Team guide to Premier League 2023/24 as Man City chase historic fourth title in a row

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NEVER in 135 years of League football has any club been crowned champions of England for four consecutive seasons.

So as a new campaign dawns, the question is . . . who can stop Manchester City from making even more history?

The title race could be a classic

Pep Guardiola’s Treble winners have won three titles in a row and five of the last six and with Erling Haaland to the fore, they look unstoppable.

Last season’s runners-up Arsenal have snapped up Kai Havertz and Declan Rice.

Yet the suspicion remains Mikel Arteta’s men blew the best chance they may ever have when they topped the table for the vast majority of last term.

Newcastle, with the wealth of Geordie Arabia behind them, are clearly the great long-term threat to City’s dominance.

But can Eddie Howe’s men juggle the demands of a Champions League campaign with a title bid?

Liverpool, City’s only genuine rivals for most of the Guardiola era, have launched a major midfield refresh, starting with the arrival of World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister.

If Jurgen Klopp’s revamped forward line — including Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz — can click they may well stage one of their epic duels with City again.

Boardroom takeover talk has dominated Manchester United’s summer but Erik ten Hag impressed during his first year in charge and is determined to go closer to City.


Chelsea and Tottenham are both under new management after disastrous seasons.

Mauricio Pochettino is a proven overachiever here but he has a serious job on his hands making sense of owner Todd Boehly’s scattergun recruitment policy at Stamford Bridge.

Ange Postecoglou, the first Australian to manage in the Premier League, was a surprise choice to take over at Spurs.

Expectations are unusually low but the team should at least be playing more attractive football than at any time since Pochettino’s departure in 2019.

Might there be any surprise packages to upset the big boys — such as Unai Emery’s revitalised Aston Villa or self- proclaimed champions of Europe, West Ham?

Can promoted Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton emulate last season’s trio of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest by avoiding immediate returns to the Championship?

Whatever happens in the next ten months, it is unlikely to be dull — and SunSport will be there every step of the way.


Dream Team MVP – Bukayo Saka (£6m)

By Mark Irwin

IT has taken Mikel Arteta the best part of four years to turn Arsenal around but now he faces his biggest challenge.

Because it is one thing to close the gap to Manchester City but something else to overtake probably the best team in the world.

For the fourth summer in a row, boss Arteta has been given the financial backing of owner Stan Kroenke to strengthen his squad.

But this time the work came at the very top end of the transfer market, spending £200million to bring in Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber.

And that has only been made possible by the remarkable progress under ruthless Arteta.

The Gunners finished 43 points off the title in his first season. 

Yet last term they ended up just five adrift of Treble winners City after leading the race for 248 DAYS before fading badly.

Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle and Manchester United will all come at them hard — but Arteta has plenty of cause to believe Arsenal will be better than them all.

Whether they are ready to catch City remains to be seen.

Man Utd have topped the league for 4,486 days – or more than 12 years



Dream Team MVP – Ollie Watkins (£4.5m)

By Graeme Bryce

BRUMMIES will proudly tell you Birmingham boasts more canal miles than Venice and Amsterdam combined.

And Aston Villa fans swear Unai Emery walks on them.

He turned Steven Gerrard’s relegation candidates into Europa Conference League qualifiers.

Villa have talked the talk for years about returning to the days when they were kings of Europe in the 80s.

Now they have a boss who is capable of walking the walk . . . on water or otherwise.

Only Manchester City won more points after the turn of the year as Villa reached Europe for the first time in 13 years.

Now they have made the inspired signing of Youri Tielemans, added the best defender Emery has worked with in Pau Torres and grabbed jet-heeled French forward Moussa Diaby.

Emery is after a trophy this season but the top four may not be out of the question.


Dream Team MVP – Justin Kluivert (£2m)

By Jack Rosser

HAVING defied the odds to stay up last season, Bournemouth took a huge punt on their future this summer.

American owner Bill Foley, out of the blue, decided to axe boss Gary O’Neil and appoint unknown Spaniard Andoni Iraola.

Foley wanted a change in the style to give them a better chance of survival once again, while giving a new man every chance of success with a full pre-season.

It is a big bet from the billionaire, who will pray his ruthless call pays off.

Whatever happens, the south coast should provide some exciting football.

Iraola may not be known to many English fans but he has made a name for himself in Spain by playing some intense football and upsetting the odds on a shoestring. The Cherries have lost out-of-contract Jefferson Lerma.

