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Premier League season preview part two – Liverpool to Wolves

Premier League football is back this weekend and we’re on hand to preview the eagerly anticipated 2023/24 campaign.

A new season brings hope and expectation across the Premier League, with Manchester City the team to beat as last season’s treble winners look to continue their recent dominance of the division.

Arsenal proved to be the closest challengers to Pep Guardiola’s side last season, though Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and others will be hoping to close the gap to the top.

Elsewhere, Newcastle, Brighton, Aston Villa and West Ham prepare for European campaigns, while Luton Town are a Premier League team for the first time after promotion.

 

Ahead of the season’s kick-off, we preview each of the 20 Premier League sides, ending alphabetically from Liverpool to Wolves.

Premier League season preview part two – Liverpool to Wolves:

Liverpool

Last season: 5th

Title odds: 8/1

Key player: Mohamed Salah

TFF prediction: 3rd

Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from a challenging campaign after the Reds missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time since 2015/16.

Having challenged for a quadruple just a year earlier, Liverpool’s decline was quicker than anticipated with an ageing midfield and defensive issues behind their stuttering form. A strong run-in has raised optimism, but this shapes as a season of transition at Anfield.

Liverpool’s rebuild in midfield had began with the departures of Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as free agents, but Saudi Pro League riches have since persuaded the club to sell both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister have arrived to add to a youthful engine room, while Southampton’s Romeo Lavia looks likely to follow. It is a midfield make-up that lacks experience and physical presence however, with additions defensively required if Liverpool are to challenge at the very top.

More will also be expected from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo after time to settle, while Trent Alexander-Arnold could spend large periods in midfield after the successful experiment of last season. The 24-year-old has been named as vice-captain for the upcoming campaign.

Luton Town

Last season: 3rd (Championship)

Title odds: 3000/1

Key player: Carlton Morris

TFF prediction: 20th

Luton Town are a Premier League club for the first time, having enjoyed quite the fall and rise across the last two decades. Financial issues and three consecutive relegations saw Luton drop into non-league, where the Hatters earned promotion back into the Football League as recently as 2013/14.

Fast forward a decade and Luton have risen through the divisions and into the big time, after beating Coventry City in the Championship play-off final. Luton achieved promotion despite a budget that was dwarfed by second-tier rivals and will now bid to take on England’s elite on a fraction of the resources.

Before this summer, Luton’s record signing was the £1.3m arrival of Carlton Morris and the forward will be crucial to their hopes of survival after a 20-goal campaign last term. A physical handful, he will look to provide an outlet for Rob Edwards’ team who have the work-rate to compete despite the step up in quality. Luton might lack the talent to survive, but it won’t be for a lack of effort.

Oh, and as you might have heard, Kenilworth Road will become the smallest Premier League ground of all time with a capacity of just over 10,000. A novelty for fans this season.

Manchester City

Last season: 1st

Title odds: 8/11

Key player: Erling Haaland

TFF prediction: 1st

How to improve on near perfection?

Manchester City underlined their status as one of the great teams of the modern era after claiming a fifth Premier League title in just six seasons, an achievement that came alongside FA Cup and Champions League triumphs to secure a historic treble.

Aided by the record-breaking goal feats of a certain Erling Haaland, City surged into form across the second half of the campaign to secure their triple triumph. Pep Guardiola’s ability to innovate and adapt was again prominent, with the move to a box midfield and John Stones’ reinvention a crucial part of the club’s success.

Key figures from the club’s recent dominance in Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez have moved on, though Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva look set to stay despite offers from abroad. In terms of incomings, City have splashed €90m on Josko Gvardiol as Guardiola continues to collect commanding and progressive central defenders, while Mateo Kovacic will look to replace the Gundogan-shaped hole in midfield.

After setting new standards in becoming English football’s first 100-point team, first domestic treble winners, and matching Manchester Untied’s continental treble, City now have the chance to make more history as the first team ever to win four consecutive top-flight titles.

City, as ever, remain the team to beat.

Manchester United

Last season: 3rd

Title odds: 11/1

Key player: Bruno Fernandes

TFF prediction: 4th

Erik ten Hag’s first season at Manchester United has seen optimism increase around Old Trafford, a season of steady progression after the Dutchman took the reins.

A six-year wait for silverware was ended with League Cup success, Champions League football was secured, and Marcus Rashford enjoyed a renaissance to become the first Manchester United player to score 30 goals in a season for a decade.

Ten Hag has wasted little time in removing those who do not fit his philosophy, with David de Gea moved on despite winning the Premier League Golden Glove last season and Harry Maguire set to follow. Andre Onana will replace the gap in goal and is well-versed in the manager’s methods from time together at Ajax, while Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojland will hope to improve the club’s energy from the front.

The latter will hope to feast on service from Bruno Fernandes, whose underlying numbers last season did not correlate with a return of just eight assists. Fernandes led the league for big chances created, expected assists, through balls and key passes and the presence of a reliable centre-forward could take United up a level.

Improvement on the road is required, after a miserable away record at the division’s top sides last season. United failed to beat any of the other teams in the top nine away from home, losing embarrassingly at the likes of Manchester City (6-3), Liverpool (7-0) and Brentford (4-0).

Newcastle United

Last season: 4th

Title odds: 14/1

Key player: Bruno Guimarães

TFF prediction: 6th

Not since the mid-nineties has there been such excitement on Tyneside.

