The Premier League is back tonight, promising thrills, spills and all manner of footballing chaos.
Our team of writers at The Athletic have gone to great effort to make some sensible predictions and season previews for 2023-24. But for those who want their football forecasts to talk about xVibes more than xGOT, this week has brought a return of our Bad Prediction Amnesty.
This is how it works: before a ball is kicked for a new season, you tell us your biggest, most instinctive prediction to do with it.
Hello friends, the Premier League returns this week.
So it’s time for the Bad Predictions Amnesty.
Please tell me your most instinctive, baseless footballing prediction for 23-24.
You get a re-do at the end of the Jan window.
We look back at these at the end of the season.
— Carl Anka (@Ankaman616) August 7, 2023
Haven’t watched a pre-season fixture but think a team’s new striker will score a hatful? Put it in the amnesty.
Taken a look at Kenilworth Road and reckon there’ll be some Luton-flavoured disruption? Vent to the amnesty.
Reckon a manager looks a little more flustered than usual and is headed for the sack? That’s a hot take for the amnesty.
We’re looking for opinions that only the overconfident part of the football brain can create. Like when a player stands over a penalty and you “just get the feeling” the angle of their run-up is wrong, so they are obviously going to miss.
Welcome to our Premier League Bad Predictions Amnesty
You can redo your prediction at the end of the January transfer window, and change your gut feeling if your gut is feeling twitchy.
Then, when it’s all over, we all look back at our predictions, have a laugh and realise how attuned our football senses are to the sport we love so much.
We’ve received thousands of responses and predictions via social media. Remember: the idea of our amnesty is not to be proven correct. It’s to purge yourself of that nagging footballing thought you have rattling in your head before the season starts and to have a good laugh with fellow-minded fans too.
Here’s how the upcoming season will unfold, according to our Bad Takes.
Rule changes are going to cause havoc
With all the extra stoppage time, a team will score TEN goals in a game this season.
— Dan Bardell (@danbardell) August 7, 2023
The 2023-24 season comes with an array of new officiating rules that will be sure to bring about fresh tactics and approaches to matchday. The EFL got started last weekend and saw games with 10 minutes-plus of added time, in both halves, along with yellow cards for time-wasting, kicking the ball away and any hint of dissent.
Couple that with another “let it flow” edict for referees, and we will have matches where players have to play for longer than ever before while having fewer stoppages for robust challenges. As such, our amnesty was full of predictions that this season will lead to outright chaos.
Multiple double bookings and late dismissals in games. Numerous added-time muscle injuries. Plenty of last-gasp winners, many of which will come from the penalty spot.
A new requirement – asking for all but one member of a team’s coaching staff to remain seated and away from the touchline – has been dubbed the “Jason Tindall Rule” by some fans, who believe the Newcastle United assistant to be most at risk of extra bookings.
Record number of red cards in injury time. And, linked, record number of games decided by an injury time penalty.
— David Whitley (@mrdavidwhitley) August 7, 2023
The sensible prediction is to believe the relevant decision-makers will realise the flow of games has become increasingly untenable before quietly doing away with the new rule’s harsher sanctions.
The predictions shared in this amnesty suggest we’re set for a record amount of late goals and sendings-off this season, as managers forget they are now allowed to use up to five substitutions across a game.
The 20-assists record is finally broken
Trent Alexander-Arnold breaks the assist record
— Brad (@DymondFormation) August 8, 2023
It happens every three or four seasons. A player will start a league campaign in good passing form and earn several assists in a short space of time, creating a conversation about this being the season where someone will finally dethrone Thierry Henry.
His 20 assists for Arsenal in 2002-03 is one of the stranger curios in Premier League history. For one, Henry also managed to score 24 league goals that year. For another, Arsenal didn’t win the league, finishing second — five points behind Manchester United.
