The 2022-23 football season in England has just started. It kicked off one week earlier than in the previous campaign and will also halt in mid-November to accommodate the World Cup in Qatar. Games are set to resume on Boxing Day, only 8 days after the World Cup Final. The English Premier League has welcomed Fulham FC, AFC Bournemouth, and Nottingham Forest FC, who will return after an absence of one, two and 23 years, respectively. Burnley, Norwich City and Watford have dropped down to the second division, the latter two only one season after earning promotions.
Finally catching up with most other leagues, the EPL allows five substitutes per match from this season. The five subs rule was originally introduced in May 2020 to help clubs handle contingencies caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the EPL – the only league among the top five leagues – reverted back to three subs for the following two seasons. It remains to be seen if this will favour top clubs whose squads are loaded with top talent, or if it will be favourable for promoted teams, too.
Younger generations may find it surprising that Nottingham Forest are one of the greatest and oldest football clubs in England – indeed, while their last season in the EPL was in 1998-99, their 157-year history is rich in major achievements. Their most successful period was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which included a league title in 1978 and two European Cup wins (in 1979 and 1980) with the legendary Brian Clough as their manager. In addition, the club also have multiple FA Cup and League Cup triumphs. That period featured such star players as Peter Shilton, Viv Anderson and Trevor Francis. Their arrival back to the top flight now means that there are currently five former European champions in the league: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Forest.
Ambitions are high again – recent transfers to strengthen the squad include a Manchester United duo: goalkeeper Dean Henderson joining on loan, while midfielder Jesse Lingard on a free transfer. In addition, right-back Neco Wiliams joined from Liverpool and Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin, both commanding fees of around EUR 20 million. Nigerian forward Awoniyi is now the club’s most valuable player at EUR 28.6m, according to our latest Football Benchmark estimations. Reinforcements to the squad were much needed as many of the core players who won promotions last season (including Garner, Samba, Zinckernagel and Spence) left the club this summer.
Did you know? Nottingham Forest are one of only two English clubs to have won the European Cup (today known as Champions League) back to back. The other club is Liverpool, having won the trophy in the two previous seasons (1977 and 1978).
Fulham are more familiar with the Premier League. Recently, they have built a reputation of being a “yo-yo club”: they have returned to the first division only after one year of absence by winning the Championship with 90 points. Under the leadership of Portuguese coach Marco Silva, now they are aiming to stay in the top division for longer. Their biggest hope is that Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrovic (the most valuable Cottager, valued at EUR 34m) keeps his stellar form, as he scored a Championship record of 43 goals in 2021/22.
Ahead of their 28th season in England’s top flight, the Cottagers sold André Anguissa to Napoli (for EUR 15m) and teenager Fábio Carvalho to Liverpool (EUR 5.9m), while major new signings include midfielders João Palhinha from Porto (EUR 20m), Andreas Pereira from Manchester United (EUR 9.5m) and goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Arsenal (EUR 10m).
Did you know? Craven Cottage is the oldest football stadium in London.
Bournemouth rejoined the EPL after a 2-year absence. Scott Parker’s side finished two points off champions Fulham in 2021/22. Although the club was founded 123 years ago, they reached the Premier League for the first time only in 2015. Their fortunes changed under the ownership of Russian businessman Maxim Demin, and after the arrival of Eddie Howe as head coach: under the latter’s management, Bournemouth won three promotions in 6 years. The club spent five seasons in the EPL before suffering relegation in 2020. Although Bournemouth conceded the fewest goals (39) in the second division last season, there are concerns whether they have enough quality at the back to stay up.
The Cherries’ squad features the Championship’s second-top goal scorer, Dominic Solanke (29 goals), who must be eager to finally make his mark in the Premier League. Recently, the side recruited Brazilian keeper Neto from Barcelona in a free transfer, while their top signings so far have been 25-year-old Argentine defender Marcos Senesi, joining from Feyenoord for EUR 15m and 23-year-old midfielder Marcus Tavernier, coming from Middlesbrough for a reported EUR 11.9m.
Did you know? Bournemouth's nickname 'The Cherries' comes from the stadium built next to a field of cherry trees, also reflected in their cherry red shirts.