Way Too Late Premier League Predictions


David Nagy and JT Bellina

The 31st season of the Premier League has kicked off and the first six match weeks have been a roller coaster. Even during the writing of this article, many major changes have occurred in both the league and teams. With the reigning champions of the league already towards the top, we’ll be predicting if any team can compete with Pep’s squad this year, while also focusing on the three teams who we think will be faced with relegation. So without further ado, let’s dive in.  

The Table

Champions: Manchester City

As much as everyone would love to see a new champion, City’s team remains largely the same as last year with the addition of one of the best strikers in the world. While they have started the season with some uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns, their lethal attack is sure to keep them at the top. 

Champions League Qualifiers (2-4): Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

The Champions League spots are some of the hardest places to secure, so we’ve stuck with some of the historically best teams in the league. All three teams have made significant changes in their squads that have already made a strong impact. The most notable of these signings is Gabriel Jesus, who has already netted 3 goals and 3 assists for Arsenal. Some other noteworthy signings that could excel in these squads include Ivan Perišić at Tottenham, Lisandro Martinez at Manchester United, and William Saliba at Arsenal. 

UEL/UECL Qualifiers (5,6,7*): Liverpool, Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion

The most controversial section of the table is likely to be the Europa League and Conference league spots. With the exception of  Sadio Mane, Liverpool still has the same starting squad as their title-winning team two seasons ago. However, with talented young players such as Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliot trying to break into the squad, there is likely to be some turmoil in the locker room. Most importantly, Mo Salah, one of the best players of the generation, has started the season in a goal-scoring drought. While Chelsea being in sixth doesn’t quite follow their recent success, an inconsistency in starters and a delusional Thomas Tuchel is likely to hamper their ability to finish towards the top. The real surprise at the start of this season is Brighton’s stellar form. With their star player Alexis Mac Allister leading the way, Brighton is likely to stay towards the top of the table, which in our opinion, will earn them a UEFA Europa Conference League spot. 

Mid-table (8-12): Newcastle United, Brentford, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Southampton

The mid-table has proved to be both a very exciting and frustrating place for teams. Over the years, teams such as Southampton and Crystal Palace have lingered in this area, capable of spoiling a higher-ranked team’s hopes of winning the title, whilst dropping points to the runts of the league.  The only team that may come as a surprise in this section of the table is Newcastle, who we view as a threat to the top teams in the league with a dangerous attack and solid defense. 

The bottom half (13-17): Leeds United, Fulham, West Ham United, Aston Villa, Leicester City

Now we come to the best of the worst. Leeds and Fulham have shown tremendous young talent and energy out of the gate, however a 38 game season is likely to challenge their depth. West Ham United and Aston Villa both had strong 21/22 seasons, but a rough start and lack of a successful transfer window are likely to keep these teams towards the bottom of the table. Leicester had a forgettable campaign last year, but have struggled to achieve even mediocrity in their first 6 games. We predict Leicester will manage to stay up after a nail-biting relegation escape.

Relegation (18-20): Everton, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest

With the Premier League getting more competitive, it becomes increasingly difficult to predict who will be relegated. Despite having a very active transfer window, Nottingham Forest has yet to put the pieces together on the pitch. While their 23-year Premier League drought has come to end, a lack of talent is sure to make them struggle. While Everton has never been relegated from the Premier League, an absent striker and an abysmal defense is likely to hold them back. A dramatic finish to the season for Everton is imminent, but we predict that they will finish in the eighteenth spot. The last team we predict to be relegated is Bournemouth, a team who has struggled in the Premier League for years. Their starting eleven remains the quality of a lower division team, and a 9-0 loss to Liverpool is sure to break their spirits. 

Achievements & Disappointments

Top scorer: Erling Haaland 

Our pick to win the golden boot this year is, of course, Erling Haaland. In his short time in Manchester, Haaland has managed to net 10 goals in his first 6 league matches, being the fastest player to ever reach 10 goals in the EPL, and doing so in spectacular fashion. His performances this season have included two back-to-back hat tricks vs Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, an extremely rare occurrence, especially in a league as competitive as the Prem. With the support and chance-creating abilities of the rest of the Man City side, as well as his own proficiency in front of goal, it is hard to see Haaland giving anyone a chance to challenge for the award. 

Top assists: Kevin De Bruyne

A perennial contender for player of the year, and the mastermind behind the midfield of a brilliant Manchester City, Kevin De Bruyne has deservedly earned our pick for assist leader. 

After 6 games played, De Bruyne sits atop the assist leader board with 4. The reigning premier league player of the season has a better case than most to once again lead the league in assists, a feat he has accomplished three times, especially with the help of his new forward options of Haaland and Álvarez.

Best defender: Emerson Royal

There is a case to be made for many defenders based on their contributions to the offense, physical attributes, and many other factors. Instead of choosing a defender who regularly makes appearances on the score sheet, or highlights worthy Brexit tackles, we’ve gone with a player who we expect to demonstrate world-class defense on a regular basis. The player we’ve taken a shot at is Emerson Royal. Royal leads the spurs in interceptions so far this season and looks as reliable as any defender when challenged by attackers. 

