2020-2021 Premier League Predictions

by Rohan Badani

Which team has the talent to win it all?

September 12th, 2020 marked a start to a Premier League season like no other, but one constant remains: twenty teams fighting for glory, all hoping to lift the trophy come spring. Without fans influencing the outcomes of games, each match will come down to the twenty-two players on the pitch and their managers. This said, here are the teams destined to finish in the top 6 for this season and pull off a surprise season:

6. Manchester United

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In recent years, Manchester United has spent large sums of money in the hopes of bringing the team back to their championship-winning days. During this summer’s transfer window, United signed Donny van de Beek, Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, and Amad Diallo, but they were unable to sign the 20-year old English star Jadon Sancho. Although they purchased a promising, 20-year old midfielder in van de Beek, Manchester United has simply made fewer moves than the clubs ranked ahead of them. The club spent $236 million USD during the 2019-20 campaign, but have underwhelmed their fans after making only three signings over $10 million coming into this season. With a talented attack consisting of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford, United hopes to score a lot of goals this season. The biggest concerns for Manchester United are their team chemistry—which has collapsed in recent years— and their struggling defense, who have conceded almost 4 goals per match during the beginning of the season including a dreadful 6-1 loss to Tottenham. With an unsatisfactory coach in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, these struggles may continue and it could take quite some time before United reaches their full potential.

5. Arsenal

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Similar to Manchester United, Arsenal has only made two major transfers entering the 2020/21 campaign. Arsenal spent $28 million to sign Brazilian defender Gabriel from Lille, who has already established himself as a key component to their defense, and Thomas Partey for $55 million from Atletico Madrid who hopes to prove himself as a strong midfielder on this squad. Arsenal were also able to sign Willian from Chelsea as a free transfer who looks to add pace and skill to Arsenal’s front three. This season, Dani Ceballos returns from injury in hopes of creating a new dynamic in the midfield. Arsenal also have one of the most complete attacks in the league with Aubameyang and Lacazette, a top-notch goalkeeper in Brandt Leno, however, they have an unstable defense that looks to improve this season. With two astonishing wins vs Liverpool before the start of the Premier League season, Arsenal entered the EPL in strong form. They proceeded to start their Premier League season with two straight wins and then travelled to Leicester and posted a commanding 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup. So far, they seem to be a strong team, and with a new coach in Mikel Arteta, (from Manchester City) Arsenal hopes they can throw away recent years of choking, and finish as strong as they start. As a rebuilding team that hasn’t finished in the top 4 since Leicester City won the EPL in 2016, Arsenal may have to wait another year before qualifying for the Champions League.

4. Tottenham Hotspur

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After making the UEFA Champions League (UCL) final in 2019, Tottenham underperformed during the 2019-20 season. They were fortunate enough to finish 6th in the league due to success only at the very end of the season and were eliminated by RB Leipzig during the UCL Round of 16. Prior to this season, new coach José Mourinho made his mark on the club by spending $104 million to sign Giovani Lo Celso, Reguilón, Matt Doherty, and Gareth Bale. Tottenham lost their first EPL match of the season to a strong Everton team, but bounced back to beat Southampton 5-2 in the following match. Son Heung-min scored an incredible four goals, showing us that he truly is a world class player. Harry Kane and Son are making a case to be the top duo in the Premier League and showed that against Manchester United in a humiliating 6-1 win. Tottenham’s defense is also one of the strongest in the EPL with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, and Serge Aurier, as well as their new transfers: Doherty and Reguilón. Once Spurs' recent transfers are fully integrated into the squad, the team could have a strong Premier League campaign.

3. Chelsea

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After finishing 4th in the EPL last year, Chelsea spent a substantial $271 million during the transfer window. Although Chelsea already had strong young talent in Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, the club signed several more young players during the transfer window who have already proven that they can compete at the highest levels. Chelsea signed Bundesliga goal machine Timo Werner, 21-year-old wonderkid Kai Havertz, Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, and PSG veteran Thiago Silva. Chelsea should work to develop all their talent this year; as a result Christian Pulisic and other young players should emerge into household names. The issue, however, with Chelsea’s transfer decisions is their struggles on defense. They invested in numerous midfielders and forwards, but other than signing Chilwell and new goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, they have done little to address their defense that has been losing them games. To start the season, Chelsea’s offense has scored 13 goals in 5 matches, the second highest in the league, and their defense looks improved, but still not of high enough quality.Assuming Chelsea’s management provides their players the means to improve, Chelsea is poised to make a strong run. Chelsea will most likely start slow as they integrate all the new talent and fix their defense, but in the second half of the season, Chelsea may be one of the best teams, leading to what could be third place finish.