But winger Justin Kluivert — son of Patrick — arrived for £9.5million from Roma, while midfield man Hamed Traore turned his loan into a £20m deal.

And landing exciting Hungarian left-back Milos Kerkez, 19, from AZ Alkmaar for £14m was a real coup.


Dream Team MVP – Bryan Mbeumo (£3.5m)

By Isabelle Barker

BRENTFORD are out to prove that no Ivan Toney is no problem.

The Bees must cope without their star striker as he serves his EIGHT-MONTH ban from football for breaking betting rules.

Fans will see him in action again in January.

The 27-year-old cannot even train with his team-mates until September 17.

But boss Thomas Frank has the likes of Yoane Wissa, Kevin Schade and Bryan Mbeumo to call upon going forward.

He also now boasts £23million centre-back Nathan Collins after his switch from Wolves.

Brentford have punched well above their weight in their two Prem seasons.

And last term they finished ninth — just two points off seventh and a Europa Conference League spot.

They also beat Treble winners Manchester City (twice), Manchester United and Liverpool in a memorable campaign.

The Bees are expected to burst out of the traps with Frank taking no prisoners in pre-season.

Once again, he has used a gruelling one- kilometre fitness drill to get his hive buzzing.


Dream Team MVP – Kaoru Mitoma (£3.5m)

By Jack Rosser

BRIGHTON supporters are getting excited as they look forward to their first ever European adventure.

After a record-breaking season, with Roberto De Zerbi replacing Graham Potter in September, the Italian is targeting more magical moments.

They may have lost Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool but there are a host of young players ready to step up.

Julio Enciso, 19, and Facundo Buonanotte, 18, look massive prospects.

Freebies James Milner, 37, and Mahmoud Dahoud, 27, provide experience.

Striker Joao Pedro has arrived for £30million from Watford, while £16.3m keeper Bart Verbruggen looks another gem from Anderlecht — as does Fiorentina centre-back Igor Julio.

But the big excitement may come from seeing Evan Ferguson, 18, get a full season under his belt up front.

And then there is the Europa League — their displays against the Prem’s big boys indicate they could have a long run.

De Zerbi has made history but he will not stop chasing more.

The fastest players from last season’s Premier League


Dream Team MVP – Josh Brownhill (£2m)

By Martin Blackburn

WHEN Burnley went down in May 2022 few expected them to bounce straight back.

In fact many feared they were heading for oblivion due to the financial model set out by owners ALK Capital.

Yet those worries were washed away as their new boss Vincent Kompany got to work.

And, 12 months on, they are back in the Prem — after an almost breathtaking transformation.

Kompany ripped up Sean Dyche’s long-held blueprint.

A squad largely made up of English and Irish players was moved on.

Kompany kicked functional football into touch and used his contacts at Manchester City and around Europe to overhaul the place last summer.

He has been busy in this window, going back to the Etihad to sign England’s impressive Under-21 Euros keeper James Trafford.

Kompany was linked to the Spurs and Chelsea jobs before he opted to sign a new five-year deal with the Clarets.

Pep Guardiola thinks the Belgian is destined for his job.

And the pair get to go head to head on Friday night at Turf Moor.



Dream Team MVP – Nicolas Jackson (£2.5m)

By Andrew Dillon

MAURICIO POCHETTINO admits there are no excuses and no time for Chelsea to pick up the slack from the shocker of last season.

The new boss can do nothing else but back himself with such a huge rescue mission looming.

Coming 12th was their lowest Prem finish since 1994. There will be no European football for the first time in seven years.

A squad revamp with an addition of mainly untried rookies is a huge gamble for a club used to high expectations.

Poch is banking on youthful ambition and energy but injuries to new man Christopher Nkunku and defender Wesley Fofana are a hammer blow.

At least the likes of Noni Madueke will be confident. He and Levi Colwill won the Under- 21 Euros with England.

N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic and Edouard Mendy have all gone.

But Poch says he took the job because he loves the risk.

If that is true, he is in for a happy year.


Dream Team MVP – Eberechi Eze (£3m)

By Jack Rosser

CRYSTAL PALACE’S revolution is right back where it started, with Roy Hodgson.

The manager, 76 this Wednesday, signed on for another year after returning to keep the Eagles up.

