English Premier League

The 2022/23 Premier League Preview: The Relegation Battle

Starting our preview of the Premier League at the bottom of the table…

Well, a new season is upon us.

By the time you are reading this, the 2022/23 Premier League season has begun. After the thrills, spills, and everything in between of last season, where most major decision points on the table went down to the final few games, we are getting ready for yet another season that could be just as wild as the last. And here we are going to supply you with our preview for what to expect this season.

We will do this a bit differently. Instead of hearing from just one of us per article, you will hear from all of us. Everyone on the team will take a look at the league and various topics within to discuss what we think will happen in the English top flight this season. And today, we start at the bottom of the table. Who is going down?

JT: This season, I think it is hard to look past the newly promoted teams when it comes to relegation candidates. Old friends Fulham and Bournemouth return to the Premier League after very short tenures in the Championship, while Nottingham Forest return to the top flight for the first time in over two decades, and all three of these teams are great stories in their own right, but it is very hard to see a reality where even two of these three teams survive.

Fulham were the record-breaking no-prisoners-taking team in the Championship last season, scoring absurd numbers of goals (106 to be precise) and playing silky attacking football on their way to fairly comfortably securing automatic promotion. They have also done fairly well in the transfer market this summer, but despite this, they are still going to be very reliant on what worked in the Championship, mainly needing Aleksandar Mitrović to keep scoring at a high level and Harry Wilson to keep playmaking at a high level. This, paired with the loss of boy wonder Fabio Carvalho and a defense that still feels fairly Championship gives me great fears for Fulham’s chances. Marco Silva is a very experienced manager, but he has a very tough task.

Bournemouth and Forest exist at opposite ends of the spectrum. Bournemouth were a very talented team by Championship standards featuring some talented youngsters, namely Dominic Solanke, Lloyd Kelly, and Chris Mepham, but being a good Championship team does not always translate to being able to survive. Adding on a very quiet transfer window, only adding winger Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough, and severe lack of top flight experience in the team and with manager Scott Parker, and I think it is easy to peg Bournemouth as relegation favorites.

Forest, on the other hand, have been among the most active teams in the transfer market, spending a whopping £85 million on 12 players and continuing to be linked with more. This can work in two ways. On one hand, they are revolutionizing what was only a fairly good Championship side that punched above its weight, and they are doing so at both ends of the pitch. This could also be disjointing, and we have seen teams in the past spend loads after going up to only still go down (*cough cough* Fulham). And while they did very well to hang on to rising star Brennan Johnson, the losses of James Garner, Djed Spence, and Brice Samba removes three very influential players from their team. They certainly have one of the best young managers in England in Steve Cooper, who will likely remain in the Premier League after this season with or without Forest, but it is still a tall task for them to survive.

What about the teams that stayed up narrowly last season? Brentford have the potential of suffering from “second season syndrome” with the loss of Christian Eriksen, who was very important for them in the second half of last season. Everton have done relatively well in the market this summer, but the loss of Richarlison and injury to Dominic Calvert-Lewin makes me wonder whether Frank Lampard’s side have the goals in them to stay in the Premier League. Leeds have quietly had one of the better transfer windows in the league when it comes to incomings, with the additions of Luis Sinisterra, Brendan Aaronson, Tyler Adams, and Rasmus Kristensen giving them four players with the potential of having breakout star seasons, but the losses of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha are massive. And Southampton are sort of just there. Four good young players brought in, but this is still a team at risk of being dragged into the fight they were quietly flirting with the past two seasons.

Ultimately, I think two of the promoted three go down. Bournemouth likely finish bottom, and Fulham will possibly not be far behind. Southampton will be the third, just not having improved enough to avoid the drop, with Everton, Forest, and Leeds doing just enough to keep arms length away from the drop.

Vikram: After barely writing anything on the English Premier League for the past season (mainly because I’ve invested a lot of time in Southeast Asian football), it feels good to be doing a piece on the English top-flight.

The battle to avoid the drop has often yielded more memorable incidents than the EPL title race over the years and we can expect this season to have drama in the bottom half of the table.

My good friend Jack has indeed gone for the safer approach and named Bournemouth, Fulham and Southampton as his top picks for relegation contenders. Yet, as how I accurately predicted that Barcelona would play Europa League football last season, I am going to make some bold suggestions on a not altogether impractical candidate.

Wolves have had an amazing tenure in the Premier League but their stint in the English top-flight might come to an unfortunate end this year. On paper, they have an amazing squad – boasting a team filled with experienced personnel and/or stars for the future. Yet, if last season were an indicator of things, they will struggle to score goals. Wolves have been heavily reliant on Raul Jiminez for goals and since his unfortunate skull fracture, he is not the same player, and by extension, Wolves have lacked the bite they once had.

They have done little to solve the striker issue this window with Hwang Hee-Chan’s loan move being permanent. Despite a bright start, the striker has since become an afterthought. The harsh reality is that he needs time – something Wolves cannot afford. I do think Wolves have a significantly stronger squad than the rest of the relegation contenders which should put some distance between them and the bottom pack. Yet, should their forwards forget to put on their scoring shoes, they could be in the mix for the drop.

I can’t disagree with Jack that two of the three newly-promoted sides would probably suffer relegation to the Championship. Unfortunately, and it pains me to say this but I think it’s Nottingham Forest and not Fulham that would find their long-awaited return to the English top-flight a brief one. They may have recruited some experienced Premier League personnel like Dean Henderson and Jesse Lingard but the problem with signing a host of new players is that they need time to gel together. Chemistry isn’t built overnight and requires time – something Forest can’t afford.

All in all, I have a sneaking feeling that Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth will suffer relegation this season. Then again, only time will tell who slips up.

After all, as things stand, my beloved Red Devils seen in pole position to suffer the drop…

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