Ange at Spurs, City hunt all-time record, Liverpool’s new guard and another Scandi striker in Manchester: Here’s what to watch in the 2022/23 EPL season.
1. Spurs under Ange
Every Aussie EPL devotee, Tottenham fan or not, will be eagerly watching Ange Postecoglou’s reign at Spurs this season. One of Australia’s greatest sporting stories in decades, Ange’s rise through the ranks — through the Greek third tier, A-League, J-League and most recently the Scottish Premiership — is a tale of determination and belief. And that’s the key word; Postecoglou believes his brand of football can succeed in the world’s best domestic competition. He’ll play a high-press against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal, because that’s the way he succeeds.
Ange gets a nine out of 10 for his first few months at Spurs. Why? He’s already won over the fans — a difficult job for what is a demanding supporter base. Almost ever Spurs fans had the Melbournian way down their list of candidates for the vacant role after a poor 2022/23 season, with Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino and Arne Slot all preferred over ‘big Ange’. But he clearly impressed the Spurs top brass, and his clear, no-nonsense interactions have clearly helped. After a truly downbeat season with a manager (Antonio Conte) who didn’t want to be there, Tottenham has new life. And we’re all strapped in for the Postecoglou ride.
Ange Postecoglou already has his fingerprints on this Tottenham team.
Play out from a Barcelona press – from one end to the other 😤pic.twitter.com/3mdpItbppx
— Sacha Pisani (@Sachk0) August 8, 2023
2. City’s motivation levels
How do you improve on the perfect season? How do you keep the standard as high as when it earned you an EPL, Champions League and FA Cup title? That’s the key challenge facing Pep Guardiola and Manchester City this season. There’s no doubt that, even with some big outgoings in the off-season (including Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan), City still boast the best squad in England. The addition of Croatian Josko Gvardiol is a shrewd signing that shores up and makes their backline more versatile. But the question isn’t about their side on paper. That is elite, as we know. It’s motivation levels, and whether they can again ward off a (perhaps even hungrier) Arsenal side in 2023/24.
We’ll also get a glimpse of Erling Halaand’s motivation levels this season after achieving everything he could’ve dreamed of in his inaugural season in sky blue. Delivering an EPL-record 36 goals, can the Norwegian do it again?
🗣️ “We start two weeks later than Arsenal so we are not in the best way.”
Pep Guardiola says Arsenal are in a better place physically than Manchester City at this stage. pic.twitter.com/xA5fsJK2JV
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 4, 2023
3. Arsenal’s ‘prime’ stars
When Arsenal fell away late last season, giving up a five-point lead atop the EPL table to be completely overrun by City, the overriding feeling from many fans (after immediate disappointment) was that it was still a successful season. And it was. At $34 chances the Gunners weren’t supposed to be challenging for the title. They also achieved their goal of returning to the Champions League.
But this season is different, and their aims — quite rightly — have shifted upwards. This year, their key goal is the EPL title. And they’ve got a group of stars in their prime to deliver it. The acquisition of Declan Rice, plus skipper Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and the Gabriels (Jesus and Martinelli), sees Arsenal’s core primed for success. Each has been in the system for several years now, but each is aged between 21-26 and will have the ability to withstand a long campaign.
Gary Neville has predicted The Arsenal to win the Premier League @GNev2 🤯
— Gunners (@Gunnersc0m) August 8, 2023
4. Liverpool’s changing of the guard
A summer transfer window that promised so much has gone to pot (thus far) for Liverpool. There’s been a whole lot of movement out of Anfield, but few have been welcomed in. Manager Jurgen Klopp has waved goodbye to the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. But so far, the only signings are Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai. With a heap of EPL experience out the door, can the Reds deal with a (substantial) changing of the guard?
There isn’t a heap of optimism at present. Defender Virgil van Dijk has said he “can definitely understand” a level of fan negatively heading into the season. A typically honest Dutchman, van Dijk summed up the situation at Anfield this week: “When a lot of players are leaving, when your captain is leaving, your vice-captain is leaving, and at the moment there are only two incomings…and the way we have been playing, in possession really good but defensively when you concede goals it’s not as good, I can understand some people having doubts.”
This is embarrassing.
Liverpool for years now have got deals done quickly with no fuss.
If you don’t think he’s worth 50M move on, if you really want him pay it.
Also not sure why LFC aren’t in for Caicedo, yes it’s a lot of money but Liverpool got big money for JH/FAB 🤷♂️ https://t.co/nNP05udQP8
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 7, 2023
5. Manchester’s newest Scandi striker
The arrival of a Scandinavian striker down the road from Manchester United a year ago proved monumental. Erling Haaland broke record upon record in his first EPL campaign for Manchester City, and shook up the English domestic league. Now, 12 months later, there’s a new Scandi striker in town. He comes with a big fee, and even sounds a bit like his Norwegian peer. But that’s probably where the comparisons stop. Denmark’s Rasmus Hojlund arrives at United on a hefty £72 million fee, but with a whole added dollop of unknown. The 20-year-old, who scored nine goals for Atalanta in Serie A last season, has all the raw attributes. At 191cm with significant pace, Hojlund could be a real find for Erik ten Hag, who needed a big man to fill the number nine role after Wout Weghorst’s less than ideal loan spell. How he performs at one one of the world’s biggest clubs is anyone’s guess, but could prove pivotal to United’s push this EPL season.
After completing the signing of Rasmus Hojlund, Erik ten Hag has a higher net spend (€396m) in two seasons than Jurgen Klopp (€375m) in eight seasons at Liverpool 🤯 pic.twitter.com/mxPaDoiIUC
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) August 5, 2023