Premier League 2023/24 Preview
Build up to the season opener
So here we are, the eve of the 2023/24 Premier League season. As ever, fans across the country are filled with hope and expectation – which for some will turn into despair and disappointment, but for others the promise of greatness awaits.
Will Manchester City be able to dominate as they did last year, not only domestically but in achieving the unimaginable back-to-back Champions League titles? Will Arsenal be able to built on last year’s valiant effort? Can Manchester United challenge for the title? Will Newcastle be a stronger proposition this year, or will they be stretched too much by their European commitments? And are Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham primed to return to the form that brought them success over recent years? There are so many questions before a ball is even kicked.
It certainly feels, this summer, that the top sides in the Premier League are stronger on the whole than they were last year as a result of activity in the transfer market. On paper this should have the desired effect, for the neutral observer at least, of making the title race closer and more competitive. But to quote one former manager: “football isn’t played on paper”. If anything, it could be argued that Manchester City have been left slightly weaker (and it’s all relative), having lost Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez. But Pep Guardiola’s side have demonstrated an incredible ability to quietly reinvent themselves, without fanfare, over many years. The addition of Josko Gvardiol from Leipzig for a significant fee could prove to be a stroke of long term genius.
Arsenal have been more active in the market – and having finished last season with a whimper they certainly needed to be. Timber, Havertz and Declan Rice are all good signings, and will help the Gunners cement themselves back in the upper echelons of the Premier League.
Manchester United have also spent big on three marquee signings – Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund, looking to improve on last year’s achievements.
Newcastle’s business has included bringing in Sandro Tonali and two stars from relegated sides – Harvey Barnes from Leicester and Tino Livramento from Southampton. Will it be enough to fight on two fronts, in Europe and the Premier League? Time will tell, and much of it depends on how the teams who finished behind them last season fare. Chelsea have a new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, who inherited a bloated squad, which caused three managers a problem last season at Stamford Bridge. The Argentine has offloaded several players since taking over, and brought a couple in, notably highly rated Senegalese forward Nicolas Jackson from Villarreal. The rumblings over Brighton’s Moises Caiceido continue, but even if Chelsea get their man it feels like Pochettino’s Chelsea is going to be more of a long-term project than a quick fix.
Likewise, across London at Tottenham, the talk of the summer has concerned one man only… Harry Kane. At the time of writing, he still hasn’t gone to Bayern Munich, but with the window stretching into the opening weeks of the season it could yet happen. Ange Postecoglou, the latest man tasked with bringing the glory days back to Spurs, has brought in a couple of exciting young players – Alejo Veliz and Micky van de Ven, and the experienced James Maddison – but as several of his predecessors know – the luxuries of time and patience are not always synonymous with Spurs and their owners.
And what about Liverpool, whose status as Manchester City’s great rivals took a big blow last season. Captain Jordan Henderson has left for a Saudi pay-day, as have his Brazilian colleagues Fabinho, and Firmino. World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister has joined from Brighton, along with Dom Szoboszlai, and they could yet be joined by Southampton’s Romeo Lavia – if the price is right. But does this make them a more backable side this year? Possibly not.
West Ham look set to add Harry Maguire and James Ward-Prowse to their ranks over the coming days, spending some of the money raised by the sale of Declan Rice. After a disappointing Premier League season last time round, David Moyes will be hoping his squad can compete both domestically and in Europe.
Aston Villa face a similar challenge, and Unai Emery has made some astute acquisitions over the summer – Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby, from Spain and Germany respectively, and Youri Tielemans from relegated Premier League side Leicester.
Luton are obviously widely expected to struggle, and could be joined in the relegation battle by Wolves, who parted company with manager Jules Lopategui this week after just 9 months in charge. Not ideal preparation for a long season. And as Everton slowly ready themselves for a move into their new dockside stadium, will they manage to survive the drop yet again? In 9 months or so, we’ll have all the answers, but you can be sure that there will be twists and turns, shocks and upsets along the way.
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