Premier League 2022-23: The players and teams that will define the season in England’s top flight The Premier League is back and with that, it’s a good time to gaze into a crystal ball of what may happen in the league while everyone is still on level footing. Strap in and let’s get to some predictions. Also, for the traditional top four, relegation predictions and the title winner, the CBS Sports staff has you covered.
Best Newcomer: Darwin Nunez, Liverpool
Nunez is quite an addition to the Liverpool attack as Jurgen Klopp refreshes the team to replace Sadio Mane. After scoring 34 goals and assisting four more with Benfica, it’s safe to expect more than 20 goals from Nunez in all competitions as long as he’s on the field consistently. Klopp has already shown that the scouting department is comfortable transitioning players from Portugal with the successful addition of Luis Diaz last season, but Nunez is different from Liverpool’s usual forwards leading the line.
A shoot first, ask questions later forward, Nunez will rely on service from those around him. The good news is that between Mohamed Salah, Thiago, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Diaz the crosses coming into the box are a forwards dream. Even if he drifts out to the wing, Salah is able to fill the space in the middle, making Liverpool that much more dangerous. The biggest transition will be adjusting to the press, but Liverpool loaded the preseason with friendlies to give the team as much game time together as possible before moving into the grind of the season. The biggest point in Nunez’s favor over the summer’s more heralded move of Erling Haaland to Manchester City is that I see him getting more starts in an attack that can match City step for step.
Golden Boot Winner: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
The big red machine moves on. Salah will continue to be a key cog in the attack after signing a contract extension. The only players to best him in the past five seasons are Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane. Vardy is struggling with injuries while he ages while Kane is no longer the most feared attacker on Spurs as that title now shifts to Heung-Min Son who tied Salah for the Golden Boot last year.
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Most Improved Team: Newcastle United
This is a loaded answer because Newcastle United did well last season but the jump they last year from the bottom half into the top half is a bigger improvement than doing something like avoiding relegation by climbing higher in midtable like Brentford. The Magpies are fringe Europa League contenders with very little business this summer thanks to the strength of their defense. Sven Botman and Nick Pope are significant upgrades while making the addition of Matt Targett permanent is also a solid addition for them. Under Eddie Howe, Newcastle only need one of Manchester United or West Ham United to slip up to crash England’s European party. With Newcastle’s improvement this season, I’d also back Howe for coach of the year if they’re able to make Europe.
Biggest Drop in the Table: Wolverhampton Wanderers
It’s hard to tell what the Wolves front office is doing. The only addition this summer has been Nathan Collins in central defense. He’s a way to get younger in defense after letting Romain Saiss leave this summer but he won’t improve Wolves’ most pressing problems. Morgan Gibbs-White could bring his sharp form back home from his loan spell with Sheffield United, but playing as a ten instead of as a second striker will change how he influences the game. For Wolves to do well, Pedro Neto and Deniel Podence will need to take significant steps forward. It’s certainly possible that they do that but if they don’t, an attack that only scored 38 goals (good for the fourth worst number in the league) last season, will be worse off and sink the team as a result.
Best Promoted Side: Nottingham Forest
The Tricky Trees earn this title tanks to Fulham’s history in the Premier League and Bournemouth’s lack of business. It could be a tough start for Forest and they could finish anywhere from tenth in the league to dead last and it wouldn’t be surprising to me. Opening the season with Newcastle, West Ham, Everton, Tottenham, and Manchester City expectations will be low for points out of the gate, but that will allow the team to gel under pressure before three consecutive games against teams who will be around the relegation zone with them. By the end of September, we should at least have an idea of which way Forest will be heading.
Breakout Performer: Eberechi Eze, Crystal Palace
After missing significant time due to an Achilles injury, he’s back with a full pre-season under his belt and the number ten shirt showing that he has also earned Patrick Vieira’s trust. With Conor Gallagher back at Chelsea, Eze will shoulder the responsibility of being the creative focus of the Palace attack which could see him easily clear double digits in combined goals and assists this season. Vieira is building something special in South London and Eze’s performances will be at the center of making it work this season.
Best Young Player: Bukayo Saka, Arsenal
Saka will be celebrating his 21st birthday one month from now. It’s wild that he’s only 20 years old as the season kicks off despite having three seasons of Premier League soccer under his belt. Saka is basically a seasoned veteran in this exciting Arsenal side.
Most Valuable American Player: Tyler Adams, Leeds United
Adams will be central to that. Leeds have made quite a few signings this summer so a rough start to the season could see doubt begin to creep in but if it goes well, Adams will be in a great spot ahead of the World Cup in November.