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The Biggest Surprises Of The 2022/23 Premier League Season So Far

Each week of high-stakes competition reveals new surprises, new heroes, and new enemies.

By Andrew Woodin
Luis Diaz of Liverpool reacts during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Liverpool FC and Rangers FC

If you’ve felt like the like 2022/2023 Premier League season has started to resemble The Twilight Zone more and more, you wouldn’t be alone.

From Erling Haaland’s sensational goalscoring to Liverpool’s disheartening fall from grace, the wild shifts in the EPL have been nothing short of tectonic. Even Manchester United’s ability to miraculously galvanize and surge into the top five is enough to give you whiplash. Each week reveals new surprises, new heroes, and new enemies, all of which conjure up as dynamic of a Premier League season as fans could dream of.

To keep your head on a swivel, we’re spinning ours to break down the biggest surprises of the 2022/2023 EPL season to date.

Liverpool’s Demise

Heavy is the head that could wear the crown, and after squandering a multitude of vibrant talent early in the squad’s campaign, the brass and boys at Anfield must lay awake at night, haunted by the season that could’ve been. They haven’t been good in the UEFA Champion’s League or in the English Premier league. Is it Jürgen Klopp’s fault? What about the Darwin Nunez signing? Mo Salah’s lack of finishing? How about Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fitness decline? Or could it be something worse, like a cohesion problem?

As is usually the case, the answer’s a bit more complex. The problem seems to be more insidious with a total void in player and manager confidence that has mutated into a severe breakdowns in team chemistry issues for The Reds. Sitting in 10th place with a paltry record of 2-4-2, there seems to be enough blame to go around, and Reds legend John Barnes is the latest to dump salt in the gaping wound that is Liverpool’s season by targeting the midfield.

“Liverpool and their defenders have played in a particular way the last four years with Mane Firmino and Salah,” Barnes noted to BonusCodeBets. “The three midfield players are three hard working individual players. Now, with Thiago and Harvey Elliot and people like that, the midfield isn’t as defensively strong which means that they can’t defend the back four…”

“I don’t believe the midfield is strong enough to protect the back four,” Barnes continued. “Which is why teams are now getting to Liverpool.”

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Erling Haaland, The Beast Unleashed

Heeding the call of his battle-tested Viking ancestors, Erling Haaland’s seized his destiny by the horns, conquering the pitch as he lays waste to meddling defenses standing meekly in his path. He’s been a heat-seeking, laser-guided missile with one mission: To prove the doubters wrong.

During just his short tenure with Manchester City, he’s shattered expectations and etched his own records in stone. It’s only October, and the 22-year-old phenom has leathered 15 goals to go with his three assists this season in the Premier League, and across all competitions, that already impressive goal number balloons to 20. Pretty soon, we’ll have to come up with a new set of accolades to bestow upon him. He’s the Aaron Judge of baseball, the Ja Morant of NBA, the Josh Allen of the NFL — take your pick or roll them all up into one. Haaland’s veteran coach Pep Guardiola recently heaped praise on his Norwegian super star.

"He's a top striker, if you put the names of the biggest strikers at that age, how many games he has and goals he scored, he's the greatest," Guardiola told the Manchester Evening News. "He’s still at a young age … With a long career ahead of him and [his] desire to be better, he will continue to improve.”

“I will encourage him to be a better player, a better finisher and [he has to] think today I will be better than yesterday, try to train today better than yesterday,” Guardiola continued. “When this happens, he has the skills to be one of the best of best top scorers of all time."

Arsenal Dusting The Competition

After years of being on the verge of genuine success, Arsenal now sits atop the EPL standings in first place with a stellar record of 8-1 with their only defeat coming from Manchester United. The Gunners’ manager Mikel Arteta has his men fitter than ever, and it appears the flashy £120 million spent to acquire Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Man City has paid off. William Saliba’s formidable presence on the back line anchors the defense like a general protecting his citadel. Midfielder Bukayo Saka and forward Gabriel Martinelli have truly taken large leaps this season with both their field vision and decision making, combining their four goals apiece for a whopping eight scores. Pair that with forward Gabriel Jesus’ finding the net five times so far, and it’s no wonder why Arsenal’s gunning to steal the thunder away from Haaland and prevent Man City’s dream of winning repeat league titles. 

Manchester United Evolving With Ronaldo

At the onset of the season, rumored in-fighting and discontent from their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could’ve launched the Red Devils on an arduous journey, one full of pain and despair, but all signs point to a hypothesis that United’s manager Erik ten Hag has navigated the murky waters well, subsequently quieting the click-driven pundits along the way.

Even with the FA trying to punish CR7, Hag and company are backing their Portuguese star striker. United’s 3-1 upset victory over Arsenal may have catalyzed the Red Devils’ resurgence, but the real swing in United’s momentum originates from the exceptional play of forwards Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Antony; Rashford and Antony have each chipped in with three goals while Rashford also added a pair of assists. Frenchman Martial — who has been hailed in previous seasons as the next Thierry Henry — has matured into being a deadly finisher, and with his spectacular striking ability, he’s also drawing comparisons to arguably the greatest current footballer in the world Lionel Messi. His absence on the pitch due to injury has relegated him to only three apps, leaving the Red Devils susceptible to counter attacks.

When it comes to Ronaldo, it should be looked at as a massively positive sign that not only did Manchester United congratulate the 37-year-old talisman after he notched his record 700th goal in United’s win against Everton, but he also posed in a picture with his entire team to document the special occasion. The living legend tweeted about the experience:

“What a beautiful number we've achieved together!” CR7 tweeted. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, clubs, family & friends and of course my fans. United we continue.”

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