Following a fiesta of international football this summer, the new English Premier League season is almost upon us. Seen by many as the best club league in the world, the EPL is one of the most competitive in Europe and picking an outright winner isn’t always easy. Manchester City ran away with it last season and the question is how much their rivals have improved to try to catch them. Read on for our analysis of the best teams, our match predictions and betting tips.
Who are the favourites to win the 2021/22 English Premier League?
Manchester City won the title by 12 points last year from city rivals Manchester United, while Liverpool finished five points further back. They make up the favourites for this season’s title, along with last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea. Much will depend on who picks up whom in the transfer market, with England striker Harry Kane potentially on the move to one of the big four.
We’ve outlined the favourites below for you.
Manchester City 1.80
The clear favourite with the bookies are last season’s winners, Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s men won the league at a canter last season and although they have lost talismanic striker Sergio Aguero to Barcelona on a Bosman free transfer, their team still looks ridiculously strong. The lack of game time Aguero had last season due to injury reduces the impact of his departure, while the retention of veteran midfielder Fernandinho means Man City don’t repeat the mistake they made when they let Vincent Kompany go.
Key to Manchester City’s hopes to retain the title will be their front line. Rumoured to be in big for both Harry Kane and Jack Grealish, the Citizens already have an embarrassment of riches up front in Brazilian Gabriel Jesus, Spanish star Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling fresh from a great tournament at Euro 2020. In Kevin de Bruyne they have one of the best goal-makers in the league, while Spanish pair Aymeric Laporte and Rodri have been excellent defensively.
Despite all that, the odds against Manchester City are not good value. The EPL is an incredibly hard league and as we’ve seen before, a couple of bad injuries to the wrong players can make all the difference.
Retaining the Premier League title was always going to be tough for Liverpool and the loss of captain Virgil van Dijk early in the season was the start of a calamitous run of defensive injuries that left Liverpool reliant on unproven players like Nat Phillips, loan stars such as Ozan Kabak and midfielders filling in like Fabinho to shore up the back line.
Although van Dijk is back to fitness, Liverpool have not hung around this summer and have spent £36M on France u-21 centre back Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig. It’s possible they will need to continue to be active in the transfer window with Gini Wijnaldum departing on a free to PSG and rumoured departures for players like Swiss attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri. Liverpool are also heavily reliant on their front three of Bobby Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah for goals; while Portuguese striker Diogo Jota did well after he came in last winter there is little else behind him should injury strike again.
While Liverpool are better value than Manchester City, it might be worth holding back and seeing if they bring anyone else in before investing in them to win the league.
Last season’s Champions League winners only finished fourth in the Premier League last time out but have improved immeasurably under Thomas Tuchel. After a huge spending spree last summer it looked like the team struggled to gel and expensive players such as Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech struggled to live up to their fees.
This summer has been much quieter, and with a season behind them it’s easily possible that Chelsea could get off to a flyer. Jorginho returns from winning Euro2020 with Italy and along side France’s N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount offers an incredibly strong midfield. The big question for Tuchel will be who he will keep from the plethora of players Chelsea have loaned out in recent years. While Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater will probably both be sent out to spend their final Chelsea year out on loan again, it’s possible that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tino Anjorin could remain to fill in gaps caused by injuries and suspensions.
If Chelsea can get their front line firing, they could be a very strong proposition for the new season and while 6.00 isn’t the greatest of value it could be a worthwhile bet.
Leicester City 51.00
These days Leicester City are staples in and around the top six and no longer are the fairy tale side that defied odds of 5,000.00 to win the title. In Brendan Rodgers they have a very good manager and a prudent selling strategy has helped to fund continual improvement in the squad.
While Leicester are heavily reliant on Jamie Vardy for goals, former Man City forward Kelechi Iheanacho improved massively last season and has shown that he too can be a goal-getter for the Foxes. Wilfred Ndidi has been an excellent replacement for Kante in midfield while Timothy Castagne has more than made up for the departure of Ben Chilwell. Leicester have continued with their policy of bringing in exciting young talent by picking up France u-21 midfielder Boubakary Soumare from Lille, while the signing of Ryan Bertrand ensures that there is more cover for the Leicester backline.
Leicester’s biggest problem has been how they have fallen away towards the end of the last couple of seasons; if Rodgers can fix that then the established big teams should be worried. It might not be a fairy tale at the King Power stadium, but at 51.00 an each way bet could well be profitable even for a top four finish.