Hodgson’s sights are higher than just 40 points and survival — he wants a top-half finish.

New England man Eberechi Eze will be the key to hitting that lofty goal. 

He struggled under Patrick Vieira but flourished with Hodgson and finally made his Three Lions debut in June.

Wilfried Zaha’s decision to leave Selhurst Park opens up a vacancy for club talisman — and Eze appears to be the heir to the Palace throne.

Jefferson Lerma, a free transfer from Bournemouth, comes into midfield, and there has been more ambition in the boardroom to invest.

Even in the space of ten games at the end of last season, Hodgson showed his sides can be capable of attacking play when the tools are there.

While there is still goodwill around his return with fans, the challenge is to deliver results with a flourish.


Dream Team MVP – Jordan Pickford (£3m)

By Charlie Wyett

EVERTON have got away with it for the last two seasons.

So you can understand the pessimism among fans in the blue half of Merseyside, who fear this could be third time unlucky as the club continues to self-destruct.

While most football supporters have been counting down to the new season, Everton’s faithful are dreading it.

Since surviving on the final day of last term with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth, not much has changed.

The club remained in a dire state cash-wise after years of overspending.

Their decision not to exercise Conor Coady’s £4.5million option was largely a financial one.

While picking up Ashley Young on a free and Arnaut Danjuma on loan, at the second attempt, hardly breaks the bank.

There are still questions over the squad — so the hope is boss Sean Dyche delivers another miracle.

Club chiefs aim to move into their new £760m stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in early 2025. By then, it is anyone’s guess which division Everton will be in.


Dream Team MVP – Willian (£2m)

By Jack Rosser

MARCO SILVA worked wonders to finally shed Fulham’s yo-yo label.

They even finished above neighbours Chelsea in tenth.

The Cottagers fell just short of a place in Europe but their first priority will, once again, be avoiding the drop.

There is always the danger of a second-season slump.

And the last thing they needed was the Saudi Arabian saga concerning boss Silva AND forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Mitro’s 14 Prem strikes in 2022-23 were crucial and while there were goals spread about the squad, no other player hit more than five in the league.

Joao Palhinha was always going to attract attention after a stellar year.

And losing winger Manor Solomon to Tottenham is a blow.

But they have tied down left-back Antonee Robinson to a new deal and kept hold of Willian, 35, following protracted talks.

They will also need the Raul Jimenez from his first two seasons at Wolves, when he smashed 44 goals, not the last three.

The job is only going to get harder as Fulham look to avoid that sinking feeling again.


Dream Team MVP – Mo Salah (£7m)

By Charlie Wyett

JURGEN KLOPP hopes his major midfield reboot can turn Liverpool back into contenders.

The Anfield boss made changes after a hugely disappointing season saw them win nothing and finish fifth on 67 points — the lowest tally in a full season under Klopp.

Dominik Szoboszlai has arrived for £60million from RB Leipzig, while Alexis Mac Allister joined from Brighton in a deal which could cost £52m.

All eyes will be on how Szoboszlai adjusts to the Prem. He scored six and had eight Bundesliga assists in 2022-23 and can boost their creativity.

James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left for free while, for the first time since 2015, Liverpool’s attack will not feature Roberto Firmino.

But with Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah, they have plenty of options in that area.

Liverpool are back in Europa League action for the first time since losing the final in 2016 and will be expected to go deep.

And the May 22 final is in Dublin, where Liverpool enjoy massive support.


Dream Team MVP – Carlton Morris (£2.5m)

By Isabelle Barker

PREM fans have been waiting for this Luton Town fairytale.

It has been a ten-year odyssey from non-league football back to the big time.

And, in May, the Hatters sealed a first top-flight campaign since 1991-92 by beating Coventry in the Championship play-off final.

The fact Kenilworth Road is a century-old, 10,000-capacity old-school ground, tucked in among back alleys and gardens, only adds to the fun of it.

Rob Edwards’ side are off to a bumpy start with their opening home Prem match postponed due to a revamp to the stadium.

They were to host Burnley on Saturday week but now West Ham will be their first Prem visitors.

Luton are set to move to a new 19,500-capacity ground just a mile from their current home in 2026.

They have made signings as they prepare to face the likes of Mo Salah and Erling Haaland.

Danish centre-back Mads Andersen has joined from Barnsley, while winger Tahith Chong arrived for £4million from Birmingham.

