james debate
james debate

Saturday 27 August 2022

The football season is underway and it promises to be one for the history books. If this summer seemed strangely empty, it's because we are about to see a first ever winter World Cup when Qatar 2022 kicks off in December. A strong factor in fortunes this year will doubtless be how well teams can adapt to this new twist in the schedule: a more rested start to the season, with an absolutely chaotic mid-section. The 2022/23 season is chock-full of delicious subplots and rivalries and I am excited to see how it all plays out. So without further ado, let's dive into it and get the season underway.

premier league 2022/23 preview

Premier League 2022/23 Predictions in a nutshell:
Champions: Manchester City
Champions League qualifiers: Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham
Relegated: Bournemouth, Southampton, Nottingham Forest
Golden Boot winner: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Golden Glove winner: Ederson (Manchester City)
Player to watch: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
New signing to watch: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
Young player to watch: Reece James (Chelsea)
First manager to get the sack: Ralph Hasenhüttl (Southampton)
Shock of the season: Erik ten Hag sacked in his first season

Nickname: The Gunners
Ground: Emirates Stadium
Capacity: 60,000
Position last season: 5th
Manager: Mikel Arteta

It seems like every year there is a great amount of hype around Arsenal. The Gunners are perennially tipped with being on the cusp of a return to the upper levels of English football, a promise that always ends up falling short. Over the past few seasons, Arsenal have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on mostly dud signings and have little to show for it (aside from one asterisk of a cup final for which they rightly receive little credit). 

Yet, this season there is the very real sense that progress is being made. Arsenal have started to make investments in the right places and their more promising youngsters have started to come of age. They lost Aubameyang to Barcelona, but replaced him astutely with the proven Premier League talent of Gabriel Jesus. Midfielders Saka and Odegaard have been revelatory over the past season. The signing of Zinchenko may well be the missing piece of the puzzle, providing some genuine class at the back and reducing the club's dependency on the injury prone Kieran Tierney.

Doubts still remain as to whether Arteta is the man to pull all this together, but there is a real feeling of positivity around the club for a change and the sense that this could well be the year that sees them return to European competition.

Key Signing: Gabriel Jesus
Key Man: Martin Odegaard
Verdict: For the first time in years, Arsenal look like genuine top four contenders.

Nickname: The Villans
Ground: Villa Park
Capacity: 42,095
Last season: 14th
Manager: Steven Gerrard

This time last year, Aston Villa looked set for big things. Some very ambitious transfer activity saw the recruitment of prominent attacking talents like Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore and Emiliano Buendia. But Steven Gerrard's men flattered to deceive, and a surprisingly lacklustre finish in the lower half of the table was the end result. It remains to be seen whether this was merely teething issues for this promising side or something else, but now in Gerrard's first full season with the club the pressure will surely be on to make the most of the talents available.

The Villans have been busy in the transfer market once again, with the most notable coup being the signing of Philippe Coutinho, the ex-Liverpool man who, just a few seasons ago, was Barcelona's record £150million acquisition. Coutinho's Barcelona stint turned out to be something of a disappointment, but if he can recapture even a shred of his former quality he could well be the force that propels Villa to great things.

Of course, no preview of Villa's season is complete without mention of the media-tantalizing prospect of a Gerrard/Lampard managerial rivalry to grace the Premier League. Just one of the tasty plotlines that will be running through this season.

Key Signing: Philippe Coutinho
Key Man: Danny Ings
Verdict: After a year of stagnation, expect Villa to rise. Europa League qualification has to be the target.

Nickname: The Cherries
Ground: Dean Court
Capacity: 11,364
Last season: Promoted (Runner-up)
Manager: Scott Parker

A return to the Premier League for new-look Bournemouth, now helmed by media-darling Scott Parker. A rough welcome lies ahead, with matches against City, Arsenal and Liverpool early on, and I'm not sure it's going to get much better.

