2022/23 Premier League Previews | Four teams and the battle to stay in the Premier League

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2022/23 Premier League Previews

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2022/23 Premier League Previews | Four teams and the battle to stay in the Premier League

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Siddhant Lazar

08/05/2022

The 2022/23 Premier League season is around the corner and while some have their hearts set on titles, others have their goals set on European football and mid-table happiness. The rest have to contend with a relegation dogfight which will be one of the toughest tests of their managerial careers.

Southampton

Southampton © Twitter

How did Southampton do in the 2021/22 Premier League season? 

There’s no denying that Ralph Hasenhuttl has done a magnificent job at Southampton but even more so, the Austrian has largely overachieved during his time at St Mary’s. That was rather nicely shown last season as the Saints challenged and were within reach of a European spot for cameos of the season but because of the youthfulness of the team, they tended to be inconsistent. Just nine wins is proof of that but the fact that they also tend to go on large winless runs is more proof.

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That happened at the start of a season with a seven game winless run, a six game mid-season winless run and the fact that they ended the season with just one win in their final 12 games. It doesn’t make for good reading and was probably why they finished 15th with 40 points (five points above the drop zone) alongside the fourth worst defense and a mid-table offense. That’s also probably why they didn’t consistently compete for a top table finish.

Improvements they have made:

For the first time since Ralph Hasenhuttl has arrived, the Austrian has had money to burn without selling key stars and it shows with Southampton signing a decent crop of talent. Gavin Bazunu should immediately become their first-team goalkeeper, Armel Bella-Kotchap should improve that leaky defense, Joe Aribo was a revelation with Rangers in midfield while Romeo Lavia is Oriol Romeo’s replacement and an upgrade on the Spaniard at the same time.

They have also signed Sekou Mara, a talented young striker which is a very Southampton-esque move but the lack of a consistent goalscorer could hurt the team. That is if Adam Armstrong and Che Adams continue to struggle in front of goal especially with Shane Long having left for Reading. However, new players aren’t the only moves that Southampton have made as new faces have arrived in the backroom alongside the fact that they have overhauled Hasenhuttl’s coaching staff.

That should help perk the team up a bit although we’ll see the real impact that has about halfway into the season when everyone hits their stride and kicks things off.

Why they could get relegated at the end of the 2022/23 season

There’s never a guarantee that a team could get relegated or survive which especially applies to Southampton because so far, it seems that Hasenhuttl’s managerial talents have kept them up. That might very likely continue but if the team does collapse, lose key stars to injury and struggle post the 2022 World Cup, there is a genuine chance they could be in a relegation dogfight. Whether things could get worse than that or not is completely up to them.

Everton 

Everton © Twitter

How did Everton do in the 2021/22 Premier League season? 

A brilliant start to the season had many Everton fans wondering if a top six or even top four challenge was on the cards for their side but then their house of cards collapsed. After just one loss in their opening seven games, the Toffees would go on to win just one game in their next ten fixtures which saw Rafael Benitez lose his job. Frank Lampard replaced him and things did not improve.

Instead, over their next 21 games, Everton would win just six matches although that included key games against Leeds United, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City. It meant that the Goodison Park side had survived to fight another season but by the skin of their teeth, finishing with 16th with 39 points (four above the drop zone) although their other stats were in the toilet. 

Improvements they have made:

You would think that for a team that barely survived the 2021/22 Premier League season, Everton would have improved their squad and given Frank Lampard a chance in hell of fighting against relegation. But thanks to their reckless spending in the past, the Englishman hasn’t had a lot of money to work with and has been forced into selling a key star in Richarlison. Yet his €60 million fee will help plug a few holes in the financially leaky Everton and it should help add a few new faces.

So far that means signing Dwight McNeil, Ruben Vinagre on loan and bringing in James Tarkowski on a free-transfer with all three men set to play key parts. There are other signings on the horizion, including talented Lille defensive midfielder Amadou Onana, but with Dominic Calvert-Lewin set to miss the opening six-weeks of the season, a new striker should be the priority. Especially since Cenk Tosun has left, Richarlison has left which leaves Salomon Rondon as their first choice option. Not good.

Why they could get relegated at the end of the 2022/23 season

Well, for one, it’s the fact that this team hasn’t changed but if anything, they’ve become even weaker with Richarlison’s loss. He was their top scorer by some margin and given Calvert-Lewin’s injury issues, the Toffees will need goals to come from somewhere.

