What is widely regarded as the best league in world football makes its eagerly awaited return on Saturday 6th August, as the English Premiership sets off on another season of thrilling action. Once again the spending during the summer has been frantic and in some cases, probably overly reckless, as the 20 teams try to meet their own individual objectives; be that winning the title, challenging for European competition, or simply surviving to fight another year.
Below is a quick analysis of each team and their prospects for the forthcoming campaign, with a predicted finishing position thrown in for good measure:
For a club with the pedigree that Arsenal possess, it has been too long since they genuinely threatened the top spot with any sort of authority. They fell away badly last year, which highlighted an obvious lack of strength in depth. Manager Mikel Arteta looks to have gone a long way towards rectifying that with his summer purchases. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City look to be inspired, especially as the plan appears to be to use the latter in a more advanced role. With Bukayo Saka developing into a major player now, they do look a more complete outfit and there is justifiable reason for real optimism.
Predicted final position: 4th
There is almost an inevitability about any team under the stewardship of Steven Gerrard, that they will have to progress year on year, such are the high demands he has always set, both on himself, and on those representing him out on the pitch. Securing the services of Philippe Coutinho on a permanent basis is massive, and together with the capture of exciting talent Boubacar Kamara, plus Brazilian Diego Carlos, they have given the squad some genuine flair. Although they may still be a little way behind the real big hitters, it is likely that a challenge for a European spot will definitely be the minimum expected.
Predicted final position: 7th
For any promoted club, there is a huge step up in class awaiting them and the Cherries look to be facing a real fight to take their hard earned elevation beyond just the one season. At times last year they flattered to deceive in the Championship, but managed to grind out results. This time around they will need to show a significant improvement, but the fact that many of the players who were part of the relegation side two years ago still remain as part of the squad, their prospects don’t look great. Dominic Solanke and Keiffer Moore will be relied upon to grab the goals, and David Brooks could shine after receiving the all clear, following his serious health issues last year. Scott Parker will hope the feeling of euphoria which swept the club upon clinching second spot, might continue into the early weeks, so they can get some confidence boosting points on the board, but with trips to both Manchester City and Liverpool before August is out, that may be a tough ask.
Predicted final position: 19th
The Bees surprised a few in the early part of last season, but fell away alarmingly and in truth it was probably only the influence of Christian Eriksen that swung things back their way and kept them out of the relegation fight. He subsequently has left the club, succumbing to the lure of Manchester United, so that real touch of class has gone; but they retain the services of Ivan Toney up top who is a handful for any defence, and they seem to be able to unearth hidden gems on a regular basis, so they’ll hope Keane Lewis-Potter and Aaron Hickey follow that trend. They are likely to spend the season in the bottom half of the league, but the feeling is there are at least three teams who look more vulnerable, so they should just about survive.
Predicted final position: 14th
No doubt everyone connected with the south coast club will hope to build on their top half finish last term, but there is a nagging feeling that they significantly over-achieved and they might find things tougher this time around. They have lost influential midfielder Yves Bissouma which is a huge blow and although in Graham Potter they have one of the brightest managers in the league, that too could become an issue, with him topping most lists as soon as a vacancy comes up, and the suspicion is he could be tempted elsewhere before the season is out. They still appear to have enough about them to avoid trouble, but with goals likely to be hard to come by, a lower mid-table finish is on the cards.
Predicted final position: 11th
Although the new owners would dearly love to close that gap on the top two, there is a feeling that one or two who were below last season’s third place team, may have improved significantly enough to put a Champions League place severely under threat. Raheem Sterling’s arrival from Manchester City raised a few eyebrows, from the point of view that City allowed him to join a main rival, but somehow he just doesn’t quite look a Chelsea player; but time will tell. Kalidou Koulibably is a good signing at the back, but they needed someone to counter the huge loss of Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen. They undoubtedly will have more good days than bad, but this could prove to be a frustrating season for the Blues.
