New season, new hope, new optimism. We’ve got a new-look midfield, but the strikers and defence remain the same, and if our big players can get their game and consistency back there’s no reason to think we can’t push on from last season when we were all over the place – predictable, mediocre but brilliant too at times. I’m excited to see Klopp’s next side go, with the same old belief that we’ll finish up at the top.

Key players/weak links Again Alisson, who saved us countless times, and Salah, whose dreadful showing last time around only brought 27 goals and 15 assists. Our new captain, Van Dijk, hopefully back to his best, Trent in his new forward role, and injury-free Luis Díaz and Jota. Bajcetic has shown his talent, and Bobby Clark and Ben Doak won plaudits aplenty in pre-season, though could yet go out on loan. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai will be crucial in midfield. Our biggest weakness is injuries.

We need to sign… A holding midfielder for sure. There’s already a back-and-forth saga around Roméo Lavia, who stood out last season, but that wasn’t hard considering how poor Southampton were. I’d love to see Brighton’s Moisés Caicedo alongside Mac Allister again.

Headline-maker Always the boss. I’m not convinced he’ll be much different on the touchline, despite last season’s shenanigans, fine and red card. And on social media, the owners will never be far from the headlines.


We will finish 1st; Top four 1 Liverpool 2 Man City 3 Arsenal 4 Man Utd; Bottom three 18 Bournemouth 19 Sheffield United 20 Luton; First manager sacked Roy Hodgson

Steph Jones

Alexis Mac Allister in preseason action for Liverpool.

Alexis Mac Allister: crucial in midfield. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images


We worked so hard to get into this division: I’m fairly optimistic that we can gain enough points to stay there – and definitely to change the opinions of fans who refer to us as tinpot and think we don’t belong. Whatever happens, every Luton fan is out to enjoy the ride knowing that the future of our club is secure.

Key players/weak links The backbone of the squad has been retained, and we’ve recruited well so far. We’re looking to Marvelous Nakamba to continue his superb form, with Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris also key.

We need to sign… Although we’re breaking club transfer records nearly every time we sign a new player we do still need to secure a keeper. Tom Heaton from Manchester United would be a good pick; Lee Nicholls from Huddersfield has also been linked.

Headline-maker Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu: the first player to go from non-league to Premier League with the same club. His personality drives this side, on and off the pitch. Kenilworth Road will be a talking point too, of course, as people moan about the legroom, the view, the now infamous away entrance … oh and our physicality will attract attention too.


We will finish 16th; Top four 1 Man City 2 Man Utd 3 Arsenal 4 Liverpool; Bottom three 18 Wolves 19 Sheffield United 20 Bournemouth; First manager sacked Paul Heckingbottom

Dave GregoryOh When The Town Podcast

A fan climbs the steps at the Kenilworth Road away end.

Kenilworth Road: infamous entrance. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Manchester City

It’s hard not to feel optimistic after doing the treble. Plus Pep is still our manager. But it’s still probably the least confident I’ve been of City retaining the title since we won it back in 2020-21, mainly due to our summer business so far. Gündogan and Mahrez are huge losses; Walker will be another if he goes - and let’s not even mention Bernardo. It’s great to get Gvardiol over the line though: he’ll definitely improve the XI.

Key players/weak links De Bruyne and Haaland are both so good that, if the medical team can keep them fit, you’d be a mug not to back us. Stones and Foden will also be critical: Phil is (finally) expected to play more centrally following Gundo’s exit. And a youngster to watch: Oscar Bobb.

We need to sign… Despite what rival fans may think (small violin time), City’s squad is actually very small this season. We currently have only 16 senior outfield players. We need to replace Mahrez (Palace’s Olise?), sign another central midfielder and buy a right-back if Walker goes.

Headline-maker Haaland, always. Though I wouldn’t rule out Grealish if City schedule another trophy parade.


We will finish 1st; Top four 1 Man City 2 Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 Man Utd; Bottom three 18 Wolves 19 Sheffield United 20 Luton; First manager sacked David Moyes

Lloyd; @lloyd_scragg

Korean fans display a Phil Foden cutout during Manchester City’s preseason tour.

Phil Foden: chance to shine for City. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United

There’s optimism, even if it’s soured by our parasitic owners still being at the club. We’ve made big strides under Erik, and Onana, Mount and Højlund will all help to improve us. We were running on empty from February and crawled over the line; an improvement in consistency is what we’re after, a lift in our away form and actually being able to control games.

Key players/weak links Martínez and Varane have a great partnership, Garnacho is a real player now rather than a youth prospect and Højlund should hit the ground running. Mount is an accomplished midfielder with exceptional workrate and technique, while Kobbie Mainoo was our standout youngster pre-season, until he got injured. Weak links? Sancho and Antony have to deliver more.

We need to sign… Sofyan Amrabat will be much-needed cover for Casemiro. If Maguire goes we also need cover for Varane, and one striker isn’t enough: we need another centre-forward. Expect a loan deal for a 35-year-old…

Headline-maker Martínez. The Butcher will impose his physicality with his firm but fair tackles. He’ll probably be vilified by pundits; I love it.