Add that with their defensive issues and then combine that with the fact that Frank Lampard has never looked steady at the club, it doesn’t make for good reading. It also means that one nice shake or a nice gust of wind and this precariously placed house of cards could come flapping all the way down.

Fulham 

Fulham © Twitter

How did Fulham do in the 2021/22 Championship season? 

For a team that seems to be constantly yo-yoing back and forth between the Championship and Premier League, Fulham seem to be the team that can’t quite make the step up. Yet, after their 2021/22 Championship season, it has fans and critics alike hopeful again and why wouldn’t they be? The Cottagers didn’t just win the Championship last season but they absolutely tore through their opponents, scoring goals at will and ripped teams to shreds along the way.

They scored five or more goals on seven occasions last term, a tally that includes three seven goal hauls, and that meant they broke the 100 goal mark for the first time in almost a decade. Combine that with the second best defensive record, the fact that Aleksandar Mitrovic broke the goal-scoring record for a 46 game season and that the team were flying at times, it makes for hopeful reading. 

Improvements they have made:

It’s been a weird summer for Marco Silva’s side because despite having lost the young Fabio Carvalho, a key component of their destructive Championship season, no replacement has been signed. Andreas Pereira has been brought in to help fill the gap alongside Manor Solomon but neither have shown the quality that Carvalho has in the past.

Joao Palhinha, on the other hand, could be the defensive midfielder that the Cottagers have been craving for years while Bernd Leno is a definite upgrade on Marek Rodak and Shane Duffy brings in Premier League experience. Kevin Mbabu also adds quality and comes into the team with a lot to prove but beyond that Fulham haven’t improved their weak areas. They have only three senior center-backs, lack depth in multiple positions and there are certain players who just don’t seem like they can cut it in the Premier league.

Why they could get relegated at the end of the 2022/23 season

Marco Silva’s style of play means that Fulham played an open and attractive brand of football last season, and that normally tends to see teams get whopped in the top tier. Leeds United and Bournemouth are the few examples in the recent past that have managed to survive despite playing that brand of football but one had a world class manager to help them cope while the other tempered that openness and still managed to survive.

Combine that with the fact that the onus is still on Aleksandar Mitrovic to score goals and while he will have help, the Serbian is yet to really prove himself in the top tier. Yet even if he does score 40 goals, it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference if the Cottagers concede somewhere around double that mark.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth © Twitter

How did Bournemouth do in the 2021/22 Championship season? 

Shockingly well, that’s how. After being relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season, not a lot has been expected from Bournemouth even with the parachute payments and they haven’t bucked the trend. They finished fifth in the 2020/21 season and lost to Brentford in the promotion playoffs which was heartbreaking but Scott Parker’s arrival and his defensive brand of football lead the way last term.

Not only did the Cherries finish the 2021/22 Championship season in second place and with the best defensive record, but only Fulham outscored them. That combined with a super season from Dominic Solanke (29 goals) and a back-three that was steady as a rock ensured that they finished second and in an automatic promotion spot even if it was a close shave towards the end of the season. It was an impressive showing from the Cherries and rightfully earned them their place in the top flight.

Improvements they have made:

You can’t blame almost an entire fanbase for feeling queasy before the season opener especially when their side has signed only three proper first-team players. Plus, two out of the three men happen to be injured and will miss the first game, and to make things worse, Scott Parker has hit out at their lack of recruitment this summer. It may be easy to get lost in the chaos of the transfer window but when a team clearly lacks depth and quality to compete at the top level even two months after the previous season ended, it’s a concern.

You combine that with their manager trying to make a point by naming a subs bench well below what he could have during pre-season and it wouldn’t make any supporter happy. There is also a fear that Bournemouth doesn't just lack depth but may not be able to field a proper defense after Gary Cahill and Nat Philipps left the club at the end of the 2021/22 season. Furthermore, reports have indicated that Bournemouth were expecting to sign six new faces before the season started but things clearly haven’t gone that way.

Why they could get relegated at the end of the 2022/23 season

Well, even if you look beyond their lack of depth and their lack of new faces this summer, Scott Parker and Bournemouth’s slightly more defensive/counter-attacking style of football may not translate well in the Premier League. Combine that with the clubs around them spending quite a bit of money – including Nottingham Forest and Fulham – and it all points to the Cherries being the key side in the relegation dogfight.

It also hands Parker a challenge like he has never had before especially when his own team is not giving themselves a fighting chance of staying up.

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