At the risk of sounding harsh, there's little that stands out from this Bournemouth side. In a league where every side, even those struggling at the bottom, are blessed with resources and impressive talent, that may well not be good enough. It's worrying that the core of this side largely consists of the same players who were present at the club's last relegation, while their attacking prospects seem to be very much reliant on Dominic Solanke, a player who, while very impressive at Championship level, is unproven in the Premier League.

There's not much to get excited about in the summer transfer business either. Joe Rothwell has impressed in the lower leagues, but for a team in desperate need of top level talent, at the time of writing they haven't found it.

Key Signing: Joe Rothwell
Key Man: Dominic Solanke
Verdict: A prime relegation candidate.


Nickname: The Bees
Ground: Brentford Community Stadium
Capacity: 17,250
Last season: 13th
Manager: Thomas Frank

I'm not one to pat myself on the back, but at this point last season, while most pundits were predicting abject relegation for Brentford, I made the somewhat bold prediction that they would survive and quite comfortably. Not only did that prove to be correct, but their 13th place finish matches my pre-season prediction exactly. Indeed, you'd have to say Brentford had a remarkable first season in the Premier League. Now the question is can they repeat the feat, or will they fall victim to the dreaded second season syndrome?

On the one hand, Brentford have lost their talismanic midfielder Christian Eriksen, now back at his career best. But frontman Ivan Toney has remained. The club has also strengthened well elsewhere. There is much hype surrounding the transfer of Aaron Hickey, who had been linked with a move to illustrious clubs such as Arsenal. But the key signing for me is Ben Mee, whose top flight experience and consistency at the back will be invaluable for a club that may well need to fight for survival.

This is a well-run club and they have been smart in the markets. It could well be a tough season for Brentford, but I think they have enough about them to stay up if they can avoid key injuries and retain Toney through the end of the transfer window.

Key Signing: Ben Mee
Key Man: Ivan Toney
Verdict: A relegation risk but I think they'll survive again.

Nickname: The Seagulls
Ground: Falmer Stadium
Capacity: 31,800
Last season: 9th
Manager: Graham Potter

Brighton are remarkable well run outfit and their progress up the league system in recent years has been a remarkable story. Last season saw Potter's side rise to new heights and a record league finish. It wasn't long ago that Brighton in the Premier League sounded like a pipe dream, but now they are a very fine side and established top flight mainstays. Accordingly, they begin this season a deserved wave of positivity.

Can they take the next step and establish themselves as a top ten side? It will be difficult with the increasingly high standard of competition around them, with matters not helped by the fact that several of their key players will have World Cup duties as a distraction. But to the extent they can keep their spine of Robert Sanchez, Leandro Trossard and Lewis Dunk fit and available, this will be a tough side for any other to face. 

Brighton are also blessed with some very exciting young talent in the squad, most notably Chelsea academy graduate Tariq Lamptey who has already established himself as a first team stalwart. I also expect we will be hearing a lot more from Jeremy Sarmiento this season if he can stay fit. Levi Colwill on loan from Chelsea is another very promising young defender, who had been considered in potential contention for first team duties at Stamford Bridge before the signing of Koulibaly. Then there is the 18 year old Julio Encisco, signed this summer from Paraguayan club Libertad. Already a full international in spite of his tender years, there is great buzz that Encisco could become a Premier League hit over the next few years.

Key Signing: Levi Colwill
Key Man: Leandro Trossard
Verdict: Matching last season's feats will be a tall order, but should achieve a solid midtable finish.

Nickname: Blues
Ground: Stamford Bridge
Capacity: 41,837
Last season: 3rd
Manager: Thomas Tuchel

It's the start of a new era at Stamford Bridge, with Todd Boehly's consortium taking the reins from the long-standing Abramovich regime. Ambitions are high, nothing short of world domination in Boehly's words, but fans and pundits would be wise not to expect too much this season; this Chelsea side still have a lot of work to do.

