English Premier League season preview 2023-24
Since we last set eyes on this glorious, ballistic, gripping competition, a lot has happened on planet football.
The Saudi Pro league morphed from a Cristiano Ronaldo retirement home to the actual embodiment of a fantasy league, Lionel Messi is proving he can do it on a damp and humid Tuesday night in, well, Miami while Manchester United have signed a striker that looks like Erling Haaland, has a last name strikingly similar to Erling Haaland… but is not quite Erling Haaland.
But beyond the transfer headlines, a tantalising season awaits. Can Manchester City make it four in a row? Can Arsenal go one step further? Will Manchester United, Newcastle, Liverpool, Chelsea, or even Brighton or Aston Villa launch a challenge?
Below, we set out our best bets ahead of the season by looking at the frontrunners and the dark horses, the top goalscorers and the top assisters, the golden glove candidates, the relegation fodder, the first manager to receive the dreaded vote of confidence before being shown the door, and much more besides.
To Win The Title
The City procession cannot go on forever, can it?
Our football traders think it can – which is why we have them odds on to retain the crown before the season starts at 4/5.
However, despite their obvious qualities, there are several factors to consider for those chasing the bigger odds.
Can the Citizens rely on the effervescent Kevin De Bruyne? The talisman in the middle of the park is such a stalwart for his side, yet his hamstring issue suffered during the Champions League final was a serious one; injuries of that nature can lose players an explosive yard or two. With Riyad Mahrez and İlkay Gündoğan both leaving the squad, any injury to the Belgian would surely be felt more than in previous seasons.
Another obvious caveat in City's title defence is the uptick in the quality of rival teams – most notably Chelsea and Liverpool. It's hard to see either side suffer a season like last year and both clubs have had positive summers in the transfer market. Throw the improvement of both teams in with a strengthening of squads at Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle and we could be in for a far more competitive top four this term.
The Gunners, in particular, seem handy at 5/1. Mikel Arteta’s men played the best football for large swathes of last season and the addition of midfielder Declan Rice from West Ham feels like a game-changer.
In 2016, Leicester City rocked football to its very foundations by winning the Premier League at odds of 5,000/1. Now they're in the Championship.
It's highly unlikely we will see a potential relegation candidate lifting the top-flight title again, so you won’t quite find us talking up Crystal Palace or Wolves as outsiders here.
What the Leicester anomaly does do, however, is give us the licence to discuss a particular team which could be primed for a remarkable 2023-24: Brighton and Hove Albion.
Before you stop reading, consider these three facts:
Only Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool scored more league goals than the Seagulls last season In this calendar year they have lost just two of 11 home Premier League fixtures, scoring 24 goals in the process They finished last season with an expected goals (xG) rate of 2.04 per 90 minutes; only City (2.16) and Liverpool (2.10) finished ahead of them in this metric
True, World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister has gone to Liverpool. But Brighton's conveyor belt of South American talent is now well-renowned and much is expected of Paraguayan Julio Enciso, who showed some incredible glimpses of talent throughout last season (see his goal against champions City for example).
They have signed Brazilian forward João Pedro from Watford, while there they retain an interest in Mohammed Kudus from Ajax. If they can sign the highly-rated Ghanaian to supplement what is already a highly-regarded and confident squad, they could have a serious run at the top four at least.
At BetMGM UK, you can get odds of 66/1 on Brighton to win the Premier League – with each-way terms of 1/3 on the first two places a potential sweetener.
If you want to temper expectations on the Seagulls, you can get odds of 5/1on Roberto De Zerbi’s men making the top four and a tempting 7/4 to make the top six.
It's Haaland's world and we are all just living in it.
The Norwegian beat the single-season Premier League record set jointly by Andy Cole (1993/94) and Alan Shearer (1994/95) with 36 goals last year. He bagged an umatched 52 in all competitions as City won the treble.
His nearest contender in the league was Harry Kane with 30 goals – but the Tottenham talisman is in talks with German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and may not be around to challenge this time round.
There is, it seems, no other centre forward of the Erling or Harry vintage so we're going to make a confident call that Haaland will hit another table-topping total.
