It’s never too early. With so much doubt over the fate of this season, we thought we may as well have a go at make some early calls for next season. So here our our five early Premier League 2020/21 predictions.
Liverpool to retain the Premier League
As far as Premier League 2020/21 predictions go, it’s not a particularly bold one given the season they’ve had. However, Liverpool look the best placed of the elite clubs to cope with with a likely decrease in transfer spending owing to the Coronavirus crisis.
Whereas the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have spent their way to success in recent years, Liverpool laid out just £10 million in the last two transfer windows combined yet have somehow actually improved to the extent that they are on course for the highest points tally in Premier League history.
Credit for that almost exclusively has to go to the coaching ability of Jurgen Klopp and the manner in which he has managed to get his squad to buy into his methods. Liverpool have a fairly young squad with several academy talents poised to breakthrough and strengthen them further. They’re going nowhere and there is no reason they won’t defend their title.
Manchester United to become the main challengers
It seems as though things are finally coming together for the much derided Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer, with the signing of Bruno Fernandes taking Manchester United to the next level.
Manchester United’s league form in the five games prior to the arrival of the Portuguese read WLWLL, with wins against Burnley and Norwich overshadowed by defeats against Arsenal, Liverpool and Burnley.
How have they fared since he joined though? DWWDW, with only champions-elect Liverpool taking more points (12) in that time. It is particularly impressive given the difficulty of that run, with Chelsea and Manchester City beaten as well as credible draws against Wolves and Everton.
Solsjkaer’s record in the transfer window so far has been strong with each of his four major signings (Fernandes, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James) impressing since joining. If rumoured links to Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish come to fruition, there are reasons to believe that United will keep improving. With Manchester City banned from Europe and their aging squad needing an overhaul, could the Red Devils overtaken them next season and become Liverpool’s main threat?
Newcastle to finish outside the top 6
Predictably, expectations are ridiculously high ahead of a takeover which will make Newcastle the richest club in world football by a country mile. However, ambitions of a push for the Champions League places could be a tad eager with immediate success far from guaranteed.
Take Manchester City’s takeover in 2008 as an example. They were bought by Sheikh Mansour in September and finished tenth that season. The following year, Mansour’s first full campaign, City finished fifth before improving to third and, finally, in the 2011/12 season winning their maiden Premier League title.
That was in a Premier League that was far less congested at the top than the current version as well. It seems implausible that any of Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United will finish outside the top six. That leaves the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester, Wolves and Everton fighting it out for the next three spots.
Newcastle’s squad is currently built for fighting relegation, not challenging for Europe. Even if they recruit Mauricio Pochettino and spend £200m on transfers, it will take time to overhaul a squad, style and gel as a team. Newcaste may have to settle for upper mid table in the short term. One piece of good news though is that Pochettino might not face competition from his former club, because…
Tottenham will implode
Yes, the long term ‘Spursy’ narrative looks to be finally reaching its conclusion. The golden era under Mauricio Pochettino, in which they went agonisingly close to winning both the Premier League and the Champions League, is but a mere memory and the Mourinho Misery age is upon us.
Jose Mourinho took over and watched his team go tenth in his first game. Four months later, as the season was postponed, they had climbed to the heady heights of eighth and had a real fight to qualify for the Europa League with just nine games remaining.
Spurs fans have much to be negative about at the moment. Mourinho’s anti-football and ‘us against the world’ tactics don’t seem to be as effective as they once were, with football evolving from the dark ages to a new enlightened time.
During lockdown Daniel Levy embarrassed the club by attempting to furlough the staff before reversing the decision. Several players and the manager then embarrassed the club further by flouting lockdown rules. Worst of all, club captain and talismanic striker Harry Kane has hinted that he might leave the club in search of silverware.
Spurs are on a downward spiral and it’s difficult to see how they will pull themselves out of it. With the time between Mourinho joining a club and things falling apart getting shorter and shorter, we are already seeing signs that next season could see The Special One go into meltdown mode. Given Mourinho’s recent demeanour, could be one of the safest Premier League 2020/21 predictions.
Crystal Palace to be relegated
As a Palace fan it pains me to say it but The Eagles’ time in the Premier League could well be coming to an end.
During lockdown, the club claimed that new evidence shows Palace are the world’s oldest professional club, which immediately led to jokes about the age of Roy Hodgson and his squad which weren’t entirely without foundation.
Though Hodgson continues to do a superb job at Palace, his squad are the oldest in the Premier League. On any given matchday, you can expect to see Vicente Guaita (33-years-old), Gary Cahill (34), Joel Ward (30), Patrick van Aanholt (29), James Tomkins (31), Luke Milovojevic (29) and James McArthur (32) lining up as the defensive shield that is so pivotal so Hodgson’s gameplan. Add another year and you can expect to see another yard of pace go from those tired legs and increasing injuries as a result.
Then factor in the probable departure of Wilfried Zaha and you are left with a counter-attacking methodology that is reliant on a creaking defence and insipid attack. Palace are in desperate need of serious investment and an injection of youth in the playing squad after several consecutive frugal transfer windows. However, with clubs tightening their belts, it seems unlikely. Raiding the academy for another Wilfried Zaha or Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be their only hope.
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