We now move into mid-table territory in my ranking of how I see the 2023/24 Premier League season panning out. I can think of at least a half dozen teams this season that would happily snap your hand off for a 13th-16th position come May. So, here is who I think will be filling those places, though.
If you haven’t already, then head on over to read my Premier League Predictions 2023/24 – Part One which covers the teams I think will suffer relegation this season as I look at positions 20th to 17th in this season’s top flight.
Much like the 17th and 18th being closely fought, I have found it hard to split both Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest when picking my Premier League predictions. It’s Bournemouth that wins the 16th-place position, though. Bournemouth finished the 2022/23 season in 15th but they were just 5pts from 18th and lost 4 of their last 5 matches. It’s the sheer number of goals they concede that worries me. They conceded 71 goals last season. Only two teams were worse than that and finished 19th and 20th respectively.
They’ve got a new boss in Andoni Iraola from Rayo Vallecano. It makes you wonder what the chairman expected of Gary O’Neill, to sack him after guiding the team to 15th. Still, nevertheless, Iraola has a different kind of football plan and I’m not sure that it will suit the Bournemouth players. At least not straight away, and you always wonder how long a chairman will give a manager.
They’ve got some solid signings in though and that’s what keeps them out of the relegation zone, for me. They’ve made the loan signing of Hamed Traore a permanent one, for over 25m. They’ve also got in Justin Kluivert from Roma (11m), Romain Faivre from Lyon (15m), and Milos Kerkez from Alkmaar (18m). However, only Kerkez is a defender, who plays at left-back and you’d have to say that Iraola has yet to fix the defensive issues that plagued them last season. I expect plenty of big scoring matches from Bournemouth at the very least.
15th: Nottingham Forest
It’s Forest in 15th, for me. Finishing just 1pt below Bournemouth last season but with better final month results. Nottingham Forest actually came back very well last season from a pretty poor start. After 10 weeks of the season in 2022/23, Nottingham Forest were 19th with just one win. At Christmas, they were in the relegation zone and 3pts from the bottom. In the new year though things turned around for them and they actually had just one defeat in their final 5 matches. Which was the final match and a dead rubber, for them.
They have a good manager in Steve Cooper who was largely to thank for the upturn in form. Forest was in-fact bottom of the Premier League when he was appointed and as mentioned, you can see the progression under Cooper.
Forest has made solid signings. I think Elanga will be a great player for them. He has been signed from Man United (17.5m) and they got 6m for Sturridge. They’ve also been shrewd with the permanent signing of Chris Wood. After a loan spell. Not needed by Newcastle, but a player that has bundles of experience in the Premier League and is a proven goalscorer and target man. On the whole, I expect a similar season from Forest but ultimately one that will be classed as successful. They’ll also want to tie down Cooper.
14th: Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace is the selection for 14th. This is largely down to not knowing if Olise will stay or go and also the loss of Wilfried Zaha. Crystal Palace finished well clear of any danger last season, in 11th place but I just have a nagging feeling that they’ll drop based on their transfer activity. Whilst they’ve lost Zaha and Milivojevic, they’ve not really signed anybody, apart from Lerma on a loan deal, from Bournemouth.
Last season, Zaha scored 7 goals and 2 assists. Olise got 11 assists and 2 goals. If they keep Olise then perhaps the 14th can be improved to around 12th. Last season 2 of the top 3 players dispossessed were Crystal Palace players (Zaha and Ayew) so they’ll also need to make sure that the defence is up to par. That also includes the defensive midfield position.
I think Palace’s biggest issue will be a lack of goals this season. Last season they scored just 40 goals and that is WITH Zaha and the potentially outgoing Elise creating so much. That would put them 14th for goals scored last season. Unless they find more goals, then I can’t see anything better than 14th for Palace. They’re crying out for a real focal point in attack.
I have Brentford slipping down from 9th, last season. Brentford were very solid at home last season and lost just twice at The Gtech. The lower position just comes with them being in the Premier League for an extended period and also with the likelihood that Raya will be leaving. They’ll have no Toney again for the start of the season but I actually don’t think that it will hurt them as much as what other people think. Raya, on the other hand, could be a bitter blow for them.
Brentford have improved at the back by signing Nathan Collins from Wolves (26.9m) and they’ve also got a ready replacement for Raya, assuming he goes, in the shape of Mark Flekken (13m). He was bought from Freiburg along with Kevin Schade. A 22-25 million pound permanent signing after a deemed successful loan for The Bees.
On the whole, if Brentford keeps Raya, then 13th is more likely to become around 10th. If they do lose him though, he will be a big loss. A good solid ‘Sweeper Keeper’ is very hard to find. You only have to see how much Man United spent on Onana. If Flekken cannot do a similar role to Raya then lots of different aspects will have to change.
Raya has managed 20 clean sheets in his 62 appearances in the Premier League and he was top of ‘Saves’ last season. Top of ‘Passes’ by over 200 and 2nd for ‘High Claims’ after Martinez, at Villa. Either way, I expect Brentford to be safe and clear of any potential relegation fight.
Check out Premier League Predictions 2023/24 – Part Three to see which teams I pick to finish between places 12th and 9th in this season’s top flight.
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.