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Football is back!
On Friday, the 2022-23 English Premier League season kicks off its 124th campaign with Arsenal heading to Selhurst Park and facing off with Crystal Palace. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place in Qatar, the illustrious competition will start in November and end in December instead of the typical June and July schedule.
This means that there will be a midseason break in the schedule. On Sunday Nov. 12, 10 matches will take place simultaneously, similar to Championship Sunday that ends the season. Matches will resume on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) with the tradition of all 20 clubs being in action at the same time.
The last time the Premier League was in action, fans everywhere were treated with another legendary title race. Manchester City rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Aston Villa on Championship Sunday to score three goals in nearly six minutes, winning 3-2 and thereby snatching the title away from Liverpool.
Will Man City and Liverpool have another title battle? Will Arsenal reach the top four for the first time since 2016? Who will survive relegation? Here is a breakdown of last year’s top 10 clubs, the midtable and the promoted clubs.
After winning yet another Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, Man City added one of the biggest young superstars in the world, 22-year-old Erling Haaland. The Norwegian striker thrived in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, scoring 86 goals in 89 matches across all competitions. However, Man City lost three key players as striker Gabriel Jesus and left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko left for Arsenal and Chelsea acquired long-time Man City winger Raheem Sterling. While Haaland is a generational talent, Man City’s chances of repeating are slimmer than usual with fewer scoring and playmaking options across their squad. Adding 22-year old Argentinian prospect Julian Alvarez will help as Man City supports hope he and Haaland can be the next generation of elite scoring for the club.
For the second time in four years, Liverpool lost the title by one point to Man City, but did grab two domestic trophies by winning the Carabao Cup and FA Cup Finals by beating Chelsea twice in penalty shootouts. Sadio Mane, who has been a consistent playmaker for Liverpool on the wings since 2016, has departed for Bayern Munich. Jurgen Klopp has reloaded by adding two elite scorers from SL Benfica over the past year, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez, the latter of which was added this summer for 75 million euros. With those two alongside Mohamed Salah while retaining their midfield and backline, expect Liverpool to regain the top of the mountain in the Premier League.
The Blues spent the majority of the transfer window losing their top transfer targets to Barcelona and watching two of their defenders leave for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively (Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger). However, Chelsea still landed several landmark players with Sterling and 2018/19 Serie A Best Defender Kalidou Koulibaly. Just on Friday, the transfer for Brighton & Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella was confirmed after reports were initially disputed. Thomas Tuchel has reloaded his lineup while keeping long-time defender Cesar Azpilicueta. With a cohesive structure and Kai Havertz finally slotting into his role as the primary forward, Chelsea will be a tough club for anyone to face in 2022-23.
Few clubs in the Premier League made a bigger splash in the transfer window than Tottenham. Antonio Conte brought in Ivan Perisic on a free transfer to provide a quality and veteran winger who has experience playing championship-level football. Richarlison comes over from Everton to give more depth behind the incredible duo of Son Hueng-Min and Harry Kane. To shore up the midfield and backline, the Spurs added Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma and Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet on loan. The Spurs will once again be competing for the top four in the Premier League as long as Kane and Son stay healthy, but with other clubs around them improving, Conte’s additions must make a splash on an inconsistent club.
The last time Arsenal reached Champions League football was 2016 when they finished second behind cinderella Leicester City in the Premier League table. Since then, Arsenal has consistently found new ways to bottle top four spots while losing the 2019 Europa League Final 4-1 against Chelsea. Arsenal’s squad has been full of underachieving and mediocre players that have let the club down in the biggest moments. Manager Mikel Arteta has finally managed to build a squad for the 2022-23 season that may finally put Arsenal over the hump.
With a foundation of young stalwarts in winger Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, the Gunners needed a true striker that could be a consistent scorer after disappointing seasons from Alexandre Lacazette (four goals in 30 Premier League matches last season). They achieved their goal by adding Man City striker Gabriel Jesus, who has never lost a Premier League match when he scores a goal. Joining him from the defending champions is Zinchenko, one of the top playmaking left-backs in the world. He will fill a void at that position with Kieran Tierney suffering from injury problems. Arsenal finally has the talent to push for a top four spot.
It’s been a rough summer for Manchester United as Cristiano Ronaldo tried his best to leave the club after one season, only for many clubs to reject him. Begrudgingly, he will return for Erik ten Hag’s first season as manager. The club is struggling to add Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong to the club amid financial issues as he has been ten Hag’s top transfer target after coaching him at Ajax in 2018/19. Without adding a splash so far in the transfer window, the only hope for the Red Devils to improve from their 2021/22 sixth-place finish is for winger Jadon Sancho to take a step forward in his second season with the club.
