How’s It Gonna End? — Premier League 22/23

ARSENAL

They seem ever closer to being that family that they were just under two decades ago and I’ve few doubts that Arteta is the man to deliver them to the eventual promised land, whatever their version of it is. But the game right now is keeping pace with the leading pack, and I can’t see ’em building on that this season. Every step is forward, but you can’t overtake if the others are stepping too.

ASTON VILLA

They seem really ready to step on under Stevie G. Whether it be the youth coming through, or the marquee signings, or the existing passion, there is a smorgasbord to play with and all of them are looking to fight to impress. I don’t reckon they’re gonna compete with the biggest of boys, but memories of scrapping for a place in the top flight are gonna be put well behind ’em this time out, replaced by expectations of a more expansive stage.

BOURNEMOUTH

They do not strike me as strong enough to step up and compete as it stands. Now, the window is still open, but they need to be making moves, and I don’t mean spending five months just to overspend on a winger who hasn’t shown mettle in the second division, let alone the first. The way they play will give individuals the chance to shine, but those moments could easy become progressively fleeting, and after some stutters last season, it could just be a complete stop this time.

BRENTFORD

The Bees seem too sensible for second-season syndrome to hit ’em like a tonne of bricks, but they’ll still feel it. Players are gonna be exposed, particularly at the back, and though fresh young names will start to make themselves known (with Keane Lewis-Potter definitely scoring the goal that staves off relegation for sure), there’ll be times when they go to second base with that relegation zone.

BRIGHTON

Youngsters joining and youngsters leaving presents a squad only truly impacted by the departure of Bissouma. Under the tutelage of Graham Potter, The Seagulls have managed to play through against some odds, but I still think the steam has to run out somewhere. There’s still a unit there and I don’t reckon they’re going down, but this could be a bit of a wake-up call to anyone riding a crest at The Amex.

CHELSEA

There seems to be some overshadowing here. Sure, some big players have ducked out, but as it stands, they’ve been replaced, and even some loan returns are bringing the hype. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a shroud over Chelsea. Maybe it’s not a bad thing though… Maybe they’re flying under the radar. I mean, everyone knows they’ll be at least some kind of dangerous under Tuchel, and though the midfield might need and injection of confidence, and a striker might need to step up, I reckon there’s enough about to consolidate on last season.

CRYSTAL PALACE

I think there’s deffo somet being built here, but I don’t think we’re gonna see much in the way of results for the next season or two. This season is about shoring up and continuing to plan for the future, which seems to be going swimmingly. Young signings join a solid core, and Doucouré specifically has that somet-somet that could just slot him right in to this team and this league. So aye, not much in the way of improvement come season’s end, but reasons aplenty to be optimistic.

EVERTON

The whole club seems weirdly optimistic after what was a nightmare season last time out. Lampard didn’t alter fortunes that much, and with signings from a relegated club proving the bar in transfers, I’m not really seeing where the optimism is coming from. Unless Andros Townsend is back, ‘cos I like him.
My prediction is a bad start and then a worse middle that leads to the unfortunate sacking of Lampard, and then a manager swoops in and… I wanna say ‘turns them around’, but even if they do, it still feels like it’ll be short term and Everton will continue this macabre dance they’re in the middle of.
I only wouldn’t relegate them based on their history. But based on their present, they should be down. The core is rotten, and you can’t run on that for long.

FULHAM

I cannot bring myself to predict this side and this manager surviving in the Prem. I think there’s something false about them, something impure, something just… Wrong. I don’t think Marco Silva is as good as his track record, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is all on gut instinct, and outside of one or two moments of individual shine, I don’t think these players are going to be organised or powerful enough to compete. They’re going to be deployed wrong, and it’s gonna send them down.

LEEDS UNITED

Probably the most change at Elland Road in a while, which makes sense with the new manager putting his plan in place over his first summer at the club. Depth is what was needed and depth is what has been added, with some questionable loans out being agreed as well, but it feels like there’s enough power to have a run at the other side while Marsch has already focused on shoring up at the back towards the end of last season. They’ll still be caught out, and still more than they would like, but the heart will beat loud, and the push will be mighty to claw them to safety.

LEICESTER CITY

The fringes need to start performing and take a bit of heat off the main guns. When Vardy went down last season, no other striker truly stepped up to fill the presence, let alone the boots. Kelechi came close and can certainly push on, but consistency is (obviously) key. And that goes for every position. If someone like Maddison or Barnes is to leave, it’ll be a baptism of fire for whoever steps into the position they vacate, and I reckon they’re more likely to fold than fire forth based off past performances. There’s still enough talent there, but that pressure begins to tell on everybody, and unless it’s addressed, it could poison the squad.
Not with like deathly poison, but they won’t feel very well at least.

