Way-too-early Premier League 2023-24 predictions: Liverpool to rival Man City for title, Arsenal face battle for top four

The 2022-23 Premier League is now consigned to the history books. Manchester City are the champions, Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton have been relegated, and Erling Haaland has broken countless records to end up as the division's top scorer with 36 goals.

But what about next season? The fixtures for the 2023-24 Premier League campaign will be published in less than three weeks (June 15), and the builders are all set to move into Luton Town's tiny Kenilworth Road to make sure that the 10,356-capacity ground is ready for the big kickoff on Aug, 12 following their promotion from the Championship via the playoffs (stream a replay of the final on ESPN+.)

There is already so much to look forward to next season. Can City become the first team in English football history to win four successive titles, will promoted Burnley, Sheffield United or Luton all survive, and how many more goals will Haaland score?

So with the dust barely having settled on 2022-23, here are some way-too-early predictions of what we will see next season.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Liverpool to push Man City all the way

Liverpool finished in fifth place, 22 points behind champions Manchester City, so Jurgen Klopp's side have a lot of catching up to do next season. They must somehow find a way to bridge the gap and, from a purely mathematical perspective, they have to win another seven games and find another draw from somewhere just to move level with Pep Guardiola's team. Liverpool simply need to rediscover the consistency that has made them City's closest rivals in recent years, but the good news is that everyone starts from scratch in August, so that 22-point gap will be reset to zero.

Achieving four in a row will be City's challenge next season and another potential piece of history for Guardiola's players to create. They will be favourites to finish top of the pile again, but if Liverpool can do their business quickly and efficiently this summer, they will be the team most likely to beat City to the title. They have a forward line as good as any in Europe, so if they can tweak the midfield and defence, Liverpool will be back.

A nine-team battle for the top four

The days of the so-called "Big Six" are coming to an end. In fact, they may already be over. Just ask Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, two members of that group who have each failed to even qualify for Europe next season. Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal make up the rest of that sextet, and they usually scrap it out for the four Champions League spots.

However, Newcastle United have broken into the top four this season, and they are unlikely to disappear off the radar now that they are backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. Aston Villa are a team on the rise under Unai Emery and could challenge for the top four next season, having achieved a seventh-place finish this term. And every season throws up a surprise team chasing the top six. It was Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford in 2022-23 and both teams could be back next season.

But if you want an outside bet for a team capable of breaking into the top four, keep an eye on West Ham United's summer business if they win the Europa Conference League to qualify for the Europa League. West Ham have a huge fan base, a big stadium and stability. If they win their first trophy since 1980 next week, the club could take off.

Kane to rival Haaland for the Golden Boot

Erling Haaland has deservedly claimed the headlines for his goal-scoring feats at Manchester City this season. His 36 goals set a new record for most scored in a Premier League season and he has hit more than 50 in all competitions. But it has slipped under the radar that Tottenham's Harry Kane pushed Haaland close by scoring 30 goals himself, in a team that has struggled all season and failed to qualify for Europe.

Kane's consistency for Spurs has been incredible. He has hit 20 or more Premier League goals in six of the past nine seasons. This year was the second time he has broken the 30-goal barrier. Even if Kane stays at Spurs next season, it is a safe bet to assume he will break the 20-goal mark again, but if he moves to a bigger club capable of winning major honours, he could see his goal output accelerate just as Haaland's has done at City.

And if Kane also starts next season in Manchester, but in United red rather than City blue, he could be the man to put United back in title contention at the same time as igniting an intriguing rivalry with Haaland for the Golden Boot.

Arsenal to face a battle for top four

The 2022-23 season was Arsenal's best hope of winning the Premier League title, and they will find it much tougher in 2023-24. Mikel Arteta's team have lost the element of being a surprise package, so opponents now know what to expect. And the Arsenal players must overcome the psychological blow of throwing the title away in the closing weeks of the campaign.

But added to that is the additional demand of playing in the Champions League next season. Arsenal will have to be at their best twice a week all the way until Christmas, and that is a tough ask of a team that is still young and needing to strengthen this summer. With City unlikely to fade away and Liverpool and Chelsea both having the players to bounce back after miserable seasons, Arsenal face a challenge to avoid being dragged back into the pack next season.

