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No sooner has the domestic and continental football season concluded, fans are already beginning to wonder what lies ahead for their favourite teams. In the Premier League, the leading clubs are preparing for a serious assault on the title won last season by Manchester City. But will they be dethroned in the 2021-22 campaign or can Pep Guardiola steer them to another league crown?
Reigning Champions Aim for Domination
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 23, 2021
Considering the vast sums of money some of the continental clubs were splashing out, Manchester City actually spent very wisely ahead of last season. The biggest individual spend was on Ruben Dias, who cost around £65 million from Portuguese side Benfica, although he more than proved his worth.
Dias proved to be the missing link that Pep Guardiola and City had been looking for, the keystone at the heart of what became the best Premier League defence, conceding just 32 goals. The 24-year-old centre-back was so impressive that he also won the Premier League Player of the Season award, while teammate Phil Foden won the Young Player of the Season award.
Looking ahead, there’s no doubt Guardiola will be looking to strengthen other areas, with an extra attacking reinforcement required following the departure of Sergio Aguero, who left after 10 glorious campaigns with the club. Heading off to join his lifelong friend Lionel Messi at Barcelona, as reported by Fabrizio Romano for The Guardian, he will be a tough player to replace.
Otherwise, the squad is packed with more than enough depth and quality, with little real need to splash out on anything other than another striker to fill the boots of Aguero. For this reason, Manchester City are 3/4 Premier League favourites with online betting site Betway as of 9th June, and with their resources it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a top striker join their project.
Time for the Red Devils to Challenge?
Manchester United made a poor start to the season, losing three of their first six games, including a 1-6 home trouncing by Tottenham Hotspur. However, when the team hit its rhythm, they lost just one of their next 28 games. Despite losing just six games over the course of the season, the same as champions Manchester City, draws proved the biggest problem.
United were held in 11 of their 38 games last season, more than half of which were 0-0 draws. While they were incredibly tough to beat, the side led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often lacked enough cutting edge going forward. Incredible for a side that was capable of beating Southampton 9-0 at Old Trafford at the start of February.
The key issue for the Red Devils was blowing hot and cold. When they were in good form, the quality football on display was reminiscent of the sides managed by Alex Ferguson. Nevertheless, there was always the sense that in some games, key players just weren’t capable of producing the goods.
Solskjaer already knows he needs to strengthen, with two or three quality additions needed to make his team genuine title contenders. United really need another top-class defender to slot alongside captain Harry Maguire, along with a genuine grafter and ball-winner in midfield.
Kings of Europe Battle for English Crown
Last season Chelsea invested heavily in the transfer market, spending more than £120 million on German duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. They were accompanied by over £100 million to land Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Edouard Mendy. Unfortunately for manager Frank Lampard, despite a positive start to the campaign, everything fell apart by December.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich decided it was time to press the ejection button, firing Lampard at the end of January after an awful run of 5 Premier League defeats in 8 games. Former PSG and Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel was hired, with the German coach immediately sparking a remarkable transformation in fortunes.
While the arrival of Tuchel was ultimately too late to help Chelsea mount a Premier League title bid, he did steer them back into the top four. What’s more, he also guided the Blues to winning the biggest prize of them all, beating Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League final, with fellow countryman Kai Havertz netting the winning goal.
Tuchel will inevitably be looking to add players to fit his own preferences this summer, therefore Abramovich will probably be digging into his deep pockets again. That said, the Stamford Bridge outfit already has one of the strongest squads in the Premier League, making them arguably the most likely candidates to dethrone Manchester City next season.
Reds Return & Foxes Flight of Fancy?
Despite ending the 2020-21 campaign third in the Premier League, many pundits are wondering whether Liverpool are now a spent force. In fairness, losing star defender Virgil van Dijk was a massive blow to their title defence, while the rest of the squad was unable to match their previous exploits. This will be an important summer for Jurgen Klopp and the Reds.
Finally, given Leicester City spent most of the last campaign within the top four, manager Brendan Rodgers will be hugely frustrated his team ultimately finished in fifth. Still, winning the FA Cup against Chelsea was worthy compensation. With a few quality additions to key areas, don’t underestimate the Foxes for a genuine Premier League title bid next season.