Paul Merson's 5 bold predictions for the 2022-23 Premier League season

The 2022-23 Premier League season could be a tricky one due to the World Cup in December
The 2022-23 Premier League season could be a tricky one due to the World Cup in December

We're just over two weeks away from the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season as teams across the English top-flight prepare to fine tune their squads before the madness begins once again. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled to happen mid-season in December, managers can device strategies to have larger squads this time around, keeping in mind the best interests of the players.

It goes without saying that Manchester City and Liverpool are once again among the usual suspects for the biggest prize, but could there be a surprise on the cards this time around? Manchester United are ready to kick-start a new era under Erik ten Hag, while Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea also look strong under Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel, respectively.

Predictions at this point in time must be taken with a pinch of salt, as players can still come and go. With that in mind, here's what we can expect from the 2022-23 Premier League season.

#5 Manchester City to win the Premier League title

Manchester City Victory Parade
Manchester City Victory Parade

I think Manchester City will win the Premier League, but I have to say it's not as much of a foregone conclusion as others make it out to be. Erling Haaland's arrival is obviously a massive boost for Pep Guardiola, but it's not the end of it with Liverpool still very much in the running. With the departures of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, Manchester City have lost at least 30 Premier League goals between the pair and that could turn out to be a huge problem for them.

The only worry for Liverpool, on the other hand, is that they've lost an unbelievable player in Sadio Mane, who scored big goals for them over the years. They'll have to rely on Darwin Nunez to settle as quickly as Luis Diaz did, which is obviously a long shot because the Colombian took to English football like a duck to water. If Jurgen Klopp can get Nunez firing immediately, it'll be tight once again, but if that doesn't happen, I think Manchester City should win the Premier League.

Chelsea could be in the title race too with a couple of smart additions, but they'll have to be consistent over the course of 38 games. Raheem Sterling will give them a massive lift - he's a talented footballer who can play anywhere across the frontline as we've seen over the years for club and country. He has my respect and should have no trouble adapting to Thomas Tuchel's philosophy at Chelsea, having flourished in the Premier League for Liverpool and Manchester City.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea pick themselves as the top three in whatever order and I'd be shocked if anything else were to happen. I'll put Manchester United in the reckoning for a place in the top four because they are a massive club, but they haven't done enough business at this point in time to stand a chance of securing UEFA Champions League football, so it should be between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

If I had to pick one of the two north London side, I'll have to go with Arsenal. Tottenham's participation in the UEFA Champions League this season could be an issue for them, as they'll have a bunch of tough mid-week games to cater to in between their Premier League commitments. They don't really have a big squad, which could make all the difference. Arsenal, on the other hand, should be able to manage their domestic commitments as the UEFA Europa League isn't that high in terms of quality, at least in comparison to the Champions League.

#4 Fulham to be one of the surprise packages of the season

Fulham v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship
Fulham v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship

Fulham could surprise a few people this season. I don't expect them to finish in the top half of the Premier League standings, but even if they manage to narrowly avoid relegation by finishing 16th or 17th, it'll count as a good season for them. Aleksandr Mitrovic could be their key player and he is someone who has a fair bit of Premier League experience under his belt.

West Ham United punched above their weight last season, but it could be hard for them this time around. They set the bar really high and could become victims of their own success, having developed leaps and bounds under the tutelage of David Moyes.

As for Newcastle United, expecting them to secure European football is a bit unrealistic - it's miles too quick! They've bought well under their new owners and need to keep at it by adding good players every transfer window to ensure they grow steadily as a club. It's important to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint, so a top ten finish could be good for Newcastle this season.

They need to have a go at the cups as well, to think a club like Newcastle haven't won a trophy since I was born is a bit ridiculous. I'm 54 years old now, so it's been that long!

#3 Ivan Perisic to be one of the surprise stars of the season

FC Internazionale v UC Sampdoria - Serie A
FC Internazionale v UC Sampdoria - Serie A

I keep going on and on about this, but I'm a massive fan of Ivan Perisic. This guy works as hard as anyone and has the talent to hold his ground against some of the best players in the world - that is some recipe for a player.

He's an international footballer who works as hard as someone who has come from non-league football into the big leagues, indicating that he's got the work-ethic to complement his wonderful natural ability. Perisic has played for multiple big teams across Europe's top five leagues and remains a key player for Croatia, so I expect him to be a huge hit for Tottenham.

He's different class and gives Conte the option of playing as a left-wing back and a winger, making him an invaluable asset to the squad.

#2 Harry Kane to win the Premier League Golden Boot

Tottenham Hotspur v Team K League All-Stars - Pre-season Friendly
Tottenham Hotspur v Team K League All-Stars - Pre-season Friendly

I always go for Harry Kane when someone asks me to predict the winner of the Golden Boot because he's some player. He had three league goals last season until December but ended up finishing just four shy of Mohamed Salah and Heung-min Son, who shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals apiece.

The only issue is that Kane might not play every game this season due to a number of reasons. For starters, his injury-record doesn't make for good reading and to make matters worse, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is coming up in December, so he could well be rested to stay fit for the whole season. Additionally, the arrival of Richarlison could see Antonio Conte rotate his star man, so it'll be really interesting to see how this one pans out.

Erling Haaland obviously deserves a mention and is likely to be up there fighting for the Golden Boot, while Gabriel Jesus could relish being the protagonist at Arsenal. The Gunners always create chances, so the Brazilian could be one to watch out for. Liverpool's Darwin Nunez also has to be up there, doesn't he? I'm intrigued to see how this lad turns out, because I haven't seen much of him so far. Is he as good as his price tag suggests? Only time will tell.

Mohamed Salah will also be up there, as he always is. He signed a long-term deal with Liverpool and already has three Premier League Golden Boots to his name. Who is to say he doesn't have another one left in him?

When we talk about goals, it's impossible not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo, who in my opinion is still the best finisher in world football. That said, he's a year older and wants to leave the club, so even if he sticks around, I don't see him competing for the Golden Boot. You don't score 800 odd goals in your career without knowing how to find the back of the net, but Erik ten Hag expects a different brand of football, so this is one to keep an eye on.

Raheem Sterling is another player I'd like to touch upon and I think he could well turn out to be the new signing who impresses the most this season. I'm flabbergasted that Manchester City let him go to a Premier League rival - now they'll have to rely on Jack Grealish to get into the box and replicate his end product in front of goal!

People go on about Sterling's technique and the number of chances he supposedly misses, but he scores big goals for club and country and has done so consistently for a number of years now!

#1 Kevin de Bruyne to win the PFA POTY award

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

Defenders don't usually win this award as we've seen over the years, which is why it was fantastic to see Virgil van Dijk getting his hands on the prize in the 2018-19 season. The Liverpool defender is sure to play a key role once again and could be right up there, as is the case with Salah.

Haaland is another obvious shout considering his exploits in front of goal in recent seasons, but it's not going to be as easy as other people are making it out to be. He's an unreal goalscorer, but he'll have to score different types of goals to what was the case earlier in his career and adapt quickly to the demands of the Premier League.

The Norwegian striker is so used to running into space, but when teams come up against Manchester City, they put ten men behind the ball! Haaland needs to show a bit of guile for his new team, otherwise he'll struggle to replicate his exploits in front of goal.

I went for Manchester City to win the Premier League and if that were to be the case, I couldn't look any further than Kevin de Bruyne for the PFA Player of the Year award. He's the best player in the league in my opinion and has won it twice already, while he produced a handful of sensational performances in the second half of the 2021-22 season to make himself a candidate for the prize before eventually losing out to Salah.

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Edited by Paul Merson