Premier League preview week: No. 16 Swansea City and No. 15 Stoke City

Swansea City needs to hope Gylfi Sigurdsson continues to produces set-piece magic at an incredible rate. (Getty)

Welcome to FC Yahoo’s Premier League preview week. We’ll take a look at each team in our aggregated predicted table, counting down from No. 20 to No. 1, and also reflect on some issues surrounding the league as kickoff approaches on Friday. Follow along with everything here.

16. SWANSEA CITY

Last season – Years of offloading talent began to catch up up to Swansea, which flirted with relegation all season and cycled through three managers before Paul Clement engineered a 17th-place finish, punctuated by a five-game unbeaten run to close the season. That included a crucial 2-0 victory over Sunderland in a relegation six-pointer, and Fernando Llorente scored nine of his 15 goals over the second half.

Key transfer notes – A League Two defender and a relatively unknown Spanish midfielder in his late 20s aren’t the kind of signings to get Swansea’s rivals quaking in their Adizeros. But in ex-Coventry City man, Cian Harries, Swansea has a young defensive prospect who’s been touted as a Premier League quality talent. Roque Mesa Quevada meanwhile, joins from Las Palmas, where the 28-year-old established a reputation as one of La Liga’s finest passers.

FC Yahoo take

Alex Baker: Swansea City spent most of last season fighting relegation. Clement, who took over after ex-USMNT boss Bob Bradley was sacked, saved the club from the drop and although star playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson looks set to join Everton, the Swans still have a balanced squad and a proven top-class striker in Llorente. Could this be the season Swansea kicks on and fights for a finish in the top half of the table? It may depend on how the club invests the money it would get for Sigurdsson.

Henry Bushnell: Sigurdsson created or scored a preposterous 13 goals off set pieces (including penalties) alone last season, an irreproducible (and irreplaceable) dead-ball masterclass that kept Swansea in the Premier league. Related: Sigurdsson might not be a Swansea player much longer. If such a move materializes, the Swans would be left with a dearth of creativity in midfield, scant depth, and a completely overmatched back line. They’d be relying on Llorente to match or even exceed his 15 goals from last season with diminished service. If they end up in that position, they’re bound to be let down — and bound to go down to the Championship.

Betting odds (via SkyBet)

Win Premier League – 1000/1
Relegation – 9/4

Predicted finishes

Shahan Ahmed: 17 | Ryan Bailey: 17 | Alex Baker: 11 | Henry Bushnell: 18 | Joey Gulino: 16 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 14

Xherdan Shaqiri is just one of many talented attackers at Stoke’s disposal. Will the Potters rebound this season? (Getty)

15. STOKE CITY

Last season – Stoke’s transition from a defensive-minded outfit to a more open side with attacking flare led to a collapse in form as the season wound down, with just two wins from the last 11 matches. The Potters still finished 13th, banking a ton of points against the clubs that finished below them, but the star-studded attacking corps of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Wilfried Bony and Saido Berahino combined for a paltry 12 goals.

Key transfer notes – Stoke City hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with its transfer dealings this summer. Marko Anautovic, Glen Whelan, Phil Bardsley and Jon Walters are out. In the incoming department, Mark Hughes has brought in defender Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea and acquired defender Josh Tymon, who made just five appearances for relegated Hull last season, on a free.

FC Yahoo take

Henry Bushnell: It’s been a pretty unsightly transfer window thus far for Stoke. That should be cause for concern for a team that last season stumbled to its first bottom-half finish since 2012-13, right? Maybe. But, on the other hand, maybe last season wasn’t actually all that bad. Stoke underperformed its expected goals by around 15, the widest negative margin in the league. There is still a ton of attacking talent in Mark Hughes’ squad, and both quality and experience at the back. Yes, Hughes needs two or three fresh faces, but there’s no reason to think he won’t get them. And if fan unrest leads to a quick-trigger sacking of Hughes, early-season struggles could be a blessing in disguise; the new manager would have plenty to work with.

Alex Baker: A couple years back, with the acquisition of a core of proven top-class players like Bojan Krkic, Ibrahim Afellay and Shaqiri, Stoke City looked to be on the verge of something. Two years on, and not much has happened. Despite the high-wattage signings, the Potters continue to play the same pedestrian style of soccer they always have. With Arnautovic, their best player, having departed for West Ham, they don’t exactly look as if they’re gearing up to improve on last season’s unspectacular 13th-place finish.

Betting odds (via SkyBet)

Win Premier League – 1000/1
Relegation – 11/2

Predicted finishes

Shahan Ahmed: 16 | Ryan Bailey: 14 | Alex Baker: 17 | Henry Bushnell: 11 | Joey Gulino: 17 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 17

More previews

Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton & Hove Albion | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Huddersfield Town | Leicester City | Liverpool | Manchester City | Manchester United | Newcastle United | Southampton | Stoke City | Swansea City | Tottenham Hotspur | Watford | West Bromwich Albion | West Ham United