Our very own AFC Bournemouth blogger, Gareth Davies, is something of a replica aficionado.
So, on the eve of the most eagerly anticipated Premier League season ever, he casts his expert eye over the kits your team will be wearing…
Arsenal: Rating 6/10
There’s nothing overly wrong with the Gunners primary ensemble for 2016-17, the main problem being that it doesn’t vary much from what Puma have manufactured before.
The German’s rigidly stick to the same positions for their branding and with Emirates being associated with Arsenal for well over ten years, the famous red and white strip now just seems dull and uninspiring, a real shame for one of the most time honoured kit combinations in world football.
Now some of you will say that because Bournemouth is my club, I’ve shown a certain degree of bias by awarding the Cherries red and black striped shirts near top marks!
Nonsense, as this offering is simply sensational regardless of which team is wearing it. For avoidance of doubt regarding my impartiality, I though last season’s home strip was very ordinary indeed, this, as you may have guessed by now is far better.
The AC Milan like combination is stunning, if executed properly, and JD Sports have done a fine job, even throwing in a retro collar and button neck for good measure to please advocates of traditional kit facets.
The Clarets are back in the top-flight again and will be hoping to extend their stay beyond one season resplendent in a smart and functional kit by Puma under license from Genesis Sports.
Often an understated design can work better than one in which the designers throw the kitchen sink at, and although Puma have played things very safe, it works.
The collar, like Bournemouth’s, is a welcome addition and the fine shadow stripes on the main body are a nice touch too.
One of the first new kit releases to be showcased towards the end of last season, this is to be adidas’ last season in control of the Stamford Bridge kit cupboard and they bow out after coming up with a brilliant home design.
For once, the famous three stripe branding is understated and moves from the sleeves to the lower main body, but it’s the subtle touches that set this apart from many others.
The classic Chelsea lion is sublimated into the blue base and the neck line is also a nod to the past too.
Crystal Palace (7/10)
Macron are a seriously underrated player in the kit world and they’ve come up with something different for Palace, which isn’t beyond the reams of acceptability for the Selhurst Park faithful by any stretch of the imagination.
Palace have become renowned for not sticking to one particular design, and this year they come under starters orders in a penguin like arrangement which Birmingham first showcased in the ‘70s.
It won’t be for everyone, but you can’t fault all concerned for trying to keep the Eagles palette fresh.
Arguably the most polished strip to grace the Premier League in 2016-17 from, who else but Umbro, who have dusted themselves down following their disastrous buy-out from Nike and are once again forging a reputation for producing magnificent football kits.
If like me, you look for everything to be neatly uniformed within a playing strip design, here’s a perfect example.
Club crest, sponsor and makers logo all rendered in the same colour, matching collars and cuffs, even the superfluous inclusion of yellow goes largely unnoticed!
Hull City (5/10)
After waxing lyrical about Umbro and what they’ve produced for Everton, I can’t be as complimentary about the Cheshire based companies effort for Hull sadly.
The striped arrangement just doesn’t work using those particular hues and the gold looks far lighter than seen before.
The neckline is just bizarre and hugely overstated, although the only saving grace being that Tigers’ fans have seen far worse, especially during the club’s final few years at Boothferry Park.
Leicester City (7/10)
It still sounds strange calling Leicester Premier League champions, a barometer of just how incredible their accomplishments were last year.
The Foxes will defend their crown in a smart shirt by Puma and sponsored by King Power again. To celebrate winning the title, gold’s inclusion instead of white within Leicester’s primary design almost gives a commemorative feel to this shirt, and of course, this will fit well with the unique gold sleeve patches that the Foxes can wear for the next nine months.
The only disappointment being that the King Power branding is still rendered in white and perhaps the gold doesn’t take the prominence it should due to a lack of it!
The Red’s have quite rightly been considered kit pioneers over the years, whether it be agreeing ground breaking shirt sponsors, trying out innovative features or going left-field with their suppliers, Liverpool are often miles ahead of their peers.
The Warrior Sports/New Balance deal demonstrated that perfectly and whilst the American’s away ensembles have often been boundary pushing, every home kit since 2012 has been blissfully simple.
This new kit, which will hopefully start a new era at Anfield under manager Jurgen Klopp, is no different, although perhaps Liverpool have played it too safe this time.
Manchester City (5/10)
The writing was on the wall for any Nike contracted club when the world’s biggest apparel producer rolled out their ‘Vapor’ kits for the recent European Championships. Insisting that all their clients wear the same design is just lazy, made ten times worse, sadly, when the arrangement of main body and sleeves being two different shades is simply dreadful.
Incredibly, this design has been selected for City and it’s awful, made even worse when paired with white socks a shame as City’s traditional sidekick to their famous light blue, which has been relegated from the shirt just to fit in with a manufacturer’s template.
Manchester United (7/10)
A slow burner for me, I can see what they’ve tried to do and again, individuality should be applauded, but perhaps the execution of a two tone shirt has let United and adidas down.
