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Top 4? Worst signing? The42's 2022-23 Premier League predictions

Our writers preview the coming campaign.
Aug 5th 2022, 6:00 AM 30,289 11

Updated Aug 5th 2022, 8:00 PM

Gavin Cooney

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal

Who will get relegated?

Fulham, Bournemouth, Everton.

Best and worst signing of the close season?

Best signing: The Haaland/Nunez signings will be fascinating and may decide where the title goes, but I am going to pick a guy Haaland displaced: Gabriel Jesus should be a super addition for Arsenal. He has the all-round game and work ethic that Aubameyang lacked, and will add the goalscoring presence in the box that Lacazette lacked. His arrival means Mikel Arteta has no excuses left. A mention too for Boubacar Kamara at Aston Villa – signing him was a great piece of business.

Worst signing: It looks like Chelsea nor any other club will repeat Man United’s folly and lumber their squads with Cristiano Ronaldo, so it’s tough to say. It’s borderline-unfair to say, but from this vantage point, Everton may own it, having replaced Richarlison (30 Premier League goals across the last three seasons) with Dwight McNeil (four Premier League goals across the last three seasons.)

Who will be this season’s surprise package?
Perhaps Spurs, as I think they will push the top two really close. Nottingham Forest will be a surprise given they’ve effectively recruited a whole new team since promotion.

Which Irish player are you most looking forward to watching?
Fingers crossed Matt Doherty stays fit and remains in Antonio Conte’s first-choice team. If that’s the case, he could have a great season.

Which manager will be the first to leave their club?
It sounds like Marco Silva could walk from Fulham at any moment. But I’ll say Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa. They have recruited heavily and that puts Gerrard under some pressure to start quickly, given they were pretty…meh under him last season.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?
Most looking forward to: I can’t wait to see how Erling Haaland adapts to Man City, and how Man City adapt to him. If the title hinges on a single factor, that’s likely it.

Least looking forward to: The continuing of the dreary trend of partisan football pundits acting like supporters on television. Viewers forking out for pricey subscriptions deserve better than that.

manchester-citys-erling-haaland-during-the-fa-community-shield-match-at-the-king-power-stadium-leicester-picture-date-saturday-july-30-2022 Man City's Erling Haaland. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Paul Fennessy

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea

One of the unfortunate aspects of pre-season predictions is that you’ve no way of knowing exactly how every squad will look come the end of August, so I’ll say here that Manchester United will have a better chance of making the top four if they sign Frenkie de Jong and one or two others ahead of the deadline.

I’m fairly confident of the top two being Man City and Liverpool, though not necessarily in that order. I’m not placing too much emphasis on the Community Shield result — it’s a glorified friendly, and City also looked fairly lacklustre at the start of last season, as they lost their opening game to Tottenham.

As with Cristiano Ronaldo for United, the signing of Erling Haaland virtually guarantees them a hatful of goals but doesn’t necessarily make them a better team. Acquiring the much-sought-after Norway international potentially creates as many problems as it resolves, with City ostensibly needing to sacrifice a degree of control in terms of possession in order to develop a more clinical edge up top. However, it seems to me like a relatively minor dilemma at best and they should regardless be good enough to beat the majority of teams and launch a strong title challenge again.

For Liverpool, Sadio Mane will be a loss, but the likes of summer signing Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz should be more than capable of filling the void.

I consequently expect it to be close again, but the dominant City may pip their biggest rivals to the title once more for what would be a remarkable fifth title in six seasons.

Below that, Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal should all be good enough to challenge for the additional Champions League spots. As it stands, Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel’s squads are looking the healthiest, so without being especially confident in doing so, I’ll back them.

Who will get relegated?

18. Everton 19. Fulham 20. Bournemouth

I’m going to be very boring and obvious by tipping two of the three promoted sides — Fulham and Bournemouth — to go straight back down. Looking at their respective squads, Fulham probably have the better chance of survival having made a couple of notable signings, with Bournemouth looking like they’ll largely be reliant on the same group of players that earned them promotion last season. Everton struggled in 2021-22 and their summer recruitment has not been especially impressive, so they may be in for a challenging season again and could well join the other two in the bottom three. In addition, promoted sides that get an initial bounce often fall victim to the dreaded second-season syndrome, so Brentford may also have a fight on their hands, especially seeing as they’ve lost a key player in Christian Eriksen. Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, have spent heavily on Jesse Lingard’s wages among other exorbitant luxuries. While that policy does not always work, I suspect they should have enough quality to marginally beat the drop.

Best and worst signing of the close season?

Liverpool’s record in the transfer market has been generally excellent in recent years, so while it was a huge fee (a little over €100 million if you take into account potential add-ons), I would be very surprised if Darwin Nunez doesn’t hit the ground running and help the Reds forget about the departure of Sadio Mane, who himself will surely be remembered as one of the most astute signings in the club’s history.

In terms of the worst, he’s not a bad player, but I’m not sure signing Dwight McNeil for a reported fee of around €23 million will be enough to avoid another season to forget for Everton.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

Perhaps I’m making liberal use of the word ‘surprise,’ but I fully expect Newcastle to build on an impressive end to last season. If you were to base last year’s table on results in the second half of the campaign alone, the Magpies would have finished fourth. They have improved their squad this season with the additions of Sven Botman, Matt Targett and Nick Pope. If any of Spurs, Arsenal, Man United or Chelsea underperform, Eddie Howe’s side appear to be the best-equipped team to capitalise and claim a top-six spot, which would constitute another significant milestone in their new Saudi-backed era.