Predicted final position: 6th
Although it would be dangerous for any team outside of the usual top six to ever believe they are fully established in the Premier League, Palace are now entering a tenth season in the top flight and under the skilful leadership of Patrick Vieira they have assembled a really exciting squad of young, talented players, no longer reliant solely upon Wilfried Zaha to deliver the flair for the side. They have added Mali international Cheick Doucouré from Lens to play in the holding role and Sam Johnstone looks a good addition in goal. Marc Guéhi really left his mark last season, even breaking into the England set-up. Will Hughes is one of the most cultured midfielders in the country and in the highly regarded Ebereche Eze and Michael Olise, they have two of the country’s most promising prospects. Add to that a couple of highly rated young players joining from Derby County in Luke Plange and Malcolm Ebiowei and you have a side capable of upsetting anybody on their day. Predicted final position: 10th
Their admirable fight for survival in the closing weeks of last season should have seen them be in a position now to really push on; but things still do not appear to be right behind the scenes and the loss of their talisman, Richarlison, sold to Tottenham in a deal believed to be worth £50 million is another bitter blow to the long suffering supporters. Frank Lampard probably didn’t fully appreciate the size of the task that lay in front of him when joining mid way through last season and a mid-table position looks to be the best they can hope for. They still need quality additions, and a team identity to be established; but they should be able to keep themselves away from the drop zone. If they can’t then this could be where the first managerial casualty takes place.
Predicted final position: 13th
The Cottagers enjoyed a fantastic season in the Championship, often looking too good for the opposition (although relegated Derby County took 4 points of them), but much of the team had looked not good enough 12 months earlier, so if they are to make a better fist of it this time around, a different approach will probably be needed. Top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic has lost his chief supplier with Fabio Carvalho leaving for Liverpool, although the talented Harry Wilson is still there and his free-kicks are likely to be crucial and possibly the difference between staying up and going back down.
Predicted final position: 15th
The appointment of Jesse Marsch looked a gamble last season and their staying up owed more to the failings of others, rather than any inspired tactics from the manager. They have lost their best two players in Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha and their replacements are all new to the country, and whilst offering great potential, they will inevitably take time to settle, something which the unforgiving Premier League rarely allows. Another long struggle seems destined for the Yorkshire club and this time they might not find three teams that they are able to keep themselves above. Predicted final position: 18th
Injuries severely hampered the East Midlands outfit last year, so a return to fitness for their key players will be most welcome. The midfield duo of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison have attracted some transfer interest, so it is critical that they hang on to them. On their day they can totally overwhelm teams, but those days have become few and far between and they seem to need a spark from somewhere to get them back towards the top four or five places. Others seem to have overtaken them now, so a steady but unspectacular season seems likely for the Foxes.
Predicted final position: 12th
The loss of Sadio Mané has been offset by the arrival of Darwin Nunez and with Mo Salah re-signing and Luiz Diaz looking capable of a huge season, the Reds have a menacing, if youthful, look about them. They were heavily involved in four competitions last time out and there is every likelihood of a repeat performance, as they go head to head with Manchester City, in what looks like a two-horse race once again. One or two others may threaten briefly, but the two power-houses of the English game at the moment look to be just too good for the rest, and it could well go to the last weekend to find out the destiny of the Premiership trophy.
Predicted final position: 2nd
The signing of Europe’s most wanted striker, Erling Haaland, was a massive signal of intent by City. The fact that they have allowed Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling to depart is just another demonstration of how Pep Guardiola allows his teams to evolve. Much more will be expected of Jack Grealish this season and in combination with Phil Foden, the attacking strength looks mightily impressive. Kalvin Phillips coming in from Leeds is also a shrewd bit of business, although in a typical City way, he will probably be allowed to ease himself into the make-up of the side slowly at first, before securing a regular place. Riyad Mahrez has added consistency to his game as he approaches his peak years and with quality dripping from the squad, anybody finishing above this remarkable squad of players will undoubtedly win the league. Possibly the only thing that might cause a slip up, is their continuing quest for Champions League success.
Predicted final position: 1st
After several years of highly questionable transfer activity, United actually seem to have done some clever business this time around. New boss Erik ten Hag, may have pulled off two master-strokes, first by securing the services of Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez from Ajax and then managing to take Christian Eriksen away from Brentford. The classy Dane just looks like a classic United midfielder, and could be the spark they have been missing for several years now. The loss of Paul Pogba is not likely to have any particular effect, such has been his disappointing contributions in recent seasons. They are probably still a way off the top two, but there is a sense that possibly United could make a much better show of things this time and cement a European spot.
