With Liverpool’s stunning runaway victory of the Premier League title last season, some pundits and fans wondered if England had become more like France or Germany. Were we now seeing a separation between the league’s best teams and those around them?
The gap between 2nd placed Manchester City, and 6th placed Tottenham was 22 points. This looks small compared to 18/19, where that gap stood at 31 points, between Liverpool and Manchester United. Like Norwich in 19/20, Huddersfield were also wiped away by most of the league, with both teams finishing bottom in the past two seasons. Neither managed to win more than five matches. To, therefore, argue that next season will be a balanced one in terms of competitiveness, may seem outlandish. However, what we are currently seeing is very promising.
Not only could the battle for top 4 be even tighter, but the gap between the elite and bottom half could narrow down. This is because most teams are now peaking in quality. Perhaps the league’s sales-pitch of “Anyone can beat anyone” may become its most literal description.
For the benefit of simplicity, we will break this piece into two sections. First, we’ll talk about how the top half of the table could become tighter, and then how the bottom half could be at its most competitive yet.
The rest of the League will be thankful that Liverpool’s unrelenting dominance is unlikely to continue next season. Chelsea have already shown how Liverpool are somewhat limited financially at the moment, as they reportedly priced them out of a move for Timo Werner. According to SkySports, Liverpool are not in the position to spend over £50 million on a player. This means they will be unable to improve much on their squad.
This enables Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City to chase the reds down. A previous article from EADF details how both United and Chelsea could even win next year’s title. Liverpool would do well to once again just lose two games from 10 against these three teams next season.
Chelsea’s problem of finishing has been vanquished with the purchase of Timo Werner. Their well-documented goalkeeping problem could be solved if we believe media reports that Ajax superstar Andre Onana is on his way to Stamford Bridge.
SkySports continuous reporting of the Jadon Sancho saga continues to bear positive news for United fans. Day by day, the winger edges closer to joining the club. While their defence was the 3rd best in the league, the attack was the 5th best, with their 66 goals a lesser total than Leicester. Should they sign a winger who has contributed to 33 Bundesliga goals by himself, then United look complete.
Factor this in with the reported war chest of over £300 million for Manchester City this summer, then things look dangerous for Liverpool. City have already spent nearly £60million +, with Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres being confirmed this week. If they continue this spending, surely they will not fall away like they did last season.
Yet any one of these four teams could easily fall behind the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham. Both will be in their first full seasons under new promising management. Mikel Arteta has already led Arsenal to a trophy, defeating Lampard’s Chelsea in the FA Cup final last weekend. Statistically, Arteta looks to have transformed the club. Under Unai Emre and Freddie Ljungberg in 19/20, Arsenal were getting 1.06 points per league game. With Arteta, that average has risen to 2.2 points per league game. Now the Spaniard has the chance to further improve his team with transfers.
Tottenham also have the opportunity to let Jose Mourinho get some of his desired targets. While Tottenham at times have looked worrying under Mourinho, his record will be providing confidence. In 7 full league seasons, Mourinho has only failed to finish in the top 4 once. In that year, he won the Europa League with Manchester United in 16/17.
Yet another surprise could be in order should Leicester, Everton or Wolves improve further. Leicester only failed to reach the top 4 on the final day, and their season was largely sabotaged by an injury to James Maddison. If he stays fit, then Leicester could mount a more powerful push for UCL football. Everton, provided they spend well, will be under the full management of one of the world’s most successful and iconic managers in Carlo Ancelotti. Wolves as well face a small issue they can solve this summer, which you can read more about in a recent EADF article. We could be in a spot where any one of Wolves, Chelsea, Leicester or Arsenal eye themselves a solid top 4 finish.
In 3 out of the last four seasons, one of the newly promoted teams were instantly relegated to the Championship. In 20/21 though, there has possibly never been a more robust line up of promoted teams. Following the result of Tuesday’s playoff final, Leeds United, Fulham FC and West Brom will be competing in the Premier League.
Leeds United are under the management of Marcelo Bielsa. A man who inspired some of the managers he will face in the Premier League, Bielsa has led underdog sides beyond expectations in the past. He took a very weak Athletic Club to the Europa League final and just 9 points off 4th in 2012. Bielsa is the best hope for any underdog club looking to take points from other teams.
Meanwhile, Fulham can recall Jean Michel Seri and Zambo Anguissa from loan, two players who have been in good form in 19/20. Zambo Anguissa has hugely impressed in Spain with Villarreal and has combined silky dribbling with factory-like defensive output. Add Seri, who in the Premier League in 2018/19 contributed to 3 goals from CM, and Scott Parker already has two quality players in his ranks before making a single new signing.
West Brom meanwhile, look extremely organised. West Brom conceded the 2nd least goals behind Leeds, and they look likely to purchase an incredibly talented player. Matheus Pereira has been on loan at the club in 19/20. The 24-year-old winger has assisted over 16 times in 48 games, averaging an assist every 211 minutes. The only player who bettered this output across the English League system is Kevin De Bruyne.
The sides who battled relegation in 19/20 will be much harder to beat going forward as well. Aston Villa and Brighton will be set for an easier ride next season. Villa were hit by injuries all year. Brighton were in their first season under the promising manager Graham Potter, so they will now be more comfortable playing under him. A similar sentiment goes for Southampton, as they are now far more tuned in with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s pressing football. Outside of these teams, arguably the only predictable candidates for a relegation dogfight are West Ham and Newcastle.
Overall, nearly every Premier League team will be aspiring to improve on their 19/20 league finishes drastically. Combine that with perhaps the most jointly ambitious and talented set of promoted teams to grace the competition in its 28-year history; next season could produce the most spectacular show the English top-flight has ever put on.
Written by Alex Barker | Feature Image by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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