Norwich City were 1st promoted to the top flight in 1972, and their best result is finishing 3rd in the Premier League’s inaugural 1992/93 season. The past years have seen the Canaries yo-yoing between the top two tiers several times – now they return to the Premier League after one year, having won the Championship in the past season. Their success is mainly attributed to the consistency provided by head coach Daniel Farke, who arrived at Carrow Road from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and has just signed a 4-year contract extension until 2025, and by the fact that the core squad remained mostly intact over the past two years. Finnish striker Teemo Pukki delivered 26 goals, and was the 3rd most prolific scorer in the 2nd English tier last season. Veteran goalkeeper Tim Krul contributed with 18 league clean sheets, also helped by such defending talents as Max Aarons, a target for several top clubs in the current transfer window. However, Norwich have just lost Argentine playmaker Emiliano Buendia, who joined Aston Villa. In order to strengthen the squad, right-winger Milot Rashica arrived from Werder Bremen, while Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour returned again, on loan.
Norwich City FC are a public limited company that since 2003 has comprised approximately 8,000 individual shareholders – currently, TV celebrity chef Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones are joint majority shareholders. The team can count on their loyal fans, who are expected to fill once again the 27,000-seat Carrow Road stadium.
In February 2020, when Watford defeated Liverpool, ending the Reds' unbeaten run of 44 top-flight games and 18 victories in a row, hopes were high that the Hornets would remain in the top tier. However, they finished the season 19th, just one point from safety, and were relegated to the Championship. Finishing runners-up in the 2nd division last year, Watford now return to the top tier after only a 1-year absence.
Watford hope to keep up the positive team spirit head coach Xisco Munoz brought to the club – the Spaniard took charge at the club last December and changed fortunes, primarily helping the squad in regaining their confidence. He is now expected to provide consistency in performance, something the club missed most of the past several years. That is, however, dependent on whether some key players will remain at Vicarage Road in the upcoming season – particularly, 23-year-old Senegalese striker Ismaila Sarr, who has been Watford’s top scorer last season with 13 goals, and defensive midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah. It also remains to be seen when 33-year-old Troy Deeney can return from his Achilles injury; the striker has been at the club for 11 years but has not played since February. New joiners include 22-year-old French-Moroccan midfielder Imran Louza from Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, veteran Tottenham left-back Danny Rose and Everton striker Joshua King, the latter two joining as free agents.
Finally, Brentford joined the EPL after 74 years by beating Swansea 2-0 in the Championship play-off final. Nicknamed “the Bees”, the club were founded in 1889 and consider fellow West London clubs Fulham and Queens Park Rangers as their main rivals. They moved last year from their traditional home, Griffin Park, to the 17,000-capacity Brentford Community Stadium, which is also home to a local rugby team. Their best record so far has been a 5th-place finish in the top tier back in the 1935/36 season. Club owner Matthew Benham is a successful businessman, trained at Oxford university, who has built a reputation as a leader in sports analytics and betting.
Brentford put a lot of hope in 25-year-old centre-forward Ivan Toney, who was the Championship’s top scorer in the past season with 31 goals. Interestingly, the club is among the major spenders so far this summer: they have recently signed Norway centre-back Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic for reported EUR 15.7m, and Frank Onyeka from Danish side FC Midtjylland for EUR 10m – the Nigerian midfielder has been regarded as one of the best midfield players in Denmark’s 1st division. It is no coincidence that Brentford’s owner, Matthew Benham, is also majority shareholder of FC Midtjylland. The links between the two clubs are further demonstrated by the fact that Brentford’s head coach, Thomas Frank, is a Dane, as are six players of the squad.