Preview of the upcoming 2023/24 English football Premier League season.
Who will win the EPL in the 2023/24 season?
Manchester City has won three consecutive titles. The Citizens have claimed the Championship five times in the last six seasons, including a historic treble the previous year by winning the EPL, FA Cup, and Champions League.
It's no surprise that City is the top favorite in all predictions for the upcoming EPL season. Supercomputers from the statistical company Opta ran 10 thousand simulations of the 2023/24 campaign. Manchester City won the title in 90% of cases. Even the dominant Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga has a lower probability, at only 70%.
Admittedly, the team led by Pep Guardiola suffered losses during the summer — Ilkay Gündoğan, one of the key players of the previous season, left for Barcelona, and Riyad Mahrez moved to Saudi Arabia. There are also doubts about the future of Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, João Cancelo, and Kalvin Phillips.
However, the German midfielder's position is expected to be filled by the signed Mateo Kovačić from Chelsea. At the same time, the defense will be reinforced by Jocso Gvardiol, purchased from RB Leipzig for a record-breaking 90 million euros. Manchester City has undoubtedly not weakened, and there seem to be no significant challengers on its path to another title.
London's Arsenal will undoubtedly strive to challenge City. Under Mikel Arteta, the team had its best season in the last 19 years during the 2022/23 campaign and seriously contested City for the Championship. For most of the season, the Gunners were in the lead. Still, they fell short in strength and experience towards the finish line, culminating in a crushing 1-4 defeat at the Etihad.
The Londoners have gained experience and significantly strengthened over the summer, spending £200 million on Declan Rice, Jurren Timber, and Kai Havertz. Their only notable loss was Granit Xhaka's departure to Bayer Leverkusen. All the new signings successfully passed their initiation in the FA Community Shield, where Arsenal challenged ManCity and won the trophy in a penalty shootout.
However, one should not be deluded. Last season, Liverpool defeated City in the FA Community Shield, and they failed to qualify for the Champions League. In fact, only once since 2011 has the winner of the Community Shield gone on to win the league title. But this is an obvious statement of intent.
Liverpool, the only team to interrupt City's dominance in the 2019/20 season, is undergoing a major overhaul after a disappointing previous season. Several veteran players have left the team, with some not having their contracts renewed, including James Milner, Naby Keïta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Roberto Firmino. Young talents have been loaned out, including Fabio Carvalho.
However, the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, tempted by lucrative offers in Saudi Arabia, came as an unpleasant surprise for Jürgen Klopp, leaving a gap in midfield. Alex McAllister and Dominik Szoboszlai are expected to fill the void, but it seems insufficient. Therefore, Liverpool is targeting Southampton to lower the price for the talented young Belgian Romeo Lavia.
If Liverpool manages to organize a midfield composed of new signings, they may rechallenge City. The absence of the Champions League could play in their favor. If the Reds focus on the league and forego the Europa League, they will have a distinct advantage in terms of saved energy.
Finally, one must recognize Manchester United. Under the leadership of Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils had a somewhat uneven start to the season but eventually secured their first trophy in six years, the EFL Cup. They also reached the final of the FA Cup, losing to City, and finished third in the EPL.
The Dutch specialist continues to develop his United project, which is far from complete. Goalkeeper David de Gea left the team this summer. André Onana, who led Inter to the Champions League final, was signed as his replacement. Players like Anthony Elanga, Phil Jones, Alex Telles, and Axel Tuanzebe also left ManUnited.
The team strengthened its defense by bringing Johnny Evans from Leicester, signing Mason Mount from Chelsea for the midfield, and welcoming Danish prodigy Rasmus Højbjerg from Atalanta to the front line. However, this squad is not significantly more potent than the previous season due to ongoing ownership issues. Ten Hag admitted that the team is unprepared to contend for the title. Nevertheless, who knows what might happen?
Who will finish in the top 4 of the English Premier League?
The answer is simple - all the teams listed above. But who can challenge them to secure coveted spots in the Champions League? Especially considering that with the expansion of the Champions League in the next season, a fifth-place finish might be enough to secure qualification for Europe's premier club tournament (although we will know this at the end of the campaign).
Chelsea, under new ownership, wholly failed in the previous season - squandering a massive amount of money, changing three managers during the campaign, finishing in 12th place, and accruing the lowest number of points since their relegation in 1988. For entertainment purposes, some experts calculated scenarios in which the Blues would again find themselves in the Championship.
