2022/23 Premier League Previews | Four teams and their desire to break Big Six’s stranglehold on Europe

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2022/23 Premier League Previews

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2022/23 Premier League Previews | Four teams and their desire to break Big Six’s stranglehold on Europe

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Siddhant Lazar

Last Friday at 5:20 PM

The 2022/23 Premier League season is around the corner but while some have their hearts set on titles and trophies, others have their goals set on European football and lots of money. But for these four teams, their dream is to usurp the Big Six and get their hands on a coveted European place.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa © Twitter

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

Having sold Jack Grealish last summer, many expected Aston Villa to struggle despite the arrivals of not one but five players including Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings. But things don’t always quite go according to plan especially when you lose someone as integral to the team as Grealish was and the results showcased exactly that. 

11 games into the season and Dean Smith lost his job which came as no shock especially after just three wins in that period and a run of five losses in a row. Not quite world class or top six challenging run and things didn’t change after Steven Gerrard was appointed as Villa won just ten more games over the next 27 games. Yet there was enough evidence to show that the former Rangers boss had turned the team around although Villa were far from perfect.

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Improvements they have made:

After losing Jack Grealish last summer, Aston Villa have managed to keep their best assets this summer and have added more than a few impressive pieces. They’ve signed center-back Diego Carlos alongside highly rated midfielder Boubacar Kamara and Ludwig Augustinsson. Not only that, the loan move for Philippe Coutinho has been made permanent which definitely improves this team although his lack of consistency last season is a concern.

The real question is whether Steven Gerrard can knit together a proper team from the players he has got at his disposal because the players he has at his disposal are good enough to compete.

Why they could break into the top seven

Well, if we consider last season’s table then Manchester United and West Ham United are still vulnerable which offers teams a chance to break into a potential European place. And it’s not an impossible task, just a really really hard one but for Aston Villa, it might be out of their reach. Yet, you can never say never and should everything click perfectly for Villa, then they’ve got a chance.

Not a great one mind you but while breaking into the top six might be a tough tough ask, breaking into that Europa Conference League spot might not be out of their reach at all.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Bruno Lage © Twitter

How well did Wolverhampton Wanderers do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

If a Premier League season was ranked only on how well a team did defensively, then Wolverhampton Wanderers (or Wolves) absolutely killed it with a fifth place finish. It would have been enough to earn them a Europa League spot and European football for the 2022/23 season but unfortunately, seasons aren’t solely considered based on defensive stats. Because at the other end of the pitch, Wolves were arguably one of the worst teams in the English top tier.

They finished with the fourth worst goal-scored record, beating the relegated trio of Burnley, Watford and Norwich City, but had the second worst xG record with only Norwich City doing worse. It doesn’t make for good reading especially when you consider the fact that their defense was only that good because goalkeeper Jose Sa had the season of his life. It’s why the Molineux side finished in 10th place, well off a European spot and well off a relegation fight although that could change in the near future.

Improvements they have made:

At the time of writing, Wolves have signed only defender Nathan Collins and made Hee-Chan Hwang’s loan move from RB Leipzig permanent. Not only that, they’ve let Romain Saiss, Ruben Vinagre, Marcal, Fabio Silva and Ki-Jana Hoever leave while not making Francisco Trincao’s loan move permanent. It leaves Bruno Lage with exactly the same team and that is most definitely not a good sign although there is still a month left in the summer transfer window.

Why they could break into the top seven

Raul Jimenez’s injury means that he will miss the start of the season and thus Wolves are probably going to start the season without a proper striker. But Pedro Neto’s return combined with Daniel Podence, Hee-Chan Hwang and maybe even Patrick Cutrone, if he stays, could be key if they all hit a vein of form and that might send Wolves up the top.

However, in the perfect world, Jose Sa’s incredible season turns into two and their defense clicks superbly in the absence of Romain Saiss with Nathan Collins slipping in effortlessly to lead Wolves into a European spot. All that is in the perfect world and since football doesn't exist in a perfect world, Wolves may need a miracle and a half to do things.