New owners or bust at Manchester United

Everyone at Manchester United wants the long-running takeover saga to be resolved as quickly as possible, but there is no sign yet of the Glazer family accepting the bids that are on the table to buy the club. Without new owners and a change of approach at Old Trafford, United can only go so far under manager Erik ten Hag.

The former Ajax coach has done exceptionally well to get United into the top four in his first season in charge, especially as a lack of finances led to him adding striker Wout Weghorst to his squad on loan in January to cover for the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Weghorst wasn't good enough and failed to score a single Premier League goal in 17 appearances, but his signing was made because the Glazers don't have the finances to take United back to the top.

If the Glazers remain in charge, it will be more of the same -- patching up and hoping for the best. So if United are to compete for the Premier League and Champions League, they need new owners to arrive this summer.

Aston Villa to win the Europa Conference League

Aston Villa are a club with a proud European history, having won the European Cup in 1982, and they will compete in next season's Europa Conference League after sealing qualification on the final day of the campaign. And although next season will be Villa's first in European competition for 13 years, they will automatically be one of the favourites to win the Conference League because of their manager, Unai Emery.

Of those still involved in the game, only Europe's super coaches such as Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti can rival Emery's record of four major trophies on the continent. Emery won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla and one with Villarreal and he also took Arsenal to the final in 2019 before losing to Chelsea in Baku. So while Villa's squad might be packed with European novices, they have a master of the terrain with Emery who knows exactly how to get to the final and win.

As it stands, Villa's big rivals will be teams including Bayer Leverkusen, the fifth-placed team in France (Rennes, Monaco or Lyon) and the seventh-placed sides in Italy (Juventus, Roma or Atalanta) and Spain (one of five teams including Osasuna and Athletic Club). So with Emery at the helm, Villa could go all the way.

Leicester to bounce back

The Championship promotion race next season will involve heavyweight clubs such as Leeds, Southampton, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, but they will all be left trailing in Leicester's wake. Relegation on the final day of the season for the 2015-16 Premier League champions was a hammer blow for the Foxes, but few clubs have ever dropped out of the top division with such strong prospects of bouncing straight back.

Leicester will lose eight out-of-contract players including Youri Tielemans, Caglar Soyuncu and Daniel Amartey, while the future of star midfielder James Maddison is unclear. But the financial problems that contributed heavily to their relegation were resolved in February with the owners writing off debt of £194 million. The club are well placed to overcome the shock of relegation and, with the right appointment as manager, Leicester should dominate the Championship and return to the Premier League at the first attempt.

- Olley: What Leicester must do to make immediate top-flight return

Luton to stay up

Luton Town's promotion to the Premier League is a genuine football fairy tale considering they were in the fifth-tier National League just nine years ago. Their home at Kenilworth Road, built in 1905, will be a culture shock for rival players and supporters, but so will Rob Edwards' team of hungry players, many of whom have earned their shot at the big time by carving out careers in the lower leagues.

One of them, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, has been on every step of Luton's journey from non-league to Premier League, so don't underestimate the spirit and determination within the squad to grab their chance in the top flight.

Luton will have to scrap for every point they earn, but they will make the most of their desire, organisation and the unique surroundings of Kenilworth Road to write another incredible chapter in their story by avoiding relegation.

Wrexham to take another step toward the Premier League

Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds love a great storyline, and Wrexham's Hollywood A-list owners will have noted how Luton Town have made it to the Premier League less than 10 years after winning promotion from the National League.

Can Wrexham do the same? You bet! But first they have to escape League Two next season, and that will be a tough challenge for Phil Parkinson's team. But in League Two, three teams go up automatically followed by one through the playoffs, so with all of their financial resources and momentum -- not to mention players such as Paul Mullin, Jordan Davies and maybe even goalkeeper Ben Foster -- Wrexham should go up again.

They need three more promotions to reach the Premier League, and they will get the first of them next season.