Premier League 2020/21: Will the Competition Rise?

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LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 26: The LED screen displays the score during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on July 26, 2020 in Leicester, England.Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Carl Recine/Pool via Getty Images)

The 2019/20 Premier League campaign saw Liverpool accumulate an impressive 99 points to claim their first-ever Premier League title. It was apparent, even before the New Year, that there was a gulf in quality between the Reds and the rest of their title competitors. The 2020/21 Premier League season promises to excite, as teams look to strengthen and challenge Liverpool’s superiority.

Remarkably, Liverpool set a Premier League record when the full-time whistle blew at St James’ Park on their final game of the season. There were 40 points between first and sixth place in the Premier League last season, highlighting their dominance over the course of the season. However, with the title wrapped up with seven games to go, the competition for European places became the more entertaining battle.

Will the 2020/21 Premier League Season See a More Competitive Top Six?

Final Game-Week in the 2019/20 Premier League Season

The final game-week proved to be an all-round goal-fest. A total of 33 goals were scored in the ten games and, as expected, there were plenty of twists and turns during the 90 minutes. In an extended and unforgettable Premier League season, the competition for European places will only make for an incredible battle next season. With 12 points separating third to tenth, a number of clubs will fancy making the top six.

Liverpool (2019/20 Premier League Winners – 1st)

It has been a more than impressive couple of years for Liverpool, winning both the Champions League and Premier League in consecutive campaigns. The Reds have managed to pick up 196 points in the last two seasons, demonstrating their ability to consistently perform at the top of their game.

When it comes to recruitment, the Reds will be looking in two key areas. Although the club are not in desperate need of players, a proven goalscorer may rank quite highly on Jurgen Klopp’s wish-list. That is not saying he will replace Roberto Firmino. What Firmino does for the team is really quite phenomenal. However, Liverpool need a plan B for when it is not working for the Brazilian. Although Divock Origi has been the master of important goals in recent years, a below par season means it is looking likely that he might be on his way.

Klopp will also be looking to bolster his defensive options. With Dejan Lovren out and offers coming in for Joel Matip, the Reds will be after a centre-back. It will be difficult for whoever they sign to break the partnership of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, but some healthy competition from a young, hungry defender should drive the pair to keep performing at the highest level.

Manchester City (2019/20 Premier League Runners-Up – 2nd)

Manchester City finished 18 points shy off Liverpool last season, in a campaign where their defensive troubles were once again exposed. Going forward, City were excellent. The Citizens scored 102 goals – 17 more than Liverpool.

With club legend’s David Silva moving on and Sergio Aguero facing more frequent injuries, some younger players have been given valuable experience in the club’s starting XI. Both Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus have been given a lot more playing time this year and have both performed brilliantly. Especially after the season resumed, Foden has really shone. Not only is his one-touch passing and link-up play exactly what you expect from a player under Pep Guardiola, but he also scored five in his last ten games.

The acquisition of Nathan Ake is a brilliant signing for Manchester City. Ake is a powerhouse in the air and also technically very gifted. Manchester City should also be on the lookout for a left-back. Although Benjamin Mendy and Oleksandr Zinchenko have shown glimpses of quality during the course of the season, City need a consistent performer who can get forward and produce moments of quality.

Manchester United (2019/20 3rd)

Next season will be an excellent opportunity for Manchester United to push on. No other team in the Premier League won more points than United since the season resumed and they were also the only team not to lose since project restart. Despite United’s post lockdown resurgence, they still finished 33 points below Liverpool.

There were plenty of encouraging signs for United as the season came to a close. The front three, especially, caused all sorts of problems. This is something that United fans hope will continue into the 2020/21 campaign. Bruno Fernandes has also been instrumental to everything good since the restart. The Portuguese midfielder scored six goals since the season resumed and linked up brilliantly with the forwards ahead of him.

Manchester United will also be on the lookout for a holding midfield player. Nemanja Matic has done a superb job since project restart. However, United may look to bring in a younger alternative to gradually bring into the side.

Chelsea (2019/20 4th)

Chelsea left it late but secured Champions League football on the final game of the season. Frank Lampard’s men will now be looking to progress even further next season and could even challenge for the title. The 2019/20 season gave invaluable experience to some of Chelsea’s youngsters. Players like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Billy Gilmour have all impressed, and have emerged into the first team during the course of the season.