Best GK- José Sá

Clean sheets give a warped impression of goalkeeping excellence, not taking into account the quality of defense, opponents, and the number of saves made. Liverpool’s Alisson and Man City’s Ederson have run away with the golden glove in the past while playing behind the best defenders in the world and making half as many saves as the opposition. Because of this, we have decided to choose a keeper who might not finish atop the stat sheet but will perform the best considering his circumstances. José Sá has quietly set the standard for goalkeeping outside of a top club, and in his time at Wolverhampton, he has consistently finished top five in both the saves and clean sheets while playing behind a weaker defense than his other top keepers. With the reliability of Sá between the posts, wolves have established themselves as a tough opponent, especially for a team promoted only four years ago. He currently leads the League with 3 clean sheets, but it is unlikely we will see him take home the golden glove in May. Instead, you can look to Sá to provide a plethora of exceptional performances while his team loiters in the middle of the table. 

Overperforming team – Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton, currently sitting in 4th place with 4 wins, a draw, and a loss, have extended their good form from the end of last season when they achieved a club-best 9th place finish. While it is difficult to imagine the Gulls breaking the ranks of the “Big Six” clubs, they have proven their quality in recent years and look to maintain their upward trajectory as they make a bid for European competition next season. The rise of the club has been fairly steady since the side was promoted at the end of the 16/17 season, and there are few sides in the premier league who play as well together and can challenge top clubs the way Graham Potter’s men do. The success of Brighton in the new season is increasingly impressive when considering the transfers of Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma to Chelsea and Tottenham, as the two players were instrumental to the success of the team last season. Despite these losses, the team have been smart in their acquisitions and look unfazed on the pitch. Momentum is a fickle thing, but for the time being it is on Brighton’s side, and with the wind in their wings, the Gulls have the quality to soar above expectations and into a new best finish.

Underperforming team – Leicester City

What a poor start for Leicester. A year ago, fans at the King Power Stadium were celebrating FA Cup and Community Shield wins from the 20/21 season. Of course, any soccer fan around the world remembers the 2016 premier league title won by the Foxes, but how the mighty have fallen. The side currently sits in 20th place with one point and a goal difference of -8 after losing 5 of their first 6 matches, an extreme underperformance from their 8th place finish in 21/22. Despite fielding a lineup full of talent in the midfield and attack, results are missing, and the lack of ambition and creativity is evident. Leicester, a side known for their impressive transfer business in the past, had an uncharacteristically terrible summer transfer window leading up to the new campaign. The key departures of long-time starting keeper Kasper Schmeicel, now at Nice, and coveted Centre-Back Wesly Fofana, acquired by Chelsea, have left the defense in poor shape. Leicester also failed to retain forward Ademola Lookman after his loan spell at the club ended. He has since moved on to Seria A side Atalanta. To replace the losses, two underwhelming signings were made late in the window, but it is questionable if these new players will see much first-team play. Leicester manager Brendan Rogers has a daunting task ahead of him as he hopes to turn the tides of the club, but with every game, his position as the manager looks more and more precarious. As it stands, the Foxes look as if they will spend their season clawing at safety from relegation.

Overperforming player – Alexis Mac Allister

Leading the way for Brighton & Hove Albion, Alexis Mac Allister is likely to assert himself as one of the best players in the league. With a more offensive-oriented midfield presence, Mac Allister has already netted 4 goals and has been a crucial player for his team which has earned an early 4th place standing. In order for Brighton to keep up their unbelievable form, Mac Allister will have to embrace his inner Lampard and carry his squad to success. 

Underperforming player – Mohamed Salah

The joint top scorer last season along with Son Heung-Min, and the face of a Liverpool team that challenged for four trophies, Mohamed Salah has not returned to his elite form. When he is playing at his best, stopping Salah is a challenge for the finest defenders, but recently the winger’s play has been less than lethal. So far this season in 6 matches played Salah has 2 goals and 2 assists, a respectable tally by most standards, but not for a player expected to be one of the top scorers in the league. Even within his own team, Salah sits in third on the goal-scoring leaderboard behind the likes of Roberto Firmino (5 Matches Played/3 goals/3 Assists) and Luis Díaz (6 Matches Played/3 goals/0 assists). In addition, if new star signing Darwin Nuñez (3 Matches Played/1 Goal/1 Assist) plays well, Salah could fall further down the list. Salah’s production in the past has been spectacular, but it is no longer sustainable. We expect the downward trend in performances to continue, making the 30-year-old our pick for a most underperforming player in the Premier League this season.

POTS- Erling Haaland

Haaland makes his second appearance on our list of picks, this time as the player of the season. There is not much to say, nobody else stands out quite like the Norwegian. With his prolific goal scoring and exceptional playmaking, in addition to being a featured player for Manchester City, the team favored to win the league, Haaland is a front runner for player of the season.