Which teams rose above and which teams crumbled under the weight above expectations during the 2022-23 EPL campaign? [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The EPL season concludes
Perhaps slightly lost amid the dominance of Erling Haaland and Manchester City in the 2022/23 English Premier League (EPL) campaign, a host of teams drastically overachieved based on their odds at the beginning of the season.
two newly-promoted teams actually managed top-half finishes
One such team, Brighton, unlocked European competition for the first time as a club and looked like one of the best competitors in England. Meanwhile, two newly-promoted teams actually managed top-half finishes, beating some extremely tough competition along the way.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chelsea, who won the Champions League just two years ago, went on a world-record spending spree but could not escape relegation form in the business half of the season, while Arsenal earned the unfortunate record of highest mid-season points total without winning the league.
This is the entire 2022/23 EPL season summed up.
The final table
*Projected finish and difference based on preseason odds from PointsBet sportsbook. Tie results settled by actual table finishing position.*
Bottle jobs or overachievers?
As is clear from the data, ultimate league winner Man City was expected to claim a third title in as many years—but what was not expected was the blistering form that Arsenal showed to start the campaign.
made history in a different way than they had hoped to
Unfortunately for the Gunners, they made history in a different way than they had hoped to. Rather than break a 19-year title-less streak, they became the first team in league history to bottle a seven-plus-point lead on New Year’s Day and go on to lose the league:
Despite breaking this record, Arsenal still exceeded expectations by finishing in the top four. The implied probability of preseason betting odds suggested they had a 42.4% chance of doing this.
Chelsea, on the other hand, did anything but exceed expectations. The Blues cycled through four managers in a whirlwind of a season that left them with over 30 members of the first team, a glaring lack of identity, and an inferno of lit cash that went to underwhelming player transfers.
Mauricio Pochettino has already been appointed to lead Chelsea next year and has his work cut out for him bringing the best out of a talented but cultureless and unproductive squad. Chelsea finished second to last in the over/underachievers table, finishing eight places below their projected preseason ranking in 12th.
Leicester could now lose several players before heading down to battle in the Championship
However, based on the difference between the projected and actual finish, the biggest disappointment was Leicester City. The Foxes’ miracle EPL win of 2015 is etched in the history books, but it seems very far away after a turgid, tumultuous season at King Power Stadium that dealt them injuries, regression, and a decline in passion. After their relegation, Leicester could now lose several players before heading down to battle in the Championship starting in the late summer.
While many big clubs were disappointed, there were also several teams that overachieved during the EPL campaign. Brighton was the biggest winner from that group, improving upon a previous club record finish of ninth to qualify for the Europa League and finish five spots higher than projected.
Fulham climbed all the way to 10th this season
But despite Brighton’s success, the real champion was Fulham. Each of the team’s last three seasons in the top flight ended in relegation, and although they were expected to finish 19th, Fulham climbed all the way to 10th this season. They also played visually pleasing, effective soccer, and have a clear identity heading into the new season.
The team’s Twitter page threw some shade at those who doubted it after its finishing place was confirmed on the weekend:
Brentford, another recently-promoted team, finished 13th in 2022 but was expected to drop to 16th this time around. They defied those odds and wound up in ninth despite off-field controversy involving recently-suspended striker Ivan Toney. They too have an ethos under manager Thomas Frank and will be a tough team to beat moving forward.
Erik Ten Hag quickly proved that his lack of experience in top leagues wouldn’t be an issue
Up near the top of the table, both Manchester United and Newcastle arrived in Champions League spots a year or two ahead of schedule. Erik Ten Hag quickly proved that his lack of experience in top leagues wouldn’t be an issue and installed a pragmatic, results-oriented system that dragged the Red Devils up to third place.
Newcastle, threatened with relegation less than two years ago, wound up just behind Man U in fourth place. They tied for the league’s best defensive record and, despite having the richest club owners in the world, got the job done with system play and few big-money transfers.