Since the restart, Chelsea failed to gain consistency. The Blues convincingly beat Everton and Watford but were beaten by West Ham United and thrashed by Sheffield United. Like United, Chelsea finished 33 points behind Liverpool, so it would take an incredible season for Chelsea to compete.

Chelsea have already signed Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech – two signings that will definitely strengthen their attacking options moving into next season. Now Chelsea need to focus upon their defensive frailties. The Blues conceded 54 goals last season, which proved to be the most in the top half of the table. A goalkeeper is also high on the priority list for Chelsea.

It is set to be a busy transfer period for Chelsea. The Blues need to use this time wisely if they are to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City next season.

Leicester City (2019/20 5th)

An uninspiring return to football after lockdown, saw Leicester City drop out the top four. The Foxes only accumulated nine points in their nine games post-Lockdown and dropped out the Champions League places, despite being eight points above fifth-placed Manchester United as the season resumed.

Injuries to key men this season has coincided with dips of form from a Leicester perspective. At the turn of the year, the Foxes only managed to pick up five points from seven games, after Wilfred Ndidi was sidelined with a knee injury. Similarly, an injury to fans’ favourite, Ricardo Pereira has resulted in a second unconvincing spell. Pereira last played in the game before lockdown and missed the remainder of the season. The Foxes averaged a point a game in the Premier League run-in and as a result, missed out on the top four.

It is vitally important the Brendan Rodgers uses this transfer window to strengthen certain positions and provide competition for places. With rumours circulating about where Ben Chilwell’s future lies, a left-back will be on top of Leicester City’s list. Another area that will be high up on Brendan’s priority list to improve is a holding midfielder. Ndidi has been brilliant this season but without him, Leicester struggle to operate.

Tottenham Hotspur (2019/20 6th)

A below-average start to the season led to the sacking of fan favourite, Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian only managed to pick up 14 points from 12 games and was replaced days later by Jose Mourinho. Four wins from his first five games meant that Mourinho could start setting his sights on securing Champions League football. However, a lack of consistency forced Spurs into pushing for the top six.

Tottenham were one of the few teams that benefitted from the enforced break. Only Manchester United and Manchester City picked up more points after project restart than Spurs. The Lilywhites will go into next season with a lot of confidence and with the correct recruitment, could go on to challenge for the top four.

It is unlikely that Spurs will spend big this transfer window. The North London club have reportedly lost £200 million through this pandemic. Additionally, Tottenham are continuing to repay debts on their stadium. This means that Spurs will be looking towards low-cost players and free transfers.

The signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will look to shore up the midfield. This will allow Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele to play in more advanced roles. Mourinho has also expressed his desire to sign another striker. It looks highly unlikely that Spurs will need to replace Harry Kane, but the signing will provide an alternative option when Kane is injured or unavailable.

Other Premier League Honourable Mentions

Nuno Espirito Santo led his Wolverhampton Wanderers side into the club’s second successive seventh-placed finish in the Premier League. With six games left to play, Wolves were two points off the top four and dreaming of Champions League football. However, two consecutive losses at the hands of Arsenal and Sheffield United quickly shattered their hopes.

Primarily, Nuno Espirito Santo will want to keep his squad together. In terms of recruitment, an additional centre back will be required at Molineux. The system Wolves play relies on three centre backs and by adding to their current squad, there will be fresh competition. Dependent on the situation with Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez will determine how Wolves recruit in forward positions. Regardless of their situation, a bright attack-minded player will be high on the Nuno’s list.

Similar to their North London rivals, Arsenal struggled to find consistency in the 2019/20 campaign. Mikel Arteta has had the opportunity to bring a number of young players through this season, with the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson gaining regular first-team football. The Gunners will be hopeful of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penning down a new deal as soon as possible so that the club can focus on strengthening the team for next season.

For Arsenal, it is again that centre back issue that needs addressing first. It has been a problem for many years at the Emirates and something that Arteta would like to tackle early this transfer window. Similar to Wolves, Arsenal’s inclination towards a three at the back system, means that a dynamic and quality central defender is required.

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