Sealing their status as champions with three games to spare, Manchester City have cruised to this season’s Premier League title.
Pep Guardiola’s men have lost five games so far this term, the most of any champion since 2016/17, but have long since left their rivals in the dust. So, who is most likely to challenge City (already 8/13 favourites to win the 2021/22 title according to Sky Bet) next season and what weaknesses do they need to work on to get close to the champions?
1. Chelsea (5/1)
What went wrong in 2020-21? Frank Lampard. The manager they hired for a one-season job was making a meal of his second season.
Biggest strength? Tuchel and the squad. Marina Granovskaia has done an incredible job assembling a Chelsea squad that is absolutely loaded on talent at basically every position. However, you also can’t overlook just how good Thomas Tuchel has been at harnessing that squad to its full potential (they’re in the Champions League final for goodness sake!). It’s no surprise to see the Blues elevated to 5/1 second-favourites for next season’s title.
Thomas Tuchel (3) has now won more Premier League games away to the 'Big Six' as Chelsea manager than Frank Lampard (2) did in his 1.5 seasons at the club.
He's only been at the club for 103 days. ? pic.twitter.com/4NN97nprzd
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 8, 2021
Biggest weakness (to address in the 2021 transfer market)? None, really. A striker would perhaps be ideal, a natural goalscoring type of finisher, but Tuchel seems happy with Timo Werner leading the line and you would expect both Werner and Kai Havertz to be much more effective next season, which should lead to a big uptick in Chelsea goals.
2. Liverpool (13/2)
What went wrong in 2020-21? Everything? A biblical injury crisis and two of the front three forgetting how to score goals were the standouts but honestly, it’s easier to list what went right for Liverpool.
Biggest strength? Jurgen Klopp’s cult of personality. The German coach’s force of personality is utterly irrepressible and will be essential to convince this same group of players that they can raise themselves and “go again” in 2021/22 after four years of playing flat-out resulted in them cratering in a level of burnout approaching a grunge musician. Though they’re a 13/2 shot for the title, it is this that will galvanise Liverpool as challengers.
? Virgil van Dijk
? Joe Gomez
? Joel Matip
All three of Liverpool's senior centre-backs will now miss the majority of the season due to injury. ? https://t.co/6G8MbEucgh
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 1, 2021
Biggest weakness (to address in the 2021 transfer market)? Again, where do you start? A centre-back that can actually stay fit would be huge, but you can’t overlook the fact that Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino only scored 20 goals between them.
3. Manchester United (8/1)
What went wrong in 2020-21? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s timid approach to big games. United are 10 points behind Man City and yet in more than one big game this season they approached it with a cautious display to get a 0-0 rather than push on for victories that would have seen them still contending the title.
Biggest strength? The attack. Specifically, Bruno Fernandes and his force of personality that has lifted United back to relevance. The fear factor is back; no one wants to face Fernandes when he’s out there with Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and now the mercurial Edinson Cavani. United are fearsome.
Mason Greenwood's tutor is staying for another season.
Wayne Rooney records, watch out. ? https://t.co/C8Sm5qa2zH
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2021
Biggest weakness (to address in the 2021 transfer market)? Defensive midfield. Part of why Solskjaer has to be so timid in big games is because if he opens up even a little his limited midfield options will be exposed brutally. A top-class defensive midfielder, of which there are three in the Premier League who you’d class as “gettable” in the market, is essential. A right-winger, too, but a pivot would be what turns United into genuine title contenders, improving on their current 8/1 fourth-favourite odds (if you include Man City) with Sky Bet in the process.
4. Leicester City (33/1)
What went wrong in 2020-21? Nothing, really. Given the talent available to them, they have done superbly.
Biggest strength? Brendan Rodgers’ system of play. Rodgers has been able to seamlessly integrate young players into his team (Wesley Fofana, James Justin, Luke Thomas, etc.) and navigate the decline of Jamie Vardy’s goalscoring prowess with relative ease.
Only Kelechi Ịheanachọ (13) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Jesse Lingard (11) since he made his West Ham debut.
Bruno is a fan. https://t.co/bB86SPRFRF
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 11, 2021
Biggest weakness (to address in the 2021 transfer market)? Another goalscorer. As much as Kelechi Iheanacho has helped cover for Vardy’s lack of goals, Rodgers will know that he needs more goals if he is to take the Foxes to the next level.
5. Tottenham Hotspur (40/1)
What went wrong in 2020-21? José Mourinho. The Portuguese coach started the season well but when things started going against his team, they collapsed into a bitter morass of paranoia and anarchy. Spurs have to get their next managerial appointment right.
Biggest strength? The squad. A huge part of why Mourinho was able to do so well was because Spurs’ squad is absurdly stacked. Having Harry Kane and Heung-min Son in the same team feels like cheating.
Most goal combinations in a Premier League season:
◉ Harry Kane & Son Heung-min (14)
◎ Alan Shearer & Chris Sutton (13)
◎ Ryan Fraser & Callum Wilson (12)
◎ Les Ferdinand & Kevin Gallen (11)
◎ Alan Shearer & Mike Newell (11)
The Spurs duo make history. https://t.co/TEKnUFkMDD
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2021
Biggest weakness (to address in the 2021 transfer market)? Defence. Spurs’ midfield and attack are stacked but their options at the back are less than stellar. Alright, you’d expect Matt Doherty to come good but Spurs could (should?) sign new players everywhere else.