The recently released fixture list for the 2021/2022 English Premier League season marked the start of the countdown to the season’s curtain-raiser on August 14. Although Manchester City remain the favorites to retain their crown, their rivals are preparing to shatter that dream. Here are some teams to watch this season.
In the seven seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Manchester United have not been able to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title. Spells under the leadership of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all ended in disappointment.
The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, although initially seen as a gimmick, has turned out to be the best management decision taken by United’s board in recent times. Despite losing the Europa League final, the club can take last season’s overall performance as a major sign of progress under Solksjaer.
With the superb Jadon Sancho on the way, this season will be a test of Solksjaer’s ability to take on the game’s most tactically astute coaches. It will be interesting to see if the Norwegian can finally prove his skeptics wrong by winning silverware.
City of Norwich
Two seasons ago, Norwich City set the championship on fire with their fast and smooth football. Their title race, and with it, promotion to the top flight, saw several scoring festivals. While Daniel Farke has impressed a lot of people by sticking to this style all season, Norwich suffered immediate relegation to the Championship.
After another impressive triumph in the Championship, this season is an opportunity for Norwich to apply the lessons of this doomed high-flying campaign and finally shed the yo-yo club label. Norwich’s chances of staying put this time around look bright as the well-run club have made some decent signings in the transfer window. If they manage to recruit a proven striker and keep their remaining star players, a mid-table finish will be a realistic target.
Building on their performance following the appointment of Thomas Tuchel last season, Chelsea are arguably the best-placed team to knock Manchester City off their perch in the coming season. Tuchel, who has shown his tactical savvy by quickly finding a solution to the defensive problems that plagued Chelsea under Frank Lampard, beat Guardiola three times last season. With the benefit of pre-season activities to familiarize players with each other, Chelsea are expected to fight for the title in earnest this season.
The effects of the Covid pandemic on the finances of most clubs, coupled with the timing of the Euro tournament, have made the current transfer window less busy than usual. The success of the coming season will depend more on the quality of club management at the board level than on how much they can spend in the transfer market. As this season could be more unpredictable than usual, those who wish to place early bets will do well to compare the odds and offers of the main bookmakers before making a decision.