2. Liverpool

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The defending Premier League Champions, Liverpool, come in at 2nd place in the EPL predictions. Liverpool started off the season with three strong wins, but all of that was wiped away when they lost 7-2 against Aston Villa, a team that was fighting to stay in the EPL last season. Although Liverpool may have the most talented team in the league, they lack depth and internal competitiveness. Liverpool virtually starts the same players each game with little to no variation. Thus, whenever their starters are injured, manager Jurgen Klopp often struggles to find a consistent replacement. Liverpool lacks the depth of their greatest competition, Manchester City, a team that switches their starting lineup from game to game. Due to their depth of talent, City has a competitive group of players which includes several young players who work hard to earn a spot in the starting eleven. On the other hand, Liverpool players don’t work as hard to gain a starting spot, which means they will have less room to grow as a team. Liverpool has attempted to create more squad competition through the signings of Thiago Alcantara from defending UCL champions Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota from the Wolverhampton Wanderers, but they still lack the depth to compete with their rivals throughout the course of a nine month season. With these two signings and the already talented Liverpool team, they have enough to be extremely competitive, however, they lack the depth that would give them the final kick to lift the trophy at the end of the season.

1. Manchester City

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Manchester City has finished in the top 4 of the EPL for the last 10 years. City had an underwhelming season last year coming second in the Premier League and losing to Lyon in the UCL quarter finals. After such a disappointing season, we can expect Pep Guardiola and his squad to come back stronger. With such a deep squad of stars and youngsters, Guardiola has many options at his disposal, like Foden, de Bruyne, Sterling, Mahrez, Silva, Aguero, and many more. Even with the existing talent, during the offseason, Pep and Man City went out and bought 2 center-backs Nathan Aké from Bournemouth and Ruben Dias from Benfica for a astounding total of $124 million. With these new signings, Pep tries to address their recent defensive struggles. They also purchased young Spanish winger Ferran Torres from Valencia. When pairing the new signings with City’s existing explosive players, we see a team that has plenty of talent and can win it all. City has been off to a somewhat slow start, but after beating Arsenal, they are well on their way to return to top form, they have the coaching, talent, and chemistry to win the league for the third time in 4 years.

Teams that will surprise us this season:

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Last year it was Sheffield United, 2019 was the Wolves, this year many teams hope to outperform their projections, especially the three teams coming up from relegation who hope to become the Wolves of this season. Which teams may shock the world this season? First, newly promoted Leeds United could produce an unexpected Premier League finish.. Leeds has started off their season with two wins and a loss to Liverpool while still managing to score three goals at Anfield. They then faced Manchester City in a 1-1 draw that many are calling the best game of the season thus far. Leeds were by far the better team on the pitch as they put up more shots on target and possession during the match. During the transfer window, Leeds spent as much money as big clubs like Liverpool and Man City to sign Rodrigo, Diego Llorente, and Helder Costa. With these new signings, Leeds scored seven goals in their first two matches and may be an exciting team to look out for this season. Another team that could surprise us is Everton. Everton has now won the first seven competitive fixtures of their season for the first time in the last 126 years. Everton started off the season with a 1-0 win against Tottenham and since have been rolling. New transfer James Rodriguez is giving Everton fans hope that they may crack into the top 6 or even the top 4 this season. Crystal Palace has additionally made the front covers of some newspapers after starting off the season with 2 wins including a commanding 3-1 win against Manchester United. Crystal Palace gave up their first loss to a strong Everton team, but have still shown that they are willing to give it their all this year. As a team built around their attack consisting of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend, Crystal Palace is hungry to score goals and make a name for themselves. As the Premier League continues, be sure to look out for these three teams hoping to surprise soccer fans during this unprecedented season.