We will finish 3rd; Top four 1 Arsenal 2 Man City 3 Man Utd 4 Liverpool;
Bottom three 18 Sheffield United 19 Nottingham Forest 20 Luton; First manager sacked Julen Lopetegui

Shaun O’Donnell

Mason Mount pictured at the MetLife Stadium during Manchester United’s preseason US tour.

Mason Mount: exceptional technique. Photograph: RTS/Shutterstock


We’ll be fighting on four fronts, Chelsea will be in the mix again, Aston Villa are on the rise … it’s definitely going to be a tougher season than last, and fans are realistic about that. But Eddie Howe has forged an unbreakable spirit, there’s serious talent across the squad and a real thirst for success. Our first Champions League campaign in 20 years will be one to savour. Can’t wait to see the likes of Bruno Guimarães and Joelinton going toe to toe with Europe’s elite. A thrilling time.

Key players/weak links We have a formidable midfield, a stoic defence and, in Alexander Isak, one of Europe’s best emerging strikers. Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes are impressive signings, but we’ve been shackled by FFP and hampered by the underinvestment of the Mike Ashley era. So we’re still a long way off having two Premier League-class first XIs. Thankfully, young Geordies Elliot Anderson and Lewis Miley have both impressed in pre-season.

We need to sign… Given Callum Wilson’s worrying injury record, a backup striker would be a welcome addition, as would another centre-half to compete with Schär and Botman.

Headline-maker Jason “Mad Dog” Tindall, Eddie’s exuberant right-hand man.


We will finish 4th; Top four 1 Man City 2 Arsenal 3 Man Utd 4 Newcastle; Bottom three 18 Bournemouth 19 Sheffield United 20 Luton; First sacking Ange Postecoglou

David and Richard Holmes

Sandro Tonali in preseason action for Newcastle.

Sandro Tonali: impressive signing. Photograph: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Nottingham Forest

This time last year most fans were expecting a straightforward relegation dogfight. This season feels slightly harder to call: we want to see progress, but I still think we’ll be making that progress in the lower reaches of the division. It probably won’t turn out as bad as many Reds fans fear though, despite an underwhelming set of preseason results and team selections.

Key players/weak links Steve Cooper will continue to use Morgan Gibbs-White as his attacking lynchpin, and hope that Taiwo Awoniyi can continue to improve as a No 9. Weak links? As it stands we could still do with adding a new goalkeeper and a dynamic No 6, as we need to protect our defence without being tied to a low block like we were last season.

We need to sign… Dean Henderson and Ibrahim Sangaré please.

Headline-maker It has to be the owner, doesn’t it? Evangelos Marinakis has invested so much into the club but remains a bit trigger-happy, as many of the club’s backroom staff found out last year.


We will finish 16th; Top four 1 Arsenal 2 Man City 3 Man Utd 4 Liverpool;
Bottom three 18 Everton 19 Wolves 20 Luton; First manager sacked Julen Lopetegui

Rich Ferraro1865: The Nottingham Forest Podcast

Morgan Gibbs-White in preseason action for Nottingham Forest.

Morgan Gibbs-White: attacking lynchpin. Photograph: Jeroen Meuwsen/Orange Pictures

Sheffield United

How are we feeling? Philosophical. We’re starting with a significantly weaker squad to last season’s, and that was before we sold Iliman Ndiaye – our standout player – to Marseille. The owner wants to sell up, so either won’t or can’t put money in. We already knew it was going to be tough; Ndiaye’s sale has moved it to near-impossible. But you know what? After us fans endured a miserable empty-stadium relegation in our last Premier League campaign, we might as well enjoy ourselves and see what happens. Paul Heckingbottom deserves a lifetime supply of chip butties if he keeps us up.

Key players/weak links Ndiaye was our great Senegalese hope. I’m optimistic that our defence can be competitive, and Anel Ahmedhodzic is a throwback to the Chris Wilder “overlapping centre-back” days. We’ll need Sander Berge to have a big season in midfield, and to get lucky with a couple of our new, largely-unproven signings.

We need to sign… Our attack is farcically thin: an injured Oli McBurnie, an even-more-injured Rhian Brewster, wildcard signing Bénie Traoré, and youngsters who weren’t good enough to start in the league below. A player who can create and score would be ideal. I hear Marseille have a good one.

Headline-maker McBurnie has matured from actual troublemaker into more of a lovable rogue. He gives as good as he gets from opposition fans, and even took the captain’s armband in preseason, much to his teammates’ amusement.


We will finish 19th. Why not. Top four 1 Man City 2 Liverpool 3 Arsenal 4 Man Utd; Bottom three 18 Luton 19 Sheffield United 20 Bournemouth; First manager sacked Andoni Iraola

Ben Meakin@BladesPod – the Sheffield United Podcast

Oli McBurnie in preseason action for Sheffield United.

