It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the window for transfers, it is a window of inactivity, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it will be a season of joy, it will be a season of resignation, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair, some have everything before them, some have nothing ahead, some are sure they are going direct to Europe next year, some are going direct the other way—in short, it seems the English Premier League in 2023-24 is actually the fusion of two separate leagues rolled into one.
2023/24 English Premier League: First League
An argument can be made (and probably will be made by each fan base) as to why their club can either win the league or, at a minimum, get into one of the Champions League spots. Let’s review each briefly with what is known as of 8-Aug.
1. Manchester City
Something close to 99% of pundits I’ve read believes Man City will win the league. I agree and thus I listed them first. They have lost some key contributors from last season but they retain a great defense and have DeBruyne and Haaland in the squad. Having such firm opposition throughout the top half of the league makes things tougher but they are equipped to handle it. Until they falter, they are picked to win.
They have several nice additions and very few key losses. They should have learned something from last year’s experience. They could win it all. Could they also have a sophomoric slide after a year right back at the top?
Our Magpies have added a few first-team level quality players and have only lost ASM who was not integral most of last year due to injury. In most of the media, the focus is on new signings. Limiting the view to just signings ignores the apparent impact Elliot Anderson and maybe even Lewis Miley might bring given their chance. The team’s largest threat to their season may be losing focus on the EPL race but it is Eddie Howe’s job to get the squad past that. He hasn’t done much wrong since he has been here so I am trusting he will have a plan to deal with this threat, too. I’ve got us listed third but anywhere from second to eighth or ninth is possible for most of these clubs.
4. Aston Villa
Between having a solid coach and, similar to Newcastle, seeming to be in the ascendancy from a squad quality standpoint, I’m listing them in fourth place. As is well documented, they had a great year last year from Unai’s arrival forward. With an off-season to grow and further prepare, they should continue to rise and do well. The Thursday Europa games could be a grind but Emery’s experience can carry them through.
5. Manchester United
The Red Devils are likely not finished with their transfer business so they are more difficult to rate. There is a lot more flux in their squad v Newcastle and Villa. Will it all gel together? Might they end in fifth and that spot now be in the Champion’s League?
Klopp has retooled his midfield and there is a lot of class in it. Will Salah also bolt to Saudi Arabia? Will they add to their defense? Despite his antics, Klopp is a well-proven, top-tier manager and will coach the team to points other managers might not achieve. But their defense was not great last year and, so far, it is just a year older.
Did someone say something about a team in flux? There is quality on the roster. Are the personalities there for it to come together quickly? Again, like these others, this team could be top 4 or a poor 9th.
The Seagulls sell players for massive profits and reload with the next man up. This is a quality team with a good manager. They do keep having to make key cog changes. The club’s methodology keeps them in the league and generally well away from any drop risk. It also may make it difficult to ascend into the top four.
Another squad in flux. Will Kane leave? Can Postecoglou succeed in the top half of the EPL? Personally, if we are up against the Spurs and Dier is in the defense, I figure there will be at least one time in the game he is looking around trying to figure out how the ball ended up in his net... or six times.
2023/24 English Premier League: Second League
10. West Ham
Won the Europa Conference League. Sold Declan Rice. Have signed no players. There is talent but... where are they going?
The Clarets might/should be above West Ham. Their biggest risk is simply being a newly promoted team. We know too well from our own history that getting caught up once back in the EPL is an effort unto itself. But some of these following squads should end up below Vincent Company’s group.
No Toney up front (he’s suspended) for several months. Raya is now gone from the back. They could get some bad momentum with few goals going in and have trouble pulling the season out. Ultimately I expect there to be at least three worse teams but this is shaping up to be a year of being happy to survive.
Mitrovic wants out and Willian may be gone, too. There is some talent on the squad but a lot of experience might be lost. Jimenez has been brought in but is it enough? Is there any depth?
The Cherries have brought in some guys they hope to score goals but nothing much new for the back line for one of the most porous (poorest?) defenses in the league last year. Firing the manager that got you to safety was a unique decision. Does it work or crash into flames? Now instead of losing 9-0 it may be 9-2 outcomes.
15. Nottingham Forest
Transfer business is less than convincing, and who is playing in goal? As of now, Wayne Hennessy.
16. Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson’s nickname should be “Ol’ Duct Tape and Baling Wire” as the 75-year-old seems to be the only thing that holds the squad together across the line. This year Zaha is gone. Olise and Eze are whispered about elsewhere. Will there be enough when the dust settles to even tape it up enough to win?
17. Sheffield United
The club is still recovering from financial issues of the past. They have spent around £11m. That may be the whole kitty. Their top goalscorer from last season left. This is the classic case, like so many others on this list, of hoping there are three teams worse than you.
How about some financial issues in the present!? 38-year-old Ashley Young has come in on a free. Calvert-Lewin needs to stay fit for the Toffees to have a striker with any real experience. I’ve always rated Dyche as a good enough coach but he may need to be a magician this year.
Separated from their coach this week, three days from the season’s kick-off. Ouch! They were the lowest-scoring club in the EPL last year and they only look older this year. The club chairman has stated there is no money for signings this summer. Molineux becomes Moli-nope.
20. Luton Town
The Hatters also have a history of financial problems and if you’ve listened at least a little this summer, you’ve undoubtedly already heard the club had to spend £10M just to get their grounds up to EPL standards. They’ve spent around £15m on some young players and so business is probably about done. They have a chance if some of the others outright faceplant.
Please share your predictions for the upcoming season in the comments section below! How do you think I have the final ranking correct or incorrect? Do you think different squads will go to Europe? Are there going to be three different managers at the end of the season thinking “it was a dark and stormy night”? Let us and everybody else know!
Howay the Lads!