It's no wonder a significant overhaul is happening at the London club this summer. The team is now led by Mauricio Pochettino, who has begun the cleanup of the overly bloated squad. Almost twenty players have already left Chelsea, with the most notable among them, in addition to the previously mentioned Havertz, Kovacic, and Mount, being Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N'Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cesar Azpilicueta, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Tiemoue Bakayoko.
But they have yet to rely solely on departures; new signings have also been made. Winger Christopher Nkunku was signed from RB Leipzig, attacking midfielder Nicolas Jackson from Villarreal, and young talent Axel Disasi from Monaco to strengthen the defense. Additionally, young prospects were taken on - midfielder Chima Ugochukwu from Rennes and forward Angelo Gabriel from Santos.
Considering that Chelsea won't have to spend time and energy on European competitions, Pochettino will have plenty of time on the training ground to mold this diverse group of players into a cohesive unit, aiming to secure a top-four finish.
Newcastle United finished in the top 4 last season for the first time in 20 years, earning a spot in the Champions League. Of course, the success of the "Magpies" is primarily attributed to the new owners from the Middle East. But let's not underestimate the contributions of head coach Eddie Howe, and his group of players - Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Fabian Schär, Sven Botman, and Dan Burn played over 3000 minutes in the league.
Newcastle has already begun to lose some of its heroes from the previous season - Allan Saint-Maximin was sold to Al Ahli. Still, significant funds were spent to bring Sandro Tonali from AC Milan and Harvey Barnes from Leicester to the club.
In the upcoming season, Newcastle will strive to prove their success wasn't a fluke, but they'll have to do it while playing in the Champions League. As a team in the fourth pot, Newcastle will almost certainly face at least two top clubs in the group stage, so successfully juggling the Premier League and European competitions will be crucial.
Tottenham Hotspur is another London club that found itself without European competitions after many years (14). After a disastrous campaign under Antonio Conte, the Spurs finished eighth in May, so a fresh start is desperately needed.
The man tasked with solving this challenge is Australian of Greek descent, Ange Postecoglou, who led the Australian national team to victory in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup and won five trophies in two seasons while managing Scottish club Celtic, including a treble in the previous season.
After Conte's dull style of play, Postecoglou's energetic attacking approach will resonate with the "Spurs" fans, and no one expects him to immediately contend for the title. The main issue for the new coach is his brightest star, Harry Kane, who seems to be halfway to Munich already. The team hasn't suffered significant losses - Lucas Moura returned to his homeland, and Harry Winks went to Leicester.
However, Tottenham Hotspur has bolstered its squad with Dejan Kulusevski from Juventus, James Maddison from Leicester, Pedro Porro from Sporting, Guglielmo Vicario from Empoli, and Manor Solomon from Shakhtar. Vicario will take the new number one spot, replacing Hugo Lloris. At the same time, Maddison and Solomon will attempt to fill the attacking void left by Kane. The Spurs can secure a top-four finish or win a cup without European commitments.
Unai Emery transformed Aston Villa after taking over from Steven Gerrard at the team's helm languishing in 17th place in November. As a result, the Birmingham side climbed to seventh place, which they secured by defeating "Brighton" on the final day.
Ultimately, Villa returned to European competitions, and Emery, who won the UEFA Europa League with Sevilla and Villarreal, could lead the Birmingham team to victory in the Conference League. Of course, they must also perform well in the Premier League.
And Aston Villa didn't waste any time – Yuri Tielemans, who left Leicester for the Championship, joined Birmingham; Emery brought in the familiar Pau Torres from Villarreal to strengthen the defense, and Moussa Diaby, arriving from Leverkusen, will add firepower to the attack. Maintained, Villa will be ready to challenge anyone.
The same can be said about Brighton after the previous season. Roberto De Zerbi replaced Graham Potter in September last year and immediately made his mark. In the excellent campaign of 2022–2023, the "Seagulls" secured sixth place and earned a spot in the Europa League this season. Can Brighton withstand midweek European football and the dense Premier League schedule?
Especially considering that the team has already started losing key players – Mac Allister moved to Liverpool. While Moises Caicedo remained at Brighton, he's already heartbroken about not being allowed to move to top clubs, despite his astronomical offers.
Nonetheless, the "Seagulls" spent significant money on forward João Pedro from Watford, defender Igor Júlio from Fiorentina, and goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen from Anderlecht. At the same time, the arrivals of Mahmoud Dahoud and James Milner, who came for free, will undoubtedly add experience. It will be interesting to see how De Zerbi's team performs in European competitions and the English Championship.