And popular midfielder Marvelous Nakamba is back after a loan spell.


Dream Team MVP – Erling Haaland (£8.5m)

By Martin Blackburn

THE big question now is where do Manchester City go from here?

On a magical night in Istanbul in June, City finally lifted the trophy they coveted most.

And Champions League glory sealed a historic Treble — with a fifth Premier League title in six seasons.

So the test for Pep Guardiola is to have his men ready to go again when their new campaign kicks off at Burnley.

City start as title favourites but rivals will have reasons to believe it could be the season they slip.

Their epic run-in must have taken a lot out of the squad.

And City’s focus could be taken off domestic matters early on by their participation in the Uefa Super Cup, then the Club World Cup in December.

Guardiola lost two of his backroom staff after Rodo Borrell went to the US and Enzo Maresca joined Leicester.

Skipper Ilkay Gundogan’s exit leaves a huge hole and Mateo Kovacic has big shoes to fill.

Yet Pep has made a habit of finding new ways to win in seven years at City — and he will have spent the summer hatching a plan to do it all again.


Dream Team MVP – Marcus Rashford (£6.5m)

By Neil Custis

MANCHESTER UNITED go into this season reflecting on how far they have come . . . and how far they still need to go.

That Carabao Cup win last term was a giant step forward — their first silverware since 2017.

Yet an FA Cup final loss to Manchester City laid bare how far behind the very best they remain.

The fact City went on to match United’s Treble feat of 1999 only rubbed salt into the wound.

While fans were left wondering if the takeover saga to rid the club of the unpopular Glazer family would ever end.

Still, there were positives from Erik ten Hag’s first season after the mess of the previous 12 months.

He has got a firm grip on the club, knows where he wants to go — and how to get there.

Ten Hag let David de Gea go and signed Inter Milan keeper Andre Onana as well as Mason Mount from Chelsea to energise his midfield.

But their best business was finally sorting Marcus Rashford’s new contract.

The problem is City chief Pep Guardiola does not look ready to be knocked off his perch. 


Dream Team MVP – Kieran Trippier

By Oscar Paul

SANDRO TONALI is the new poster boy as hope, excitement and expectation fill the Tyneside air.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe can do no wrong but now he must build a squad capable of fighting on four fronts, given Champions League football is back following a 20-year hiatus.

And you better believe they will go for everything.

The arrival of £55million midfielder Tonali, 23, from AC Milan was an early warning the Saudi-owned Magpies mean business.

The Gennaro Gattuso-like terrier’s best years are ahead of him.

And the prospect of seeing him in midfield alongside Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton has fans salivating.

The Toon Army will also hope local lad Elliot Anderson, 20, gets the chance to demonstrate he is the real deal.

Up top, Callum Wilson is still deadly while Alexander Isak will be a threat.

Anthony Gordon could fly into the campaign after being named the best player at the Under-21 Euros.

Harvey Barnes can also provide the scoring threat from wide areas the fans have been craving.


Dream Team MVP – Morgan Gibbs-White (£3m)

By Graeme Bryce

AFTER the euphoria of last season’s bonkers Prem return, you might think Steve Cooper would welcome a season of steady progress.

But do not bank on it.

Premier League snobs sneered when the new boys chucked cash around like Jack Grealish on a night out in Ibiza.

In total, boss Cooper was presented with 30 new signings across two frenetic transfer windows.

What is overlooked is he also had to contend with 45 separate injuries.

Yet he pulled it all together — like an expert cocktail maker — to produce an intoxicating brew which knocked everyone’s socks off.

He may not have as many ingredients this time but signing Anthony Elanga from Manchester United looks a smart deal.

And with classy Morgan Gibbs-White pulling the strings, Forest will fear no one at their City Ground fortress.

The key to whether they thrive, instead of simply survive, is can they finally crack the code of how to win on the road?


Dream Team MVP – Anel Ahmedhodzic (£2m)

By Oscar Paul

FEW Sheffield United fans hold out much hope of repeating their first-season heroics from four years ago.

Bamboozling the Prem with funky overlapping centre-backs, the Blades finished ninth following promotion.

This time? Take 17th now and run. Cash is tight amid takeover uncertainty, with boss Paul Heckingbottom eyeing loans and free agents due to a limited budget of around £20million.

The squad is almost identical to the one relegated after that miracle 2019-20 term under Chris Wilder.

