EPL

Predicting the Premier League: How will the top four look in 2022-23?

By Sports Desk August 03, 2022

It is just over two months since the 2021-22 season ended in drama, with Manchester City clinching the title thanks to a stunning comeback win over Aston Villa.

That dashed Liverpool's hopes of an unprecedented quadruple, as Jurgen Klopp's side – who would go on to lose in the Champions League final six days later – settled for second.

The same top two could battle for the title again this season, and despite both Klopp and Pep Guardiola emphasising the strength of other sides in the league, some would say it is hard to see anybody being able to match their consistency, though Liverpool do have to learn without Sadio Mane, while City might need to get used to Erling Haaland.

Liverpool gained some small form of revenge by beating City 3-1 in the Community Shield on Saturday, with Haaland struggling, so it's 1-0 in the rivalry stakes in favour of Klopp heading into the campaign, though the Reds manager knows that does not mean much.

There will be stiff competition for places in the top four and, of course, the Champions League.

Chelsea have brought in Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, but Thomas Tuchel and new owner Todd Boehly want more star signings, while Arsenal and their north London rivals Tottenham have been busy bolstering their squads.

Erik ten Hag is in place at Manchester United, but uncertainty surrounds the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Red Devils have so far been frustrated in their attempts to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona.

Here, three Stats Perform writers share their thoughts on who will feature in the Premier League's top four come the end of the campaign.

Patric Ridge 

1. Manchester City

City were not at their best in the Community Shield, though Guardiola was keen to stress that his side have only been back together for three weeks, and they did seem rather undercooked. Haaland's competitive debut was one to forget as, as well as being outshone by Liverpool new boy Darwin Nunez, he hit the bar from six yards out. It might take time, but Haaland – who will have a timely break during the World Cup as Norway did not qualify – is too good not to thrive in this City team, even one that has sold three first-team regulars. They had just too much for Liverpool last season, and with Mane gone, expect the same outcome this term.

2. Liverpool 

If 2020-21 was an off-year for Liverpool, then last season was a glorious return to form. They fell just short in the league and in Europe, but won both the FA Cup and EFL Cup. Mane's departure to Bayern Munich was something of a blow, but the Reds already had Nunez through the door, fresh from his stunning, 34-goal campaign with Benfica, while there is little to separate Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne as the league's best players. Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz add another dimension to a world-class attack. Finish above this team, and you are champions.

3. Chelsea

It has been something of a frustrating transfer window so far for Chelsea. Sterling and Koulibaly have arrived, but that has not necessarily strengthened the squad, with club-record signing Romelu Lukaku having re-joined Inter on loan and defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen having left for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Tuchel wants more, and Boehly is attempting to deliver, with Marc Cucurella a rumoured target, while another centre-back is said to be on the list too. Chelsea's business might well drag on, but they should have enough to edge out Arsenal, Spurs and United to third.

4. Arsenal

It is easy to forget, given the nature of their capitulation, that Arsenal were in the box-seat to secure a Champions League place until the final week of last season, and Mikel Arteta's side have made swift moves. It is hoped Gabriel Jesus will be the poacher Arsenal have lacked and Oleksandr Zinchenko is a fine addition. Fabio Vieira is a promising understudy to the excellent Martin Odegaard, who will be supported by Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli or Emile Smith Rowe. Spurs have strengthened, but with Antonio Conte's tendency to boil over if things do not go to plan, and the likelihood their players will be relied on heavily by their national teams at the World Cup, this could be Arsenal's year.

 

Ben Spratt

1. Manchester City

City were the best team in the Premier League before they made perhaps the signing of the close-season, so why would they not still be the side to beat? Of course, the departure of Sterling could have a big impact, given his knack for vital goals, but Jack Grealish will have a bigger role and has already linked up with Haaland in pre-season. Julian Alvarez adds more depth to that attack, while Kalvin Phillips does likewise in midfield. It is tough to spot a weakness.

2. Liverpool

It would be tough to justify Liverpool finishing second, not first, were their rivals not so outstanding. The Reds are right there with them, but they have not shown quite the same consistency as City over previous seasons, and it is asking a lot for Nunez to arrive from Portugal – where he enjoyed only one truly prolific season – and immediately replicate the performance levels of Mane.

3. Tottenham

Spurs have plenty going for them, and there have been some suggestions they could even trouble the top two. When we come to write our lists of winners and losers of the transfer window, Tottenham will belong firmly in the former group, and those exciting new charges – Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Djed Spence arguably all improve the first XI – are being guided by a proven winner in Conte. But the gap to City and Liverpool was huge; third place would still be a great achievement.

4. Chelsea

Tottenham may not quite belong to that elite tier, but they might also argue there is another gulf between third and fourth. Neither Chelsea, Arsenal nor United could really be surprised if they fell short of Champions League football. Like Spurs, Arsenal have enjoyed a successful transfer window, but it is difficult to have faith in a team who collapsed so spectacularly last season. For all their own frustrations in the market, I'm backing Chelsea to find a way.

