Were our Premier League pre-season predictions accurate? Not exactly

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Eberechi Eze;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Eberechi Eze</a>, <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester City;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester City</a> and Sean Dyche.</span><span>Composite: Guardian Picture Desk</span>

Manchester City: predicted 1st, finished 1st

What we predicted: As the favourites to be champions again, for a record fourth successive season, attrition may be a greater foe than Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Newcastle. Rodri will step up as a new leader; Jack Grealish is the team’s folk hero and Kalvin Phillips is one to watch this season.

What actually happened: Grealish’s influence has waned and Phillips was shipped off to West Ham before a ball was kicked, but Rodri remains a giant in the midfield – the team simply does not lose when he plays. In the end, not even attrition could hold back City. Their dominance is becoming a problem for a league that markets itself on unpredictability.

Arsenal: predicted 2nd, finished 2nd

What we predicted: Nobody doubts Arsenal’s seriousness these days. For several years they had flown by the seat of their pants but their dealings this summer have been conducted with chilling efficiency. The final step may not be beyond them.

What actually happened: The final step was beyond them but only just. They won as many games as City and finished the season with the same goal difference but, crucially, not as many points. There were so many what ifs – the defeats to Aston Villa, the poor run of form in December, the goalless draw against City, Son Heung-min’s miss – which shows progress. But you have to be perfect to pip Pep Guardiola’s team.

Liverpool predicted 4th, finished 3rd

What we predicted: There is genuine cause for optimism at Liverpool. There is also fierce determination to prove last season’s disappointment was a one-off. The loss of Champions League football will sting but the lure of a Europa League final in Dublin next May offers ample compensation.

What actually happened: Liverpool won a trophy at Wembley, booked a place in next season’s Champions League and enjoyed a Jürgen Klopp love-in for the last few months of the season. They fell short in Europe and never really looked like winning the title but, having finished fifth last year, this was a season of progress.

Aston Villa: predicted 7th, finished 4th

What we predicted: The overriding sense inside Aston Villa is that if Unai Emery was capable of completely reshaping the club inside six months last season, leading them into Europe after quickly extinguishing relegation fears, then what might be feasible this campaign?

What actually happened: Not even the most optimistic Villa fan would have expected the club to qualify for the Champions League but they did it in style. They beat City, did the double over Arsenal and were in Europe for longer than any other English team. Emery was the manager of the season by a distance.

Tottenham: predicted 8th, finished 5th

What we predicted: It is a new dawn at Spurs and, for the first time since Mauricio Pochettino’s departure in 2019, there is a sense of alignment that has provided the basis for optimism. Ange Postecoglou seems to tick all the boxes, although he knows that the job is enormous on every level

What actually happened: The job looked easy at the start of the season when Spurs went unbeaten for 10 games and topped the table in late October. But they faded badly, regressing to the mean and missing out on a Champions League place. By the end of the campaign, they were reduced to playing a bit part role in someone else’s title race.

Chelsea: predicted 5th, finished 6th

What we predicted: Mauricio Pochettino has taken over as head coach and oozes authority. The Argentinian did an outstanding job at Tottenham and Chelsea were right to appoint him. Pochettino is one of the best coaches in the world and will surely make them better if there is no interference from above.

What actually happened: It was a season of two halves for Chelsea. They slumped to 11th in the table at Christmas, having lost eight of their first 18 games, but rallied in the second half of the season, only losing three of their remaining 20 matches. Pochettino is taking them in the right direction and he has a real star in Cole Palmer.

Newcastle: predicted 6th, finished 7th

What we predicted: Their prospects are bright but, after last season’s overachievement, a Champions League campaign could overstretch Eddie Howe’s squad. Many Newcastle fans would not be surprised if the team finished in mid-table.

What actually happened: Newcastle did not hit the heights of last season but they enjoyed a cracking Champions League campaign, scored 85 goals (more than the three teams above them in the table) and have probably booked a place in Europe next season. Injuries held them back, which could be an issue if the purse strings are tightened this summer.

Manchester United: predicted 3rd, finished 8th

What we predicted: Improving on last season – when they finished third in the league, won the League Cup and reached the FA Cup final – is a rather large ask. But that has to be Erik ten Hag’s ambition or why did he take the Manchester United job?

What actually happened: He might not have the Manchester United job for much longer. His team was terrible this season – utterly embarrassing in the Champions League and worse than they have ever been in the league. They lost 14 matches and finished the season with a negative goal difference. Winning the FA Cup on Saturday would provide some redemption but they are up against City so it’s more likely to heap on the humiliation.

West Ham: predicted 11th, finished 9th

What we predicted: A summer of indecision has left West Ham struggling to build on their dramatic triumph over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final. Declan Rice’s exit and a lack of signings could stifle their progress.

What actually happened: West Ham finished in the top half, enjoyed wins against Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United, and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League. And yet plenty of fans will be happy to see David Moyes go. He leaves the club in a better place than when he arrived but, for all the improvement in the table, the style of football on the pitch can be wearying.

Crystal Palace: predicted 12th, finished 10th

What we predicted: “Roy Hodgson is a reassuring presence in the dugout but fans fear late moves for more of their best players before the window closes. The departure of Wilfried Zaha means Roy Hodgson must find a new talisman to lead his team from a talented squad.”

What actually happened: A number of players stepped up after Zaha left, with Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta particularly impressive in attack, but they excelled under Oliver Glasner rather than Hodgson. Yet again, though, Palace go into the summer wondering whether their best players will be at the club come the start of the new season.

Brighton: predicted 9th, finished 11th

What we predicted: After a highest-ever league finish last season, Robert De Zerbi has recruited experience to complement the club’s exciting youngsters. The question now is whether a squad that has lost Alexis Mac Allister and may lose Moisés Caicedo can withstand the rigours of a European campaign alongside the intense Premier League schedule.

