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OPINION: Predicting the 2021/22 Premier League Season

The Premier League is coming back! After Manchester City had lifted their 5th Prem title on May 23rd of 2021, hostilities resume once again this Friday as Arsenal travel to newly-promoted Brentford in the first match of the 2021/22 season. How will everyone fare this season? Football Tribe Asia‘s Krishna Sadhana decided to try his hand in predicting how the 2021/22 Premier League season will pan out.

A Four Horse Title Race?

The top four of the 2021/22 season – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea – have brought in a number of big-name key signings for their squad this season.

City have shelled out £100 million to bring Jack Grealish into the Etihad, while United have brought on Jadon Sancho on board from Borussia Dortmund, and pending any unexpected curveballs, Raphael Varane will join the Red Devils as well from Real Madrid.

Liverpool have shored up their defense with the signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, with the Frenchman being expected to compliment a newly-recovered Virgil van Djik in the Reds’ backline.

And European champions Chelsea have arguably one of the most fearsome attacking lineup in the league after they had re-signed Romelu Lukaku, 10 years after he had left Stamford Bridge. Joining the Blues for an eye-watering sum of £97.5 million from Inter Milan, Lukaku is expected to partner up with Timo Werner as Chelsea’s two main attackers, with the duo being supported by the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Considering these signings, I would predict that the top four will remain unchanged from last season, but an even more pressing question remains – who will finish where?

City will be expected to retain their title however with their new firepower United could challenge their city rivals for glory this season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gunning for his first ever title as the Red Devils’ head coach.

Chelsea’s recent European successes would boost their confidence coming into the new domestic season and considering the Blues’ superb record so far under Thomas Tuchel, they could have a decent shout at the title.

Last but not least, Liverpool, who remain pretty much unaltered since their Premier League title win back in 2019/20, will be more than determined to win their second league title in two years.

The European Pretenders

Leicester City will once again seek to upset the top four. Having won the 2020/21 FA Cup and the 2021 FA Community Shield, the Foxes are eager to upset the established order even more this time out. Brendan Rodgers’ men had brought in Patson Daka from Red Bull Salzburg, with the young Zambian striker being tasked in sharing goalscoring duties with a Jamie Vardy who isn’t getting younger these days.

Boubakary Soumare, fresh from winning the 2020/21 Ligue 1 with Lille, was also brought into the King Power Stadium by Leicester, and the Foxes are now currently seeking a new defender to cover for Wesley Fofana, who is out until 2022 due to a broken leg that he suffered during a pre-season friendly.

Meanwhile, North London sides Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are also likely to act as pretenders for the top four, with the former reinforcing their defenses with the arrival of Ben White, while the latter is currently sweating over the future of talisman striker Harry Kane, who’s currently being targeted by City.

Other potential European pretenders include Aston Villa, who despite losing Grealish, managed to bring in highly-rated Leon Bailey, a proven Premier League attacker in Danny Ings, as well as both Emiliano Buendia and Ashley Young. The four players were brought in prior to Grealish’s sale, meaning that the Villains have a fresh £100 million to be invested into the squad.

There’s also Wolverhamption Wanderers, who welcomed Raul Jimenez back into the squad after a fractured skull, while also bringing in the talented Fransisco Trincao on loan from Barcelona. Rafa Benitez’s Everton side could have a good shout for European places, however uncertainties loom around James Rodriguez, who’s touted to leave Goodison Park sooner or later.

Those in Mid-Table

Barring a serious case of second season syndrome, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United could follow up their 9th placed finish from last season with a solid mid-table finish this time out. They haven’t lost a good chunk of their key players with only Ezgjan Alioski to Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia being their only notable departure, while Junior Firpo’s arrival from Barcelona could make things more interesting at Elland Road.

Newcastle United also could fancy themselves of finishing mid-table this season. Despite frustrations surrounding Steve Bruce last season, the Toon Army have proven themselves to be capable of producing solid finishes, should both Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are in form.

West Ham United will have a packed schedule waiting for them due to the Hammers qualifying to this year’s Europa League, and unless David Moyes could bring in some extra bodies to compensate for the fixture congestions, their European commitments would leave West Ham physically tired. This would lead to them being unable to replicate last season’s heroics – although West Ham’s squad is still good enough to stave off any fears of relegation.

Despite losing key defender White to Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion will hope to secure a sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, having retained both Neil Maupay and Danny Welbeck as well as having the experience of Adam Lallana to help them out. The arrival of Enock Mwepu from Red Bull Salzburg only serves to excite the Brighton fans, considering Salzburg’s good reputation in molding excellent young players.

Last but not least, despite only being promoted last season, I could see Brentford surviving and finishing in the lower ranks of mid-table. Even though they have been absent from the top flight for a staggering 74 years, Thomas Frank has proven himself to be quite the tactician and Brentford’s shrewd policy on player signings allows them to unearth hidden gems before anyone else could discover them, which could play into the Bees’ advantage in their Premier League debut.

Relegation fighters

Will Southampton lose 9-0 again for the third consecutive season? The Saints has been a consistent side in recent years but unfortunately Ings’ departure to Villa, coupled with Ryan Bertrand’s departure to Leicester and Jannik Vestergaard potentially following the former Chelsea man to the King Power, meant that Southampton will struggle a lot this season.

Crystal Palace are also set for a year of struggle – after Roy Hodgson had guided the Eagles to four stable years in the Prem, the former Fulham and England manager has decided to retire at the end of the 2020/21 season. Replacing him at the Selhurst Park dugout is Patrick Vieira, a capable player for Arsenal back in the day but a relative newcomer in terms of management in the Premier League. With experiences at New York City and OGC Nice in his CV, Vieira is facing a challenge like no other with Crystal Palace and should he fail to adapt as quickly as possible, the Eagles are in for a rough ride.

I’m also touting Burnley to struggle massively this season. And while Sean Dyche had done an excellent job with the Clarets, the club has been steadily going off the pace in the past few years, remaining stagnant as competitors around them improve their squads more and more. Should Burnley’s new owners didn’t invest further into the squad and allow Dyche to upgrade his team to match their rivals, the outdated Clarets would surely end their Premier League tenure sooner than later.

And last but not least, both Watford and Norwich City, having been promoted from the Championship last season, are more likely to go down should they did not upgrade their squad adequately. Norwich has been drafting in a number of decent-looking players and Billy Gilmour from Chelsea on loan should become a revelation for the Canaries should the young Scotsman retain his current form. However with the influx of new players Norwich must find a way to gel them all together as soon as possible, otherwise their stay in the Premier League will become a short one.