His assists record has been equalled, by Kevin De Bruyne in 2019-20, but not beaten. Paul Pogba got off to a flyer in 2021-22, with seven in his first four games, but added only two more the rest of the way. Cesc Fabregas (18) and Mesut Ozil (19) came close in 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively.
To break the record, someone will likely have to play every available minute throughout the season, take some set pieces and have an array of attacking options ahead of him.
Rest assured, if the record is broken in 2023-24, The Athletic will have a meaty feature for you all to read, including a deep-dive on how Henry earned 20 assists in a season where Arsenal didn’t end up as champions.
But for now, we wish good luck to any pretenders to the assist-king throne. Currently, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the amnesty’s leading candidate.
This leads us to…
Darwin Nunez is set for a terrific second season
It’s time for DarwinSzn
— Hari Sethi (@Hari_Sethi) August 7, 2023
There aren’t many fans who believe Erling Haaland will be beaten for this season’s Golden Boot, but plenty think Darwin Nunez is going to make a good fist of it. The Uruguayan had a topsy-turvy debut season with Liverpool, scoring nine Premier League goals in 29 appearances but looking a little awkward doing so. Nunez is physically dominant in a way few strikers are, but last season he was inconsistent in his application and prone to the occasional baffling on-field decision.
It’s hoped the 24-year-old has ironed out some of the stranger quirks for the coming season. Now taking English lessons and with a greater appreciation for Jurgen Klopp’s style of football, Nunez could be a crucial part of a healthier and revamped Liverpool.
Newcastle are going to have a turbulent season…
Naglesmann new Newcastle boss
— Kieren (@kjjjwilliams) August 7, 2023
What would represent a good 2023-24 season for Newcastle? The sensible, considered answer can be found here, but there is an acknowledgement that they find themselves in a tricky situation. Newcastle would ideally like to consolidate themselves within the Champions League places, but they are doing so at a time when the ‘Big Six’ have all looked to strengthen.
Three senior signings have arrived at St James’ Park this summer too, but there are questions (from those less familiar with the club) as to whether any of Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento truly move the needle.
It happens to plenty of clubs who try to make the leap from having a good team to having a good squad.
Many are predicting an unfortunate stumble, and possibly a managerial change to boot.
…but Luton will be fun
Luton’s home ground to become a fortress and they stay up with ease!!
— Ramzy (@Ramzy_Sports) August 7, 2023
If you’re reading this, you’ve definitely seen what the away fans’ entrance to Kenilworth Road looks like.
You’ve probably also got thoughts as to whether such a unique home stadium is going to be a help or hindrance to promoted Luton Town.
Luton end with a better away record than their home record
— Jamie (@JamieCutteridge) August 7, 2023
The Premier League new boys play direct, physical football with two strikers, plenty of hard running and an aggressive front press.
The optimistic reading is Luton will steer themselves to safety using a style of football that would make Sean Dyche’s Burnley blush. The pessimistic reading is they will find the top flight a step beyond them, suffering a Premier League relegation on a par with the ignominy of Derby County’s 11-point 2007-08 horror show.
Whatever happens, Kenilworth Road will be the backdrop for many a memorable moment over the next nine months.
And so many, many more…
This is but a sampling of the many predictions you have given us.
A number of you believe Kai Havertz is about to have a goalscoring purple patch having swapped Chelsea for Arsenal. Plenty predict Richarlison to take over from Bavaria-bound Kane and make a good fist of being the central striker at Spurs.
Graham Potter to return to club management this season. Michael Carrick will be a top-flight boss before the campaign is over. Morgan Gibbs-White to be so impressive for Nottingham Forest he receives a senior England call-up.
No one is quite sure which European competition Chelsea, Brighton or Aston Villa will find themselves in for 2024-25, but nearly everyone thinks Bournemouth will prove a top-half surprise package.
All your predictions will be stored to look at again, with more knowledgeable eyes, in a few months’ time.
(Top photo of Trent Alexander-Arnold: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)