The 32nd season of the Premier League is upon us, with Manchester City aiming to become the first club in English top-division history to win the title four seasons in a row. Will the chasing pack’s summer business see the treble winners usurped?
Luton become the 51st different club to feature in the Premier League, having last played in the top flight in 1991-92, suffering relegation ahead of the inaugural Premier League campaign. Have they, along with promoted rivals Burnley and Sheffield Utd, added enough to their squads to avoid a relegation battle, or even challenge higher up the table?
We take a look at how all 20 clubs have, or haven’t, addressed weaknesses from last season as the greatest league in the world prepares for kick-off.
Few would argue that Arsenal’s failed title challenge last season suffered as a direct consequence of William Saliba’s back injury that ruled him out of the final 11 league games. He started the first 27 Premier League games last season, and Arsenal’s decline in his absence was noticeable.
There was always a suspicion that Arsenal’s lack of squad depth would be their downfall as Manchester City chased down a fifth title in six seasons, although they survived a lengthy absence to Gabriel Jesus following the World Cup. The defence were unable to hold strong, with Saliba’s absence coinciding with an injury to Takehiro Tomiyasu that saw the quality of their supporting cast exposed.
While Declan Rice’s club-record £105m move has taken the headlines this summer, the addition of the versatile Dutch international Jurrien Timber has given Arsenal a much-needed injection of quality and depth in defence, considering Ben White and Tomiyasu are also comfortable in more than one position in the back-line. With the imminent arrival of David Raya to compete with Aaron Ramsdale, Mikel Arteta has ensured healthy competition in all defensive positions.
Ahead of Unai Emery’s first game in charge – a 3-1 home win v Manchester Utd in November 2022 – Aston Villa were 17th in the table, with 12 points from their first 13 games, outside of the relegation places on goal difference.
Villa won 15 of 25 league games following the Spaniard’s appointment, securing European football in the process, as well as their highest Premier League finish since 2009-10.
Their away form was in stark comparison to their results at Villa Park throughout the season, especially in an attacking sense. Unai Emery’s ill-fated tenure as Arsenal head coach saw him oversee just four wins in his final 19 league away games with the Gunners, so this is not a new obstacle for the four-time Europa League-winning manager to overcome.
Spanish international Pau Torres adds experience and quality to a defence, which will also welcome back Diego Carlos following an injury-plagued first season in England.
All four of Youri Tielemans’ goals for Leicester last season were scored in away games, no Aston Villa midfielder scored more on the road. Highly-coveted Moussa Diaby, signed for a club-record £52m from Bayer Leverkusen, scored 14 goals and made 10 assists last season, as well as being the third fastest player in the Bundesliga.
Last season’s 15th-place finish could only be seen as a success after a 9-0 defeat at Liverpool saw Scott Parker become the first Premier League manager to be sacked in the month of August since 2004.
A run of five wins from seven games in April saw their top division status all but confirmed, although it was not enough to save Gary O’Neil’s job, with Andoni Iraola taking over to become the club’s fifth permanent manager since August 2020. If they are to maintain their Premier League status this season, they will surely require improvements both defensively and offensively.
Dutch winger Justin Kluivert is the most recognisable name of their summer signings so far – their total £58m outlay is a club-record for a single transfer window, having already spent nearly £45m in January. With Iraola will likely come a change in style – with additions in goal, defence, midfield and attack this summer.
The absence of Ivan Toney will be felt in West London until mid-January 2024. Having been their top scorer in both Premier League seasons – with more than double the amount of goals in that period that any team-mate – his absence will understandably be unnerving for Brentford fans. However, they fared well in the five league games he missed last season, taking 13 points from a possible 15. Both Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa took on the scoring mantle for Thomas Frank’s side.
January loan signing Kevin Schade joined permanently for £21m in June, although he has yet to score in 19 appearances for The Bees. With David Raya’s move to Arsenal imminent, Dutch international goalkeeper Mark Flekken and £23m signing Nathan Collins will be added to a defensive unit that is already hard to break down.