What actually happened: Brighton dropped a few places in the league but that was inevitable given the addition of European football to their schedule – and what an addition it was. Brighton won games against Ajax, AEK Athens, Marseille and Roma before exiting at the last-16 stage. They will miss Robert De Zerbi but, if any club is built to cope with high-profile departures, it’s Brighton.

Bournemouth: predicted 15th, finished 12th

What we predicted: It has been a summer of statements from Bournemouth, some more surprising than others: from the appointment of Andoni Iraola – their first foreign manager – to the arrivals of Milos Kerkez and Justin Kluivert, players with impressive pedigree. Only relegated Southampton and Leeds had worse defensive records than Bournemouth last season, but Iraola is adamant that attack will prove the best form of defence.

What actually happened: Dominic Solanke led that attack with some style, scoring 19 goals as Bournemouth achieved their highest ever points total in the Premier League. Iraola’s approach took some time to bed in but, once the players got it, they flew up the table.

Fulham: predicted 13th, finished 13th

What we predicted: Considering the turbulence of the summer, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Marco Silva linked with the Saudi Arabian gold rush, predicting another mid-table outcome feels optimistic. They enter the season enigmatically.

What actually happened: Mitrovic took the money but Fulham held on to Silva and he helped them hold on to their Premier League place. They never looked in trouble and were one win away from reaching the League Cup final. Rodrigo Muniz was fun.

Wolves: predicted 18th, finished 14th

What we predicted: Wolves supporters go into what has the makings of a testing campaign with more questions than answers. Why did the club allow an unhappy marriage to fester? Could they have pacified Julen Lopetegui? Could they really not add to his squad? How was Gary O’Neil deemed the best candidate to replace him?

What actually happened: O’Neil was very much the best candidate to replace Lopetegui. Wolves steered clear of the relegation battle and may do us all a favour by giving VAR the boot. They were one of only three teams to beat Manchester City (along with Arsenal and Aston Villa). They should have gone to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-finals too, but lost their heads against Coventry.

Everton: predicted 17th, finished 15th

What we predicted: A season free of relegation fear would suffice for many Evertonians, although even that low bar will look ambitious unless attempts to improve the forward line come to fruition. Sean Dyche demanded major changes after securing Everton’s top-flight status on the final day of last season but the reset the club desperately needs has not materialised.

What actually happened: Dyche had to deal with plenty of drama and distress – the deducted points, the ownership mess and the stadium uncertainty – but he kept his head and guided the team to safety. And, to cap it all, Everton beat Liverpool at Goodison.

Brentford: predicted 10th, finished 16th

What we predicted: What would count as a good season for Brentford? The dream is to have a transformative year: to ace recruitment, coaching and performances in one swoop and qualify for Europe. Easier said than done. Optimists would like to see them improve upon last season’s ninth-placed finish. Realistically, though, with their talisman Ivan Toney sidelined until January with a ban for gambling charges, a mid-table finish should probably be the aim. Pessimists would take survival.

What actually happened: The pessimists will be happy. It was a tough season for Brentford, who had to contend with Toney’s absence and a series of injuries. To Thomas Frank’s credit, he remained as likable as ever and the team never dipped into the relegation zone.

Nottingham Forest: predicted 14th, finished 17th

What we predicted: The squad is stable and some smart summer signings have added to a team that has proved itself capable of staying in the Premier League. It is not very exciting but the main ambition will be for a calmer season that ends with a higher finish than 16th.

What actually happened: They stayed up, which is the main thing, but there was needless drama throughout: the appointment of Mark Clattenburg as a referee consultant, the stupid tweet about VAR conspiracies, the points deduction, and so on. On the pitch, they lost 20 of their 38 games and finished with just 32 points. Nuno Espírito Santo did a decent job but was lucky that the three promoted teams were so bad.

Luton: predicted 20th, finished 18th

What we predicted: The last time Luton were promoted to the top division, in 1982, Eric Morecambe, the club’s most famous fan, was still a regular in the tight, archaic Kenilworth Road stands that will offer novelty and discomfort to visiting opposition. In recent years, clubs such as Sheffield United, Brentford and Bournemouth, have offered a template to survival and Luton certainly offer the work ethic to meet the formula. Whether they have the quality is a rather different question.

What actually happened: They were the best of the three promoted teams – not hard, perhaps – but, ultimately, they did not have the quality to stay up. There were plenty of enjoyable moments along the way though, including the 4-0 win against Brighton, the 4-4 draw with Newcastle and superb performances against Arsenal, City and Chelsea. They were unlucky at times and won over many neutrals.

Burnley: predicted 16th, finished 19th

What we predicted: There will, undoubtedly, be a level of momentum from defeating all-comers in the Championship on their way to 101 points but the Premier League is a very different beast. As with any club that is promoted, the focus will be on survival, regardless of how confident a team might appear from the outside.

What actually happened: Burnley’s points total dropped from 101 in the Championship to just 24 in the Premier League, an indication of the jump up in the class – and perhaps the folly of adopting the same tactics in both leagues. Vincent Kompany’s team shot themselves in the foot week after week.

Sheffield United: predicted 19th, finished 20th

What we predicted: Prospects are bleak. This season was always going to be an uphill struggle but the departure of Iliman Ndiaye, the team’s undoubted star, is a monumental blow. Paul Heckingbottom’s side is in a significantly weaker position than they ended last season – not exactly the ideal recipe for a club entering the toughest league in the world.

What actually happened: Their season was a disaster from start to finish. They conceded 104 goals – a new record in the Premier League – and only won three times in 38 games. They sacked one manager and replaced him with a man whose main contribution to the campaign was to get irked by a sandwich.