 

John Skilbeck

1. Manchester City

City and Liverpool finished with over 90 points each last season, and the previous time that happened, in 2018-19, it was followed by a dramatic drop-off from Guardiola's reigning champions. The dethroned Manchester giants finished 18 points adrift as Liverpool captured the 2019-20 Premier League title. Yet I fancy City to take the new season's trophy, and probably by a similarly wide margin. Haaland might need a little time to adapt; after all, his former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho has not found it a cakewalk to transfer his Bundesliga form across to Manchester United. But judge Haaland not by one stinking Community Shield miss but by his excellence over the last three years. City will have to reconfigure to accommodate a pure number nine, swapping Sterling for St Erling, but don't expect their winning habit to alter one jot.

2. Chelsea

The post-Abramovich era is here, and Todd Boehly is pulling the strings when it comes to transfers now. Newcomers Sterling and Koulibaly are proven performers, and while the loss of Rudiger is a blow, offloading Lukaku made complete sense. Better to take firm and decisive action than allow any unhappiness to fester and potentially spread. Chelsea had a troubling amount of injuries last season, with Ben Chilwell particularly missed, and in March coach Thomas Tuchel spoke of a "physical overload". If they are in a better place this term, expect them to fly. Tuchel's squad is loaded with first-class talent, more could soon arrive, and they look well set to pip Liverpool to second.

3. Liverpool

The loss of Mane is massive. Among the 24 players from Europe's top five leagues who managed at least 30 games and 20 goals last season, taking all competitions into account, Mane ranked sixth for the most dribbles attempted (128), eighth for the most chances created (66), third for the most through balls attempted (17) and second for the most passes into the final third (137). You can try to replace that all-round package, but Nunez is far from like-for-like and Roberto Firmino appears to be a rapidly fading force. Liverpool have kept Mohamed Salah for the foreseeable future but will need the likes of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz to step up, while midfield may have to cough up more goals than in recent seasons. Klopp's Liverpool went the distance in every competition last season, and at some point that effort is going to take a toll.

4. Manchester United

With a reasonably clean slate, wiped of the likes of Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard, there should be optimism coursing through United now the estimable Ten Hag is at the helm. Christian Eriksen ought to prove a fine signing, and Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia can hardly make the defence any worse. In fact, they should significantly pep it up. Will Ronaldo stay? Now there's a knotty saga that could run until deadline day, but would it be such a bad thing if he were to leave? Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Sancho are at the stage where they ought to be giving Premier League defenders regular nightmares, and this might be the campaign where that happens.

Related items

  • 'No chance' of swapping Champions League for Ballon d'Or, says Silva 'No chance' of swapping Champions League for Ballon d'Or, says Silva

    Bernardo Silva admits he prefers team awards over individual honours and would choose the Champions League over a Ballon d’Or if given the chance.

    Silva was a key figure as Manchester City retained their Premier League title for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season, making 33 appearances in the competition.

    The midfielder chipped in with six goals during their title charge, adding nine assists, while also scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup semi-final – a competition they ultimately lost to Manchester United.

    Since joining City in July 2017, Silva has won 13 major honours, including six Premier League trophies, two FA Cups, a Champions League, and the Club World Cup.

    The Portugal international was ranked the eighth-best men’s player of 2023, but when asked about the subject, he admitted that he does not rate individual awards as highly as those won by a team.

    "Recognition is always nice," he told Sky Sports.

    "In my opinion, I give the right amount of importance to these awards, because, at the end of the day, we are playing a collective sport. Nowadays, the individual awards always go to the strikers because they have that last touch.

    "But if you understand the game, a person who is inside the game, either a player or a manager, you know how important it is to have a proper goalkeeper, a proper defender, a proper midfielder and a proper striker. Not just a proper striker.

    "Strikers do not win you titles alone. The base comes from defence. If you defend well, you will attack better. When I look at individual awards and I see that only the guys who score goals win the awards, I feel a bit like it does not represent our sport that well.

    "I always do my best to support my team-mates and do what is best for the team. In the end, winning the Champions League is much better than winning a Ballon d'Or. I would not swap it. No chance."

    Silva’s attention now turns to Euro 2024 as Portugal aim to challenge for their second title in the competition.

    The 29-year-old missed their success in 2016 due to injury, and he concedes there was a "mix of emotions" at seeing Portugal win their first major tournament while not being able to have an impact.

    He said: "I was so frustrated before the competition for not going because I wanted to be a part of it. I did all the qualifying. It would have been my first big tournament, and I would have been there, but I got injured.

    "But then, in the end, when they won it, I am Portuguese. Everyone was so happy; all my family, all my friends, everyone. So, it was a mix of frustration for not being there but also being very happy because it was our first big title as a country."

    However, Silva is up for the challenge of competing in the 2024 edition.

    "You are representing your whole country, your family and friends. We are all human. You are going to feel [the pressure] more. Playing for Portugal is always a bit different and special," he added.

