Premier League hot takes: Arsenal to struggle? West Ham down? Chelsea for title?

With the new Premier League season now just hours away, Metro has put together a list of our boldest, most random and perhaps even controversial predictions for the campaign ahead.

Arsenal news, exclusives and analysis

Can Arsenal maintain last season’s superb form? Will West Ham survive without Declan Rice? And can Mauricio Pochettino mount an unlikely title charge? Get ready for the hottest of hot takes…

Arsenal to struggle to finish in top four

Conventional wisdom dictates that a young side who overachieved last season and came within touching distance of the title will, surely, only get better with that experience under their collective belts. Yet so much about this coming season already feels different. And harder.

There is added pressure now which has only been heightened by a £200million summer spending spree and the club-record purchase of Declan Rice. Arsenal were ahead of schedule last time, now they need to deliver; gleeful hope has been replaced by hard-headed expectation. But when the pressure has been on, this Arsenal side have crumbled in successive campaigns.

Cup competitions were sacrificed last season in pursuit of the title and now there are the added demands of Champions League football for the first time since 2017. Arsenal are a bigger scalp for opponents now too, while their rivals – many of whom struggled last season – have strengthened. Liverpool, United, Spurs and Chelsea will all be better. The latter two could hardly be worse.

Then there is Mikel Arteta’s summer tinkering. The Premier League’s least-changed starting XI last season has a new-look midfield and it remains to be seen if Kai Havertz can cut it as a central midfielder. The pursuit of David Raya has also created unnecessary question marks over Aaron Ramsdale. Anything but a flying start and the grumbles could begin. — Ewan Roberts

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United, Tottenham, Brighton
Relegated: Fulham, Sheffield United, Luton Town

Luton Town to defy the odds and stay up

Luton Town arrive in the Premier League for the first time as one of the puniest minnows to ever try and survive among the sharks in the top flight, but the ultimate underdogs can stay alive this season.

The Hatters came through the Championship Play-Offs after finishing third in the table thanks to an incredibly solid defence, conceding just 39 goals in 46 games. They will rely on their obdurate nature this season as scoring goals isn’t really their game, but they are thoroughly adept at frustrating teams and their direct style on the counter-attack will see them spring a few surprises.

Kenilworth Road will be an asset for them as the pampered professionals of the Premier League will not be used to the spit-and-sawdust nature of a ground from a bygone age. Rob Edwards’ men are a threat on their travels as well with only Burnley having a better away record in the Championship last season as Luton won 11 of their 23 games on the road, conceding just 18 goals.

There will be pressure on Carlton Morris to adapt to the Premier League after his 20 Championship goals last season, but if he can step up then Luton can scrap their way to safety. Seven of the last 12 Championship Play-Off winners have survived their following season in the top flight, Luton can do the same. — Phil Haigh

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal
Relegated: Bournemouth, Fulham, Sheffield United

Chelsea shock contender in title race?

When Chelsea finished 10th in the 2015-16 Premier League season, even the most optimistic of Blues fan would not have predicted their title triumph just one year later. What changed for the west Londoners in that period? Well, for starters, they had no European fixtures to worry about and could focus solely on the domestic campaign.

They also appointed a highly rated manager, Antonio Conte, who was allowed to implement his own style of play despite some iffy early results. Should new head coach Mauricio Pochettino be given the time to do the same, there is no reason why Chelsea can’t challenge for the title after their abysmal 12th-place finish last term.

You only need to ask Tottenham fans what makes Pochettino so special. He completely transformed the club’s philosophy and took Spurs to new heights with a slick, attacking brand of football. He has a track record of improving young players and experience of managing some of the biggest names in world football.

Those factors, combined with his deep knowledge of the Premier League, make him a seemingly perfect fit for Chelsea. If Manchester City are hit by a treble hangover and Arsenal’s summer transfer gambles don’t pay off, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that they could be right in the title race. Goals were a big problem last season but Christopher Nkunku, once fit again, and Nicolas Jackson appear to be the right men to fix that issue. — Liam Grace

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle
Relegated: Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Wolves

West Ham to get relegated

Considering West Ham ended last season by lifting a European trophy, it’s worth remembering how poor they were domestically. Losing 20 Premier League matches, the Hammers flirted with relegation throughout the campaign, eventually finishing 14th, just six points above the drop.

Given the iconic scenes of players and supporters celebrating on a glorious evening in Prague, it’s also worth remembering that fans were calling for David Moyes’ head earlier in the season, with a Premier League clash against Frank Lampard’s Everton even dubbed ‘El Sackico’. So all was not well at the London Stadium despite West Ham winning their first major trophy in over 40 years, and there’s every chance next season could be even worse.

For starters, Moyes has lost not just his best player but a talismanic figure in the dressing room. West Ham did well to push Declan Rice’s fee beyond £100m but that will count for little if the cash is not spent wisely on new recruits. The early signs are not encouraging; West Ham were the only Premier League side not to make a single signing by the start of August.

Talk this week of a few new signings has improved the mood in east London but losing Lucas Paqueta – Manchester City’s new £70m target – would be a huge blow. All three of last season’s promoted sides not only competed in the top-flight but survived relegation, pushing established Premier League teams closer to the drop. West Ham will fear a repeat this season. — Louis Sealey

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal
Relegated: West Ham, Crystal Palace, Luton Town

Kobbie Mainoo to stake England claim

It was notable before Manchester United’s pre-season friendly against Lens at Old Trafford that Erik ten Hag used his first programme notes of the campaign to reserve special mention for Kobbie Mainoo.

The midfielder collected three appearances last season as he made somewhat of a breakthrough into the first-team squad, but it wasn’t until this summer’s pre-season tour of the United States that the Stockport-born teenager really showed supporters what he could do.

Mainoo shone in a 2-0 win against Arsenal, when he was selected to start ahead of the likes of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen. So impressive was the 18-year-old that Ten Hag handed him another start in United’s next pre-season friendly against Real Madrid, but an ankle injury in the early minutes has ruled the midfielder out until October.

Nevertheless, with doubts over Kalvin Phillips’ playing time at Manchester City and Jordan Henderson taking an early retirement in Saudi Arabia, there’s a wildcard spot going in England’s midfield. Mainoo will get his fair share of playing time this season with United battling on all fronts. Don’t bet against him earning a late spot on the plane to Germany. — Sean Kearns

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool
Relegated: Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Wolves

Eddie Howe facing the chop?

In his first full season in charge, Eddie Howe guided Newcastle United to the Carabao Cup final and a remarkable top-four finish. With continued investment in the squad – including the £55million capture of Sandro Tonali – things can only get better, right?

Wrong. For starters, the return of Champions League football to St. James’ Park, while exciting, will stretch the squad thin and throw Howe – a manager with no experience of European competition – straight into the deep end against the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Moreover, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are all likely to enjoy resurgences, so finishing in the European qualification spots, let alone the top four, will be a much tougher task this time round. Now this isn’t to say that Newcastle will completely crash and burn, with a respectable top-half finish their likely worst-case scenario.

But that won’t be enough for the Magpies’ ambitious Saudi Arabian owners who have their sights set on winning the biggest prizes in world football – and fast. Any small sign of weakness from Howe and they’ll happily kick him to the curb in favour of a big-name manager with a history of lifting silverware. — Callum McAvoy

Premier League 2023-24 predictions

Title winner: Manchester City
Top four: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United
Relegated: Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Wolves

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