Question marks hang over strikers Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster, who hit ONE goal in 50 outings between them when they went down.

Norwegian Sander Berge offers class in midfield alongside Oliver Norwood but they will badly miss Manchester City loanees Tommy Doyle and James McAtee.

Anel Ahmedhodzic proved a good addition at the back beside John Egan and Chris Basham.

Three of their first four games are at Bramall Lane — so a fast start is vital for the Blades.


Dream Team MVP – James Maddison (£4m)

By Tom Barclay

OPERATION ‘make fans fall in love with Spurs again’ starts now for Ange Postecoglou.

Supporters were bored stiff at times by the dull fare served up by predecessors Antonio Conte, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho.

New man Postecoglou has promised football that will excite — music to the ears of the regulars in N17.

The back three Conte was so wedded to is set to be axed for 4-3-3 and a playmaker has finally arrived in the form of £40million James Maddison.

Keeper Guglielmo Vicario — signed from Serie A side Empoli — may not be a household name over here but glowing reports from Italy suggest he could be one day.

Dejan Kulusevski was snapped up from Juventus permanently for £25m, while Harry Winks left for Leicester.

And free transfer Manor Solomon adds another option on the wing.

Ex-Celtic chief Postecoglou, 57, is known for being a builder of teams.

That is why Spurs need the Aussie — regardless of the Harry Kane saga — due to the mess left by Conte which sees them out of Europe.

Fans do not expect instant success . . . just a chance to enjoy some g’days again.


Dream Team MVP – Jarrod Bowen (£4.5m)

By Jordan Davies

TEARY-EYED and wistful, West Ham must move on.

Not a man, woman nor child had dry cheeks that June night in Prague when Declan Rice lifted the Europa Conference League trophy on his final outing for the club.

The fans knew it was their captain’s way of saying goodbye — now his name will be chanted by Arsenal supporters at the Emirates.

But this is no time for the Hammers to bask in what has been and gone. This season, more than ever, is a chance to push on.

David Moyes will not survive another woeful start, regardless of his new place among the list of all-time great West Ham managers.

With another Europa League journey to contend with, a top-ten finish should be the aim but that requires this side’s usually reliable faces to step up in Rice’s absence.

Jarrod Bowen needs to recapture the net-bulging touch. Nayef Aguerd needs to stay fit at the back. Lucas Paqueta needs to sparkle.

Rice is gone but hope remains in East London.


Dream Team MVP – Jose Sa (£3m)

By Graeme Bryce

THERE were plenty of moans and groans at Molineux last season.

And that was before pundit Gary Lineker was hilariously upstaged by a blue-movie soundtrack during Wolves’ FA Cup replay with Liverpool!

But having flopped early on under Bruno Lage, Wolves rediscovered their mojo with Julen Lopetegui when the top flight returned after the World Cup. 

At that point they were rock bottom — but ended up 13th.

Boss Lopetegui boosted his limited options with a few key January deals.

Unlike Leicester, Wolves managed to live with the fact stars Joao Moutinho and skipper Ruben Neves already knew they were set to leave in the summer.

Mario Lemina added steel to midfield and Craig Dawson tightened things up in defence, where Max Kilman shone.

Old favourite Matt Doherty is back but another one, Raul Jimenez, has gone.

It remains to be seen if Matheus Cunha can provide the goals Wolves desperately need.

Qualifying for Europe looks a tall order but Lopetegui should keep them up for another term.

Luton back in the top flight it’s… UNBELIEVABLE JEFF

WHEN Luton were last in the top flight, Chris Kamara was right in the middle of a survival scrap.
The much-loved pundit and sidekick of Jeff Stelling was pictured squaring up to Notts County’s Paul Harding in the final match of the 1991-92 season.
Luton lost it 2-1 and were promptly relegated, missing out on the first season of the Premier League.
Now 31 years on, the Hatters are back in the promised land.
That fateful day in May ’92 brought to an end a ten-year stay in the top flight which saw Luton regularly defy the odds.
From Raddy Antic’s survival- securing goal to David Pleat’s dancing and, later, Brian Stein’s League Cup winner, it was a period of success played out in a quirky ground on a plastic pitch.
And it helped turn the likes of Ricky Hill and Mick Harford (left) into household names and England internationals.
Now the current crop have a chance to make their own Hatters history.

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