Last season’s sixth place finish was the highest in Brighton’s history – they will juggle domestic and European football this season for the first time ever. The Seagulls rightly won plaudits for their football last season – in fact they had more shots (613) and shots on target (228) than any other team.
Brighton’s results vs teams directly below them
|Premier League 2022/23||Club||Home||Away|
|7th||Aston Villa||Lost 1-2||Lost 1-2|
|8th||Tottenham||Lost 0-1||Lost 1-2|
|9th||Brentford||Drew 3-3||Lost 0-2|
|10th||Fulham||Lost 0-1||Lost 1-2|
They picked up wins against three of the five teams who finished above them – completing the ‘double’ over Manchester Utd, accompanied by a 3-0 home win vs Liverpool and by the same scoreline at Arsenal. They did struggle against the teams around them, especially directly below them in the table, with seven of their 12 defeats coming against teams who finished seventh to 10th.
So far this summer, the only high-profile departure has been Alexis Mac Allister, whilst they have boosted their attacking ranks with club-record signing Joao Pedro (£30m from Watford). They have added experience in 37-year-old James Milner, and will hope to have unearthed yet another gem in 20-year-old Dutch U21 international goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.
An immediate return to the Premier League following relegation in 2021-22 has been accompanied by a significant shift in style that was synonymous with Sean Dyche.
Vincent Kompany took charge of a team who were constantly bottom for the majority of possession and passing statistics in the top flight, and turned them into arguably the Championship’s most attractive footballing side.
Whether the former Manchester City captain decides to try and replicate that philosophy in the Premier League remains to be seen. No side has made more summer signings than Burnley’s nine new recruits so far, with squad depth certainly unlikely to be an issue for a club who rarely changed personnel during their six-season stay between 2016-22.
Last season’s 12th-place finish was their lowest in Premier League history, as well as their lowest points tally in the division (44). A tumultuous campaign saw them make 139 changes to their starting XI, which was 22 more than any other team, and win just one of their 20 league games against top-half opposition (seven draws, 12 defeats).
Furthermore, 38 league goals was the second-lowest in any season in their history. They failed to score in 14 games, their most in a single Premier League season. Balancing the urgent need to sell with improving their forward line was of primary concern. Of the 10 players who featured in their attack last season, the only remaining player who scored more than a solitary goal is Raheem Sterling.
Chelsea attackers last season
|Player||Goals||Mins per goal||Conversion rate||Big chances missed|
A deal for Leipzig’s Christian Nkunku was agreed last season, although he is expected to miss up to four months with a knee injury sustained in pre-season. The Frenchman had scored 58 goals in all competitions over the past two seasons, although their previous acquisition from Leipzig boasted a similar record ahead of an erratic two-season stint at Stamford Bridge (Timo Werner had scored 53 goals in the preceding two campaigns prior to joining Chelsea).
Nicholas Jackson is the other high-profile forward signed to compliment a forward line that has parted ways with Kai Havertz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic amongst others. The three-capped Senegalese striker scored 12 goals in 26 LaLiga appearances for Villarreal last season, with nine of those goals coming in an eight-game spell between April-June.
The Eagles will start a league season without Wilfried Zaha for the first time since 2013-14 – in fact this is the only previous season that Crystal Palace have participated in the Premier League and avoided relegation.
Zaha departs Selhurst Park having scored 90 goals in 458 appearances in all competitions, and has undeniably been their MVP of the Premier League era – he has scored nearly twice as many goals in the division as any other player for Palace (68, Benteke is second with 35).
Despite a decline in goals and assists last season, his impact should not be underestimated, with the team unsurprisingly much better when graced with his presence.
So far, Crystal Palace’s only summer signing has been the free transfer of Jefferson Lerma from Bournemouth. Eyes will likely be on Michael Olise to fill the Zaha-sized shoes this season.