A year ago, Vincent Kompany took charge of Burnley, replacing Sean Dyche's straightforward 4-4-2 with tiki-taka, and the Clarets swiftly surged towards the championship title, becoming only the sixth team in Championship history to surpass the 100-point mark.
During the summer, Ashley Barnes left the team. Still, significant funds were spent on superstar striker Zeki Amdouni, defender Jordan Beyer, and youth European Championship hero goalkeeper James Trafford. Nathan Redmond arrived from Besiktas for free, and Wout Weghorst returned from his loan at Manchester United. Relegation is not looming for Burnley, they could make some noise in the Premier League.
Who will drop out of the EPL in the 2023/24 season?
Of course, first and foremost, we look towards the newcomers of the Premier League who have risen from the Championship. The worst odds here are for Luton, which will be spending its first season in the top division since 1991-92. Just nine years ago, they were a semi-professional club.
The team's success was achieved thanks to Rob Edwards, who took over the team only in November, having been fired after 11 games in charge of the principled opponents from Watford, whom he had taken over just two months earlier. Edwards worked wonders by bringing Luton into the Premier League. Still, an even bigger miracle will be if they stay there.
Especially considering that the owners have no intentions of spending on team reinforcement — all the newcomers came from Championship and lower divisions. Carlton Morris was Luton's top scorer last season, scoring 20 goals in the league, so whether he can score at the Premier League level will be a critical factor in their success.
The last time Sheffield United made it to the EPL in 2019, they made quite a splash, finishing ninth under the guidance of Chris Wilder. The "Blades" dropped to the Championship in the pandemic season. Still, a repeat finish in the top half of the table under Paul Heckingbottom seems highly unlikely.
Sheffield secured a direct ticket to the EPL, outpacing "Luton" by a massive 11 points, mainly due to their incredible performance on both sides of the world championship, winning 11 out of 14 matches in the winter. But their hopes for success in the EPL took a severe blow when star winger Illiman Ndiaye transferred to Marseille for £15 million.
Considering that the club is owned by Prince Abdullah, one could have expected the "Blades" to be active in the transfer market, but that didn't happen. "True" left-back Yasser Larusi was loaned, and defender Oston Trusty, forward Beni Traore, and midfielder Anis Ben Slimane arrived for a total of £10 million. And that means that Sheffield is in for a tough battle for survival.
Wolverhampton's prospects were dreadful last season as well. Still, Julen Lopetegui, who took over the team on Boxing Day, worked wonders and pulled the Wolves up to the 13th spot. The problem is that things have stayed the same since then, rather the opposite.
During the summer, a mass exodus of players from the "Nuno era" — Ruben Neves, Adama Traore, Conor Coady, Joao Moutinho, and Raul Jimenez all left. Nathan Collins was also sold to Brentford, the only newcomer so far has been Matt Doherty, who returned as a free agent from Atletico.
Lopetegui didn't shy away from expressing his dissatisfaction with the financial difficulties restraining the club, and it all ended with him leaving his post on the eve of the new season. Whoever takes charge of the team must work wonders to save them from relegation.
Last year's newcomer, Nottingham Forest, avoided relegation despite putting together a new squad practically from scratch and starting afresh. Last season, Forest, who couldn't seem to settle, made 31 transfers. They were not equally applicable — Jesse Lingard, Andre Ayew, and Cafu left the team for free.
As a result, the team secured survival in the EPL as early as May. But this summer, fans of the Nottingham club are concerned about the lack of transfers — Antony Elanga and Ola Aina are the only newcomers, and Newcastle bought out the loaned Chris Wood.
Last season, Forest won away only once, against the ultimately relegated Southampton, the team's home form will again be essential. It would be a big surprise if Nottingham Forest didn't slide back towards the lower end of the table.
Everton barely stayed in the Premier League last season, thanks only to Abdulaye Doucoure's cannon shot in the last-round match against Bournemouth. Sean Dyche won five league matches after taking over the team in February, four of which were at "Goodison."
During the summer, the team didn't strengthen much — Ashley Young came for free, and Arnaut Danjuma was on loan. Nothing can guarantee that the Blues will achieve a significantly higher position in the table. Toffees need Dominic Calvert-Lewin to stay in form and hope Dyche can work miracles. Otherwise, their Premier League status will be under threat once again.