This is an exciting season for football fans, but a stressful season for the clubs themselves, especially when it comes to fighting for the title. While the openness of the Premier League season means that there are plenty of sides that can snag themselves a spot in the top four, and perhaps even win the title, there will come a point when sides have to step up and establish their credentials. The table won’t be as open as it is right now forever.
Rather than a season when quality will win the most prestigious prize in English football, this seems to be one where the eventual winner will have spluttered over the finish line. Which begs the question: does anybody want to win the 2020/2021 Premier League title? The frequency of poor performances and odd decisions does make you wonder. Let’s take a look at the credentials of the teams who could be lifting the trophy come the end of the campaign.Embed from Getty Images
The Liverpool Factor
After the slow start made by Manchester City, many people assumed that Liverpool would walk their way to a second consecutive title. Yet the wheels seem to have come off in the past few weeks. While it’s no crime to draw or lose a couple of games in a competition as competitive as the Premier League, the loss of intensity and reduced creativity will be a concern for Jurgen Klopp. Of course, it’s important to keep things in perspective. They’re still top of the league and will receive the most backing to win the league from experts and fans who bet on football. It’s unlikely, however, that Liverpool will dominate the league in the manner in which they did last season. Fans of the Merseyside team will hope that this is their lull in the season and that things click back into gear sooner rather than later.
Manchester City’s Problems
The demise of Manchester City may have been exaggerated. There was a point earlier in the season when it seems that they’d struggle to make the top four, let alone compete for the title, but the picture looks a lot rosier these days. However, that’s not because Manchester City have remembered who they are and suddenly started performing to the best of their ability. They’re back within touching distance of the summit because other teams have dropped points. If Guardiola’s men are going to lead a charge during the second half of the campaign, they’ll need to correct some errors. Chiefly, they need to start scoring more goals. Actually, they need to start having more shots. That stat has been the Achilles heel for Manchester City this year, which is something none of us who have watched the free-flowing City of the past few years would have ever dreamed of saying.
It is also unclear whether City are suffering from a lack of belief. Once self-doubt begins to settle in, it could be difficult to climb out of the pit, and the absence of goal-scorers will only make it more difficult.Embed from Getty Images
Ole Getting It Right?
Those that read the newspapers, or spoke to football fans, or even watched a Manchester United performance in the early days of the season would be shocked to see where Ole’s boys are in the table these days. Having adapted to the Norwegian’s preferred style of play, United have cantered up the league, and while they’re not favourites, they’re putting themselves in a good position to grab their 21st English title. They have a couple of aces up their sleeve, such as ridiculous squad depth, and Bruno Fernandes, who is playing as if he’s on a one-man mission to claim glory. So you’d be foolish to rule them out. If there’s a concern, it’s that they seem to win their games by fine margins, and that surely can’t go on forever.
And what about the rest? Leicester and Tottenham will both have something to say, but neither side looks too convincing. It’s becoming increasingly likely that the Premier League winners will be the least-worst side of the season, rather than a side that’ll go down in history as one of the league’s best.