Oli McBurnie: loveable rogue. Photograph: SportImage/SUFC/Getty Images


Can one be dangerously optimistic? I guess I’m optimistic like Chief Brody was fighting the Great White. But at least Brody got a bigger boat. Spurs are currently sat on a plank of wood floating in deep water while over in the Bahamas the legally distanced no-longer-the-owner-of-THFC Joe Lewis is getting that sinking feeling. I’m optimistic we’ll not be boring this new season. I’m ready to be hurt again.

Key players/weak links On paper (don’t laugh) we have more than enough to awaken from this four-season slumber and play front-foot attacking football. Yves Bissouma’s shackles have been removed, James Maddison brings a bit of swagger and creative intent. Destiny Udogie is exciting, and Manor Solomon might provide a surprise. Son Heung-min loves us and will hopefully be rejuvenated with Ange-Ball. But the defence, oh boy the defence..

We need to sign… It looks like being Micky van de Ven, Ashley Phillips and alleged wonderkid Alejo Véliz. I’d love ** Edmond Tapsoba too, but I know that’s a moon-on-a-stick desire. Meanwhile our greatest ever player is flirting with boring bland Bundesliga Bayern. Spurs are the footballing Barbenheimer; Kane having an existential crisis while over in N17 Daniel Levy becomes the destroyer of reasonable ticket prices.

Headline-maker Postecoglou. We’ve been starved of an agenda-free coach. The fanbase is miserable because the football has been a chore. We’ve lacked a leader who is proud, direct and honest in a way that isn’t self-loathing and emotionally draining. Conte might have spoken harsh truths, but he offered no path to redemption. ‘We’ just want to enjoy Tottenham, in spite of Tottenham always doing their bit to halt said enjoyment.


We will finish Top six. (I want top four); Top four 1 Man City 2 Man Utd 3 Liverpool 4 Spurs (lol); Bottom three 18 Nottingham Forest 19 West Ham 20 Arsenal; First manager sacked Mikel Arteta

Spooky@Spooky23;; The Fighting Cock @LoveTheShirt

James Maddison in preseason action for Tottenham.

James Maddison: brings swagger. Photograph: Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

West Ham

Got to be optimistic after our first trophy in 43 years and a Europa League place. But there are still questions for Moyes to answer. Can he get a talented set to perform more consistently and play on the front foot? Thursday-Sunday football will again be a challenge for a small squad. But the first trophy is the hardest and you hope that the players might have a taste for it now.

Key players/weak links Now that Declan Rice has gone to a trophyless side in Highbury, Moyes needs to build a team around Paquetá and Bowen. Paquetá could be our creative talisman, as he proved with that through ball for the winner in Prague. Weak links will be the hole left by Rice and up front if Scamacca goes, as Antonio can’t last forever. Young Divin Mubama is looking promising, though.

We need to sign… So far our indecision has been final. The reported tension between Moyes and technical director, Tim Steidten, is worrying and the input of Sullivan and Noble means we have more recruiters than signings. Ward-Prowse would certainly add to our set pieces and McTominay would be a decent replacement for Rice. Any new striker in a Moyes side will have to be strong and a workhorse. If Cresswell goes another left back is required to challenge Emerson.

Headline-maker Moyes dad-danced to The Proclaimers and to Peter Kay’s Amarillo after the final. Perhaps he has his eyes on Strictly.


We will finish 9th; Top four 1 Arsenal 2 Man City 3 Newcastle 4 Man Utd; Bottom three 18 Burnley 19 Bournemouth 20 Luton; First manager sacked Andoni Iraola

Pete May Author, Goodbye to Boleyn;


It’s not looking great. We’ve parted ways with key players and barely added to the group. There are still rumours we’re in financial turmoil despite raising £100m in player sales and Julen Lopetegui is taking every opportunity to moan to the press about his threadbare squad. Hardly the recipe for a successful campaign.

Key players/weak links Craig Dawson was a vital addition in January to keep us up: his experience will be essential again. We also need underperforming players such as Neto, Nunes, Sarabia and Cunha to produce better attacking output. And hopes are high for Fábio Silva after a successful period out on loan. He’s looked sharp in pre-season.

We need to sign… Battle-hardened senior pros to replace the experience of Neves, Moutinho, Jiménez, Traoré and others who have exited. It looks like we’re shopping in the bargain bins, but I’d hope we’d see another option at centre-back and a more defensive-minded full-back. Ideally a No 9 too, though I have high hopes for Sasa Kalajdzic if he can remain fit.

Headline-maker Lopetegui isn’t shy about making his feelings known. He’s on a collision course with the owners.


We will finish 17th. At best. Top four 1 Man City 2 Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 Man Utd; Bottom three 18 Burnley 19 Sheffield United 20 Luton; First manager sacked Julen Lopetegui.

Thomas; @wolvesblog

Julen Lopetegui pictured during preseason at Wolves.

Julen Lopetegui: not happy. Photograph: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images