The Old Trafford hierarchy could and should be demanding more from the biggest kit deal football has ever seen, but sadly this design comes up short due to the boring neck arrangement and the halves which aren’t supposed to be halves but are, if you follow!
In spite of this. it’s not all bad as like Chelsea, the makers trademark plays second fiddle to everything else which is rare with any adidas release as the Germans are the kings of branding overkill and Chevrolet’s motif seems to sit better than last year.
Take the ghastly lower body hoop out of this kit and it would be perfectly acceptable, not a patch on some of the arrangements showcased by Errea during Boro’s last Premier League sortie, but acceptable nevertheless.
Why or how anybody thought that the inclusion of a haphazard white block, aimlessly slapped along the lower body, would be a winner is almost incomprehensible, it’s really that bad.
One chain of thought could have been that it was a lukewarm reference to the Teesiders famous white chest band, but take a look at Nottingham Forest’s away kit and you will see that this is just an off the peg adidas design which has been rolled out to more than one club.
Initially, I thought this first effort from Under Armour for Southampton was ghastly, slowly but surely however, I’m coming round to like it as the initial release pictures are deceiving, as close up the shirt appears very striking and the much maligned ‘yolk’ is actually the shirts most redeeming element.
A kit decoration that was prevalent in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it has been seen in the Saints kit room since with Pony introducing it again during the Matt Le Tissier era and on this particular shirt, it houses the club crest and Under Armour logo perfectly.
There are still negatives, the main gripe being that Virgin Media’s fancy emblem looks lost in amongst the striped body although it does sit well within the design.
Stoke City (6/10)
I was a little disappointed when New Balance left the Potteries after a successful partnership with Stoke which, just like Liverpool, started off as Warrior Sports.
The away kits produced over a three-year period were actually better than any home offering, although that’s not to say there was anything wrong with any of the three red and white striped efforts.
Stoke have plumped for Macron, who retain two club contracts in the Premier League, but sadly whereas the Italian’s have been inventive for Crystal Palace, for example, this first home kit for Stoke is far too safe and the easy option has been taken with acceptable rather than excellent results.
With all the talk about Sunderland’s vomit inducing away kit, the Black Cats home number has seemingly gone under the radar, although that may be because it doesn’t differ an awful lot from what adidas has delivered in recent years.
Sunderland are another club to suffer at the hands of a manufacturer and their templates which are often dull and bland. Gold has been introduced to try and freshen things up, but it hasn’t really worked as black is a far better fit, but unsurprisingly we’ve seen that particular arrangement before.
Swansea City (8/10)
A real back to basics approach from Wales’ only Premier League member as Swansea have stripped things right back to the days when kits weren’t saddled with unnecessary intricacies.
A fantastic way for new supplier Joma to announce themselves to the top-flight, and although the gamble of having a plain white shirt was a big one to undertake, I think they’ve pulled it off magnificently well.
The neck detailing fits in well with the rest of the design and any buttons that are seen within that area also get big thumbs up from me too.
Despite their relatively short time involved in producing football apparel, Under Armour continue to put some of the more established suppliers to shame. And although this critique is only focusing on home kits, I can’t pass up the opportunity to compliment Spurs on their kit trilogy as a whole, it’s one of the best the Premier League has ever seen.
Looking at the home shirt solely though, and the inclusion of gold is once again a real winner with the retro looking shoulder flashes equally nice too.
The only concern if I were a Spurs fan would be AIA rendered in red, the colour of arch rivals Arsenal of course, if that were to be rectified then near perfection would be achieved.
The Hornets have selected relative unknowns Dryworld to make their kits for a second successive Premier League campaign, the first time Watford have achieved this.
The newcomers have produced a steady, if unspectacular, effort first time out, but anything would have been an improvement on last year’s terrible black and yellow striped affair from Puma.
For that reason, the Germans won’t be missed at Vicarage Road at all and it’s pleasing to see someone like Dryworld come in and upset the establishment brands which have become far too complacent in recent years.
West Brom (6/10)
Some of the Baggies first-ever playing ensembles contained light blue, although this shade was paired with brown and red in halved designs.
After quite successfully using red as a kit decorative last season, it seems a little curious as to why adidas have ditched it and gone for something out of the ordinary.
I’m not a huge fan of the rather large sponsor and the plain white back isn’t great either, the only plus points for some Baggies fans is that this is not the worst adidas effort for West Brom as it’s not pin stripes.
West Ham United (7/10)
I wrote a piece last year for Bournemouth’s matchday programme in which I lauded West Ham’s kits released to commemorate leaving the Boleyn Ground as some of the best ever to grace the Premier League.
Whilst I stand by those comments 100%, the new home shirt that will be used at their London Stadium looks very similar to last year’s which is a shame.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this second Umbro offering, the new crest is nice, the text detail underneath a nice addition too, I would have just liked to see something wholly unique for the start of a new chapter in the club’s history.