I think it’s fair to say that this season’s race for the Premier League crown is one of the more interesting and hotly contested ones of the past decade. Liverpool, the Champions, and both the Manchester clubs are battling it out. And it’s got the feel of an epic. One that will go right down to the wire. With the season almost at the halfway mark, and with the most recent results (the 0-0 between Liverpool and United, followed by City’s 4-0 thumping of Crystal Palace), it just all fits really nicely into the storyline that everyone wants to see.
In my opinion, Manchester City are the favourites for the League this season. They are, along with Manchester United, the in-form side in the country. They seem to be getting better each game. Ruben Dias has been a revelation. John Stones seems to be back to his best. And I am a firm believer in the statement “attack wins you games. Defense wins you titles”. City have got the best defense in the league (in part due to Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez being unavailable for Liverpool). And their talent in the midfield and up front has always been a notch above the rest. On paper, they do have the best XI and the best squad. Yes, I know that you don’t win games on paper. But the level of talent they’ve got, you cannot ignore it either. Their solid defense, their deep and talented squad, and Pep’s genius will ultimately take them to the top, I believe.
I do think that the Champions, Liverpool, will not defend their crown. This is a very difficult season for everyone. Having to play game after game in the midst of dealing with a pandemic isn’t easy. And you can see signs of fatigue in this Liverpool side. Riddled with injuries, they still have managed to be at the top end of the table. And even though it is their defense that has been hit the worst, it doesn’t look like their weakest asset. Rather surprisingly that seems to be their famed forward line trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino. They have been disappointing in the past few games, and just look toothless. Something we thought we wouldn’t say. Their injuries coupled with their misfiring forwards are the reason I think they will fall just short and finish the season in second place.
And finally, we now come to Manchester United. The current league leaders (imagine saying that at the start of the season!) are the in-form team in the country. Largely thanks to the Cantona-esque impact that Bruno Fernandes has had on the side. Their home form has to improve, but on the road they have been incredible. In the 0-0 against Liverpool, a draw was probably the fair result (a result United will be the happier with of the two sides). But they can take heart from the fact that they did manage to carve out the better chances. This United team has got a bit of fight in them. They don’t fold after the hour mark or so. They fight to the very end (5 goals in stoppage time in the League). But, even though Bailly has looked good, Shaw has looked solid, Fred and McTomminay look good, it more often than not comes down to the direct influence of Bruno Fernandes. In my opinion, they are a couple of pieces away from winning the title. But I just don’t see the current crop of players sustaining this run and being able to hold off City’s charge. I see United ending the season in third. But, they will use this season as a platform to go even harder in 2021/22.