Everton avoided relegation on the final day of the season in 2022-23 – the previous campaign their Premier League status was only confirmed following the penultimate game.
Prior to three bottom-half finishes in the last four seasons, they had finished in the top-eight in 11 of the previous 13 campaigns. They have won fewer than 40 points in each of the last two seasons, the first time they have done so since 2003-04. They won the fewest league games (eight) in their history last time out.
Their sole summer recruit so far has been 38-year-old Ashley Young, although the need for attacking reinforcements is obvious, with their two recognised strikers scoring a combined three Premier League goals last season.
The future of talismanic striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is still unknown – a reported move to Saudi Arabia has seemingly fallen through. Raul Jimenez has arrived for £5.5m from Wolves, although he scored fewer Premier League goals in the last three seasons combined than Mitrovic managed in 2022-23.
Understandably, holding onto Mitrovic will be of upmost importance over the next three weeks. In defence, Bernd Leno will hope to avoid last season’s heroics at Craven Cottage – he made 144 saves in the Premier League, only David Raya made more. The club will hope the £18.2m addition of Calvin Bassey from Ajax will give the former Arsenal goalkeeper less work to do.
Fulham conceded 53 league goals last season from an expected goals against of 65.56, which was the best overperformance of all teams.
Last season saw their first finish outside of the top four in any of Jurgen Klopp’s seven full campaigns at Anfield.
Whilst the energy of their midfield trio was often crucial as they went toe-to-toe with Manchester City for nearly half a decade, calls for an upgrade were shared by the club, with Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita all exiting this summer, with £115m spent on Alexis Mac Allister and Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai. Southampton’s Romeo Lavia is heavily linked as a further midfield addition.
Despite remaining unbeaten in their final 11 league games last season, the perception was that their midfield trio had lost the energy that was so pivotal to their 2019-20 title win. Last season was the most sprints and distance covered per 90 by their most used three midfielders over the past five campaigns, however their passing accuracy and duel success had dropped, whilst their goal involvements were down considerably on both 2021-22 and their championship-winning year.
Both Mac Allister and Szoboszlai scored 10 goals in all competitions last season, figures they will be hoping to replicate on Merseyside.
Ten years ago this week, Luton kicked off their league season with a 1-0 National League away defeat v Southport. They ended that campaign as champions, and it was the first of four promotions in the space of a decade.
Following their Championship play-off final win vs Coventry at the end of May, their first-team squad had a total 26 career Premier League appearances combined.
Top-flight experience will surely be a vital factor for a club who so often defy the odds: they have added Premier League experience in the form of Ross Barkley, former Manchester Utd academy prospect Tahith Chong, and the permanent signing of Marvelous Nakamba. Ryan Giles (Wolves) and loanee Issa Kabore (Manchester City) also join from Premier League rivals, despite not having made their debut in the competition.
Points won from goals – Premier League last season
|Kevin De Bruyne||7||3|
The odds-on favourites for a record fourth successive league title have few flaws – despite a relatively quiet transfer window so far, they have still spent over £100m on Mateo Kovacic and Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol.
Whilst Manchester City did not appear to miss Erling Haaland on the few occasions he was unavailable last season, his goals were not just frequent, but crucial too. His 36 league goals were worth an additional 24 points – more than any other player in the division, and four times as many as any teammate.
Erik ten Hag’s first season at Old Trafford was a successful one: an improvement of three places and 17 points in the Premier League ensured a return to Champions League football; the EFL Cup trophy which was their first major silverware since 2017; and the 42 wins in all competitions was the most by any Manchester Utd manager in their debut season.
