EPL Top 4 Battle – 2020-21 Season
The English Premier League 2020-21 season is about to start soon and it’s going to be one of the weirdest campaigns in the history of the competition. The long pause because of the global pandemic and the delayed end of the previous season put us in an unusual spot.
Most teams didn’t have the time to prepare properly for the upcoming year, the competition will start later than expected, and the transfer window will be open until October 5. On top of that, there’s a domestic window for another ten days after that.
Essentially, the clubs will start with a squad that might go through a bunch of changes in the first month or so. It’s a chaotic situation that could lead to some wild results on multiple levels.
One of them certainly is the battle for the Champions League spots. It seems like many teams will be chasing them and the odds of the betting sites are already out. That’s gives me a good opportunity to share my English Premier League Top 4 early predictions.
In this post, I explore the latest prices and analyze the condition of each of the contending teams, before finishing with a recommended betting pick.
EPL Top 4 Odds for 2020-21
I decided to include only teams that have a realistic chance of getting into the top 4 of the English Premier League in the upcoming season. As you can see, the top EPL betting sites view Manchester City and Liverpool as huge favorites and it’s hard to argue with that.
The EPL Top 4 Favorites
Let me start by sharing a couple of words about Manchester City and Liverpool. I don’t see how either of these teams won’t make into the top 4, based on what we’ve seen in the past two seasons. They were simply leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Even if the chasing pack improves dramatically and narrows the gap, it’s still impossible to see how any of the big guns would be left behind. Especially since there are no dramatic changes in their squad. If anything, they should be better in the EPL 2020-21 season.
And yet, the prices offered for Liverpool or Manchester City to finish in the top 4 of the elite English soccer league are simply laughable right now. There’s no point in backing them when the odds are so short and there are much better choices out there.
Other Top 4 Contenders
With Manchester City and Liverpool almost certain for the top four, that leaves us with two more spots left for the rest of the English Premier League. I would split the other teams into two groups. The first one consists of the contenders that have a strong chance of placing in the top 4.
I believe that the other members of the so-called Big 6 belong here: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. They are the most likely to win a quota for the Champions League, so I’m going to cover them next in my EPL Top 4 early predictions.
There were many positives in what Manchester United showed us in the previous season. In the early stages, the team was getting a lot of points against the best in the league, but struggled to unlock the smaller sides that defended in numbers.
With the arrival of Bruno Fernandes and the return of Paul Pogba, we saw a positive change. They injected a lot of urgency and creativity in the middle of the park. That helped the front three of Greenwood, Martial, and Rashford immensely.
All things considered, I believe that Manchester United’s young core is really strong. The Red Devils already added Van de Beek, Pogba will stay for at least another year, and there are more incoming transfers expected.
Overall, I believe that Manchester United is a strong contender for the Top 4 and will be in the mix right from the start.
Another club that has already shown ambition is Chelsea. The Blues were restricted from the transfer ban last year, but they have already added several good players before the start of the 2020-21 season. Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, and Hakim Ziyech are now part of the club.
The Blues will likely add more quality and Frank Lampard will have a strong squad for the upcoming campaign if you add the core he already inherited. The only problem I see is that the manager was unable to rotate properly last year.
At the start of the season, veterans like Pedro and Giroud were frozen, while some of the youngsters were in a similar position after January. Lampard will need to make the best out of every squad member if he wants to compete on multiple fronts.
The Gunners had their worst season in the English Premier League for a while and finished way off the Top 4. And yet, the club has been transformed since the arrival of Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has brought discipline and demands responsibility from everyone at the club, not only the players.
His strong presence has united the players and the fans, building a stable core for the future. Everyone around Arsenal believes that Arteta is the man to bring back glory to the Emirates and we’ve already seen the birth of a winning culture.
The Gunners delivered the FA Cup and the Community Shield after only half a season under the Spanish manager and will be hungry for more.
The club doesn’t have the money to compete with the other contenders, but still brought the likes of Gabriel, Willian, and Pablo Mari. If you add the arrival of Saliba who was signed last season but stayed in France on loan, it’s obvious that Arteta will receive some support.
There’s still some uncertainty around Aubameyang’s contract and that would be crucial, but the signs are good. I believe that Arteta might be on a similar path as Jurgen Klopp who got Liverpool in the Champions League in his second season.
Arsenal’s neighbors and sworn enemies Tottenham Hotspur also had a turbulent campaign last year. Jose Mourinho will have to find a way to get the Spurs back to the top 4, but that will be a very tough task.
His squad lacks the depth of the other contenders and the Portuguese is struggling to establish Tottenham’s identity. He inherited a team that was designed for a style he’s not comfortable with and you could tell that.
The question is if Mourinho will receive the necessary backing to create a squad that suits his strengths. So far, the Spurs have brought a backup goalkeeper to challenge their number one in Joe Hart, as well as Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
All of them are decent players that could help the Spurs improve, but I’m not sure that they can compare with what the other contenders have signed.
I don’t think that Tottenham can get into the top 4 this year and the season 2020-21 season will be tough for the club.
Underdogs for the Top 4
Finally, we have a group of teams that might have a shot under certain circumstances, but it will be hard for them to prevail over the leading clubs in the English Premier League. Leicester came close last year and will be pushing again, while Wolves and Everton are also ambitious.
And yet, I don’t think that the 2020-21 season will leave them enough opportunities to fight with the big boys. Liverpool and Manchester City are way too strong, while the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal should be on the rise.
They have young managers who are former players of the clubs and both the crowd and the board are behind them. While one of them could fail to deliver results, I don’t think all three will. And let’s not forget that the Spurs will be pushing for a Champions League place too.
Predictions and Pick for 2020-21
The easy part of my EPL top 4 prediction is that Manchester City and Liverpool will be in the first two places at the end of the 2020-21 season. Filling in the other two spots is another story. I don’t think that anyone outside of the Big 6 can do it in this particular campaign and I’m not convinced by the Spurs.
That leaves us with three teams for two places. I believe that Manchester United found a working formula towards the end of last season and invested heavily, so they should get the job done.
For the last member of the top 4, I have to go with Arsenal. I expect that the Gunners will have a weaker squad than Chelsea, but the way Mikel Arteta united everyone around himself is extremely impressive.
The Spaniard should be able to get the best out of every single player and I’m not sure that Frank Lampard could do the same. He already made some mistakes with the rotation in his first season at the helm and I’m afraid he might fall into the same trap in 2020-21.
Under such circumstances, backing Arsenal at the price of +250 is actually an excellent idea, so that’s my final English Premier League top 4 betting pick.
Do you agree with my analysis of the EPL top 4 race or do you think I got this one wrong? Let me know in the comments section below and share your own predictions for one of the most important battles in English soccer.
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