The 2020/21 Premier League campaign gets underway on September 12 and it promises to be an exciting nine months of domestic action as Liverpool look to defend their crown.
Nobody could have envisaged the events that happened during the 2019/20 season, with the coronavirus outbreak threatening to void the English campaign at one stage before Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions for the first time.
There has been little time for rest with the final game of last season taking place on July 26 and it will be interesting to see how the players cope with fitness levels as the weeks go by, especially with international fixtures thrown into the mix.
After landing the title by a mammoth 18 points, Liverpool are expected to be put under greater pressure by Manchester City, who will be itching to gain revenge, while Manchester United and Chelsea could also close the gap.
Can the Reds Stay on Top?
There was huge relief around Anfield when the Reds were crowned champions, ending the long wait for a first PL title, but now the real questions will be asked of the Merseysiders and they can’t afford to stay still.
It is crucial that a manager keeps adding to his squad, providing more competition for places, but Jurgen Klopp has only brought in left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas and there is a sense more additions are required.
9/4 to retain the title and they are expected to put in a staunch defence, but there is just the feeling they may fall short, especially with the fact City will have the bit between their teeth to hit back.
Having lost their crown, Pep Guardiola has brought in centre-back Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for £40million, an area that desperately needed strengthening, while Ferran Torres has arrived from Valencia to provide more in the attacking third.
City may not have Lionel Messi arriving at the Etihad Stadium – what an incredible story that would have been – but they look strong and are
5/7 favourites to win the title.
Four-Horse Race for the Title?
Both Manchester United and Chelsea managed to finish in the top four last season and there is a sense both clubs are building squads that are at least capable of closing the gap to the top two.
The Blues have been busy in the transfer market, adding the attacking trio Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, while Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell have been brought in to strengthen defence.
It was at the back that Frank Lampard’s men suffered last season, conceding 54 times, but the two additions should help and there is a real exciting look about the squad, who can be backed at
10/1 to win the title.
As for United, they were unbeaten in their final 14 leagues games last season and carry a real threat now with Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.
Throw in the recent signing of Donny van de Beek, who joined from Ajax, and that is another weapon at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s disposal and one that could prove to be a real hit.
It is defensively that the Red Devils still look a little shaky and until this area is strengthened, it is hard to think they will be winning the title at odds of
Big Battle for European Places
Below the top-four places, there are several sides that will be vying for a Europa Leauge finish and it could turn out to be a real dogfight for those positions.
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Wolves are all expected to be in the mix, but one team that could be set for a positive campaign is Everton under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti.
The former Chelsea boss has had time to assess his squad fully after arriving at Goodison Park in December and the recent addition of midfielder Allan from Napoli could be the start of a host of signings.
Reports are rife that James Rodriguez is close to joining from Real Madrid and he could provide the spark that the Toffees, who are
9/2 to finish in the top six, have been lacking.
Relegation to Provide Excitement
Although not nice to be involved in, the battle to avoid the drop is always an entertaining one and there is a feeling there could be a host of teams involved this time around.
Crystal Palace and Newcastle have been treading water for the last couple of seasons, just managing to put a run of form together at the right time, while Brighton and Leeds – the other promoted team – could also get dragged into things.
*All odds correct at time of writing