LIVERPOOL

This is a squad that just seems set. I mean, their strike force is fearsome, the midfield is rigid, and the defence is wall-like, but smooth as silk. Additions seem almost superfluous, but they always end up fitting, such is the klugs of Klopp.
Call this reactionary from the Community Shield, but I reckon we could be lookin’ at the title gaan back to Anfield.

MANCHESTER CITY

Which of course means these guys will be runners-up. That’s just the world we live in at the moment.
Yeah, Haaland’ll take, Alvarez will kick on, Grealish’ll probably even step up. But as we’ve seen the past few seasons, the runner-up doesn’t need to have a bad season; there just needs to be that one result that’s a draw instead of a win and the title is lost.
Erling’s certainly the big watch and he’ll grab some goals, but I also wanna see Kalvin and Ortega, ‘cos I like them.

MANCHESTER UNITED

I think ten Hag will bring something back to Man U, and we will see it this season. Just not in the final position. The squad’s a bit cursed(?), maybe tainted? They need to shake off the funk and come out swinging, and that ain’t gonna happen lickety-split. It’s gonna be a Rubik's Cube kinda season, but Erik seems like the kinda guy who can work one out, and then next season, well… They could honestly be worse. Or the best. Such is their predicament right now.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Newcastle have always been rate capable, but the doom and gloom that hung over them has really effected the team in recent times, and now, that’s been replaced with blood money, so… Progress.
The rebuild has been steady — they ain’t going for killer moves right away, but each one feels big, like it’s completing a jigsaw, and though they’re not about to rocket up the league, the optimism will carry them far away from the threat of relegation as they’ll tease the top half throughout before thrusting comfortably into it.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

It’s good to have them back, right? And I have too much confidence in Steve Cooper alone to think these guys are gonna get relegated. Throw in the team, and well, they’ll be gunning for the title.
Nah. But they ain’t gaan down. Sure, they’re lacking top flight experience with only Colback and Lingard the only outfield players to have attained consistent minutes in their respective careers, but the electricity with which they play, the fearlessness, balanced with the poise and the beauty. I can’t wait to see ’em shock some big boys and please every eye in England and beyond.
As I say though, I don’t think they’ll be near the top. 8th is a possibility, but more likely is a back-down-to-earth lower mid-table. But on earth is where the celebrations happen, ‘cos that’s a pretty sweet deal.

SOUTHAMPTON

Maybe just too nice to go down at the moment. There’s some sparkle left in The Saints even if the summer has taught me to kinda dislike their city as well as their stadium — WHY HAVE A BIG TV IN THE CONCOURSE IF IT ISN’T GONNA BE ON?
Regardless, the shine will make it through the obvious cracks. Bazunu’ll probably get in there and show off (with plenty of opportunity to do so), Ward-Prowse’ll continue to boss his land, Walker-Peters can hopefully continue his ascent, and youth will keep coming through. It ain’t gonna spell big success, but it’ll spell survival, and probably more comfortably than it’ll initially look.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Yes, Conte will keep delivering, of course he will. I don’t think he can allow himself to do anything else. There’ll still be the Spurs stumbles, but the depth he has instilled into this side in such a short space of time is pretty mental. The fact that players like Perisic and Richarlison are just options is a tremendous position for a side. There’ll likely still be a little trimming to do under this regime, but like many at the moment, they’re on their way, and this time, they’ll push the leading pack instead of chasing them.

WEST HAM UNITED

Some great signings cracking through here, joining a side clearly hell-bent and ready to crack on. Of course, as with so many, there’s the hope that the signings take. But regardless, they’ve been well spread, covering areas, filling gaps, running the gamut of youth to experience, with a few dark horses thrown in for good measure (Flynn).
Mark Noble’s exit is gonna be tough, but Declan Rice is the lad in charge and has been for a while now, and he might seem the hungriest, but this entire squad is chomping at the bit to break through that ceiling. It won’t be this time, and there might not be a better time.

WOLVES

It was a struggle to be entertained by these lot last season. And now they’ve trimmed with releases and loans out aplenty, only adding one player to the first team who wasn’t about last time… I’m still not seeing where the entertainment is coming from. Boasting only flashes of quality, they just seem to be moving further away from recognised success, at least on the pitch.
That said, they won’t go down. They’ll barely flirt with it. Those flashes of quality are (obviously) vital, and though I don’t reckon they’ll trouble the top half, players like Jonny coming back, and Gibbs-White stepping in will prove to be all they need as they continue to occasionally bamboozle viewers around the world.

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C.L.R.

C.L.R.

Freshly squeezed football content. Mostly.