Which Irish player are you most looking forward to watching?

Shane Duffy, Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty deserve enormous credit for having built sustained careers at the top level, but it’s perhaps easier to get excited about the more unfamiliar and younger trio of Nathan Collins, Mark Travers and Gavin Bazunu. Collins and Bazunu in particular I believe have a higher ceiling than any of the other current young crop of Irish internationals. And of the more under-the-radar players, it will be especially interesting to see if the hugely promising Evan Ferguson can build on his sole Premier League appearance last year. Still not 18 until October, the Meath teenager has the potential to be the most exciting Irish striker to emerge in a long time.

Which manager will be the first to leave their club?

Frank Lampard looks in danger even before a ball has been kicked. Everton barely survived last year and I’m unconvinced the signings of McNeil, James Tarkowski, and Ruben Vinagre will drastically change their fortunes, while the departure of star striker Richarlison is clearly a big loss.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

‘Dreading’ is probably the wrong word, but I’m certainly not enamoured with the idea of a lengthy mid-season break. The World Cup really should not be taking place during winter in Qatar for a variety of reasons that have been well documented and that decision epitomises everything that is wrong with the way modern football is run.

I’m most looking forward to seeing how Man United get on. At times last season, there was a car-crash quality to watching the Red Devils. They should be entertaining for different reasons this time around. Erik ten Hag is one of the most respected coaches in Europe for a reason and while meeting the massive expectations at the club will be a tall order, he should at the very least be able to get them playing positive, free-flowing football again that’s fun to watch (in a good way).

leicester-uk-30th-july-2022-darwin-nunez-of-liverpool-during-the-the-fa-community-shield-match-at-the-king-power-stadium-leicester-picture-credit-should-read-paul-terrysportimage-credit-sport Liverpool's Darwin Nunez. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Gavan Casey

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham.

Who will get relegated?

Bournemouth, Fulham, Leeds.

Best and worst signing of the close season?

Best: Jesse Lingard — nah, hang on, bear with me — could keep Nottingham Forest up virtually on his own. Even a rumoured salary of £200,000 a week — which works out at around £10m over 12 months — feels like a drop in the ocean if Lingard takes the team on his back as he did during his West Ham loan spell and Forest stay up. Considering Lingard definitely had more superficially attractive options, his signing could prove the biggest coup of the summer by Steve Cooper. Either that or I’ll be proven a massive idiot once again. Honourable mention: Ivan Perisic at Tottenham: a stallion.

Worst: Let’s just say Fulham are going to find it difficult to offload Andreas Pereira in 12 months’ time.

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

I think Manchester United have the capacity to be even worse this season than they were last season, which might surprise three or four people.

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Which Irish player are you most looking forward to watching?

I’ve my fingers and toes crossed that Matt Doherty can rediscover the form he found at Tottenham right before he got injured in April. I still think his importance for Ireland under Stephen Kenny is under-appreciated; not only his individual qualities but his being something of a conduit between defence, midfield and attack which adds a totally different dimension to Ireland in possession.

Which manager will be the first to leave their club?

Jesse Marsch, unequivocally.

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

As a Man United fan, I’m most looking forward to the international breaks and I’m dreading the rest of it.

manchester-united-manager-erik-ten-hag-during-the-pre-season-friendly-match-at-old-trafford-manchester-picture-date-sunday-july-31-2022 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

David Sneyd

Who will be in the top 4 come the end of the season?

It doesn’t feel like Manchester City or Liverpool will relent, and despite some upheaval for both over the summer, they are still on a different level to the chasing pack. City to nick the title. The noises from Thomas Tuchel over the summer don’t quite hint at total harmony under the new ownership and provided Antonio Conte’s players have stopped throwing up by the end of pre-season they should get back in. I suppose it depends what music Mikel Arteta plays at the training ground to get Arsenal in the mood.

Who will get relegated?

Bournemouth look desperately short, Fulham are always good value when they come up, and Leeds United will need their new signings to step up sharpish. Nottingham (never abbreviated to Notts as punishment is to be flogged at the Brian Clough statute in the city centre) Forest might just continue to ride the crest of a wave under Steve Cooper and survive.

Best and worst signing of the close season?

Best: Hats off to Manchester United for the smooth work in bringing Frenkie de Jong to the club and helping to re-shape a desperately weak midfield.
Worst: I think we can all agree that Erling Haaland’s performance in the Community Shield was worthy of writing off any prospect of him having a worthwhile career…

Who will be this season’s surprise package?

If he can stay fit, Eberechi Eze could properly announce himself as a showstopper with Crystal Palace.

Which Irish player are you most looking forward to watching?

Gavin Bazunu. Hopefully, he can prevent one of Southampton’s annual 9-0 trouncings.

Which manager will be the first to leave their club?

Frank Lampard, because it would be the most Everton thing in the world to do. But also keep an eye on Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel. And Jesse Marsch. And Ralph Hasenhuttl. And Mikel Arteta. What was the question again?

What are you most looking forward to this season and what are you dreading?

Bit of a cop out on the Irish player question, but I really am looking forward to seeing whether Nathan Collins is capable of performing to a consistent level that puts him on the radar of a top-six club. Dreading my horrible habit of scrolling social media during games and feeling like everything in the world is a mess and watching football is actually pointless.

First published today, 07.00

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