How many teams can win the title? Will Haaland be a roaring success? Who could challenge Liverpool and Man City? How do you solve the Cristiano Ronaldo situation? Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Micah Richards and Jamie Redknapp answer the key questions...
Saturday 6 August 2022 07:12, UK
Sky Sports' football pundits give us their predictions, hopes and analysis ahead of a new Premier League campaign, with all the key questions answered.
Roy Keane: Just Liverpool and Man City, I think they're a level ahead of everyone else. We've seen that with recruitment. Even the game last week, I know it's only the Community Shield and pre-season, I just can't see the other teams getting near them for the title. There will be improvement at Tottenham and Manchester United have to be better than last year, but the simple answer in terms of winning the league: Liverpool and City. I can't see beyond it.
Gary Neville: Liverpool and Man City. City will definitely finish in the top two. Liverpool, I always have this little hope rather than thought that they might just dip slightly, and then maybe Tottenham are the only team I can see that can get close to them. I don't feel Chelsea, United, Arsenal are in a position to get close to the top two. The Champions League will cause a problem for Tottenham but they've got some world-class strikers.
Gary Neville: Man City.
Jamie Carragher: Liverpool because of Virgil van Dijk. Every time he's been fit and at his best Liverpool have got mid-90 points. Last season he was coming back from that cruciate injury. From Christmas onwards when he was back to his best, Liverpool looked a completely different team. If Liverpool get him at his best from the get go, they've got a great chance.
Micah Richards: It's Man City's to lose.
Roy Keane: Man City.
Gary Neville: City have got stronger. Kalvin Phillips, they love Julian Alvarez and then Erling Haaland will be world-class. You just don't know the impact of Sadio Mane leaving Liverpool and Darwin Nunez stepping into that role or Luis Diaz or Diogo Jota making up for what Mane's done. Mane is an unbelievable player and he's left.
There is a little bit more of a doubt about Liverpool because of that Mane factor and the fact we know he's world-class. We don't know yet if Nunez is going to be world-class to replace him.
Roy Keane: That's life at the top clubs. Players come and go, brilliant players like Mane, who has been brilliant for Liverpool, but when you're a manager you want different options, different personalities, different dynamics in the team. Liverpool have tweaked it. For all the brilliant attacking players they've got, if you look at the three finals last year, they didn't score. Sometimes you have to lose a brilliant player just to bring in somebody different. A younger, maybe hungrier player. Mane clearly wanted to go, obviously he wouldn't have left [if he didn't] so I don't think it's too much of a step back for Liverpool.
The strength in depth Man City and Liverpool have is absolutely fantastic and to go with that they have two unbelievable managers. The managers always look full of energy, like they've never won a trophy before. If that's going through the team, the hunger and desire, then they'll take some stopping these two teams.
Micah Richards: Man City losing Raheem Sterling is massive. I don't think people comprehend how big he is. Maybe in front of goal he's not clinical but the runs he makes, he's always running in behind and the tireless work he puts in for the team. With Haaland it's a little bit different, he's got to get used to the system. Then there's Gabriel Jesus who's left, Alvarez looks good, Phillips too. On paper it looks better but they've got to fit into the system and we've seen it with Jack Grealish last season, it wasn't his best season, he's got to hit the ground running this time.
Gary Neville: There's a history at City - Rodri, Riyad Mahrez, Grealish, Bernardo Silva, it took them 12 months to get used to Pep Guardiola. It's just whether Phillips, Haaland need 12 months but I don't think they will.
Jamie Carragher: On another day he scores a hat-trick against Liverpool in the Community Shield. He should have scored two, at least, in that game. If I'm a City fan or Guardiola, I wouldn't be worried about that. From a Liverpool point of view, I'd be a bit worried about the chances they gave up.
Haaland is brilliant, it makes City different but better? It's hard to say because they scored 99 goals last season in the Premier League. They got 93 points. They always get that amount, I don't see how they get many more than what they normally do. They'll just be a different team.
They've lacked a centre-forward. Every team wants to play with a striker. The teams that don't, a lot of the time, maybe can't get one, don't have a top one in the squad and there's so many great midfield players now who can play between the lines. It will be a slightly different Man City, it has to be.
Micah Richards: Of course he makes them better because of the quality he possesses. In terms of style of play, he might not fit in straight away but look at the Real Madrid game when City needed a goal, they were kicking the ball long to defenders up top. Haaland is a unit. I'm not saying he's going to hit the ground running but in terms of his quality, he's got it in abundance.
Roy Keane: I thought his movement in the Community Shield was absolutely fantastic. I think he's an amazing player and there's no doubt in my mind he'll be a success at Man City. He'll score bags of goals.
Jamie Carragher: Midfield. They're all at a similar age. They've got Jordan Henderson and Thiago who have had injuries in the last three or four years and I don't think it's a numbers problem for Liverpool in terms of midfield but it's the quality. I always feel there's so much pressure on the front three to score but they can't score every game. You need someone to come out of nowhere from midfield. If Liverpool are to fall down this season I think it will be something in midfield.
Roy Keane: Spurs. They've got two brilliant goalscorers if they stay fit then Spurs have a great chance in terms of doing better than Arsenal, Chelsea, United. I think Tottenham could do it. They've got a brilliant manager, they've got momentum into the club. Spurs can usually drag their heels during the summer but they've got their business done early. They've got decent strength in depth. Spurs could have a brilliant season. There's expectation now at the club. I've said before they ultimately always let you down. Can they back it up?
Gary Neville: Spurs are the only one who could but something would have to go badly wrong for Liverpool and City for that to happen.
Jamie Carragher: I think Tottenham will finish third. Chelsea are normally there and pick a trophy up somewhere along the line - they have that DNA of winning and winning big games, it's yet to be seen that with Spurs, even though they did well against Liverpool and City last season. I think Antonio Conte will give them that.
