The 2021-22 Premier League season kicks off on Friday night when newly-promoted Brentford host Arsenal. This is the first of 380 soccer matches over the next nine months.
With fans allowed back in the stadiums, big-money signings, new managers and promoted teams, what can we expect from the Premier League this season?
Let’s take a look at the Premier League odds for the top four and other predictions for what should be an extremely tight soccer season in the UK’s top flight.
A Tighter Top Four Fight
Over the last two seasons in the EPL, the title-winning team was obvious long before the end of the season, with Liverpool blowing opposition aside in 2019-20, and Man City the clear front-runners in 2020-21.
I don’t expect this season to be quite as straightforward. With the 2020 EPL champions Liverpool, European Champions Chelsea, current holders Man City and a more evenly balanced Man Utd in the mix, the top of the table will be a fascinating fight.
Here is how I think the top four will look in nine months.
1. Manchester City
Last season – Champions
As much as it burns me as a Manchester United fan, I don’t see anyone taking City’s title off them. Pep Guardiola’s champions have claimed the title in three of the past four seasons, and I think they will do it again this season. Although, they will have to see off more serious competition this time around.
City put their defensive frailties to bed with the signing of Ruben Dias last season, and their midfield was already teeming with talent before the arrival of £100m Jack Grealish. The only downfall I see at City is their lack of an out-and-out striker. Unless they finally get their hands on Harry Kane, of course.
Their Champions League final loss to Chelsea hurt them, and they will be looking to take the title and Champions League glory this year. Could this finally be the season that they do it?
Last season – 4th
There’s no denying the stunning impact that Thomas Tuchel has had on the Blues. At one stage last season, it looked impossible for Chelsea to qualify for the Champions League, and then Tuchel stepped in. Not only did they win the competition, but they also went on one of the most impressive runs in the League to end on a strong note.
Timo Werner failed to deliver last season, but that shouldn’t matter much with the imminent return of Romelu Lukaku, who has a point to prove in the Premier League.
Tuchel’s drive and tactical acumen are clear to see, and with a side dripping with quality, I fully expect Chelsea to challenge for the title.
3. Manchester United
Last season – 2nd
I truly hope I am wrong in my assertion that the Red Devils will drop a spot from last season. They have made shrewd investments in areas that sorely needed reinforcements, with Jordan Sancho arriving from Dortmund and Raphael Varane coming in from Real Madrid. Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire shone at the Euros, and Bruno Fernandes is undoubtedly one of the best midfielders globally, but United just looked lost a few too many times last season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team had an amazing away record but struggled at Old Trafford, something that could improve with fans’ return. Although the team looks assuredly more balanced, and Varane should make a world-class defensive partnership with Maguire, there’s a consensus that they still need to invest in a defensive midfielder, as well as a striker to put up a proper title challenge.All the same, Manchester United needs to win a trophy under Solskjær, and they need to do it this season. Hopefully, this motivation and the addition of the two new signings will be the formula that the Red Devils need to claim some silverware.
Last season – 3rd
Liverpool’s implosion last season was difficult to watch, even for the most ardent opposition supporter. However, Klopp’s squad looks almost back to full strength, with the return of Virgil van Dijk the most important factor.
Of course, a front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah should be terrifying, but they failed to fire last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Diogo Jota replace one of them. The signing of center-back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig looks like a good piece of business and should bring the Reds’ defense back to the 2019-20 levels.
The most concerning thing for Liverpool isn’t their team — we have all seen what it’s capable of — it’s the amount of transfer business done by United, City, and Chelsea. Liverpool simply haven’t invested enough in this transfer window, and it could see them fall behind the chasing pack.
Outside Chance: Leicester City
Last season – 5th
Although the Foxes missed out on Champions League places for the second consecutive season, they did win the FA Cup for the first time.
Brendan Rogers is an astute manager. He has Harvey Barnes back from injury, and his recruitment in the window has been flawless, with the addition of Red Bull Salzburg striker Patson Daka, Lille’s title-winning midfielder Boubakary Soumare and experienced left-back Ryan Bertrand.
Kelechi Iheanacho seems to be getting better and will take some of the pressure off Jamie Vardy. Leicester’s win over Man City in the Community Shield a couple of weeks ago proves that they are serious contenders for a top-four spot, and they will be the team pushing to break into those places throughout the season.
- Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea
- Golden Gloves: Ederson, Manchester City
- Player of the Season: Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
- Impact Signing: Jadon Sancho, Manchester United
- Value Signing: Patson Daka, Leicester City
- Young Player of the Season: Bukayo Saka, Arsenal
- Manager of the Season: Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea
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