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Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on Europe


The 2022/23 Premier League season is fast approaching, but while some have their hearts set on titles and trophies, others have their sights set on European football and big money. But for these four teams, their dream is to usurp the Big Six and get their hands on a coveted European spot.

AstonVilla

Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on EuropeAstonVilla ©Twitter

How have Aston Villa fared in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

After selling Jack Grealish last summer, many expected Aston Villa to struggle despite the arrival of not one but five players, including Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings. But things don’t always go to plan, especially when you lose someone who is an integral part of the team like Grealish was and the results showed just that.

11 games into the season and Dean Smith losing his job, which didn’t come as a shock, especially after just three wins in that span and a five-game losing streak. Not quite a tough world class or top six race and things haven’t changed after that Steven Gerard was named as Villa won just ten more games in the next 27 matches. Still, there was enough evidence to show that the former Rangers boss had turned the team around, even though Villa were far from perfect.

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Improvements they made:

After losing Jack Grealish last summer, Aston Villa have managed to retain their best assets this summer and added more than a few impressive pieces. They signed centre-back Diego Carlos alongside highly rated midfielders Boubacar Kamara and Ludwig Augustinsson. Not only that, the loan movement for Philippe Coutinho has been made permanent which definitely improves this squad although their lack of consistency last season is concerning.

The real question is whether Steven Gerrard can build a real team from the players he has at his disposal, because the players he has are good enough to compete.

Why they could enter the top seven

Well, if we consider last season’s table, then Manchester United and West Ham United are still vulnerable, giving teams a chance to break into a potential European spot. And it’s not an impossible task, just a really, really difficult task, but for Aston Villa it might be beyond their reach. Still, you can never say never and if everything works out perfectly for Villa then they have a chance.

Not a big one, but while breaking into the top six might be a tough task, breaking into that Europa Conference League spot might not be out of their reach at all.

Wanderers of Wolverhampton

Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on Europe
Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on EuropeBruno Lage ©Twitter

How have Wolverhampton Wanderers performed in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

If a Premier League season was only ranked on a team’s defensive performance, then Wolverhampton Wanderers (or Wolves) absolutely killed it with a fifth-place finish. That would have been enough to earn them a place in the Europa League and European football for the 2022/23 season but unfortunately the seasons are not only considered on the basis of defensive statistics. Because at the other end of the pitch, Wolves were arguably one of the worst teams in the English top tier.

They finished with the fourth-worst goalscoring record, beating the relegated trio of Burnley, Watford and Norwich City but had the second worst xG record with only Norwich City doing worse. That doesn’t make for a good read, especially considering the fact that their defense was only good because goalkeeper Jose Sa had the season of his life. That’s why Molineux’s side finished in 10th place, a far cry from a European spot and a far cry from a relegation fight, although that could change in the near future.

Improvements they made:

As of this writing, Wolves have only signed defender Nathan Collins and moved Hee-Chan Hwang on loan from RB Leipzig permanent. Moreover, they let Romain Saiss, Ruben Vinagre, Marcal, Fabio Silva and Ki-Jana Hoever leave without making Francisco Trincao’s loan permanent. That leaves Bruno Lage with the exact same squad and that’s definitely not a good sign even though there’s still a month left in the summer transfer window.

Why they could enter the top seven

Raul Jimenez’s injury means he will miss the start of the season and therefore Wolves are likely to start the season without a proper striker. But the return of Pedro Neto combined with Daniel Podence, Hee-Chan Hwang and possibly even Patrick Cutrone, if he stays, could be key if they all hit a vein of form and it could send Wolves to the top.

However, in the perfect world, Jose Sa’s incredible season turns into two and their defense clicks superbly in the absence of Romain Saiss with Nathan Collins slipping in effortlessly to lead Wolves to a European place. This is all in the perfect world and since football doesn’t exist in a perfect world, Wolves may need a miracle and a half to get it right.

Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on Europe
Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on EuropeNewcastle United ©Twitter

How did Newcastle United perform in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

Well, you can’t quite look at Newcastle United’s 2021/22 season as a whole and tell everyone they will qualify for Europe, people will look at you funny. Some may even condemn you, ask you to get tested and maybe a few other medical things, especially when the Magpies spent every game week from Gameweek 5 in the relegation zone until 25. This n It was only around this time that hope began to seep into St James’ Park alongside tons of cash.

They also managed to weaken Burnley by signing Chris Wood and while that almost didn’t work, it did eventually when the Magpies finished in 11th place and 14 points from the drop zone. Pretty impressive even though they spent almost 100 million to make it happen, especially considering the bright and showy end to the season they put on for their fans.

Improvements they made:

Thanks to Financial Fair Play rules, Newcastle are not yet able to flex their rather impressive financial muscles, but even then the club have brought in a few new faces. Matt Targett has been signed permanently, Sven Botman is out to bolster their defense and England international Nick Pope joins the goalkeepers in the dressing room.

Combine that with the return to fitness of Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, and it’s as if Newcastle United have a whole new team on their hands. Sure, reports have pointed them out and tied them to moves for around a billion players so far, but nothing has materialized. James Maddison is also on their radar but like everything else, Leicester City hold their own for a high price and which Newcastle are unwilling to match.

Why they could enter the top seven

Currently? There’s no way anything short of a miracle will see Newcastle United overtake West Ham United and Leicester City, and challenge for a European spot. But in a perfect world, things could happen and action could be taken to weaken both the Hammers and the Foxes, which clears the way for anyone to challenge.

But even to achieve that, Newcastle need at least one or two more attacking additions, someone who can stay fit and keep contributing goals. The hope was that Callum Wilson or Allan Saint-Maximin would be those men, but so far none of the stars have shown they can either stay in shape or be consistent. Even then, Newcastle have deadwood, defensive issues and a few other issues, but never say never.

crystal palace

Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on Europe
Premier League previews 2022/23 |  Four teams and their drive to break the Big Six’s grip on Europecrystal palace ©Twitter

How did Crystal Palace perform in the 2021/22 Premier League season?

It wasn’t the best season in the world, but after all the lack of hype and their doubters, Crystal Palace managed to overthrow a few doubters. Not only that, those predicting relegation and Vieira as the first sacked boss also had the sand thrown in their faces as Palace finished 12th although at one point the Eagles were ninth and in the FA semi-finals Cup.

In the end, it just wasn’t meant to be as a season-ending slump saw the Eagles well short of that coveted European battle, but that was mainly because their players had simply stopped finding the net. Combine that with the added pressure of playing an FA Cup semi-final and the added bonus of injuries, testing positive for COVID-19 and a lack of depth to compete with that and you get what happened to Palace.

Improvements they made:

Just the four new faces for the Eagles so far but all four undoubtedly improve their squad, especially Cheick Doucoure who comes to replace Cheikhou Kouyate who left on a free transfer. Chris Richards, Sam Johnstone and Malcolm Ebiowei are the other three newcomers with Johnstone set to compete for the team’s top spot while Richards is likely to fill in as a backup for Tyrick Mitchell and the centre-backs.

Their main problem, however, is the fact that their forwards struggled to score goals last season, with Wilfried Zaha finishing top scorer with 14. It was then that Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke scored 15 goals combined. A definite concern for the Selhurst Park side, but if Patrick Vieira can work with what he has even in Conor Gallagher’s absence, then these three could be like a new signing.

Why they could enter the top seven

To outperform last season’s performance of 12th place on 48 points would be a huge ask for Crystal Palace, but it’s not out of the realm of reality. They were, after all, ninth for a decent streak and looked like they could compete for more, but if Vieira manages to tighten that defence, make that midfield slightly more dynamic without Gallagher and add more goals from all world other than Zaha, then that’s an achievable target. Still, these are all big ifs.

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