The Premier League is finally upon us, as treble winners Manchester City travel to Burnley later tonight. While the 2023/24 season has already kicked-off in many other European countries, there is a certain charm to the Premier League that no other league can mimic. With magicians like Mohammed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne on the field, to artisans like Peter Drury and Jim Beglin in the press box, every game, seemingly, has the potential to be a masterpiece.
Checkered pitch, overcast skies, and dramatic, yet mostly beautiful football - The Premier League is back!
From the grand, old Old Trafford to the raw, raucous St. James' Park, and the choir of Anfield to the backyards of Kenilworth Road, the Premier League and its colored stages are as diverse as ever this season. Despite the trend of moving to ‘large, soul-less bowls’ like West Ham’s Olympic Stadium or Man City’s Etihad, there is still a good representation of traditional English football grounds. Burnley’s Turf Moor, the longest continually used stadium to ever be in the Premier League, SheffU’s Bramall Lane, the oldest stadium in the world that is still hosting professional football, and Luton’s Kenilworth Road will certainly add to that list.
Last year saw Arsenal pace the marathon for 33 gameweeks, before peeling off to allow Manchester City to come through. Newcastle secured Champions League football for the first time in twenty years, and it will be interesting to see what the Geordies get up to on their travels. Meanwhile the Reds of Manchester, with Erik Ten Hag at the helm, pipped Liverpool for a top four finish. After years of revolutionary recruiting, smart business, and consistent performances, Brighton added Europa League football to their schedules. And despite a poor domestic season, West Ham made good on their excuse of Conference League priorities.
In the bottom half, Chelsea finished a woeful season in 12th. An enthralling relegation battle saw Everton spare their blushes. Leeds, Leicester, and Southampton went down.
This season, a glowed-up Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton Town will join the English top-flight. With Luton’s stadium having gained popularity for its eccentric intricacies, that first Hatters home game will have many curious viewers.
Nothing like a photograph of a football supporters walking to their Temple of choice on yet another Saturday afternoon. Luton Town Football Club, featured in this picture, are back in the top-flight after 30 odd years and they play in the 10,000 seater Kenilworth Road - the smallest stadium in the Premier League. ("On the way to Kenilworth Road”, by dom fellowes, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)
While the movement of players to Saudi Arabia made the big headlines, there were some big signings in the Premier League. Chelsea seemingly flushed their entire squad out, after a miserable campaign last season, and certainly overpaid for ‘wonderkids’ around the globe. Arsenal poached fellow Premier League clubs, thereby strengthening themselves and weakening others (a new approach to a six-pointer), with signings like Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, and David Raya. The biggest transfer news of this summer may still be in the making, as Harry Kane’s departure from Spurs seems imminent. If the English skipper does sign for Bayern Munich, he will leave 47 goals short of the Premier League scoring record.
USA’s number one Matt Turner looks set to make his Premier League debut this weekend against Arsenal, after he was picked up by Nottingham Forest a few days ago. Meanwhile, David de Gea bade his farewell to Manchester United and the Premier League, after twelve glorious years. Andre Onana, who is notoriously good with his feet, will be his replacement. The Red Devils also copped Mason Mount from his boyhood club, much to the disappointment of Chelsea fans.
The major (confirmed) departures from the Premier League include Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, İlkay Gündoğan and Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City, Fabinho and Firmino from Liverpool, Alan Saint-Maximin from Newcastle, Granit Xhaka from Arsenal, and half of Chelsea’s old squad.
Keeping all this in mind, here are my (not so expert) predictions for this coming season. Starting from the bottom, I expect Luton Town, Wolves, and Forest to go down. Sheffield United and Everton will just escape relegation. Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Fulham, West Ham, and Brentford will make up the rest of the bottom half.
Aston Villa, and a Kane-less Spurs will form the bottom of the top half. Kompany’s Burnley are my dark horses and will finish 8th, while the ever-consistent Brighton will end one spot ahead of them. I expect much better from Chelsea, under Pochettino, however their hasty squad makeover will not get them better than 6th. Newcastle will not be able to defend their Champions League spot, as they will secure 5th.
Finally, my top four comprises of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Manchester City. I think the title race will get intense towards the culmination of the season, but Arsenal, with their bolstered squad, will pip City to become champions.
There you have it – my predictions for the 2023/24 season. If you think otherwise about any it, feel free to have a go at me in the comment section (we can debate). Whatever happens, it will be fun to look back on at the end of the season.
Men of all ages walking up to the London Stadium, to watch the Hammers take on Aston Villa in the 22/23 Premier League season. The large, oval, 'bowl' is not a crowd favorite but for the love of the club, it will be packed nonetheless this season.
Anyways, the anticipation for the opening game week has been building up over the past few days, only amplified by the ongoing transfer sagas of Harry Kane, Tyler Adams, and Moisés Caicedo. But amidst all this, one has to wonder – is the Premier League actually that special? Or is it just the years of heavy marketing in the English-speaking World, and well-tuned broadcasts that make the Premiership so appealing to television audiences like us?
I truly do not know, and I do not want to spoil the mood, but that is something to think about. But for now, the Premier League is upon us, and we may as well enjoy it.