It would be easy to look at the £200 million odd spent on transfer fees this summer and think that Chelsea will be bristling with talent and contend for the title. But the fact is they also lost a significant amount of talent during the summer turmoil for which the new acquisitions just barely compensate, little has been done to actually improve this squad beyond where they were last season. Most notably, Chelsea head into the season without a recognised striker in the squad following the departures of Lukaku and Werner (and more importantly, Tammy Abraham last season). That's an extraordinary state of affairs and means the club will need to rely on playing the likes of Kai Havertz out of position, or untested academy players like Armando Broja. 

Other than this (rather significant) gap, Chelsea's squad is strong. They have an enviable core of young talent with Reece James, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and others, while their new signings are good ones. Raheem Sterling is an elite attacker who will trouble any defence, while Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the world's top defenders and one of the few players who could have stepped in for the departing Rudiger. It's a good side, but difficult to see where the goals will reliably come from. Unless that changes, Chelsea will face a difficult challenge to stay in the top four.

Key Signing: Raheem Sterling
Key Man: Reece James
Verdict: Will struggle to achieve top four without reinforcements up front.

Nickname: Eagles, Glaziers
Ground: Selhurst Park
Capacity: 25,486
Last season: 12th
Manager: Patrick Vieira
What more can be said about the job Patrick Vieira has done at Crystal Palace? Taking over the reins amind a period of great instability at the club, last season they were the pick of many pundits to face the drop. But Vieira's team exceeded expectations to claim a safe midtable position and did so credibly.

The talismanic Wilfried Zaha remains the star man for Palace, but not to the same lopsided degree as has historically been the case. There is an exciting young team at the core of last season's successes, notably the burgeoning defensive pairing of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, as well 19 year old crowd favourite Michael Olise. 

However they face a huge task to fill the gap left by last season's loanee Conor Gallagher, now back at parent club Chelsea. Gallagher was arguably one of the best young players in last season's Premier League and his absence will be felt here. The man Palace fans will be hoping to step into this role is 22 year old Chieck Doucouré, impressive last season in Ligue 1 for Lens.

I see this side as a work in progress and, particularly with the loss of such a key player, I wouldn't expect to see much greater ambition from the club this season. That said, I also don't expect their position in the top flight to be in any particular jeopardy.

Key Signing: Cheick Doucouré
Key Man: Wilfried Zaha
Verdict: Another comfortable midtable finish awaits.

Nickname: Toffees
Ground: Goodison Park
Capacity: 40,170
Last season: 16th
Manager: Frank Lampard

The last few seasons have been an emotional rollercoaster for Everton fans. From the highs of the Ancelotti appointment to the lows of Rafa Benitez, the club were ultimately only saved from relegation last season by the talented, yet unproven hands of Frank Lampard.

Firstly the manager: despite his relative lack of experience, Frank Lampard is a very talented manager. He did excellent work at Derby County and was harshly treated at Chelsea despite building a team with arguably their best core since the first Mourinho period. He will get the best from this Everton team if given time.

The bigger problem is that no matter who the manager is, there's only so much you can do with an uninspiring squad. The loss of Richarlison is a big blow and despite spending £20 million on Dwight McNeil I don't think they have adequately replaced the threat he offers up front. Particularly with Calvert-Lewin's injury issues, there will be a lot of hope placed on the shoulders of youngster Anthony Gordon. At the back, however, they look much more solid, with Pickford reliable as always and the signings of Amadou Onana and James Tarkowski good upgrades defensively.

Key Signing: Amadou Onana
Key Man: Jordan Pickford
Verdict: Should stay up, but this squad still needs improvement to rise above the relegation fray.

Nickname: The Cottagers
Ground: Craven Cottage
Capacity: 22.384
Last season: Promoted (Champions)
Manager: Marco Silva

A return to the Premier League for one of England's great yoyo clubs and already the Cottagers are the favourites of many to go right back down again. I don't see it though. I think this side is better than people give them credit and they will stay up.

