We’re back with the second part of our 2022/23 Season Predictions.
In Part One, we shared our thoughts on Luton’s prospects. Now it’s time to look at expectations for the wider Premier League.
From title winners to relegation candidates and from the best performing players to the managers first in line for the sack, our four writers reveal their predictions for the upcoming season.
Matt (@MattAquino_): MANCHESTER CITY Despite going into this season with a weaker squad (at the time of writing) and a probably less hungry squad following their treble win, I still think they’ll have enough to make this their 6th title in the last 7 years… and confirm #FarmersLeague status for the Prem.
Jamie (@jamie_castle96): MANCHESTER CITY I’m afraid I can’t provide anything other than a boring answer: Manchester City. They’ll become the first team in top-flight history to win four successive titles courtesy of that robot they have up front. I don’t think it’ll come easy though. A rejuvenated Liverpool and stronger Arsenal will run them close.
Kieren (@ltfckieren): MANCHESTER UNITED Look at me with a different pick. I fancied being a bit edgy - only because I know all the other boys will definitely pick City… Boring!
Anyway, by now EtH has got the players he is after and therefore, as an Eredivisie enthusiast, I can confirm Ten Hag Ball is ready to cook. I expect Antony to shine this season along with Rashford - and with Hojlund in now, that is a big front 3. Mount in midfield is a master stroke of a signing, and with Bruno and Casemiro that will be an excellent trio.
Billy (@billymulley11): MANCHESTER CITY City have been consistently fantastic for a while now and I see no major drop-off coming. They may have to settle with a weaker squad than last season on paper, with others around them seemingly strengthening, but the quality they still possess, combined with their experience of winning makes them an unstoppable force once again.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
Jamie: ARSENAL, LIVERPOOL, CHELSEA
Last season’s runners up Arsenal have strengthened with some big-name signings - headlined by Declan Rice. Arteta is a great manager and, together with Edu, has identified their shortcomings from last season moving quickly to fix them in the market.
Liverpool had a tough time last season but finished strongly. Lots was made of an ageing midfield and it seems like their starting three next season could all be new signings. It will take a month or two to fully gel, but some reasonable early fixtures will expedite that process.
Chelsea have had possibly one of the craziest summer’s going – including some questionable transfers that could subjectively fall foul of a conflict-of-interest check. Nonetheless, Pochettino is an experienced Premier League manager and his abilities have been highlighted by Tottenham’s troubles since he left. The core of their squad is extremely strong, with a good blend of some younger players (Colwill, Madueke, Mudryk) who I think will formally announce themselves on a global stage this season.
Kieren: MANCHESTER CITY, ARSENAL, LIVERPOOL
Manchester City are often unstoppable once they find their rhythm, but they have said goodbye to a few key players like Mahrez and more notably Gundogan. I don’t think their absences can be brushed aside. They probably already know their replacements, but I think even elite teams can accept a transitional season here and there. I’m sure they will still win the Man City Energy Drink cup like they do every year anyway.
Arsenal were my other potential pick for the title - and their time will come if they continue trending upwards. Finishing 3rd won’t be a step backwards for them - as I back them to have a very good season in Europe. Rice and Havertz were very good signings into a squad that needed more depth.
Liverpool to be back at their ‘best’ this season. That said, there are some doubts about how their defence will shape up. Virgil van Dijk is no spring chicken and hasn’t been at his best since his knee injury. Even before that, I would have said VVD needs a more reliable partner. They need a new wing-back to push Trent up the pitch into midfield, another centre-back (I’d LOVE Per Schuurs in this team), and they will come good.
Billy: ARSENAL, MANCHESTER UNITED, LIVERPOOL
Arsenal have enjoyed a strong summer of recruitment thus far and have the potential to trouble City but, ultimately, I think they may just come up short.
Manchester United seem the side who have the ability to be the most consistent out of the teams competing for Europe, but I lack confidence in this particular shout.
Liverpool should enjoy a better season but there are still some issues that are preventing me from placing them any higher, namely their backline.
Matt: ARSENAL, LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER UNITED
Arsenal will be about as strong as they were last year, though their patchy form might come at the start of the season this time as they integrate their new midfield.
Liverpool will be returning to the Heavy Metal football we remember, but they’ll still be suspect at the back and won’t have a good enough away record for a proper title challenge.
