Some said that the 2020/21 season was one of the most bizarre seasons in footballing history. And whilst they could be right, with games being played in empty stadiums, VAR dominating headlines and do we even dare mention the European Super League? But the previous season was arguably even more difficult.
Whilst Liverpool were running away with the league, having only slipped up with a draw against United and a loss to Watford, they were not prepared as teams were for the 2020/21 campaign. The season was stopped midway through, with the Reds only needing a few more points to officially win their first league title in thirty years.
No one knew what was happening. Matches stopped, and there was uncertainty as to whether the league would resume, or be null and voided. Something Liverpool fans dreaded, and their rivals were pleading for.But it did pick up again in the summer, and they went on to lift the cup thanks to Chelsea beating Manchester City. Causing scousers all over the world to celebrate like never before.
And whilst many had them tipped to continue their form from the previous two seasons, it was to be Manchester City who would reclaim the crown Liverpool took from them. Arguably Liverpool were heavily affected, due to a list of injuries that seemed longer than the one Santa has with the names of all the children of the world on. But excuses aside, Manchester City were deserved winners, despite poor form in the early season.
But will the Blue side of Manchester reign supreme again next season?
If you look at the best sportsbooks online, they’re very torn about who is favourite for the upcoming campaign. And there are a few reasons why.
Will Manchester City reign supreme?
Whilst he didn’t play much last year, Sergio Aguero, arguably one of the most important players in Manchester City’s history, has left for Barcelona. A lack of goals was never an issue even without him last year. But toward the end of the season Sterling’s form had dipped, and Jesus just doesn’t look like the kind of player that can replace Aguero. Sure he gets a few goals, but you don’t feel like he could score every time he is on the ball.
But they could be losing another important player too. Their defensive midfielder Fernandinho, possibly one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, stated he’d extend his deal with the club after it expired at the end of the season. However, when City released retained players list , he wasn’t on it Meaning that his contract could expire and he would technically be free to go elsewhere.
Whether that will happen or not, who knows. Afterall, we have the Euros and Copa América taking place, so player’s focuses have shifted toward internationals. So he could well resign for City after the International campaigns. But without him, that leaves City with two holes to fill.
An out and out goalscorer, with rumours that Harry Kane could be heading to the Etihad, and a defensive midfielder. Now Rodri can fill that gap, and did many times last season, but Fernandinho will still be missed without a doubt. And they’d still need cover for Rodri should he pick up an injury.
Who else could challenge?
City’s biggest rivals, and a favourite tipped for some bookmakers is Liverpool. They had an offseason in the 2020/21 campaign, but as we stated above, they had an incredibly long injury list. Missing players such as Van Dijk, Gomez, Keita, Jota, Oxlade-Chamberlain just to name a few.
But next season, Klopp will be hoping to have everyone back fit and ready to go again. Henderson got a runout for England, Van Dijk refused to even play for the Netherlands so he could be fit, the only downside, Trent Alexander-Arnold was taken off in an international friendly the other week, but we still don’t know how bad that is.
With a fully fit squad, they can easily push City to the very end. In fact, despite their injury list this season, they did rather well. In their worst season under Klopp, they finished in 3rd place, with thanks to an Allison header late on against West Brom that kept their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
It’s also important to mention that Liverpool only finished 5 points behind rivals Manchester United too. A Manchester United team who had their best season since 2013, and whose fans blamed an injured Harry Maguire for costing them the league. But in all honesty, they were never challenging City and he only missed about three games.
But they did improve under Solskjaer, however, not many believe they improved enough to challenge for the title next season. United fans do, but again they’re a bit of a deluded bunch at times, and it’ll take something special for them to close the gap on teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City who have raised the bar incredibly high over the past few seasons. Constantly pushing each other to their limits.
Could we see an underdog triumph?
Never say never. No one expected Leicester to win the league when they did at odds of 5000/1. It only takes a good run of form for your team, plus other results to go against the teams around you.
Plus Leicester have played incredibly well the past two seasons, only missing out on Champions League football on the final day of the season. And they have just won the first FA Cup in the club’s history. So if anyone was going to push up there, it could well be Leicester.
However, their star striker Jamie Vardy is getting on, so it could be down to whether they can keep him fit and if he can keep up his impressive goal scoring stats since he arrived at the top level. They do have some other young talents too, with Kelechi Iheanacho hitting form in the latter part of the last season, and Youri Tielemans putting in plenty of Man of the Match performances. But it’s whether they can hold on to those players, or replace them with quality signings if they are tempted away from the Foxes.