Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
The previous Premier League season isn’t far behind us, but already sides are lining themselves up for the new campaign. Old logic says that getting your business done early results in success, so it’s a concern for the rest of the league that Man City and Liverpool are making major strides in the market already.
Of course, there’s more business left to be done before the 2022/23 season kicks-off in August. However, transfer targets for the top clubs are emerging, so it’s a good time to try and get ahead of the bookies with the new season outright markets already up.
I’m going to run through all the major markets from the top of the table to the bottom, picking out the early value where available.
Another two-horse race for the title?
While Chelsea’s challenge faded mid-season, we were still treated to a battle which went to the wire as Man City and Liverpool squared off for the title. The pair look far and away the best two sides going into the new campaign, while they’re on track to be two of the highest spenders in Europe this summer to add to their impressive squad depth.
Chelsea look to be going backwards, while the rest of the league were 20 points shy of the top two last season. It’s hard to see that gap being closed, leaving us with another showdown between the two strongest sides in Europe. With City adding Erling Haaland and Liverpool chasing a deal for Darwin Nunez the pair are set for major attacking upgrades which should make next term even more exciting.
City are aiming for a fifth title in six years, which has only been achieved once. No side other than United have managed to win three consecutive Premier League titles and even they only managed it twice during Alex Ferguson’s long reign. Pep Guardiola spoke openly about how difficult it was to stay out in front once again last term, so will his players be able to sustain another gruelling title race? With City 4/7 for another title and Liverpool 2/1 after last season’s near-miss I’d be inclined to back the value of the Reds.
The race behind those two may be more interesting, with Tottenham the most likely side to make a leap and close in on the top two. Antonio Conte had a big win in landing Ivan Perisic, as that’s not a typical Spurs signing. If they can add a little more to the side which finished fourth last term I make them the frontrunners for third.
Stage set for final top four fight
The Champions League changes from 2024, which is set to impact the 2023/24 Premier League season’s top four race. The two best performing nations in European competitions will get a bonus Champions League spot, with Premier League sides among the top two in six of the last 10 seasons – including four of the last five.
That means top four races will be few and far-between in the Premier League, especially given that the Europa League back-door into the competition is still available. That might be Arsenal’s best shot at qualifying this term, with the added fixture burden meaning they should slide a little in the league.
Last season’s top four will all be strong again, although there are worries that Chelsea’s prolonged takeover will take them backwards. They’re the side the others will be targeting, but that opening might have come a bit too soon for Man United. Erik ten Hag is clearly taking a more long-term view at Old Trafford, while he has to bed more direct options like Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes into a patient, passing side.
There could be a chance for another side to make the leap, although I don’t share the bookies’ optimism about Newcastle. They’ve been priced up as the best of the rest, but that’s unfair on a West Ham side who have been a consistent European contender. They’re bound to make some summer moves and they’re pricing Declan Rice out of a switch, so the Hammers are a big price at 12/1.
New-boys up against it
The gap between the Championship and Premier League seems to be widening, with this season set to be the acid test. Fulham were a second-division side in name only last term, blowing away the rest of the Championship on their way to the title. If this version of the Cottagers can’t stay in the Premier League then they look doomed to be a forever yo-yo club.
Scott Parker clearly didn’t see them as much more, as he moved to Bournemouth to try and build something on the South Coast. However, he’s going to need to add more Premier League quality to the Cherries to avoid them going straight down. The same goes for Nottingham Forest, who are losing the loanees who helped them to promotion.
There are a few sides who could be caught out if the promoted clubs adjust. Given how last season finished, I’d have concerns over Leeds, Everton and Southampton, while Brentford are heading into their difficult second season.
The good news for Leeds fans is that barely escaping the drop tends to help rather than hinder a team. Four of the last five sides to finish 17th in the league have improved the following season. Meanwhile, Frank Lampard has a good reputation for attracting players and Everton aren’t likely to suffer the same injury issues next term.
That leaves the Saints, who finished last season with one win in 13 games. Their path to improvement isn’t as straightforward as Everton or Leeds, while that dismal finish isn’t likely to set them up well for next season. Back them to head down with Forest and Bournemouth.
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