WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Premier League: Outright
The Premier League title race looks set to be a fascinating contest, perhaps much tighter and between more teams than we have seen in recent years with most of the Big Six strengthening their squads ahead of the new campaign.
Favourites Manchester City, best priced at 5/6, were the masters of their own downfall in 2019/20. Despite scoring a whopping 102 goals, the Citizens suffered nine defeats, seven of which came on the road so it’s pretty clear where the main problem lies.
Pep Guardiola, in the opposite direction of last summer’s neglectful action to bring in a centre-back, purchased Nathan Ake from relegated Bournemouth early to help reduce the number of self-inflicted goals conceded.
Although another player may arrive in that position, one of the keys for the season is keeping Aymeric Laporte injury-free. City always look far more assured when the Frenchman is fit, with the team winning 50 of the 59 matches he hasn’t featured in at this level.
It’s sometimes hard to forget that City kept the most clean sheets last season, a clear indication that when they conceded first, it would often fall apart and a second usually followed. If they improve on their mental resolve in away matches and cut out any complacency that may have festered in the squad from back-to-back titles, you’d expect the squad depth Guardiola’s men have to come strong over 38 matches.
In addition, another man City will need to keep fit is Sergio Aguero, still one of the best strikers in the world on his day. The Argentine is back from injury and will provide a much more reliable goals output than Gabriel Jesus who, despite bundles of talent, is wasteful given the amount of decent opportunities he is presented with.
Despite the unbelievable talent the Blue Moon have available, I can’t touch them to win the league outright as a single selection with the price so short, so will look to combine it with a couple of other team finishes to get some better value on side.
Liverpool won't retain their title
Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a top flight crown with one of the most comfortable title wins you are ever likely to see, cruising into an unassailable lead with very little of the season having been played.
Possessing the best front three combination in world football, the Reds were imperious for so long, their form only falling away at the back end of the season once the league had been all-but sown up. An near flawless home record, only blighted by a draw to Burnley, was the key stat from a dominant season which contained some glorious football, much to the same level as the previous season when the Merseysiders fell agonisingly short of that long-awaited glory.
Champions League success gave this team a winning feeling however and nobody was going to deny them a domestic title, not even a global pandemic!
Their end of season form may be a cause of concern however, especially with such a quick turnaround into this new campaign. The likes of Arsenal recognised the threat Liverpool posed from wide areas and shut off Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, putting the emphasis on the creativity from central midfield which was sometimes lacking.
If Liverpool are to be as strong this season, they need more an attacking output from midfield areas to avoid Virgil Van Dijk and his defensive teammates becoming the next biggest goal threat behind the incredible front three.
With no first-choice signings to date in the transfer window, can Jurgen Klopp’s players maintain the intensity levels they have set the bar with in the past two seasons again? I’m tipping them to finish second, as they did in 2018/19.
Chelsea to challenge?
The final team I want to look at as part of my Trixie forecast is Chelsea.
The Blues have spent big this summer but in areas that certainly needed an upgrade or two. Going forward, Chelsea created plenty of chances, even outperforming champions Liverpool on the Expected Goals (xG) front but it was a lack of potency in front of goal which often cost them points in games they really should have been taking maximum returns from.
West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton all escaped from Stamford Bridge with top honours in a spell prior to New Year despite having their backs to the wall for most of the contest, a marker that Frank Lampard needed to act in the transfer window.
Timo Werner arrives following 95 goals in 158 games for RB Leipzig, a world-class record at such a decent level. His finishing should be the difference in some of those tight matches and he should combine well with fellow new recruit Hakim Ziyech who’s creative numbers (assists, key passes) from his time in Holland were very impressive.
Kai Havertz is one of the hottest properties in the game so his marquee addition is a real coup for Lampard, who will look to impose some of his own learnings from his time as one of the league’s best midfielders on to the young German as he adapts to the English game.
At the back, Ben Chilwell provides more balance on the left and Thiago Silva is just what the doctor ordered in terms of his leadership and positioning attributes.
Whilst a top two finish isn’t out of the question, I think the Blues will fall just short and end up in third spot.
Manchester City to win the league, Liverpool to finish second and Chelsea third is 15/2 with Betfred and I like the look of that Trixie.
Premier League 2020/21 – 1st) Manchester City, 2nd) Liverpool, 3rd) Chelsea (15/2 Betfred)