Which Premier League Sleeping Giants Will Wake Up Next Season?

Clubs as big as Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs could have more to offer next year
07:00, 30 Apr 2023

A cursory glance at the Premier League table is enough to tell you that this has been an atypical season. Liverpool, perennial title challengers in recent years, have slumped to seventh. Chelsea, Champions League winners as recently as 2021 and a fixture at the sharp end, are all the way down in 11th position. Leicester City and West Ham United, mainstays of the European places in recent years, are in the bottom five. Even Newcastle United’s vaunted third position is made all the stranger by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United being situated below them.

This surprising season has two consequences. Number one is that, with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion in the battle for European places, we could see some fresh blood in the UEFA competitions. The other is that with so many of English football’s traditional giants sleeping, it feels logical that next season will see a few of them wake up in a big way.


Manchester City and Arsenal have engaged in a two-horse race for the title this season. Pep Guardiola’s side possess greater experience in winning the Premier League and have used this to take the initiative. Despite Arsenal still being top of the league, they are just two points above City having played two more games. The title is City’s to lose and, compared to their battles with Liverpool, it wasn’t much of a challenge.

Logic dictates that City will not have it as easy next year. There are far too many big, well-resourced clubs with a point to prove. Take Chelsea for example. This season has been an almighty mess, wasted in a hail of sacked coaches and unnecessary signings. However, while the purchases were scattershot, they are undoubtedly talented. If Mauricio Pochettino takes over as is expected, you would imagine he could get a tune out of Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and their many fellow new arrivals.

Manchester United have found Erik ten Hag’s first season in the job encouraging. Having lifted the Carabao Cup and qualified for the final of the FA Cup, a top four finish to go with those successes would be the ideal first campaign for the Dutchman. With rumours of the Old Trafford club circling Harry Kane this summer, and trophy success to build on, you’d expect them to be there or thereabouts next term.


Kane’s current club, Tottenham Hotspur, is another sleeping giant having gone through three managers this season. Antonio Conte left in a hail of verbal gunfire before his assistant Cristian Stellini departed with damp-squib anonymity. Ryan Mason is now in temporary charge of a side circling the drain. But Spurs boast one of the country’s finest stadiums, a flawed but gifted squad and Champions League pedigree. Attract a couple more top players and a manager to match and Arsenal might be looking over their shoulder as the best team in north London.

Liverpool might just be the best positioned of these giants to awaken breathing fire. A year ago, Jurgen Klopp’s men came within a whisker of the quadruple. It is a weight of expectation they never recovered from, picking up both domestic cups but being pipped in the Premier League and Champions League. Chuck in the fact that Sadio Mane left for Bayern Munich while the midfield began to age out and this was always going to be a transitional season. But Klopp is targeting reinforcements in the middle of the park, while Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo are growing into their roles up top. It feels almost inevitable that Liverpool will be back.

Leicester City and West Ham United aren’t quite giants, despite the former having won a Premier League title once upon a time. But one cannot shake the idea that one or both of these sides will be back to try and reclaim Europa League/Conference League qualification next term. For the Foxes, that hinges on them staying in the league. But if they can survive, a sensible managerial appointment over the summer could propel them up the table.

So many big hitters are on the cusp of a comeback. Meanwhile, newly-minted Newcastle and Unai Emery’s improving Aston Villa are going to be right up there too. This season has been transitional for so many of the Premier League’s elite. But next year, if even half of these teams are back to their best, Manchester City will be in for a tough year trying to retain the title you sense is almost certainly going to be theirs this term.

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