Manchester United will comfortably take 4th. They’ll benefit from a combination of Newcastle not juggling league and European commitments well, plus both Tottenham and Chelsea being in transitional periods. Villa might be in the conversation at times but won’t sustain their charge.
Kieren: EVERTON, CRYSTAL PALACE, SHEFFIELD UNITED
Everton have a hint of Sunderland about them. Always staying up by the skin of their teeth, but one day their time will come. They are on the brink of huge financial troubles, and with not much wiggle room to improve the squad each passing season - this is me saying “it’s you or us, and I sure don’t want it to be us”.
Crystal Palace is one that not many are shouting out, but with Roy Hodgson signing an extension I think they’ll struggle. Now, let’s add in a legend in Zaha leaving plus rumours of moves away for the likes of Olise, Eze and Guehi, and no suggestion around who replaces them… sorry boys, someone has to go down.
Sheffield United are also on the brink of losing a key player in Iliman Ndiaye. They’ve had plenty of Premier League games under their belt in recent years, but I see them lacking the same level of squad cohesion as other teams down in the relegation fight. If they’re in trouble come Christmas, I can see ‘Hecky’ being moved on.
Billy: NOTTINGHAM FOREST, WOLVES, SHEFFIELD UNITED
It has been a rather poor pre-season at Nottingham Forest thus far and whilst not wanting to look too far into their preparations for the 23/24 season, I have a gut feeling that the hype about returning to PL could burst.
Wolves have developed a problem on the goalscoring front in recent seasons and it is an issue I do not believe they have solved or will have the necessary funds to solve. They play through the thirds well and their build-up play is slick and dynamic but a potential lack of goals could be their downfall.
Yes, I’m biased but I seriously believe Sheffield United should be the bookies favourites for relegation. We outperformed the Blades last season after Edwards’ arrival, they have lost vitally important players in Ndiaye and Sander Berge, and they are struggling for cash.
Matt: EVERTON, BOURNEMOUTH, SHEFFIELD UNITED
I’ll be honest, picking Everton is more of a gut feeling than anything and a cry to the footballing Gods for justice. They’ve been too bad for too long and deserve to go down, don’t they?
Bournemouth have rolled the dice with Andoni Iraola – it’s a huge shift in playing philosophy and it could backfire if things don’t gel quickly. You hear comparisons drawn with Bielsa. Well, if they perform like Bielsa’s Leeds of the 21/22 season, they’ll be chaotic, wide open and in the mire.
Sheffield United have plenty of Premier League experience in their squad, but I don’t think they have enough dynamism. A lot will hinge on their recruitment and how the young players they’ve bought in adapt. Losing Iliman Ndiaye is a catastrophic blow and could prove fatal.
Jamie: SHEFFIELD UNITED, EVERTON, WOLVES
Despite Sheffield United knowing their fate some four or so weeks before us, they’re in a much weaker position. Ownership troubles leading to late and inconsistent recruitment will make it a tough season, and I think the odds should reflect the fact that they’re more likely to finish 20th than us.
Everton have been flirting with the drop for some time and I think this season will finally be curtains. Their success rides on the fitness of injury-ridden Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the form of just some very average players (Iwobi, McNeil, Gray).
The continuing theme of disarray means that Wolves are my third team for the drop. Well-publicised FFP concerns have led to a bit of a fire sale, including the below-market-value sale of Ryan Giles to us. I think Julian Lopetegui is a good manager and will make the best of a bad situation, but he could walk by January if signings don’t go his way and a European club are looking for a boss, which would lead them to spiral.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Billy: ERLING HAALAND I have never seen a player as talented and as relentless as he is having such a desire to improve and hit even higher heights. 40 Premier League goals will be a disappointment to the machine that is Erling Haaland.
Matt: ERLING HAALAND. Let’s have it right, he’s going to hit historic numbers again and outscore 2-3 Premier League teams in the process – including us - so he’s bound to win POTS.
Jamie: ERLING HAALAND Yeah, see my Winner prediction. Boring, but it’ll take a brave soul to back against them and him.
