Here we go again. The 2023/24 Premier League season is upon us and the predictions are in, with Arsenal, Rasmus Hojlund, David Moyes and many more featuring.
As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.
Sarah Winterburn: Last season I said Liverpool just to be contrary and then kicked myself because I never thought it would be anybody but Manchester City. No such mistake this time: Man City.
Matt Stead: The squad might look a little different than was foreseen, but it has already been spoken: 2023/24 Premier League champions, Arsenal.
John Nicholson: There’s no point in thinking it will be anyone but Manchester City.
Ian Watson: Arsenal are tempting, but not quite tempting enough. Manchester City.
Dave Tickner: Manchester City, but stated with slightly less confidence than this time last year.
Will Ford: Manchester City by a long, long way.
Joe Williams: I predicted Liverpool last year as I told myself picking Manchester City was boring. I’m starting to think boring is almost always right though, so I’m going for Pep Guardiola’s side to win their fourth title on the bounce.
Lewis Oldham: F*** it, Arsenal will do it. Three great signings (four with David Raya) and Man City will drop off after doing the treble.
Jason Soutar: Arsenal are going to do it. I can feel it in my bones.
And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.
SW: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea. It won’t be right; it’s never right.
MS: Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea.
JN: Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea. Spurs 5th, Villa 6th, Newcastle 7th.
IW: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool. Though I could say Chelsea, Newcastle, Spurs with almost equal conviction.
DT: Arsenal, Manchester United and, oh, let’s say Spurs for shits and giggles. Does feel like the top three should be certainties and then it’s any one of four or five teams for that fourth spot. But even that equivocation will be wrong because as we all know by now this question is f***ing impossible.
WF: Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United. A proper battle though – Chelsea not far behind.
JW: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United.
LO: Man City, Liverpool and Man Utd. Aston Villa will not be far off in fifth while Newcastle and Spurs battle for sixth.
JS: Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool. Fourth is wide open, though. If Villa or Spurs manage it I will not be surprised at all.
Three picks for relegation please.
SW: Luton and Sheffield United are surely doomed before a ball is kicked. The third is far more difficult but I will opt for Wolves as the squad and the manager will both be significantly weaker. I don’t like Bournemouth’s squad either but at least they have upgraded their coach.
MS: Everton are surely gone this time. Yet they’re also going to scrape through again with sub-40 points nevertheless being enough to keep them clear of Sheffield United, Wolves and Luton.
JN: Luton could shock everyone and stay up, but likely won’t. Nottingham Forest should be too poor away from home to survive another season but Sheffield United don’t appear to have the quality needed either, so I’ll take the Blades to go down. Wolves lack goals and have got the stench of decay about them.
IW: I can’t make a case for Sheffield United staying up, and Luton will be the new Blackpool, spending the season being patronised all the way back to the Championship. Wolves will follow them.
DT: Luton and Sheffield United don’t really look anywhere near what’s required sadly. And while there are several teams one can make a very strong case for in 18th it’s currently pretty hard to see past Wolves who’ve downgraded both squad and, at the very last minute, manager. We already feared for them, we really did, even before Lopetegui decided to sod it all for a game of soldiers.
WF: Sheffield United and Luton won’t have anywhere near enough, and Everton – time to put them out of their misery.
JW: Sheffield United, Bournemouth and Wolves. The less we talk about the Blades the better.
LO: Luton Town (who will put up a great fight before finishing 18th) along with Wolves and Sheffield United (who have both had a nightmare this summer). Crystal Palace and Fulham will slump into a relegation scrap, while Everton will be boringly steady under Sean Dyche.
JS: Sheffield United will finish 20th (sorry, JW). They’ll be joined in the bottom three by Luton – whose fine home form won’t be enough on its own – and Wolves. Once again, this is wide open and I think even West Ham, Fulham and Brentford could be in a spot of bother.
Looking further down the league, I’d expect @LutonTown and @SheffieldUnited to struggle. The jump from The Championship to The @premierleague is huge. I’m also worried for @Wolves who have sold some of their best players and not replaced them. Expect @WestHam to spend most of…
— Michael Owen (@themichaelowen) August 5, 2023
Which club will be a pleasant surprise?
SW: The easy answer is Burnley but I don’t think anybody will be remotely surprised at their mid-table finish. But I bizarrely think that Everton will have a relatively serene season.
MS: Bournemouth are tempting but they’re such a gloriously unknown quantity. Brentford will yet again tick along delightfully, taking a few more scalps along the way as they flirt with another top-half finish without anyone even noticing.
JN: Burnley are the obvious choice for this one. There’s often one promoted club that outperforms expectations and I think Vinnie’s style will work well in the top flight.
IW: Burnley will be fine but that will come as a shock to no-one. Everton not being sh*te might, though.
DT: Burnley will be mid-table, and it’s up to you to decide whether this is pleasant or surprising. Spurs will play some wonderful attacking football and do some hilarious defending. The former at least might surprise some after the rancid football they’ve served up under a pair of misery-guts serial winners in the last few years, and the latter should be pleasant for everyone who isn’t a Spurs fan.