Make no mistake relegation is certainly a risk, but this is a pretty good Fulham side, as anyone who watched their record-breaking exploits in the Championship last season. I tip Aleksandar Mitrovic for a big season on his Premier League return. The man gets goals and right now I think he's better than he has ever been. Elsewhere, Andreas Pereira is an inspired signing, and people are underrating the impact Joao Palhinha will have in this midfield. 

It's a good side and I'd say they've recruited well to play at a top flight level. It's not been the wild and ill-fated shopping spree of 2018, but a more shrewd and deliberate approach. It's one that will suit their ambitions well this season. They don't need to try and build the next Leicester City, they just need to grind out enough points.

Key Signing: Andreas Pereira
Key Man: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Verdict: A relegation risk, but I think they will stay up.

Nickname: The Whites
Ground: Elland Road
Capacity: 37,890
Last season: 17th
Manager: Jesse Marsch
One of the big stories of recent Premier League seasons, Leeds have impressed in fits and spurts since their return to the top flight and generally maintained a good level of play even as their managers and playing staff have rotated. I've see a few people tipping them for the drop this season, but even though they ran it close last season I don't see it happening.

The main challenge for Leeds this season will be the loss of two key players in Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha. This is no easy task, but Tyler Adams looks a promising Phillips replacement so far, while the hope is that Brenden Aaronson will be able to grow into that attacking threat Raphinha used to offer. While some transition is to be expected, there is still some pretty good talent in this Leeds side. Rodrigo is genuinely one of the better forwards in the league, and he will be pivotal to their chances. 

This is a dangerous side that can cause problems for any other on their day, the question will be whether they can address their fragility at the back. New signing Rasmus Kristensen could end up being the acquisition that most influences their fate over the next 9 months, for if he can bring some stability to this backline then you would think this Leeds side have a good chance of finishing safe.

Key Signing: Rasmus Kristensen
Key Man: Rodrigo
Verdict: May fall into the relegation battle, but if new signings can gel I would expect them to achieve a safe midtable finish.

Nickname: The Foxes
Ground: King Power Stadium
Capacity: 32,261
Last season: 8th
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
It is perhaps unsurprising that Leicester have failed to live up to their billing following that remarkable title win. Each season it seems expectations are raised and on paper you can see why. This is a very solid squad with all the foundations for success. Yet, following another bland 8th place finish and with almost all of the golden age squad now departed, the question remains will they finally make that push into European contention, or slink back into midtable safety.

It's baffling then, that the club has shown little apparent interest in rebuilding and strengthening. At the time of writing, their only signing has been a new backup goalkeeper. It's perplexing, especially as questions remain as to the status of so many key players. Fofana may yet leave to Chelsea, Tielemans may move to Arsenal and Jamie Vardy, great though he is, will turn 36 this season. 

To be fair, there is still a core of very good players here. Those mentioned above (if they remain fit and at the club) as well as James Maddison, Daka, Iheanacho, Perez and others. But each season that the club do not strengthen, they weaken, especially with their rivals spending huge amounts on new talent. So while I am not going to suggest that Leicester have a potential relegation fight on their hands, I still think this could be a difficult season for them that sees them once again fail to meet their targets.

Key Signing: N/A
Key Man: Jamie Vardy
Verdict: A tough season awaits that could see the club slump into the lower half of the table.

Nickname: Reds
Ground: Anfield
Capacity: 54,074
Last season: 2nd
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
As ever in recent seasons, expectations are high at Liverpool. It is a given that this club will be in contention for honours and remain the closest challenger to Manchester City's imperious array of talent. Yet, there is the odd whiff of stagnation about this team.

Sadio Mané has been a big, underappreciated part of this club's success in recent years and his departure to Bayern Munich will come as a blow. Darwin Nunez is ostensibly the man who will slot into his role following a fantastic season at Benfica, but is unproven at this level. Transfer business this summer has otherwise been minimal, although there's some buzz around the signing of youngster Fabio Carvalho. 