West Ham United
West Ham finished seventh in the Premier League last season to qualify for the Europa Conference League playoffs this season. Club legend Mark Noble retired after 18 years with the club, but retained most of their other key players. While they did not make a splash in the transfer window, they added many depth pieces with goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, midfielder Flynn Downes from Swansea City and forward Gianluca Scamacca. With other clubs around them getting better, West Ham should finish in the top half of the table, but will lose European play for the following season barring a title in the Conference League.
It is the end of an era at King Power Stadium as Leicester City lost long-time goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to Ligue 1 side OG Nice this summer. Danny Ward is finally the top goalkeeper on the club after spending years backing up Schmeichel. The Foxes did not add any transfer pieces over the summer and are still under the threat of losing pieces such as midfielder Youri Tielemans, who has been coveted by many top clubs. If Leicester is going to push for European play, Harvey Barnes (six goals in 32 appearances) must step up and take the scoring load off 35-year old Jamie Vardy.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton was a pleasant surprise in the top half of the Premier League table last season, finishing ninth with a rock-solid backline and midfield. However, other clubs saw the value of it and poached some of their best talent (Bissouma and Cucurella). While the defense will as always be reinforced by centre-back Lewis Dunk, the Seagulls will need Moises Caicedo to take over Bissouma’s spot in the midfield with the same consistency. Neal Maupay will have a lot of pressure on his right foot after scoring nine goals last season.
The Wolves have plenty of scoring and playmaking options on the roster with Adama Traore returning from his one-year loan from Barcelona, giving them speed on the wings once again. However, Wolverhampton will have a challenging start to the season with Traore, Raul Jimenez, Chiquinho and Nelson Semedo all missing their opening match against Leeds United due to injuries. Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto will have to improve their goal-scoring totals from last season after scoring a combined seven in Premier League play (six by Podence).
Newcastle United was one of the most improved clubs down the stretch in their first season since the Saudi Arabian ownership group takeover, winning six of their last eight matches. During the transfer window, manager Eddie Howe added several solid starters in goalkeeper Nick Pope and defender Matt Targett from Aston Villa.
Patrick Viera will guide another mid-table season for Crystal Palace as Wilfried Zaha comes off a 14-goal season with the club last year. They added American defender Chris Richards from Bayern Munich to shore up the backline. Brentford was a fun mid-table club last year in their first Premier League season in 74 years, beating Arsenal 2-0 in their opening match and beating Chelsea 4-1. Alas, they lost Christian Eriksen and could lose Ivan Toney, who scored 12 goals last season. However, a strong replacement could be on the way with Danish playmaker Mikel Damsgaard being linked with the Bees.
Aston Villa is a dark-horse club to push for a European spot. Philippe Coutinho is now a permanent Aston Villa player and will make an impact with Steven Gerrard returning as manager for his first full season with the club. With youngster Jacob Ramsey developing (six goals last season), expect Aston Villa to score goals in bunches as Ramsey could be the breakout player of the season.
Southampton and Everton are both clubs that did not see drastic improvements during the transfer windows that could pull them from the bottom of the table. Without Richarlison, Everton will find it difficult to score goals with Dominic Calvert-Lewin struggling to stay healthy. Southampton has added young but raw talent that may take a lot of time to adjust to the physical style of the Premier League.
Leeds United is becoming the United States of Leeds with the addition of two key USMNT players in Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams to American manager Jesse Marsch’s squad. However, Leeds will have to overcome losing midfielder Kalvin Phillips and winger Raphinha after barely avoiding relegation last season.
Bournemouth and Fulham once again rejoin the Premier League after both went down in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The Cherries hope to stay for another season and those hopes land on their huge transfer addition of midfielder Marcus Tavernier. Fulham has alternated Premier League and EFL Championship play every year since being promoted following the 2017/18 season. They added former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno to provide stability between the posts. Fulham is hoping striker Alexander Mitrovic can improve in the Premier League after 43 goals in 44 appearances last season compared to three goals in 27 Premier League matches in 2020/21.
Lastly, Nottingham Forest has the best chance of the three promoted clubs to survive after a 100 million euro shopping spree during the transfer window, including signing Jesse Lingard and Welsh starting goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. If their transfers can produce, Forest could push for more than just survival.
Top 7 – Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Aston Villa
Relegated – All three promoted clubs
Golden Boot – Erling Haaland
Player of the Season – Mohamed Salah