Wolves top five, Spurs chaos, City bottle it: Eight Premier League predictions based entirely on pre-season results

Dave Tickner
Harry Kane, Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham, August 2023
Ange Postecoglou instructs Harry Kane

If there’s one thing we know about pre-season football it’s that pre-season football is an absolutely cast-iron predictor of what will follow in actual season. It’s quite literally foolproof. Never fails.

With that in mind, here are some predictions – well, not even predictions really because they’re basically just statements of obvious unimpeachable fact – of what’s going to go down over the next 10 months…


Every Spurs game will end in a 5-1 win or a thrillingly silly high-scoring defeat
Right, we’re off to a slightly misleading start here because all banter aside we do actually think this one is broadly true. They’re going to be absolutely batshit chaos this season are Spurs. Are they going to be any good? Dunno. Where do we think they’ll finish? No idea. Will they be by a distance the most watchable team in the division? Absolutely yes.

They’ve had two 5-1 wins in pre-season while also losing 3-2 to West Ham in a game that genuinely could have finished 5-5 and 4-2 to Barcelona in a game they led 2-1 with 10 minutes to go. And that is pretty much precisely what we expect from them once the season begins for reals.

What we don’t know, and what will ultimately define their season, is the ratio of 5-1 wins to silly high-scoring defeats. If we stick to our ‘pre-season is an entirely reliable guide’ schtick it’s going to be 50-50. Which is probably about right. Has a team ever finished in the bottom half while scoring 100 goals? Maybe in one of those daft old-timey seasons they used to have when everyone scored eight against hungover defences on Boxing Day. Spurs could definitely do it this season. (Finish in the bottom half while scoring 100 goals, that is. Not the hungover Boxing Day bit. Although maybe?)


Villa, Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton and Wolves to finish in the top five
All unbeaten in pre-season. Nobody else can say that. You just can’t argue with these kinds of form-lines. Villa and Newcastle obviously finished last season pretty well too, so that’s them locked in and helpfully there is absolutely nothing going on at Chelsea, Everton or especially Wolves to suggest they can’t also bag top-five finishes with minimal fuss.


Brentford are going down
Winless in pre-season after defeats to Fulham and Brighton in America to go with draws against Villa, Lille and Boreham Wood. Now there’s some Premier League and Premier League-strength opposition in there, but also Boreham Wood. At best it’s three points from five games, and if we extrapolate that across a whole 38-game season as we obviously can and must it’s clear relegation form for the Bees.


Liverpool will rival Spurs for top-scorer honours
They’ve scored at least three and very often four goals in each of their five pre-season games. Who cares about trivial stuff like completely rebuilding an entire midfield in the space of three months when you’re whacking in goals against the Greuther Furths and Darmstadts of this world? Not us, that’s for damn sure.

READ: Carra is right: Why are Liverpool dallying over Lavia after forcing three-year rebuild into one summer?


Luton are going to be just fine
Two wins and two draws from a determinedly and delightfully old-school pre-season programme featuring Peterborough, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves. None of your fancy US or Far East or Australian tour nonsense for the Hatters, but a set of fixtures that resembles nothing more than a sneaky under-the-radar run to the Carabao quarter-finals.


Treble-winning Manchester City are the bottle jobs now
You can win all the European Big Cups you like, nobody will remember that. But they’ll definitely remember a massive choke in the Community Shield. They’re definitely winning nothing this season. And when Arsenal now inevitably win the league, we hope Gabriel Agbonlahor gets cross at them for celebrating like they’ve won the bloody Community Shield.


Manchester United are going to play the most games
They had an absurd number of games last season, and, while the four-pronged assault on success petered out a bit after the Carabao final, they’ve nevertheless decided they rather like playing every three days because they’ve been at it again in pre-season with eight games in 25 days between July 12 and August 6. More cup runs ahoy!


Arsenal are going to win a real trophy on penalties
Having won the Emirates Cup and the Community Shield on spot-kicks, Arsenal appear in good shape for the Sextuple(?) and will win at least one of those trophies on penalties. Probably not the Premier League.

MAILBOX: Arsenal to win the Premier League? The first of the pre-season predictions are in