Predicted final position: 3rd
Many might have thought Eddie Howe would splash the cash this summer considering Newcastle’s riches, but his sensible approach could pay dividends further down the line, as by sticking to his principles he has resisted bringing players in who possibly were only after a handsome pay-cheque.
Sven Botman looks an excellent signing to add real steel to the defence, and with Allan Saint-Maximin pulling the strings further up field, the Geordies will start the season with some genuine optimism. They are still a long way off threatening the leading clubs, but a battle for a Europa League spot is certainly not beyond them.
Predicted final position: 9th
Sometimes a team just doesn’t look like they belong in a higher division and that is the impression the play-off winners give as they take their place in the big league. They have been splashing the cash this summer, but very little genuine quality of the type required, has arrived. Jesse Lingard has undoubted talent, but he is not familiar with a relegation battle, which these inevitably will find themselves in, and he could prove to be a very expensive luxury. They gained promotion thanks largely to the performances of two loan players who have now departed, and it is difficult to see anything but a swift return to the Championship.
Predicted final position: 20th
There is genuine concern for the Saints survival in the Premiership, based partly on their shambolic showing defensively, towards the back end of last term and rather than rectify it with some quality experience, they seem to have gone down the “promising youngster” route, once more. They still have plenty of top class players within their squad, none more so than James Ward-Prowse, who will be heavily relied upon once more, not only for his leadership, but also for his wonderful set pieces and goalscoring ability, which probably will be enough to keep them out of the bottom three, but only just.
Predicted final position: 16th
Spurs finished strongly to secure that fourth spot and claim the last Champions League place. Perversely that could actually have an adverse effect on their league form this time around, as they may suffer from the intensity of the additional games. However, any side with a front two of Kane and Son (sounds like a firm of family solicitors!) will always score goals, and lots of them. They have taken Richarlison from Everton, which seems a little puzzling as he doesn’t really fit the mould of a typical Spurs player, but then again that could be an advantage, with him offering something different from the norm. They certainly should be in amongst it again, but still lacking those extra bits of quality in vital areas, to truly threaten the title.
Predicted final position: 8th
For the first time in a very long time, the Hammers are a team that the others have to sit up and take seriously. They were outstanding at times last year and the addition of Gianluca Scamacca up front will give them a new dimension. They have probably dodged a bullet in not re-signing Jesse Lingard, with his hugely inflated wage demands, and in retaining the services of England duo Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen, they have two of the leagues most exciting young talents. They are one of the few teams who could realistically make a dash for a top four finish, but they will probably come up just short.
Predicted final position: 5th
Despite a top half finish last time out, this team looks extremely vulnerable. They have found it difficult to score goals for two years running now and have still failed to address the issue. They are relatively sound at the back, but pressure will soon mount in the rearguard if they are relied upon to keep clean sheets or limit opposition to a single goal, in order to grab at least a point. They managed to create some sort of stability following their last promotion in 2018, but the signs have been there for a while that those days are no more and they really do look as if they face a tough season and a genuine relegation battle.
Predicted final position: 17th
The elephant in the room in all of this is of course the World Cup taking place in late November and most of December, over in Qatar. More or less every club will lose players to different nations. Many of the really top clubs will see squads totally decimated, and those countries who progress deep into the competition, will retain players pretty much up to its conclusion. This disruption has never occurred before, so knowing what effect it will have is anybody’s guess. Teams who might be flying leading into its commencement, could lose all their rhythm and start to fall away. Obviously there is a chance of the opposite, where a club maybe will be thankful of the break, to allow a reset after a tricky start.
The season will recommence on Boxing Day and there has to be a chance that some of the star names of the leading countries, who will have played a lot of games in a very short space of time, will either be exhausted, or carrying knocks and consequently, be late making reappearances for their clubs. It all will end a little later than usual, on Sunday 28 May 2023, after what will have been a unique Premiership campaign. There will as always be excitement, controversy, and incredible football played; and at the end of it, the best team will be crowned Champions!