Pre-season predictions can often be a thankless task, but each season The Football Faithful writers make bold statements on how we see the Premier League season unfolding.
Each campaign tends to include the good, bad and downright ugly of our pre-season predictions and the 2022/23 season has been no different.
With the wonderful benefit of hindsight, it’s time to look back on the best and worst of our pre-season calls.
Biggest fall from grace – Chelsea
Chelsea were backed for a fall from grace in our pre-season predictions, despite the club’s record-breaking spend under new owner Todd Boehly. The scattergun recruitment drive led to a season of chaos on and off the pitch at Stamford Bridge, with the west Londoners ending the campaign 12th.
It was Chelsea’s lowest league finish since 1993/94, while the Blues were 30 points worse off than last season – the biggest negative points swing in the Premier League.
44 – Chelsea have finished the season with their lowest points tally (44) since 1987-88 when they were relegated to the second tier (42), while it’s the Blues lowest league finish (12th) since 1993-94 (14th). Forgettable. pic.twitter.com/67dsezBBDj
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 28, 2023
Shouts for Conor Gallagher, part of that aforementioned Chelsea team after returning from a loan spell at Crystal Palace and Brendan Rodgers also proved sensible. The latter was sacked at Leicester, who went on to be relegated.
Biggest transfer flop – Kalvin Phillips
Two of our writers backed Kalvin Phillips to be the biggest disappointment among the summer signings and it’s fair to say the midfielder has endured a tough time at Manchester City despite ending the season with a Premier League winners’ medal.
Fitness and favour issues restricted Phillips to just 291 minutes of Premier League action and the England midfielder did not start a league fixture until City’s dead-rubber against Chelsea in May.
“To be honest, when I first joined I thought “My goodness what am I doing here?””
Kalvin Phillips reflects on his season as he looks ahead to preseason. pic.twitter.com/Vvaehoa29I
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) May 21, 2023
The 27-year-old has somehow retained his place with England despite that lack of action and will hope to build on a challenging campaign with increased involvement next season.
There were also calls for Gianluca Scamacca and Luis Sinisterra, neither of who made the impact expected at West Ham and Leeds respectively.
Champions – Manchester City
A clean sweep for our writers on this one, a real rarity as The Football Faithful team came to a unanimous decision.
It turned out that adding Erling Haaland to the division’s dominant force was a recipe for success.
Who saw that coming?
One to watch – Eberechi Eze
Eberechi Eze was backed to fill the Conor Gallagher-shaped hole in the Crystal Palace side and the midfielder provided a reminder of his class after an injury-hit 2021/22.
The 24-year-old is one of the most watchable footballers in the Premier League at his best and was excellent as Palace improved under Roy Hodgson to climb away from trouble.
Eberechi Eze has completed more take-ons than any other player in the Premier League this season:
◎ 37 games
◉ 71 take-ons completed
◎ 67 shots
◎ 55 chances created
◎ 10 goals
◎ 4 assists
Ebs is in the England squad. 🩰 pic.twitter.com/zozfF2qIAt
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 24, 2023
Eze’s return of 10 goals and four assists has earned the midfielder inclusion in the England squad for the first time, ahead of this summer’s internationals.
Golden Boot winner – Son Heung-min
This did not look a bad punt given Son Heung-min’s electric form for Tottenham last season, with the South Korean becoming the first Asian footballer to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot in 2021/22.
Son has been unable to replicate that form during a difficult season for Spurs however, and scored just three times before the new year. The 30-year-old improved to end the season on 10 goals, but was some distance behind the league’s leading scorers.
Best Young Player – Harvey Elliott
Harvey Elliott earned multiple nominations from our writers to be the Premier League’s Best Young Player, with the gaping need for midfield improvements leading some to suggest Elliott could fill the void.
The 20-year-old made a career-high 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season, but was part of a side that performed below expectations and missed out on Champions League football.
Despite some positive performances from Elliott, more is required if he is to be a long-term fixture at Anfield. Summer additions are expected and he will need to impress in pre-season to earn regular opportunities next season.
Bottom three – Brentford
Brentford were a popular pick to be relegated, but exceeded all expectations to end the season ninth. The loss of Christian Eriksen was barely felt as Thomas Frank got the best from his squad, with the goals of Ivan Toney propelling the Bees within just two points of a place in Europe.
Frank has worked wonders on a relative shoe-string budget in comparison to Premier League rivals, but faces a huge task to replace the goals of Toney next season. The 20-goal forward is suspended until January as a result of breaching the FA’s gambling rules.
Man City 1-2 Brentford
Brentford 1-0 Man City
Brentford are the only team to do the double over Manchester City in the Premier League this season 👊 pic.twitter.com/BhNkRVUctL
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 28, 2023
Manager of the Season – Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte earned a nomination as Manager of the Year in our pre-season predictions, with the Italian backed to end Spurs’ long wait for silverware.
It turns out not even the serial winner could turn things around in north London and Spurs drought without silverware will extend into a 16th year. Conte’s explosive exit was a result of his frustration with an underperforming squad and board lacking ambition.
🗣️ “The results before he left weren’t amazing so I don’t think the results have dipped a huge amount.”
Ryan Mason on the uncertainty at Tottenham leading up to Antonio Conte’s exit at Tottenham. pic.twitter.com/Nhfg5CsgJK
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 26, 2023
Who leads the side next season remains unclear.