The core of this team otherwise remains the same. Alisson is a top level goalkeeper, Trent Alexander-Arnold an excellent wingback, Virgil van Dijk one of the best defenders of his generation, and of course Mo Salah, probably the best footballer in the world right now. 

Liverpool will be up there, but I do feel that they haven't done enough to up their level to challenge City this season, whereas their main title rival has done plenty to strengthen, as we will see.

Key Signing: Darwin Nunez
Key Man: Mo Salah
Verdict: There or thereabouts.

Nickname: Blues
Ground: Etihad Stadium
Capacity: 55,017
Last season: Champions
Manager: Pep Guardiola

While they may have missed out once again on that elusive European title, Manchester City's domestic dominance last season says everything you need to know. This is still very much the team to beat and one of the few teams unquestionably in the hunt for the title this season.

Pre-season, all the talk has been about the new man Erling Haaland. Haaland has long been tipped as one of the key players of his generation, and a future Ballon d'Or contender. Considering one of City's few weak spots last season was the lack of an Aguero replacement up front, Haaland could well be the missing piece of the puzzle that finally makes them genuine Champions League contenders.

The rest of the squad is, of course, still great.. They boast an embarrassment of riches in defence and attack with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker and many others. The fact that they have players like Nathan Aké, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva not even guaranteed a starting place makes clear just how deep a squad they have. 

While European success is undoubtedly at the forefront of the club's minds, the opportunity to make domestic history won't have escaped their notice. Should City win the title again this year, which they could well do, they would become one of only two clubs (the other being Man Utd) in the Premier League era to win three titles in a row, and one of only four (Liverpool, Arsenal and... err... Huddersfield) in the entirety of English top flight history to do so.

Key Signing: Erling Haaland
Key Man: Kevin de Bruyne
Verdict: Title favourites.

Nickname: Red Devils
Ground: Old Trafford
Capacity: 74,879
Last season: 6th
Manager: Erik ten Hag
How do you fix a problem like Manchester United. The post-Ferguson era has been a series of false dawns as a precession of the game's brightest managers have tried and failed to find success. The latest is Erik ten Hag, the man who revolutionised Ajax and restored their place as one of Europe's big clubs, and he's got a heck of a job on his hands.

It's hard to pinpoint what exactly is the problem with this club. They have endless resources, name brand recognition, and some of the most highly regarded talent both on and off the pitch. Yet they consistently disappoint. These defenders are all good players individually, but there is no one organising the back line. Cristiano Ronaldo is still a good player despite his advancing years, but his presence in the team sucks all the air out of the room. His supporting cast all face their own issues: Martial's injury woes, Sancho's failure to thrive in the Premier League, Rashford's lack of progress. Even star man Bruno Fernandes has never really lived up to the potential shown in his first half season.

It's been a quiet, yet deliberate summer of transfer activity for the club. The signing of Christian Eriksen on a free is great business, while Lisandro Martinez should also improve the squad. The club has also shipped out a lot of the dead wood and aging benchwarmers, which can only have a positive impact. Despite this, much more needs to be done before United can once again trouble the top of the table.

Key Signing: Christian Eriksen
Key Man: Bruno Fernandes
Verdict: A club in transition that don't look ready for prime time.

Nickname: The Magpies, Toon
Ground: St James' Park
Capacity: 52,305
Last season: 11th
Manager: Eddie Howe

Exciting times for Newcastle United. After all the years of drama and discord, Mike Ashley has actually gone and the club finds itself under new owners. The new boss comes with deep pockets and plenty of ambition. Is this a false dawn or the start of big things for the Toon?

Despite all the hype, the new regime's approach to squad building has been more careful and measured than one might have expected. No flashy big-money strikers, plenty of solid, pragmatic spine. Nick Pope is an excellent signing in goal, while Botman and Targett add grit to the defensive line. 

