For the first time in a while, we have a Premier League title race on our hands. A full-blown title race, which has not been the case in the past few seasons. Last season, at this stage, Liverpool were already far ahead at the top, and the other parts of the season looked like a procession for the Reds on their way to a first league title in 30 years.
It wasn’t so straightforward in 2018/19, and there was still a title race on. But that was primarily between Liverpool and Manchester City, while Tottenham Hotspur tried – but failed – to keep pace. Meanwhile, in the season before that, it was City who came into the second half of the season with the title all but wrapped up.
Premier League Title Race in 2020/21
This season is very much different. We’re not quite halfway into the campaign yet, despite being into a new year, thanks to a late start. But after 17 weeks, the top seven teams are separated by only four points, with the team in first place having played a game more than the team six places below.
Champions Liverpool are top but will lose that spot if Manchester United avoid defeat Burnley this midweek. That United can go top despite being wholly unconvincing, and having suffered a 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham earlier in the season, is proof of a chaotic campaign.
Season of Chaos Helping Premier League Title Race
Like United, every side has had some form of ups and downs so far this season. At the start of December, Spurs were top of the league and looked like staying there for a while. By the end of the month, they had dropped out of the top four, although they’ve made their way back since. Jose Mourinho’s side – who eased past non-league Marine in one of Sunday’s FA Cup games – are currently fourth, four points behind Liverpool having played a game less.
Manchester City have also faced their fair share of chaos. In mid-November, they were in the bottom half, and there were questions over Pep Guardiola and his plans to rebuild the side. But the 2018 and 2019 champions have found their feet again; they haven’t lost in any competition since defeat to Spurs in November. In that time, they’ve only conceded three goals, and two of those were inconsequential (with one coming in the League Cup). City have the best defence in the league, and despite currently sitting outside the top four, they can go top if they win their two games in hand.
Who is in the Premier League Title Race?
Are seven teams in the Premier League title race? Perhaps not. Southampton, Everton, and Leicester City might be throwing some punches at the moment, but there are questions surrounding that trio in particular. A lack of squad depth might be a hindrance, especially in what will be a compressed end to the season. Games will come in thick and fast, physical fitness is key, as is the mental strength to overcome hurdles.
But this is a season like no other. There’s more room for chaos than there has been in the recent past. A string of results, as we have seen, changes the entire picture. And in such kind of season, momentum can play as strong a part as nous, if not stronger. If there’s a season in which there’s a solid chance of a Leicester circa 2016, it looks like this one. It might even be Leicester themselves.
The Main Suspects
But the main contenders – barring a recovery from Chelsea – are four of the top five. Liverpool, despite their recent stumbles, are still the champions and have garnered a winning mentality in the past three years. Manchester United can go top this week and will set up a spicy meeting with Liverpool at Anfield this weekend.
Manchester City are finally picking up the pace and look to be back in their best mould while Spurs don’t look like going away. There is still a long way to go, but that also means more twists and turns in the next four months.
For the first time in a while, it feels very much up for grabs.