Kieren: HARRY KANE Ooohh look at me, another edgy pick. You’re brave, Kieren! Anyway, this is obviously based on him not sacking off a potential Premier League record and swapping it for Munich’s finest Bavarian pints. I still see a move to United, where playing alongside a much stronger team, will make him raise his levels even more than we’d expect from him. I dare you to get that golden boot, Harry, so this paragraph doesn’t make me look silly come May.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Matt: ROB EDWARDS #TeamsLikeLuton should never be in the Premier League. We’re going to be rock bottom and we’re going to beat Derby’s points record. That’s what they all keep telling us over and over… and over again. So, when Super Robbie Edwards keeps us up, there’ll be no other contenders for this award.
Jamie: UNAI EMERY Aston Villa are my team to watch this season, so it makes sense to pick Emery as my manager of the season. They’ve recruited extremely well (again) with the signings of Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby showing the Premier League’s pulling power. Their UEFA Conference League campaign may affect league performance at times, but some memorable “ebenings” under the Villa Park lights will see them go far.
Kieren: ROB EDWARDS It’s the only acceptable answer here. We’ll be laughing the second we cross 11pts, and I imagine Rob will be driving into the team that ‘the record’ is the first objective. After that, 40 points. We will stay up and we’ll rattle a LOT of people this year. Therefore, that puts Rob Edwards as the ONLY candidate for this award. And if we stay up and he doesn’t, it’s rigged.
Billy: ROB EDWARDS Keeping Luton Town in the Premier League will be more of an achievement than City winning the league for the sixth time in seven seasons, especially considering how much we are being written off.
FIRST MANAGER TO BE SACKED
Jamie: DAVID MOYES Whilst I think Moyes is doing an okay job with the squad he’s got at his disposal, I think the West Ham fans are currently one of the loudest in their discontent at their management. A dodgy start to the season, including a defeat to Luton at Kenilworth Road, may prove hard to come back from.
Kieren: ROY HODGSON Palace had the opportunity to recruit a more long-term replacement after sacking Vieira. They appointed Roy as interim but have now kept him on for another year. I think they’ll regret that decision come Christmas and it’ll be tough for them to appoint in January when a relegation battle is on the cards.
Billy: STEVE COOPER The Nottingham Forest hierarchy might have shown an uncharacteristic level of loyalty to Steve Cooper last season, but I do not believe he will be as lucky this time around. Forest’s first few fixtures are not the kindest and pressure could immediately be applied to Cooper’s position.
Matt: VALERIEN ISMAEL Oh, wait, sorry! We’re doing the PREMIER LEAGUE, aren’t we? In that case, I’ll go with Steve Cooper. Things got a little hairy at times last year but, against the odds, Evangelos Marinakis came out and backed his man - and it worked out. This season they have a brutal start with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City in the first 6 fixtures. If things don’t pick up quickly from there, I think he’ll be the first to go.
ONE TO WATCH
Kieren: DOMINIC SZOBOZLAI Another Leipzig talent coming into the Premier League in a position that Liverpool were in serious need of last season. They’ll be going through a full-fledged rebuild in midfield and Szobozlai will be a huge part of that. I expect him to start a lot of games. He’s very ‘tricky’ player and I am sure we’ll be seeing his name on the scoresheet a lot this season.
Billy: MASON MOUNT There will be lots who will be quick to raise eyebrows but when it comes to stylistic fits, Mason Mount to Manchester United is perfect in my eyes. Mount operates best within a side who progress through the thirds quickly with slick and intelligent combination play and that is exactly how I envision Ten Hag’s team to play.
Matt: CHRISTOPHER NKUNKU With 58 goals and 22 assists in 89 games across the past two seasons for RB Leipzig, Nkunku is clearly a special talent. But Kai Havertz and Timo Werner also moved from the Bundesliga to Chelsea with big reputations and look how those moves turned out. It will be interesting to see what Nkunku can produce – once he returns from injury.
Jamie: MOUSSA DIABY As someone who’s watched Bayer Leverkusen a fair bit, I’m extremely excited to see how Moussa Diaby impacts the Premier League. He may lack that final touch at times, but going forward he is electric and should link up well with Ollie Watkins to spearhead the Villa attack.
So there we have it, Oak Road Hatters’ predictions for the 2023/24 Premier League. What have our writers nailed and what have they got horribly wrong? Let us know in the comments and join in the debate on social media.
If you haven’t already seen Part One, we reveal our predictions on Luton’s fate in the top flight. From the Hatters’ final league position and points total to our best shock victory (and our heaviest defeat), we cover it all. You can check it out here.