Newcastle’s Saudi-backed regime had been expected to kickstart improvement at St James’ Park, but few envisaged such progress so soon. Eddie Howe led the Magpies to a top-four finish last season, in the process securing a place in the Champions League for the first time since 2002/03.

The joint-best defensive record in the division paved the path to Europe’s elite and the Toon Army have already began singing of trips to Barcelona.

Howe’s recruitment to date has been impressive and there will be high hopes that Anthony Gordon – signed in January from Everton – can kick on after an impressive summer for England’s u-21 side.

Sandro Tonali has been the big-money recruit of the window after swapping Milan for the North East, while Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento add to a talented homegrown core. Replicating last season’s success alongside European commitments will be a challenge, but a raucous St James’ Park will remain one of the Premier League’s most daunting away trips.

Nottingham Forest

Last season: 16th

Title odds: 750/1

Key player: Morgan Gibbs-White

TFF prediction: 14th

Nottingham Forest found form during the run-in to secure Premier League safety last season, in the club’s first top-flight campaign in 23 years.

After a chaotic spending spree that saw Forest sign 30 players across the last two transfer windows, Steve Cooper managed to mould his wealth of new arrivals into a functioning outfit. Morgan Gibbs-White proved an inspired signing from Wolves and is close to an England call up, while Brennan Johnson adapted brilliantly to the demands of the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal glut during the final weeks of the season has raised optimism that the Nigerian can thrive this season and Danilo has attracted admiring glances from bigger clubs after his January arrival.

Things have been much quieter this summer, though that is perhaps no bad thing. Cooper – a brilliant coach first and foremost – will have added time to improve the players at his disposal. Forest have a tough start to the season and must retain patience with the current manager if things do not start as planned.

Sheffield United

Last season: 2nd (Championship)

Title odds: 2500/1

Key player: Anel Ahmedhodzic

TFF prediction: 19th

Sheffield United are back in the Premier League but there is a distinct lack of the usual buzz that greets promoted teams.

The club’s financial issues mean most are fearing the worst for the Blades, who were placed under a transfer embargo by the EFL last season due to cash-flow problems and the defaulting of owed transfer payments.

Their return to the Premier League could hardly have been better timed but issues remain, including how to replace Iliman Ndiaye after his sale to Marseille. Ndiaye was one of the Championship’s top talents last season and involved in more than a third of Sheffield United’s goals, a player capable of making and taking opportunities.

Sander Berge also looks set to leave with Burnley closing in on a deal and being stripped of top assets is hardly the Premier League preparation most envisaged. The Blades appear up against it before a ball has been kicked.

Tottenham

Last season: 8th

Title odds: 40/1

Key player: Harry Kane

TFF prediction: 8th

It’s yet another new dawn for Tottenham this season, who begin life under the management of Ange Postecoglou. The Australian’s appointment in north London received a lukewarm reaction given his lack of top-level experience, but Postecoglou has shown in past roles – including two decorated seasons at Celtic – that he can lead teams to success with style.

Harry Kane’s future has been the saga that has dominated the summer with Bayern Munich pushing hard to sign the forward. Kane scored 30 league goals in a stuttering Spurs side last season and will be an almost impossible void to fill should he depart for the Bundesliga.

There will be hope that Richarlison can help compensate for that potential loss despite a difficult debut season. The Brazilian is far better than a return of one Premier League goal last season and has a work-ethic and versatility that will appeal to Postecoglou.

The new manager has been busy adding to his squad, with eight new additions to date. The most eye-catching has been the arrival of James Maddison from Leicester, while Micky van de Ven has the pace and physicality to improve the club’s backline.

West Ham

Last season: 14th

Title odds: 250/1

Key player: Jarrod Bowen

TFF prediction: 10th

West Ham were unable to build on consecutive top-seven finishes during a disappointing Premier League campaign last term, one which saw the Hammers dragged into the relegation battle for much of the campaign.

Their disappointing league form was in contrast to European exploits however, as David Moyes’ side ended a 43-year wait for a major trophy with Europa Conference League success. That triumph has earned another shot at European football this time around, though the Hammers face a rebuild after the departure of influential club captain Declan Rice.

The midfielder’s £105m sale has provided much-needed funds to invest and expect business to accelerate as the September 1 deadline for transfers approaches.

Bids have been accepted for Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, two players who fit the Moyes mould. The former will add presence to the backline as he looks to get his career back on track, while Ward-Prowse’s repertoire from set-pieces could add another weapon for West Ham.

Edson Alvarez is also expected to join from Ajax, while a centre-forward is on the agenda for West Ham after Gianluca Scamacca’s disappointing single season in London.

Wolves

Last season: 13th

Title odds: 750/1

Key player: Matheus Nunes

TFF prediction: 17th

Wolves are a club in turmoil right now with manager Julen Lopetegui having walked out just days before the new season.

The Spaniard had long been courted and was deemed a coup after arriving at Molineux last season, where he lifted Wolves from the bottom of the Premier League and to the sanctuary of 13th.

The club’s financial issues mean resources have been limited however, and Lopetegui has departed amid broken promises of how much money would be available to spend.

Wolves are in need of new additions after the notable departures of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Conor Coady, Nathan Collins and Adama Traore among others. Gary O’Neil is expected to replace Lopetegui and guided Bournemouth to survival last season, a feat many are anticipating he may need to repeat at Molineux.

Read – Premier League season preview part one – Arsenal to Fulham

Read Also – Five must-watch football fixtures on TV this week

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