Friday, May 20, 2022

Strongest Contenders In This Year’s Premier League

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

Although it’s just the beginning of the 2021-22 Premier League season, Manchester City are unlikely to have a free run this term with Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool emerging as strong contenders for the silverware. These three heavyweights are unbeaten so far with 10 points from 4 games and the failed attempt of bringing in an outright ‘number 9’ (read Harry Kane) might haunt the Skyblues later in the campaign.

Despite having an astounding starting XI, the lack of spending during the summer window makes Liverpool the least favourite among the potential frontrunners. The injury nightmare continues for the Reds with emerging talent Harvey Elliott ruled out for months due to ankle dislocation. Moreover, not enough attacking quality among the substitutes might lead to further frustration next year when both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane would be unavailable for the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations. The latter is not enjoying the best of run lately, also the mediocrity of Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino depicts them as the underdogs given the firepower of the Manchester clubs as well as Chelsea.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are a galvanized force following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood are in sensational form along with Bruno Fernandes, who continues to impress as a ‘number 10’. David de Gea has shown glimpses of his mastery between the sticks, whereas the addition of Raphael Varane has restored stability in the heart of the defensive line.

Having said that, they have a couple of weaknesses in the current squad. Fred has been below par in the deep-lying midfield role and an ageing Nemanja Matic is no more agile enough to feature week in, week out. The Red Devils have often been exposed against counter-attacking opponents and the limitations of Ole Gunnar Solskjær might trouble them in the decisive contests.

Manchester City's Jesus is on Juventus' radar (Jesus is seen in the picture)
Manchester City v Chelsea – UEFA Champions League – Final – Estadio do Dragao Manchester City s Gabriel Jesus centre battles with Chelsea s Andreas Christensen left and Ben Chilwell after the UEFA Champions League final match held at Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal. Picture date: Saturday May 29, 2021. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xNickxPottsx 60088694

As things stand, Chelsea are the team to beat this season. The football punters should try their luck with handicap betting and put the money on Thomas Tuchel’s juggernaut. The transformation has been incredible since Frank Lampard’s dismissal and the reunion with Romelu Lukaku has handed them a significant boost in their quest for the coveted crown. The Champions League triumph might have been a surprise to many, however, their defensive organization, the role of midfield in attacking transitions and the sharpness of the big Belgian upfront make them a formidable force with ample depth in every position.

The Blues are clinching edgy wins even if they are struggling to dominate games and their resilience with ten men at Anfield is a strong message for the reigning champions. While Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, N’Golo Kant, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku have been the preferred first-team squad, the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Saul Niguez, Mateo Kovacic, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner form an alternate XI capable enough to secure a ‘top four’ finish.

City, too, have ample options in certain spots. Nevertheless, the absence of an out-and-out left fullback and a centre forward puts them on the back foot compared to Chelsea’s intensity across the pitch. There would be many ups and downs throughout the campaign, but the consistency exhibited so far should see Chelsea achieving greatness in the coming days.

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