Gary Neville: Chelsea are a bit unstable from when the Roman Abramovich thing happened and even now in pre-season with Thomas Tuchel and how he's been talking about some of the pre-season games. It feels rocky, something doesn't feel stable.
Jamie Redknapp: It's a difficult one, one that surprised me given he's so affiliated with the club. He's in danger of souring it greatly. I hate seeing players feeling like they're almost going on strike. He looks like he's forcing a move to somewhere we don't know, there's not that many suitors out there. He got a lot of stick last year but he was still their best player by a long way. Right now, it's a hindrance to the club and manager. I think Erik ten Hag has handled it pretty well, he's not beating around the bush.
If he stays, that's not the end of the world. You've got a brilliant player who would do bits and pieces for the team. They have to get Frenkie de Jong, he's a player that can change that midfield dynamic greatly. If he goes to Chelsea, that can't happen. They've got to sort out the Ronaldo situation and the manager has to stamp his authority on that as well.
Roy Keane: You have to try and keep Ronaldo because he's a brilliant player but we don't know Ronaldo's behaviour when he's back in the building. I don't think it's as big of a deal as everyone's making out. When you're a manager, trouble comes your way, he has to deal with it. I think it can work out well for United. My worry is if he stays and United don't start great, and he's resentful to the manager, then it could get ugly.
Gary Neville: Ronaldo has the power, the strength, the status to influence. He has to settle down.
Jamie Carragher: I'd move Ronaldo on, it'd be the first thing I'd do if I was Ten Hag coming in. He's almost bigger than the club and we are talking about one of the biggest clubs in the world, and Ronaldo is one of the few players who could be classed like that alongside Lionel Messi. You can put up with that if he's one of the best players in the world - I don't think he is right now. I agree with Jamie, he was United's best outfield player last season but I always go back to how big Man Utd is as a club. It won't fall apart because Ronaldo is not there, even if they haven't got a centre-forward to go straight in. The year before last they scored more goals than when Ronaldo was there.
When Guardiola went into Barcelona, Ronaldinho and Deco were gone, Joe Hart was gone as soon as he came into Manchester City. I just think it will make Ten Hag look really strong and send a message to the rest of the dressing room. Whether there are any takers there, I don't know but the Ronaldo circus will never go away from the manager or the club the longer he's there. The quicker he deals with it, the better.
Roy Keane: A lot of the issue is Ronaldo not playing in the Champions League for his ego, 'brand' or whatever. Why did his agent not have if Manchester United didn't get in the Champions League there's an option for both parties to have a look at it? If you've got this 'super agent' who has got unbelievable contacts and brilliant in terms of negotiations, why doesn't he have that in Ronaldo's contract?
Jamie Carragher: They didn't make the Champions League at the start of May, why was that not something they told the club on the last day of the season or before the end that he was looking to go if they weren't in the Champions League?
Gary Neville: Arsenal definitely feel in far better shape. United have the De Jong situation which is dragging on, the Ronaldo situation which is a distraction, causing them disturbance and will distract the manager in his press conferences, taking away the ethic he's built in that pre-season tour. There's definitely more questions on United because they haven't got their business done and their star player is in a position where he might leave. You have to say Arsenal.
Roy Keane: United. Arsenal got a lot of plaudits last season with their young players and got themselves in a great position and blew it. They didn't get the job done. They couldn't back it up. There is something still amiss at United as well but from a footballing point of view my head is saying if United can tidy up that little mess over the next few weeks and get one or two players over the line then they'll be pretty decent. United should be able to compete with Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.
Gary Neville: There's a lot on that De Jong deal, not just for the team but also for the new operation that they can get a deal over the line. There's three scenarios: they get him and they look smart and patient or he stays at Barcelona which would be slightly embarrassing considering the relationship the manager has got with the player or the horrific outcome that he goes to Chelsea.
Jamie Redknapp: I like the look of Bournemouth. Solanke scored lots of goals last year. He has a real presence about him, I see a resurgence with number nines this year. I know it's my former club and I want to see them do well, but I've got a feeling they'll do alright.
Roy Keane: I think it's going to be so tough for the three teams. Nottingham Forest have really gambled, they have to get a good start. If players don't bond together then the manager will be in trouble come September or October. I fear for Bournemouth and Fulham. The Premier League is so strong.
Jesse Lingard has signed at Forest on a one-year deal, is there real commitment from him and the club? He's a talented boy but the most goals he's scored in one season is eight. He was at Man Utd for 11 years and played 150 games only. I wouldn't be hanging my hat on Jesse Lingard.
Gary Neville: It was so poorly played, that one, by both. Why didn't they just do a two-year deal whereby if they went down he could leave on a free? Be a bit smart about it, make it look good for everyone.
The Premier League is back - with a World Cup twist in the middle of it - and in this special preview podcast we take a look at how the 20 teams are shaping up for a mammoth campaign.
Ron Walker is joined by Sky Sports senior football journalists Peter Smith and Oliver Yew as well as football writer and EFL expert Dan Long to run the rule over new signings, familiar faces and the battles set to play out at both ends of the table.
Plus we sit down with Sky Sports presenter David Jones to find out what life is like on set with the game's biggest names in punditry.
Part One | The Big Six have been busy this summer with significant changes taking place at all of the top sides. Champions Man City and their nearest rivals last season, Liverpool, have both signed superstar strikers, while Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United are optimistic about their chances - but is there trouble ahead for Chelsea?
Part Two | We get the lowdown on the three new arrivals in the Premier League, Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest and try to work out which teams will emerge from the pack to spring a surprise.
Part Three | We go behind the scenes with Sky Sports presenter David Jones to hear his stories from the studio ahead of another blockbuster season on screen.