Heart of Football

Round Table: 2022/23 Season Predictions – Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League

And you thought you were getting some rest from The Football… 

After a breathless summer that saw England’s Lionesses beat Germany in the final of Euro 2022 to a soundtrack of Three Lions, not to mention unreal scenes at the Women’s African Cup of Nations where South Africa beat hosts Morocco in front of a raucous crowd – all witnessed by Heart of Football favourite Alasdair Howorth – it is time for the small matter of the English Premier League once again.

This season will be like no other. The most obvious change of course is the presence of the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the campaign, which has altered the entire schedule. New rule changes have been brought in too; five substitutes have now been brought back for English top-flight games, while teams have agreed to no longer take the knee in support of anti-racism movements, except for a few select matchdays. More match balls will be stationed around the pitch to try and cut down on time wasting – it’s better than nothing.

But best of all, we have returned to embarrass ourselves with our predictions. Just wait til the end of the season to see how off the mark our crystal balls prove to be. Some, ahem, interesting selections from our writers… Enjoy.

Premier League Top Four

It would be remarkable if anyone on the planet predicted anything other than a Manchester City-Liverpool top two, but in which order? Last season Pep Guardiola’s side eased past Liverpool by a single point, but have made some significant changes by selling Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho, replacing them with Kalvin Phillips, Julian Alvarez finally arriving after his 18-month loan back to River Plate… and the small matter of the Nordic Meat Shield himself, Erling Haaland. Many have posited it may take Guardiola a while to integrate the ultimate striker’s striker into a system that doesn’t require a number 9, but his record is so ridiculous defenders will not be looking forward to fending him off.

Liverpool have brought in the “85-million flop” Darwin Núñez – who, it turns out, is quite adept at scoring after all – to effectively replace the attacking output of Sadio Mane who joins Bayern Munich after 120 goals in six hugely successful years. The Senegalese forward has already won a trophy in Bavaria after scoring in the DFB Supercup, and also scored in the Bundesliga opener; will Liverpool rue his absence? As usual though their business has been efficient – Takuma Minamino, Marco Grujic, Ben Davies and Neco Williams have all been sold on for a combined £44mn and zero loss to their matchday strength.

Common wisdom would suggest Tottenham are going to be the best bet to pose a challenge to the standout pair, which holds some weight when they splash £50mn on a backup striker in Richarlison, not to mention the thrilling wingback prospect Djed Spence, Yves Bissouma in midfield and Clement Lenglet on loan. Returning loanees further bolster their strength in depth with Champions League semi-finalist Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele and Pape Sarr leaving Antonio Conte with endless possibilities.

Arsenal have high hopes that finally they have a striker worth his salt in Gabriel Jesus, and after seven goals in five pre-season games and a sparkling league debut last night against Crystal Palace. Ukrainian full-back/wing-back/midfielder/winger Oleksandr Zinchenko will take some weight off Kieran Tierney’s shoulders, and in 21-year-old William Saliba they have what feels like a new signing after the best part of three seasons on loan in his homeland since officially joining the club.

Manchester United have failed to land their key target in Frenkie De Jong yet, and have a disgruntled Cristiano Ronalo still skulking around the club, although have added the Butcher of Amsterdam Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen. Shedding Paul Pogba’s ego and wages, along with the inflated salaries of Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard will help a little, but the effect of Erik Ten Hag offers the greatest hope for the fans.

New owner, CEO, Sporting Director and probably tea lady too Todd Boehly has refused to enter English football quietly at Chelsea by bringing in Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling and Carney Chukwuemeka, but manager Thomas Tuchel is still raging at the lack of investment. Can he perform miracles with the poor £167mn of new talent he’s been given?

Here’s what our writers think will happen…

Champions: Man City (5 votes), Liverpool (2)

James Oddy: Champions – Man City 

Top four – Liverpool , Spurs, Arsenal 

Bryan Moore: Champions – Man City

Top four – Liverpool , Newcastle , Spurs

Jack Wills: Champions – Liverpool

Top four – Arsenal, Spurs, Man City

Andrew Flint: Champions – Man City

Top four – Liverpool, Man United, Spurs

Simon Toye: Champions – Liverpool

Top four – Man City, Spurs, Arsenal

Dan Taylor: Champions – Man City

Top four – Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs 

James Foster: Champions: Man City

Top four: Liverpool, Chelsea, United

Premier League Relegated

Fulham (4 votes), Brentford (4), Forest (3), Southampton (3), Bournemouth (3), Leeds (2), Everton (1), Wolves (1)

James Oddy: Fulham, Forest, Everton 

Bryan Moore: Leeds, Fulham, Bournemouth

Jack Wills: Brentford, Southampton, Forest

Andrew Flint: Bournemouth, Brentford, Wolves

Simon Toye: Fulham, Brentford, Bournemouth

Dan Taylor: Fulham, Southampton, Forest

James Foster: Leeds, Southampton, Brentford

FA Cup

Man City (2 votes), Arsenal (2), Chelsea (1), Spurs (1), West Ham (1)

James Oddy: Chelsea 

Bryan Moore: Spurs

Jack Wills: Arsenal

Andrew Flint: Arsenal

Simon Toye: Manchester City

Dan Taylor: Manchester City

James Foster: West Ham

Champions League

Real Madrid (4 votes), Bayern Munich (1), AC Milan (1), PSG (1)

James Oddy: Bayern Munich

Bryan Moore: AC Milan

Jack Wills: PSG

Andrew Flint: Real Madrid

Simon Toye: Real Madrid

Dan Taylor: Real Madrid 

James Foster: Real Madrid

First Premier League Manager Sacked

Frank Lampard (3 votes), Brenden Rogers (2), Ralph Hassenhuttl (1), Marco Silva (1)

James Oddy: Frank Lampard 

Bryan Moore: Brendan Rodgers 

Jack Wills: Frank Lampard

Andrew Flint: Marco Silva

Simon Toye: Brendan Rodgers

Dan Taylor: Frank Lampard

James Foster: Ralph Hassenhuttl

Best Premier League Signing

Gabriel Jesus (2 votes), Christian Eriksen (2), Brenden Aaronson (1), Darwin Núñez (1), Erik Ten Hag (1)

James Oddy: Brenden Aaronson

Bryan Moore: Christian Eriksen

Jack Wills: Gabby Jesus (25 goals incoming)

Andrew Flint: Erik Ten Hag

Simon Toye: Darwin Núñez

Dan Taylor: Gabriel Jesus

James Foster: Christian Eriksen

Premier League Surprise Team

Nottingham Forest (2 votes), Crystal Palace (1), Newcastle (1), Bournemouth (1), Leeds (1), Aston Villa (1)

James Oddy: Crystal Palace 

Bryan Moore: Newcastle 

Jack Wills: Bournemouth

Andrew Flint: Leeds 

Simon Toye: Nottingham Forest

Dan Taylor: Aston Villa

James Foster: Nottingham Forest

Random Premier League Prediction

James Oddy: Stevie G will also be sacked

Bryan Moore: Semi automated offside to work wonderfully

Jack Wills: Pep won’t finish the season at City

Andrew Flint: Anthony Martial to score 20 league goals

Simon Toye: Harry Kane to be injured and miss the World Cup

Dan Taylor: Martial top goalscorer

James Foster: Haaland to score fewer than 20 league goals

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