WF: Sacking Gary O’Neil will pay off for Bournemouth, who will comfortably avoid relegation and play some decent football.
JW: Luton Town. I watched the Hatters a lot last season and think they can cause a lot of Premier League teams problems with their physicality and direct play, while Rob Edwards has also demonstrated that he’s a brilliant tactician. I’m not tipping them for a top-half finish, but I think they have what it takes to avoid relegation.
LO: AFC Bournemouth. Binning off Gary O’Neil is an inspired decision as Andoni Iraola is a clear upgrade. They’ll be comfy between 10th and 14th.
JS: Tottenham. The expectations are very low so I feel like Ange Postecoglou’s style of play and a top-six finish (at worse) will be seen as a pleasant surprise.
Who will win the Golden Boot?
SW: Still can’t believe we didn’t opt for Haaland en masse this year. No chance of anybody else this time around.
MS: Might as well skip this section, because: Erling Haaland.
JN: There’s no point in thinking it will be anyone but Erling Haaland.
IW: Haaland, obvs.
DT: Erling Haaland, innit. Only one other person who could even theoretically come close and he might not even be here.
WF: Erling Haaland by such a margin that we won’t be allowed to select him in the 2024/25 pre-season predictions.
JW: Erling Haaland. You’d have to be proper daft to not pick him this time. Darwin Nunez, you let me down last season.
LO: Erling Haaland. I’m not risking it this year.
JS: Now is not the time for edginess. It will be the Nordic robot.
Which new signing will have the greatest positive impact?
SW: Andre Onana at Manchester United; he will single-handedly push Manchester United a bit further up the pitch and we should see a proper Ten Hag team.
MS: A Jefferson Lerma with an entire pre-season worth of Roy Hodgson double training sessions is to be feared. And Pau Torres gives Aston Villa a whole new dimension.
JN: James Trafford is a great signing for Burnley and could be the difference between struggling and surviving. And I fancy Andre Onana will oil United’s wheels and speed up their play, as well as making us all very happy when he’s lobbed 40 metres out of his goal.
IW: The knives will be out for Andre Onana as soon as he gets tackled on the halfway-line while trying to Cruyff-turn away from Harry Kane next week. But the new United keeper will be a clear and obvious upgrade.
DT: Jurrien Timber has probably got the least attention of Arsenal’s summer moves but is surely the most significant for being a) dead good and b) significantly reducing the chances of another title challenge falling to pieces because Rob Holding and his ludicrous hairhat have got involved.
WF: Nicolas Jackson, partly because he’s good at football but mainly because of the incredibly low striker bar at Chelsea.
JW: Moussa Diaby. The new Aston Villa signing contributed 14 goals and nine assists in all competitions last season. I reckon there’s an exciting season ahead for the France international and the Villans.
LO: James Maddison. Spurs won’t be as sh*t as most are expecting them to be this season and he’s the Christian Eriksen replacement they have been craving.
JS: Dominik Szoboszlai. No Bundesliga tax here.
And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?
SW: I just don’t see it with Kai Havertz – he will look exactly like the player that struggled at Chelsea.
MS: Three words: The Pep Year. Three more words: Seventy-seven million. Another three words: Josko bloody Gvardiol. Then he will be absolutely unbelievable thereafter.
JN: Rasmus Hojlund has strong Angel Di Maria vibes. £72million is a lot to pay for a player with his goal record. Will be only playing in the League Cup come the winter.
IW: Sandro Tonali. He might make the best of it and turn out to be prime-Pirlo but it’s hard to shake the feeling that he doesn’t want to be there, or anywhere else but Milan.
DT: Rasmus Hojlund will do precisely as well as a 20-year-old striker with a roughly one-in-three scoring record thrown into a new league can reasonably be expected to do, but that fee, the lack of any other centre-forward in Manchester United’s squad and the harsh but inevitable comparisons with Haaland down the road and Kane who United “should have signed” (even though they had no chance of doing so) means expectations will be far from reasonable and he is thus heading inexorably for flopsville.
WF: Rasmus Hojlund. Huge pressure on a young striker. Will need a season to adapt but the Haaland comparisons have already started.
JW: Rasmus Hojlund. There will be demands on the 20-year-old to score goals immediately because of his £72m transfer fee. Worrying rumours that the Dane is nursing a back injury in the early days of his time at Man Utd, potentially limiting his game time this season, will not fill the fans with confidence that he can improve on his tally of nine league goals for Atalanta last term.
LO: Rasmus Hojlund. He’ll probably come good in the long run but Man Utd will rely on him too much during his debut season before he is ready.
JS: I think Kai Havertz will be a popular choice so let’s go with Fulham’s Calvin Bassey. Raul Jimenez will be rubbish as well, for what it’s worth.
Who will be the biggest bloody bargain?
SW: Pau Torres for less than £28m is an astonishing signing from Aston Villa. Bloody good business.
MS: It is quite unfathomably Ross Barkley time yet again. Matt Turner will also help keep Forest up for just £7m.
