With the 2020–21 Premier League season almost half-done, Peter Watton, from matched betting experts OddsMonkey, checks in with each of the leading contenders to assess their chances.
While it hasn’t been under the usual circumstances, January marks the midpoint of another exciting Premier League season. This is traditionally the moment when the real title contenders emerge from the pack, and we can begin to look at who is going to make a serious bid to become champions.
For Manchester Utd, this season has represented a huge improvement on past years’ performances, and fans will certainly be happier. But, is this side really capable of going on and winning the title in 2021? It would appear they have a genuine chance.
To mark the halfway point of the season, I’m going to take a tour of the top title contenders — as determined by the bookies’ odds — and decide whether they have it in them to become champions.
Man City — 19/20
At the moment, Manchester City are the bookies’ favourite to go on and secure the title. While they were off the pace at the beginning of the season, City have improved dramatically in recent months, and that has convinced the bookies that they are the leading contenders.
The Citizens’ recent successes have been built upon a series of improved defensive performances, with new signing Ruben Dias finding his feet in England and John Stones’ returning to form. This has been matched with the rediscovering of their attacking flair under Guardiola, having finally gotten over the loss of the irreplaceable David Silva.
Title challengers? Personally, I think it’s a little premature to declare Man City as the leading contenders for the title. This is due to the fact that they’ve only registered one victory over the top six teams thus far, so their success could depend on results against these sides in 2021.
Liverpool — 11/4
Though they’re still top of the table at the time of writing, it has been a far from perfect season for Liverpool. Many expected the reigning champions to continue their dominance into 2020–21, but they’ve been pegged back by some patchy form (by their standards) and a major injury crisis that has seen many long-term absences. At 11/4, the bookies are starting to have doubts.
Last season, many would argue that the Reds’ best player was Virgil van Dyk, who was a colossus in defence. However, the centre back ruptured his ACL in October and isn’t expected back until the summer, which has left a hole in the defence. Couple this with the fact that the team seem to have lost their invincible form of last season, and it’s easy to see why the bookies are cautious this year.
Title challengers? I believe that Liverpool’s chances of winning the title rest on being able to get by without any more injuries to key players and their ability to turn mediocre results into wins. Just in December they drew against Fulham, Newcastle, and West Brom, which are the types of matches you need to win if you want to become champions.
Man Utd – 7/1
While everyone expected an improvement from Manchester Utd this year, I’m not sure that people thought they’d be on the verge of putting together a serious bid for the title. However, a ten-game unbeaten run that included eight victories has seen them quietly put together the form needed to challenge at the top. At the time of writing they are 2nd with a game in hand on Liverpool.
The catalyst behind the club’s revival has undoubtedly been Bruno Fernandes, who has been by far and away their best player since arriving a year ago. He has made 30 appearances for Utd and has been involved in 33 of their goals, which is an outstanding record. They’ve also been boosted by the arrival of veteran Edison Cavani, who has a knack for scoring important goals — could he have the same effect that a veteran Henrik Larsson did back in 2007?
Title challengers? I think people need to start taking Manchester Utd seriously as contenders at this point. The bookies may have them as third favourites, but they are in a strong position and great form. With some quality defensive reinforcements, they could do something special this season.
Tottenham – 15/1
Like Man Utd, Tottenham are a side that have quietly exceeded expectations this season, edging out the likes of big spending Chelsea to stake a place in the top four. While less fancied by the bookies than the current top three, Spurs have improved hugely under José Mourinho this season, showing the fighting spirit that seemed to be missing during the long hangover from the Pochettino era.
Tottenham’s successes this season has been mainly due to the fantastic partnership between Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. The forwards have combined for 13 goals so far this season, which has already equalled a Premier League record. And, with much of the season left, they are on course to set a new standard for top level strike partnerships.
Title challengers? While the neutral would love to see Spurs win a Premier League title, I think they may have to settle for a top four place and a return to the Champion’s League this season. They rely heavily on their top two strikers, so they will depend on Kane and Son staying fit.
The Premier League is almost half done, and we’ve now got four serious title contenders. For Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, and Tottenham, the run in starts now and any slip ups could have serious consequences for their aspirations of glory in 2021.