    "If you love the game, you want to do it well. And if you want to do something well, you feel that responsibility. That is why you feel pressure. In a way, that pressure is a good thing. It is your mind and your body telling you that you want this.

    "It is up to you to try to control these emotions."

    Portugal begin their Euro 2024 campaign in Group F against the Czech Republic on June 18.

  • Southgate lauds Mainoo talent as England group together for Euro 2024 Southgate lauds Mainoo talent as England group together for Euro 2024

    England manager Gareth Southgate has no doubt over the talent of Kobbie Mainoo after watching the Manchester United youngster flourish this campaign.

    Mainoo was on target in Saturday's FA Cup final victory over rivals Manchester City as Man Utd triumphed 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

    Having caressed past Stefan Ortega in the first half, 19-year-old Mainoo became the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981.

    That match-winning finish capped a fine breakthrough campaign for Mainoo, who has been rewarded with a place in England's preliminary squad for Euro 2024.

    As the Three Lions joined together for their pre-tournament training camp, Southgate reserved special praise for the exciting England midfielder.

    "The curious thing about young talent is how will they cope under pressure," Southgate said in an interview with England's media channels. 

    "You can see the technical ability but it's about how tactically aware they are, how mature, ability to cope with big matches.

    "When you're playing for Manchester United, you're always under the spotlight. He's shown that with them, with us in March.

    "We've never been afraid to put young players in. If players are good enough we're not so concerned about their age. 

    "Kobbie has had an amazing season and it was fabulous for him to finish the season with a goal and a trophy."

    Decisions remain for Southgate, though, as the England boss prepares to cut his 33-man squad to just 26 players ahead of the upcoming tournament in Germany.

    He added: "It will be extremely difficult. It was very difficult to leave players out of this 33 and, of course, there are some younger players coming in with slightly different expectations to this camp.

    "But there are going to be some difficult calls to make. We're hoping that not too many of these calls are decided by injury and we've got the strongest possible squad to pick from."

    England will play warm-up friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland next week, before starting their group-stage campaign in a June 16 meeting with Serbia.

    Denmark and Slovenia will follow for England, who will hope to go one better than their runners-up finish to Italy in the last European Championship three years ago.

    "There are so many aspects to being with this group of people that I love," Southgate continued, looking ahead to the upcoming international tournament.

    "Ultimately we're trying to form a team and a group that have got to push each other and be there for each other. There's a team dynamic that's crucial to winning that we have to find.

    "People will have slightly different roles that they will with their clubs. At their club, all of these guys are pretty much the first choice on the team sheet, so some have different roles in the next few weeks.

    "The challenge of winning the games and the excitement of seeing our fans out there in some of the biggest occasions in world football is why you're in the game really. That's what we're looking forward to."

  • Bayern Munich confirm shock appointment of Kompany Bayern Munich confirm shock appointment of Kompany

    Bayern Munich have confirmed the appointment of Vincent Kompany as their new head coach.

    Kompany has joined Bayern on a three-year deal, and comes in as Thomas Tuchel's replacement.

    The former Manchester City captain, who began his coaching career in Belgium with Anderlecht, could not keep Burnley in the Premier League in 2023-24.

    Indeed, the Clarets were relegated following a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor in their penultimate match of the season.

    Yet, less than two weeks after the campaign's conclusion, Kompany has been installed as boss of one of Europe's biggest clubs. 

    The 38-year-old joins Bayern after Tuchel confirmed talks over potentially reversing the decision for him and the club to part ways, which came in February, had ended.

    Bayern lost their last game of the Bundesliga season to finish in third place, having failed to win any of the four trophies they were in contention for, seeing their dominance of Germany's top tier ended by Xabi Alonso's unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen team.

    Alonso had been Bayern's primary target, but their former midfielder has elected to stay at Leverkusen for next season.

    Bayern were also linked with Roberto De Zerbi, who has just left Brighton, and Brentford coach Thomas Frank, while they were turned down by Austria coach Ralf Rangnick. Mauricio Pochettino, who left Chelsea on Monday, was also rumoured as a potential option.

    Kompany, then, is a surprise pick, but Bayern will be hoping he rediscovers the magic touch he had during his first season at Turf Moor in 2022-23, when he guided the Clarets to promotion from the Championship, earning 101 points in the process.

    However, Kompany's possession-based, front-foot approach was badly exposed in the Premier League, with Burnley winning just five games on their way to taking 24 points as they finished 19th, going back down alongside Luton Town and Sheffield United.

    He leaves Burnley having managed 96 games, winning 41 (42.7 per cent) of those matches.

    In a statement, Burnley said they were "initially confident" of keeping Kompany at the club, but claimed "the changing dynamics of the situation made this impossible". 

    "We understand the allure and prestige of a club like Bayern Munich and respect Vincent's ambition to explore new opportunities," the statement continued. 

    "We wish only the best for Vincent and would like to put on record our appreciation for his dedication every single day he was a part of this football club. 

    "Our priority remains the stability and success of Burnley, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that our ambition is realised, namely our return to the Premier League."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.