JN: South Korean centre-back Ji-soo Kim cost Brentford £640,000. The 18-year-old is young and inexperienced but is good with both feet, tall and quick. There are a lot of bargains to be had in South Korea. He could be a real surprise package.
IW: Mark Flekken could be a bargain in Brentford’s goal since he cost not far shy of a third of the fella he’s replacing.
DT: I don’t really know why Sheffield United so casually sold Sander Berge for just £14m to a theoretical direct rival or why the entire bottom half of the Premier League weren’t all over that. So him, I guess.
WF: Mahmoud Dahoud, because Brighton.
JW: It’s hard to see where the goals are going to come from at Sheffield United and almost as difficult to find a player going for less than £15m this summer. For that reason I’m going to hope Benie Traore, signed from Swedish side Hacken for £4m, can score the goals to keep the Blades up.
LO: Mahmoud Dahoud. A decent replacement for Alexis Mac Allister on a free. Great business.
JS: Jefferson Lerma after joining Crystal Palace on a free transfer.
I don’t think the extent of Mo Dahoud’s skillset has quite sunk in yet… on a free transfer too, we will be shown soon. 🪄 pic.twitter.com/IC2R3T5sL0
— Ryan (@ryanadsett) August 3, 2023
Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?
SW: Impossible to see beyond Erling Haaland now. Literally. He is massive.
MS: Declan Rice. No, you’re an idiot.
JN: There’s no point in thinking it will be anyone but Erling Haaland.
IW: Factoring in the level of thought that goes into most players’ PFA vote, it’d be daft to say anyone but the lad who scores a mega-f***-tonne of goals. Haaland, then.
DT: So boring to say Haaland. So correct, but so boring. We’re all going to say Haaland, aren’t we? He is an existential threat to the F365 Predictions and must be stopped/sold to Real Madrid at the earliest convenience.
WF: Erling Haaland.
JW: Erling Haaland. He is reyt good.
LO: Bukayo Saka. Arsenal’s star boy will get loads of goals and assists en route to becoming a Premier League champion.
JS: Erling Haaland will probably score a ridiculous amount of goals, so the natural choice is him.
First manager to leave their Premier League job?
SW: Whoever comes in at Wolves because that looks like a near-impossible job.
MS: West Ham and David Moyes are clearly in the most successful and unbreakable of marriages at this point – one built on distrust and utter contempt for one another – so let’s say Marco Silva will regret turning down those Saudi riches. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian having their heads turned by Middle East interest, the absence or absolute loss of Joao Palhinha, a regression to the xG mean and some of those single-goal wins swinging the other way will all contribute to a tough start as Fulham finally accept they need to have at least three managers for one of their Premier League seasons to count.
JN: The flies are surely already buzzing around David Moyes. People are saying he’s got credit in the bank after winning the Europa Conference League but a Hammers fan told me that it only felt like such a big, unlikely win precisely because they did it with Moyes as manager. A case of in spite of, not because of.
I don’t fancy Paul Heckingbottom’s chances of being in work by Xmas either.
IW: Gary O’Neil and Paul Heckingbottom might push him close, but anything less than a stellar start would give people at West Ham the excuse they want to bin David Moyes.
DT: Gary O’Neil. He hasn’t even been appointed as I write, so that does give this even higher than normal potential for calamity, but Wolves look absolutely dreadful, have now had absolutely no meaningful pre-season whatsoever and face four of last season’s top six – Manchester United, Brighton, Liverpool and Manchester City – before the end of September. Plus I’m not sure even Watford have ever managed to get first and second place in the Sack Race before, so that would be an achievement of sorts.
WF: Roy Hodgson in the most mutual consent-y sacking in history.
JW: David Moyes. There have already been rumblings of discontent over the summer.
LO: David Moyes. The cracks are already clear to see.
JS: David Moyes. West Ham are a mess.
Pick the Champions League winner.
SW: Real Madrid after the signing of Jude Bellingham.
MS: Al-Hilal. Ah, gotcha. Last one before the Swiss model nonsense, isn’t it? City again.
JN: There’s no point in thinking it will be anyone but Manchester City.
IW: If Real get their hands on Kylian Mbappe, them. If not, urgh, City.
DT: Must be Real Madrid’s turn again now.
WF: Manchester City will win everything they give a toss about until Pep leaves.
JW: Real Madrid. Jude Bellingham (and maybe Kylian Mbappe) to make the difference.
LO: Real Madrid; a Jude Bellingham and Joselu masterclass is incoming.
JS: Real Madrid. Have I really just predicted City to end the season without the PL or CL?
In five words, tell us what you are most excited about this season.
SW: Who will bottle this season?
MS: Luton Town’s away end entrance.
JN: Watching Scottish football drinking vodka.
IW: Lots of new Prem goalkeepers.
DT: Spurs bringing Bazball to football.
WF: Kane-less Spurs winning a trophy
JW: Brewster to get a goal.
LO: Rotherham United staying up… again
JS: Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka.