism into the club’s ideals upon arrival and, while retaining most of its aesthetics, the native style wasn’t quite as naive under his watch. Clement can be capable of mishaps - the game of many, many crosses against Middlesbrough last season being one - so his reign is cause for cautious rather than conclusive optimism.
Paul Clement got a lot right at Swansea in the second half of last season
Weakness: Jordi Amat has left on loan and Federico Fernandez didn’t have a good season last year. Swansea needed to upgrade at centre-back and their failure to do that is a little baffling. Similarly, while Kyle Naughton played his part in the survival effort, there are better full-backs around.
Only Hull (80) conceded more goals than Swansea (70) in the Premier League last season, so the defence is still a major concern.
Strength: The first XI. If football was solely an 11-player sport, Tottenham would be considered among the title favourites. They’re talented, settled and have quality in every area. The Jan Vertonghen/Toby Alderweireld pairing is the best centre-back combination in the country, Mous(s)a Dembele and Victor Wanyama comprise probably the most balanced deep-lying midfield pairing, while Harry Kane is obviously an elite forward.
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld: a dynamic duo
Weakness: The obvious: Tottenham have done nothing in the transfer window. The reasonable elements within their fanbase concede that the first team doesn’t require much investment (and that improving upon it under the current wage structure would be extremely difficult). However, the failure - or reluctance - to add any sort of depth will likely prove a serious error of judgement.
Strength: The new midfield, formed (at least in part) from Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes, should be very productive. Those two players in particular will complement each other nicely and, because of their shared technical ability, should improve under Marco Silva. Pre-season predictions are always idealised and so - yes - Chalobah and Hughes could encounter growing pains at a new level, but for now both look like smart additions.
Watford's Hughes (left) and Chalobah in their England U21 days
Weakness: Still the transience. Watford exist season-to-season and in both of their last two Premier League campaigns, have effectively signed off when they’ve assumed themselves safe. Silva was presumably given some assurances over the stability of his job, so maybe he’ll be able to cure the culture a bit.
He’ll need to. Nobody seems to have noticed, but Watford finished 17th last season and were very fortunate that Sunderland, Middlesbrough and pre-Silva Hull were so hopeless.
Strength: Laugh away, but it’s Tony Pulis’s style of football. He may attract negative assumptions by the dozen, but how many other managers could take such an ordinary group of footballers - because, sorry, but that’s what West Brom are - and guarantee them Premier League safety? It’s not exciting, it’s not something which fires supporters’ enthusiasm, but it is impressive.
Tony Pulis: no crowd-pleaser, but knows what he's doing
Add Jay Rodriguez to the ‘strength’ column, too: a cultured footballer who’s good in the air and will prove to be exactly the sort of attacking part that Pulis knows what to do with. A very good signing.
Weakness: The post-40-point blues. It’s the standing joke: as soon as a Pulis teams feels safe, their level of application falls through the floor. Last season, they didn’t win a single game between the middle of March and the end of May. That has to go, because as long as that mentality remains, the club are toughening their own glass ceiling.
Strength: A growing maturity, seemingly. The difference in West Ham from a year ago is dramatic: there has been no shouting on social media, no look-at-us transfer culture and, a few errant tweets aside, very little negative PR. In its place has risen a calm, strategic approach to the transfer market which has systematically allowed the curing of long-standing weaknesses.
A new goalscorer, a much better goalkeeper, plus two strong Premier League performers in Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta. For once, West Ham’s strength has been their recruitment.
Marko Arnautovic should prove a fine summer signing
Weakness: It’s an unfair point, because clubs can’t be expected to tackle every issue they have inside a single window, but the lack of depth is still a concern. An injury to Cheikh Kouyate would cause significant issues in midfield, for instance, as would the absence of Winston Reid in defence.
There’s a month of window left, so maybe West Ham are still pursuing players, but the peril of having a thin squad is an annual problem in the East End and staff shortages could well undermine another season if they’re unlucky.
Read more at https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/every-premier-league-clubs-biggest-strength-and-weakness-201718?page=0%2C3#bTZWXpD18GRhQZi4.99