Premier League 2022-23 predictions: Haaland to give City the edge
Manchester City won their fourth Premier League title in five seasons on a dramatic final day as they rallied from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and secure another trophy to add to their considerable collection, holding off Liverpool by a point.
Now attention turns to the coming 31st Premier League season, which will have the unusual circumstance of being interrupted by the 2022 World Cup in November and December.
Haaland takes centre stage
To add to their already considerable talents, City will have the services of Erling Haaland to call upon next year after the Norwegian striker, who netted 86 times in 89 games for Borussia Dortmund, agreed a deal to join the Citizens.
Pep Guardiola’s side scored 99 times in the season just gone and that figure may soon be eclipsed given the prodigious record of the 21-year-old.
However, Haaland's style of play is not the most comfortable of fits for the reigning champions. At Dortmund, the prolific striker enjoyed much of his success on the counter-attack, using his pace and power to play on the shoulder of the last defender.
That may not be possible in a City side that retains so much of the ball and are often faced with a stubborn low block from the teams that face them. Guardiola’s side had 68.5% possession across the most recent campaign, and Haaland will have to improve his build-up play to fit into the squad.
City’s closest rivals are likely to be Liverpool once again, who ran them so close this time around. The Reds have a major decision to make with regards to the future of Mohamed Salah, who turns 30 next month and is out of contract in 2023.
However, even if they were to lose the Egyptian, Jurgen Klopp's outfit are likely to throw down the strongest challenge to Guardiola's men. Despite that, the resources at the hands of City means they are the likeliest winners once more.
Wolves must be careful
The relegation battle went right down to the wire in the Premier League and the same is likely again next season.
Two of the three promoted sides were relegated and Fulham, Bournemouth and either Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield face a tough task making the leap up to the top flight.
However, as the most recent season has shown, established sides such as Burnley can get dragged into the relegation dogfight.
Wolves managed a top-half finish this season but some of their underlying numbers were worrying. Only Watford and Norwich had a worse expected goals difference tally than Wolves’ -24.4 and the West Midlands side netted just 38 goals, the lowest amount of any team to stay up.
Jose Sa had a very impressive season in goal, recording a post-shot expected goals figure of 9.2, nearly three clear of his next rival. If the Portuguese custodian gets injured or fails to replicate this year’s performance, Bruno Lage’s men could be in serious trouble and relegation is not out of the question.