Brilliant. It’s back. And here are my PL predictions for 23-24.

Published: Monday, 07 August 2023

Making predictions before the transfer window shuts is a dangerous business but it’s also a bit of fun and we haven't done badly in recent years - so here goes. 

The obvious choice for the title is *City. Five wins in the last six seasons - 7 in the last 12 - says they’ve got to be favourites. It’s now 12 trophies in total for Guardiola at a cost of £1,006,260,000 on 47 players. The haul of trophies includes the CL at last. It’s quite an achievement, but I can’t help believing that a few other coaches might have done equally as well given the same backing.

I hope *City don’t win the title. Five wins in the last six seasons is a fine achievement, but it should be a worry for the rest of English football. Thank goodness for Liverpool and their challenges and Arsenal, who had a really good go last season, but I didn’t ever really fancy them, despite the stunning home win over Fulham in August that was celebrated like they’d won the title. 😂

As I said at the time - too soon guys - and too often as it turned out. Mature teams that are used to winning don’t behave like Arsenal did. 

That was more than half of their problem. Time and again they’d lose focus. Celebrations were too long, loud, frequent and premature. Immature would be another good word.

I hope Arteta behaves a little better as well, although his emotional tale last week about nearly quitting after failing to win the title was worrying. Why? What’s the point of telling us that? It sounded weak.  

His behaviour in the technical area is annoying - and dangerous. The area is marked as it is for a reason. Jump up and down as much as you like within it. Let the world know you don’t trust your players to do the right things by waving your arms about like a broken windmill all game - but stay within your own technical area - not on the touchline, not on the half-way line and definitely not in front of the opposition area. ‘Stay calm - and carry on’. 

Arsenal came a long way after a fifth-place finish the season before. With Rice - who is a top player - they should be stronger, but I still don’t fancy them to win the title. 

I don’t think Liverpool have got a challenge in them either. The re-build was necessary, but I don’t see leaders in the team anymore. Van Dijk isn’t a leader. He’s too quiet - and selfish. If he plays well that’s all that seems to matter to him. And he didn’t play well often enough last season. I thought he was way off.

They’ll miss Henderson and Milner. I know the Milner decision was driven by the stats men, but sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut. Klopp knows Milner is a loss. A big loss. But he couldn’t get his way and keep him.

United aren’t strong enough to mount a challenge either. Ten Hag has spent more than half a billion now, but not much of it very wisely. Antony was an embarrassment last season. If ever there was a ‘one-trick’ pony it’s him. Step-over, step inside, curl it. 🤷‍♂️.

Rashford won’t have a better season than last time out so others have got to step up. Who? They simply haven’t got enough.  Hojlund looks good business but he’s largely one for the future. They’re still short. They couldn’t afford Kane, who would’ve made all the difference.

A couple of other things about United. Fernandes has got to take the responsibility of captaining a great club far more seriously. His behaviour can be tiresome. Constantly falling over when he’s been sneezed on, hoping to win decisions is cheating. Proper United captains - Bruce, Keane, Neville and similar - should perhaps have a word?

I don’t fancy the keeper either. Even before the howler v Lens at the weekend I’d said that he’ll cost United as many points as de Gea saved. 

I don’t expect the take-over to get done any time soon despite Rio Ferdinand’s claims that it was ‘imminent’ in May. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Glazers are still at the club at the turn of the year. They’re tyre-kickers. There’s a massive gulf between what they want and what the club is actually worth. And I don’t believe for a minute that there are ‘buyers’. There’s a buyer. End of.

Newcastle had a fantastic season. It’s great to see them back in amongst the big boys - but they won’t finish in the top 4 this time. They’re way short of a squad capable of challenging in Europe and mounting the same domestic challenge - but enjoy it guys - you’ve earned the right.

Spurs can only hope for top 6 - even with Kane. 

Chelsea remain a mess. Pochettino reckons he’s a far better coach than the one that we saw at Spurs. He’s going to have to be, but I’m not sure what he bases that judgement on.

If you’re looking for an outsider to do what Newcastle did last season - it’s got to be Villa.

I like Emery. I always have. Yes - we all echoed ‘good ebening’ when he used to say it every week at Arsenal, but the hilarity masked what a good job he did. It couldn’t have been easy following Wenger, but he gave it a really good go. He’s clearly a class act.

So it’s *City for me. Arsenal, Liverpool and Utd for the other places in the top 4. But it could be *City at a canter.

One last thing on *City. The season hasn’t started but Guardiola is already moaning. He doesn’t like the idea of having to play for 100 minutes/game. The idea, of course, is to extend games so that we get nearer 60 minutes of ball-in-play time. The answer is simple - don’t waste time. I’d take time-keeping away from the ref, but this is a step in the right direction. Fans are being short changed when games are only low 50 odd minutes long. 

Guardiola also reckons his players are running on empty because pre-seasons are shorter and demands greater. Nonsense. Only three of his players started more than 30 league games last season - the keeper, Rodri and Haaland. The next highest was de Bruyne on 28. The rest were in the mid-20’s. ‘Running on empty’? Come on. 

It’s going to be quite a race at the bottom and it’s an easy one to call.

Everton will struggle again. There’s no goals in the team. A possible points deduction for financial irregularities could relegate them. 

It’ll be a long season for Wolves as well. Forest should do better. Their problems will largely be off the pitch after last seasons transfer excesses.

Bournemouth will be at the bottom end all season but should have enough. I think Fulham will struggle this time as well. Palace will be hard to beat and finish mid-table.

I can’t see Brighton having such a good season, but I hope they do. Brentford are established now but they’ll miss Toney. If Kane leaves Spurs my guess is Toney will be at Tottenham in January.

West Ham need players. If David Moyes is allowed to bring in what he wants they’ll be fine. If not - it’ll be a season like the last one - without the trophy.

Last season all three promoted clubs stayed up for only the fourth time in history. My bet is all three go back down this time. Burnley will be great to play against - wide open. Sheffield United are way short and although Luton might start well they won’t have the players to last a gruelling season. I do hope they enjoy it though. They voted for a PL in ‘91 but didn’t get to play in it. They’ve been to hell and back since so they deserve their time in the sun.

*denotes a team waiting to answer 115 PL charges of financial wrongdoing.