Newcastle United

Newcastle United © Twitter

How well did Newcastle United do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

Well, you can’t quite look at Newcastle United’s 2021/22 season on the whole and tell everyone that they’ll qualify for Europe, people will look at you funny. Some may even condemn you, ask you to get tested and maybe a few other medical things especially when the Magpies spent every game-week from Gameweek 5 onwards in the relegation zone until 25. It was only around then that hope began seeping back into St James’ Park alongside oodles of money.

They also managed to weaken Burnley by signing Chris Wood and while that almost didn’t work, it did in the end as the Magpies finished in 11th place, and a massive 14 points off the drop-zone. Rather impressive even if they did spend almost a 100 million to get there especially given the swashbuckling and showy end to the season they put on for their fans.

Improvements they have made:

Thanks to financial fair play rules, Newcastle are yet to be able to flex those rather impressive financial muscles of theirs yet but even then, the club have brought in a few new faces. Matt Targett has been signed permanently, Sven Botman is through the door to reinforce their defense and England international Nick Pope joins the goalkeepers in the locker-room.

Combine that with Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson’s return to fitness, and it’s like Newcastle United have a completely new team on their hands. Of course, reports have indicated and linked them with moves for about a gazillion players so far but nothing has materialized. James Maddison is also on their radar but much like everything else, Leicester City are holding out for a big-fee and one that Newcastle don’t want to match.

Why they could break into the top seven

At the moment? There is zero chance that anything short of a miracle will see Newcastle United break beyond West Ham United and Leicester City, and challenge for a European place. But in a perfect world, things could happen and moves could be made that weaken both the Hammers and the Foxes which leaves the road clear for anyone to challenge. 

But even to reach there, Newcastle need at least one or two more offensive additions, someone who can stay fit and keep contributing to goals. The hope was Callum Wilson or Allan Saint-Maximin would be those men but so far neither star has shown that they can either stay fit or be consistent. Even then, Newcastle have got dead-wood, defensive issues and a few other problems but never say never.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace © Twitter

How well did Crystal Palace do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

It wasn’t the greatest season in the world but after all the lack of hype and their doubters, Crystal Palace managed to knock a few doubters into the ground. Not only that, those who predicted relegation and Vieira to be the first boss sacked also had some sand thrown in their faces as Palace finished in 12th although at one stage the Eagles were in ninth and in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

In the end, it simply wasn’t meant to be as a late season collapse saw the Eagles fall well short of that coveted European battle but that was mainly because their players simply stopped finding the net. Combine that with the added pressure of playing an FA Cup semi-final and the added bonus of injuries, COVID-19 positive tests and a lack of depth to compete with that and you get what happened to Palace. 

Improvements they have made:

Just the four new faces for the Eagles so far but all four indubitably improve their squad especially Cheick Doucoure who comes in to replace Cheikhou Kouyate who left on a free-transfer. Chris Richards, Sam Johnstone and Malcolm Ebiowei are the other three new arrivals with Johnstone set to compete for the first team spot while Richards will likely play back-up to Tyrick Mitchell and the center-backs.

Their main issue, however, is the fact their strikers struggled for goals last term with Wilfried Zaha finishing as their top scorer with 14. That was while Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke scored a combined 15 goals. A definite concern for the Selhurst Park side but if Patrick Vieira can work with what he has got even in the absence of Conor Gallagher, then those three could be like a new signing.

Why they could break into the top seven

Outperforming last season’s performance, 12th place with 48 points, would be a massive ask for Crystal Palace but it’s not out of the realms of reality. They were, after all, in ninth place for a decent stretch and looked like they could compete for more but if Vieira manages to tighten that defense, make that midfield slightly more dynamic without Gallagher and add more goals from everyone other than Zaha, then it’s a makeable target. Yet, they’re all big ifs.

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