Naturally, he will not attract the big-win hunters at odds of 7/10 but, save for a bad injury, it's hard to see anyone but Haaland topping the scoring charts again.
If you want more spice to your selection, you can get Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford at 16/1. The England man is back to full fitness and was banging in goals for fun on his return from the World Cup last season. He eventually hit 30 goals in all competitions, his best return by far in his career.
If he builds on that form, he has a fighting chance, regardless of the arrival of 20-year-old centre forward Rasmus Højlund. He's a more than decent outsider's bet.
If the hamstring holds, this award should go to one man: the brilliant Belgian De Bruyne.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Ginger Pele’, the 32-year-old is currently fourth on the all-time list of Premier League assists with 102. Only Wayne Rooney (103), Cesc Fabregas (111), and Ryan Giggs (162) are ahead of him in the pecking order.
He was way out of front of the chasing pack last year with 16 assists – ahead of Mohamed Salah (12), Leonardo Trossard (11), Michael Olise (11), and Bukayo Saka (11).
De Bruyne is 2/1 to be finish top of the assist charts again and it’s hard to argue against that bet in this market.
If searching for a higher price, new Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes stands out. The Portuguese midfielder finished the season with an xA (expected assists) total of 17.27 – more than 9 what he actually ended the campaign with in terms of actual assists
The finishing problems at United are well documented but, if the addition of Højlund goes to plan, Fernandes could see his creativity rewarded a whole lot more than it was last year. He’s 8/1 to top the division.
Golden Glove Candidates
In a universe where David De Gea, last season's Golden Glove winner, gets bundled out of his club stage left during the transfer window without a chance to say farewell to the fans, we are unsure how reflective this award is of a goalkeeper’s all-around ability.
Indeed, it's better to focus on the defensive unite as a whole rather than the attributes of the custodian alone. In that regard, United kept an impressive 17 clean sheets in the Premier League last season but conceded 43 goals in the other 21 matches – 10 more than champions City and third-place Newcastle.
Nick Pope, the Magpies goalkeeper, kept 14 clean sheets last term and was both impressive individually and as the marshal of a mean backline that propelled Newcastle to the Champions League for the first time since the Bobby Robson era.
The addition of exciting full-back Tino Livramento has boosted that defensive depth – it could be Pope’s year as a result.
The current favourites for the drop are:
Luton Town – 33/100 Sheffield United – 13/20 Bournemouth – 2/1
Some fans of the Cherries could feel justified in feeling hard-done-by at seeing their team in the bottom three of this market, especially after their performances towards the back end of the campaign last time out.
They might even point further north in their defence case – to the Midlands and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves are having a wretched time of things off the field this summer.
Financial Fair Play rules mean they are heavily restricted in who they can sign, they have lost long-time midfield linchpin Rúben Neves to Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal and on the eve of the big kick-off manager Julen Lopetegui departed – ironically to be replaced by Gary O’Neil, the man who led Bournemouth to safety last season.
You can get odds of 5/1 on them to go down to the second tier for the first time since 2017/18. The Wolves synopsis leads us nicely onto our next section…
First Manager To Leave Their Post
With O'Neil a new appointment at Wolves and the potential ‘new manager bounce’ in play as a result, we will turn our attention to Steve Cooper from Nottingham Forest.
A memorable run-in to the season culminated in a classic 1-0 victory over Arsenal to mathematically secure Premier League status.
However, despite 22 signings last term, much of the season was a struggle for Forest and their away record in particular was atrocious. They managed just a solitary win on the road and only five draws; Cooper is unlikely to survive that sort of form this season, especially with the financial faith shown in him by ambitious owner Evangelos Marinakis.
It could be worth keeping half an eye on Marco Silva, too. The Portuguese masterminded an incredible season for Fulham last year but the stand-off with striker Aleksandar Mitrović could test his mettle this time round.
The Serbia international reportedly said he would never play for the Cottagers again after they turned down a £25 million bid from Saudi side Al-Hilal, while second-season syndrome is a real consideration.
If results trend against Fulham in the opening few months, don't be surprised to see Silva come under pressure.
Odds correct at time of writing but subject to change