This squad could certainly use some more attacking threat, with Allan Saint-Maximin still very much the key to their offensive hopes. Callum Wilson is as solid as ever, but beyond those two depth is quite thin. Further back, however, they look solid, with the reinvented midfield general Joelinton the beating heart of a team that will take some beating.

For the first time in a long while, the future looks bright for Newcastle, but don't expect too much too soon.

Key Signing: Nick Pope
Key Man: Joelinton
Verdict: Should have a solid season, perhaps push into the top half.


Nickname: The Reds
Ground: City Ground
Capacity: 30,445
Last season: Promoted (Playoff)
Manager: Steve Cooper
Here's one for nostalgic football fans. A former giant of a football club with a storied history, Nottingham Forest have nevertheless found themselves looking in from the outside since their relegation in 1999. The new owners have high ambitions as they seek to re-establish the reds as a player in the English top flight, but in truth they will do well to stay up.

No one can say they aren't giving it a go, however, and Forest have added no fewer than 14 players to their squad over the summer for a reported combined outlay close to £150 million, including £42 million spent on Wolves' Morgan Gibbs-White and £17 million on Taiwo Awoniyi, whose return of a goal every other game in the Bundesliga last season was very impressive. But the most significant of the bunch may end up being the shrewd free transfer of Jesse Lingard, an ephemeral if undoubtedly talented player who brings some much needed top flight experience.

They need it too, because the squad that won Forest promotion is worryingly low on experience of playing in the country's biggest league. Even at the Championship level last season their backline was often considered shaky and their depth of attacking options looks thin, even with the new signings. It will be interesting to see how Forest's core of young talent step up to the big time. Players like Welsh international Brennan Johnson and Ryan Yates are unproven but with plenty of upside potential. If Forest are going to surprise a few people, it may come from those kinds of players.

Key Signing: Jesse Lingard
Key Man: Brennan Johnson
Verdict: Romanticism notwithstanding, Forest face a tough fight for survival.

Nickname: Saints
Ground: St. Mary's Stadium
Capacity: 32,690
Last season: 15th
Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl
For a club with so much perennial potential, Southampton have been moving sideways for a number of years now. Any time they look like they might be building a team to push up the table, that talent gets poached by a bigger club. Not enough has been done to replace outgoing key players, and the result is a team that is more miss than hit.

That lack of goal threat up front could come back to bite them this season. Instead, the Saints will be counting on their new recruits bolstering the midfield and backline to bring some additional spine. In particular, the signing of Manchester City hot prospect Romeo Lavia will be a tantalising prospect on the south coast. Rumour has it that City have insisted on a buyback clause, so hotly tipped is Lavia.

Of their current playing staff, it is clear who stands out. A box-to-box midfielder and deadly set piece taker, James Ward-Prowse is the captain and just about everything in this team runs through him. His midfield will be productive, but without a proven top flight goalscorer up front, there's only so much that productivity can achieve.

They aren't much discussed when it comes to the relegation battle, but in truth Southampton only just managed to stay up last season. I could easily see them being dragged down into that fray again this season.

Key Signing: Romeo Lavia
Key Man: James Ward-Prowse
Verdict: In real peril of relegation if Hasenhüttl can't achieve greater stability.

Nickname: Spurs
Ground: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Capacity: 62,850
Last season: 4th
Manager: Antonio Conte
What a difference a year can make. It's been years of post-Pochettino stagnation, with even the great Jose Mourinho unable to coax some life from this side of perennial underachievers. This year, however, that may finally be about to change. Antonio Conte is at the reins, and his side are tipped for big things.

There's a few reasons why expectations are suddenly so high. Firstly, there's the manager himself. Antonio Conte is one of the best in the game, known for getting the best out of any assortment of players. If these players have talent, he will get it from them. Second is the side itself, which is shaping up to be quite excellent on paper. Harry Kane, of course, needs to introduction, but lately it's been the man Son Heung-Min who has set the imaginatively named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium alight. If those two are on form, then Spurs can boast one of the finest attacks in Europe.

