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Premier League Season: Five Questions for 2021/22

Will Palace back the Vieira revolution? Is there a four-team title race? Questions ahead of the upcoming Premier League season
Premier League season

Roll the tape. We go again. It seems odd to say that we’re resuming football again and welcoming back the new Premier League season when there was probably no break. No sooner had the Euros begun in June than the qualifying rounds for the 2021/22 Champions League followed suit. But still, welcome back to the new season.

The Premier League season, in particular, creeps closer to kicking off. With less than a week until the new season, here are key questions ahead of the new campaign:

Premier League: Five Questions for 2021/22

How Will Tottenham Fare in the New Premier League Season?

Tottenham are in something of a weird position, the kind that seems entertaining for any neutral, and nervy – at the least – for every fan. For admirers of the club, it also feels a little sad. Spurs put off the rebuild that Mauricio Pochettino had said the club needed back in 2019 and instead Daniel Levy opted for the get-rich-quick option of Jose Mourinho. It didn’t work, and then the club went on a wild search for a new manager ahead of the upcoming Premier League season, where they got more ‘nos’ than an employee asking for a raise.

But that’s not really the biggest issue. It’s not that Nuno Espirito Santo was Spurs’ tenth or 25th choice to be manager. It’s that their talisman Harry Kane – who topped the scoring and assists charts in the previous Premier League season – seems keen on leaving. Forced into a rebuild they ill-judgedly put off a while ago, a lot has changed for the North London club. Whether it’s for the better seems uncertain, as they open their campaign by hosting champions Manchester City.

Will Palace Back the Vieira Revolution?

There are some parallels with Patrick Vieira, who has quite a point to prove, arriving at Crystal Palace and the tenure of Frank de Boer in 2017. Both managers arrived to instil a new philosophy and transform the club’s identity after the departure of a steady hand from the Selhurst Park dugout. But, unlike the de Boer era, Palace are making squad changes – almost forced – ahead of the 2021/22 Premier League season. A handful of players have left, and that has given Vieira the chance to plant his footprint at the South London club already.

However, the problem is Palace’s start – their first five games involve trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a home game against Spurs. A bad start would pressure on a young squad, especially at the back, and for all the sense of difference from the de Boer era, Steve Parish hit the panic button at the first sign of trouble back then and abandoned all plans to revamp the club’s identity in favour of survival. Will Palace show they’re in this for the long haul, or panic again when things look to be going south?

Who is in the Title Race?

It seems like a question that’s asked at the start of every Premier League season and proved pointless by December, but, is there an open title race this season? Manchester City are champions and remain favourites, have added Jack Grealish to the mix, and may well add Harry Kane. But city rivals Manchester United have bolstered the side in the window to potentially challenging effect, headlined by the forthcoming signing of World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finished second last season, and a sustained challenge should at least be the goal.

Liverpool suffered the worst form of luck last season, but defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk has returned, and will be complimented by Ibrahima Konate, who joined from RB Leipzig. The Reds underperformed last season, but will probably have benefitted from the slump to recharge and go again. Chelsea, meanwhile, are European champions, and look transformed under Thomas Tuchel. They ended the Premier League season with the second-best defence last term, and the potential arrival of Romelu Lukaku should bolster their chances at the other end. Of course, things could take a turn and one side could walk it again, but at the moment, it looks like we’ll be in for a four-way challenge.

Will Leicester City Finally Crash the Top-Four Party?

For the second Premier League season in a row, Leicester City looked dead-cert for a top-four spot, but missed out, thanks to a final-day implosion. But the Foxes also ended the season with an FA Cup title – and have begun this one with a Community Shield win – and are showing that they’re not just punching above their weight. Rather, Brendan Rodgers’ side look to be growing and capable of maintaining a staying challenge.

Leicester haven’t lost a key player in the window for the first time since they won the league back in 2016, and have made smart additions, headlined by Patson Daka from Red Bull Salzburg. Rodgers has lost defender Wesley Fofana for the rest of the calendar year, which is a huge setback, but this is a side capable of matching the big guns. Leicester are making the term ‘top six’ lose its meaning, and the only way looks to be up.

Can Norwich Finally Go for it in This Premier League Season?

Many praised Norwich City’s decision to not splash the cash when they got promoted in 2019. The Canaries went back down to the Championship, finishing bottom of the league, but they made the smart move not to throw money at the division and end up struggling to survive again, and that was justified when they smashed the second tier again last season.

But Daniel Farke and his side are back for another tilt this Premier League season, and one wonders whether they’ll make a fist of it this time. A bottom third finish is still what many predict for Norwich, and as such, another quiet summer isn’t hard to fathom. But what becomes the point of promotion if it’s to wait to go back down once more? Perhaps it’s time to throw a punch of their own.

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