Despite the positives, to maintain the progress, and at very least consolidate their place in the top four amongst fiercer competition, their alarming away form will need addressing. They took just a single point from either league games against teams who finished ninth or higher, including a club-record 7-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Their work in the transfer market is unlikely to have concluded ahead of the opening weekend, although a change in style is likely with the acquisition of Champions League finalist Andre Onana, who replaced David de Gea after 12 years as the club’s first choice. There is little to choose between the pair in relation to their goalkeeping stats in the league from 2022-23, although Onana’s distribution statistics are vastly superior to the Spaniard’s.
Newcastle will juggle domestic and European football this season for the first time since 2012-13, and are participating in only their third ever Champions League campaign, and first in over 20 years.
Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes have joined for a combined £94m as Eddie Howe’s team aim to solidify their position amongst the Premier League’s elite. They had one of the best defensive records in the division last season, keeping the second-most clean sheets (14), and trailing for under 500 minutes.
A focus will surely be on turning draws into wins – despite losing the same amount of games as champions Manchester City (five), they also drew a joint-high 14 games (same as Brentford), and were involved in more goalless draws (seven) than any other Premier League team.
After signing a total of 30 new players last season – including a Premier League record 23 last summer – this summer was always likely to be quieter. Only goalkeeper Matt Turner, defender Ola Aina and winger Anthony Elanga have joined Chris Wood (whose loan move was made permanent) as Steve Cooper’s team have prioritised trimming a bloated squad.
The sheer volume of new signings made last season’s 16th-place finish all the more impressive, with just five league defeats at home all season. Which was just as well, as they recorded just one away win all season – their fewest in any division since 1961-62.
The Blades will surely be in the market for a striker before the transfer window closes, having sold Iliman Ndiaye to Marseille for £20m at the start of August.
Ndiaye was the club’s top Championship scorer last season with 14 goals – they won each of the final nine games when he was on the scoresheet, notably four of which were by a 1-0 scoreline.
They have three recognised strikers in the squad, all of whom were part of the Sheffield Utd squad relegated from the top tier in 2020-21. There will be hopes that 20-year-old Ivorian winger Benie Traore can replicate his excellent form in the Swedish top division in the 2023 season, with 12 goals in 14 league appearances for Hacken prior to joining.
In Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham have a new manager on the opening weekend for the fifth successive season (Mauricio Pochettino in 2019-20, Jose Mourinho in 2020-21, Nuno Espirito Santo in 2021-22 and Antonio Conte last year).
The Australian is tasked with steadying a ship that has encountered rocky waters over the past few seasons. James Maddison and Manor Solomon have added depth to their attack, whilst Harry Kane’s future is expected to be decided before Sunday’s opener at Brentford. The potential need to replace their record scorer is not the only concern in North London, with a worrying decline to their defensive statistics since their second-place finish in 2016-17.
Italian goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario has joined from Empoli after Tottenham failed to agree a fee with Brentford for David Raya – last season Spurs conceded 63 league goals (five clubs conceded more) and had a save ratio of 64 per cent (five clubs had lower). It was the most goals they had conceded in the Premier League since 1992-93.
James Ward-Prowse and Harry Maguire are expected to become David Moyes’ first summer signings as his Europa Conference League-winning squad has yet to compensate for the numerous outgoings so far this summer. Declan Rice’s £105m move to Arsenal leads the outgoings, with Manuel Lanzini, Gianluca Scamacca and Nikola Vlasic also departing East London.
Replacing the attributes possessed by Rice will be no mean feat – he has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League over the last five seasons.
He was West Ham’s stand-out player in the league again in 2022-23, with more than double the possession won and successful passes of any teammate.
A tricky summer at Molineux was typified with the sudden exit of Julen Lopetegui on Tuesday. The five players with the most Premier League appearances for the club have also departed this summer.
Last season, Wolves were bottom of the Premier League for goals, expected goals and shot conversion. Since Raul Jimenez’s return of 17 Premier League goals in 2019-20, no Wolves player has scored more than six league goals in a season. The returning Matt Doherty remains the only high profile signing this window, in addition to loan pair Matheus Cunha and Boubacar Traore making their moves permanent.