Tottenham have also recruited well over the summer, something for which they have been criticised in past years. The acquisition of Richarlison from Everton is clearly a headline move, the Brazilian long tipped as a star of the future. But particularly intriguing is the signing of Ivan Perišić from Inter. The Croatian may be 33 years of age now, but he brings with him vast experience and the ability to play anywhere up or down the flank.

If I am honest, I think the hype over Tottenham is excessive. This is a good side with a great manager who should get into the top four, but any talk of the title is very premature. They need far greater depth all across the board before we can even consider such a thing.

Key Signing: Ivan Perišić
Key Man: Son Heung-Min
Verdict: A strong top four contender, but unlikely to trouble the big two.

Nickname: The Hammers
Ground: London Stadium
Capacity: 60,000
Last season: 7th
Manager: David Moyes

It's a good time to be a West Ham fan. David Moyes, it is safe to say, has simply blown past all expectations in recent seasons with very credible 6th and 7th place finishes. Can they build on this and establish themselves as a "best of the rest" club in English football, or will they fade away as so many others have before?

There is a good solid core to this team. Fabianski has been solid in goal, behind a rock solid defence of Cresswell, Coufal, and Kurt Zouma. It is still Declan Rice in the heart of the midfield who is the essential man in this side, pulling the strings and dominating everywhere. 

The problem in recent years has been up front. Michail Antonio is a handful, but not prolific enough for a club of this stature and with little depth behind him. This summer's transfer activity may remedy this long-standing weakness, however, with the arrival of Gianluca Scamacca. The former Sassuolo man has shown a knack for goal, despite being just 23 years of age. 

Like Tottenham, I feel this is a club that has a habit of being overhyped. I've seen some pundits talking of a top four challenge, which will categorically not happen this season. Frankly, I wonder if enough has been done to deepen the squad, particularly in attacking midfield. This side has performed well recently, but with their rivals strengthening around them, they may find themselves slipping down the table without further recruitment.

Key Signing: Gianluca Scamacca
Key Man: Declan Rice
Verdict: A solid, if less inspiring season seems likely, with a midtable finish.

Nickname: Wolves
Ground: Molineux Stadium
Capacity: 32,050
Last season: 10th
Manager: Bruno Lage

One of the more interesting clubs to watch in recent years. Formerly a Big Club™ as recently as the mid 20th Century, buoyed in recent years by a wave of foreign investment. Their first few seasons upon returning to the Premier League bade well for the future, a few statement-of-intent signings leading to creditable performances and contention for European qualification. Since then, however, it hasn't exactly panned out as hoped, with two midtable finishes in the past two seasons and an overriding sense that things have gone off the boil to an extent.

Wolves remain a club blessed with resources and hold the ambition of pushing into the top six. In practice, this will be easier said than done. Ruben Neves remains a classy player, but otherwise this is a playing squad that looks diminished from what it was just a few years ago. Goals have continued to be a major issue, and much of the club's hopes may rest on how well new striker  Hwang Hee-chan settles into the Premier League. The signing of Nathan Collins at the back will also provide some a needed boost to a squad that had struggled with just three centre backs for much of last season.
Those ambitions will need to wait, and with their rivals strengthening all around them this could be a tricky season for Wolves. I don't think they are in danger of any kind of existential threat, but I could easily see them sliding down the table this season.

Key Signing: Hwang Hee-chan
Key Man: Ruben Neves
Verdict: Without further reinforcements will struggle.

Predicted table:
1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Arsenal
4. Tottenham
5. Chelsea
6. Manchester United
7. Aston Villa
8. Newcastle
9. Brighton
10. Crystal Palace
11. West Ham United
12. Leicester
13. Leeds
14. Wolverhampton Wanderers
15. Everton
16. Brentford
17. Fulham
18. Bournemouth
19. Southampton
20. Nottingham Forest

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