Premier League predictions: Who will finish where in 2022-23?
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer
Can anyone stop Manchester City winning the Premier League title for a third successive year?
Here we go again. Time to gaze into the crystal ball and predict the final outcome of the 2022-23 Premier League season.
This annual act of folly was a qualified success last season, with the top three predicted in the correct order along with the relegation of Burnley and Watford. However, guarded optimism for Manchester United and pessimism for Brentford were wide of the mark.
Getting my excuses in first? Well, there is still almost a month of the transfer window to go.
This season, forecasting those who will go down is a particularly hazardous occupation - as is this whole enterprise - but here goes.1. Manchester City
Last season - Champions
Manchester City have been Premier League champions four of the past five seasons and I expect another straight fight with Liverpool to end with them on top again.
The signing of Erling Haaland solves the one main flaw in a magnificent side, namely a tendency not to convert so many of the chances they create. He is proven high class and was one of the most coveted strikers in world football.
England midfielder Kalvin Phillips is also an ideal replacement for Fernandinho, while Jack Grealish will be better for one full season under Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola has said farewell to key components of their successes in Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko but City do not look any weaker than last season.2. Liverpool
Last season - 2nd
A truly outstanding season last time out ended with them missing out on the title on the final day, losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid but winning the FA Cup and League Cup, both on penalties against Chelsea.
Expect them to fight on all fronts again this term and challenge City all the way, securing at least one trophy.
Sadio Mane is a very obvious loss but striker Darwin Nunez comes from Benfica with a huge reputation and has already shown what he will offer. Watch out for Fabio Carvalho making an impact - a serious talent at Fulham last season.3. Tottenham
Last season - 4th
I share the big expectations for Spurs this season because they are now in the hands of one of the world's great coaches in Antonio Conte who will give - and demand - a winning mentality this club has lacked.
Conte has also convinced chairman Daniel Levy that deals are best done early so there has been some serious squad strengthening.
Richarlison, at £60m from Everton, gives an already stellar attack another dimension and added depth while Yves Bissouma was outstanding for Brighton in midfield last season. Croatia international Ivan Perisic will bring experience, quality and versatility.
Out on a limb here. Top four and a trophy for Spurs as long as they keep Mr Conte happy.4. Chelsea
Last season - 3rd
It's never dull at Chelsea but a different type of turbulence played out this summer with a new owner in Todd Boehly and the hindrance of Barcelona seemingly intent on stealing big transfer targets away in the shape of Raphinha and Jules Kounde.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has also expressed various levels of discontent but this is a club that seems to thrive on instability and aggravation once the season starts.
Raheem Sterling's arrival from Manchester City shows the pulling power of Chelsea while Kalidou Koulibaly has long been touted as one of the game's finest defenders. He will be expected to fill part of the gap left by the departure of the influential Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid.
Expect more big names in, with Brighton's Marc Cucurella a target, and never back against Chelsea being in the shake-up and winning silverware.5. Arsenal
Last season - 5th
Arsenal, and manager Mikel Arteta, were left frustrated at missing out on Champions League football at the final hurdle last season but there is a lot to like about their summer transfer business and there is likely to be more to come.
I can see them challenging for the top four again with the signings of Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus - the rare instance of a deal being good for all parties - and his team-mate Oleksandr Zinchenko adding not only quality but experience of what it takes to win under pressure. Fabio Vieira, a £34m signing from Porto, augments midfield strength.
It's a big season for Arteta but he has the complete faith of the Arsenal board and they have looked a million dollars in pre-season.
He needs a top-four finish and to be challenging for trophies and I fancy Arsenal might just do that. I do not see them as title contenders, though.6. Manchester United
Last season - 6th
A total horror show last season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and Ralf Rangnick having no impact whatsoever before the eventual appointment of Ajax coach Erik ten Hag.
The whole club needs a reboot and anyone expecting miracles from Ten Hag needs to get real as he embarks on sorting out a fractured dressing room and serious lack of quality.
Cristiano Ronaldo's desire to leave is casting a cloud over pre-season while Ten Hag is going with what he knows in signing defender Lisandro Martinez along with a seemingly endless Frenkie de Jong pursuit. Christian Eriksen will provide guile and quality in midfield after proving his return to health and form at Brentford. How will he dovetail with Bruno Fernandes?
Ten Hag needs more potency in attack, and will also hope the likes of Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford revive their form of old and that Jadon Sancho can show why he was valued at £73m.
Top-four challenge and a cup are the best bet. Title contenders? No chance.18. Nottingham Forest
Last season - Championship play-off winners
Nottingham Forest have marked their return to the Premier League after 23 years by making an expensive and spectacular splash in the transfer market.
Owner Evangelos Marinakis has rewarded Forest's excellent manager Steve Cooper by making the sort of funds available that he hopes will ensure the two-time European Cup winners do not return to the Championship.
There is an element of gamble as Cooper's brilliant rejuvenation was based on great team spirit and there is always risk in incorporating so many new faces.
And in Forest's defence, they had no choice other than to embark on this rebuild as seven of the 14 players who took part in the play-off final win over Huddersfield Town have departed, including keeper Brice Samba and a selection of loanees, such as defender Djed Spence, who has joined Spurs.
Jesse Lingard is the most eye-catching signing of all after his free transfer from Manchester United. He opted for Forest ahead of West Ham and will have a huge responsibility in this revamped team.
But I worry about the sheer churn of numbers into Forest's squad after the success of last season, even with Cooper's expertise, hence this pessimistic prediction.
I am saying Forest will go down but think they could draw others into that particular fight and may yet stay up.19. Fulham
Last season - Championship winners
Marco Silva did a fine job in restoring Fulham to the Premier League last season but will face a fight to keep this fine old club in the top flight.
So much will rest on talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored 43 goals last season. He will need to make a big impact on his return to the top flight, while Fulham will also have to replace talented youngster Fabio Carvalho after his move to Liverpool.
Silva will have high hopes for new Portugal midfielder Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira, brought in from Manchester United, while former Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno add Premier League know-how but it's still hard to see anything other than a fight for survival - and you get the impression the manager feels he needs a lot more reinforcements before deadline day.20. Bournemouth
Last season - Championship runners-up
Scott Parker got the Cherries back up but will have a fight on his hand to avoid the same fate he suffered when he was relegated with Fulham.
As with Fulham and Mitrovic, much will depend on whether Dominic Solanke can transfer the goal touch that made him so potent in the Championship to the top flight, where he struggled to make his mark with Chelsea and Liverpool.
Marcus Tavernier has been the major summer arrival from Middlesbrough but the Cherries will need a lot more than that.
Survival would be viewed as success but I cannot say I am confident that will happen.https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/62391593