The EURO 2020 might have provided a welcome distraction for football lovers across the globe, but the return of league football is already generating frenzy among football fans who will be hopeful their clubs will pull all the stops and finish the new season on a high. But the big question on the minds on English Premier League (EPL) football fans will be if the big four will sustain their momentum or if an underdog, just like Leicester City in 2016 will upset bookmakers and win the coveted trophy.
Completesports.com’s AUGUSTINE AKHILOMEN takes a look at how the 20 clubsides have done business in the transfer window and how they may likely finish at the end of the season.
No doubt, Man City will be a top favourites to win this season’s Premier League title regardless of their inability to win the Community Shield which they lost to Leicester City. The Pep Guardiola’s team will be hoping to retain their title as they begin their quest against Tottenham Hotspurs on Monday.
The Citizens have made an impressive addition to their squad by signing Aston Villa star, Jack Grealish and Derby County’s Scot Carson this summer. With the transfer window still open, it is believed that Man City will target more quality players to boost their squad ahead of the new season.
Guardiola’s side remains potential champions for the title once again even though Chelsea and Liverpool will give them a run for their money.
July 27 Preston W 2-0
July 31 Barnsley W 4-0
Aug 3 Blackpool W 4-1
Aug 7 Community Shield v Leicester L 1-0
The Blues will definitely be chasing the Premier League title after successfully winning the UEFA Champions League in May. Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel have played some brilliant football and was the only team to have beaten Man City three times last season. On Wednesday. they added the UEFA Super Cup after overcoming Villarreal via penalty shootout in Belfast.
With the arrival of Romelu Lukaku to boost their attack, the Blues will definitely be a threat to Man City.
Having spiritedly prepared for the new campaign and played top teams like Arsenal (won 1-0) and Tottenham (draw 2-2) in the pre-season friendly, the London club will be eager to steal the EPL title from Man City.
July 17 Peterborough W 6-1
July 27 Bournemouth W 2-1
Aug 1 v Arsenal W 2-1
Aug 4 v Spurs D 2-2
Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær is expected to be under serious pressure to deliver the Premier League title this season after spending so much in the summer transfer window.
The Red Devils finished second last term after an early struggle to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. But questions have been asked if the team possess the quality and depth to maintain the same feat this season going by their quiet activity in the transfer market.
They have bought high-profile players such as Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid, subject to medical and personal terms) and Tom Heaton (Aston Villa) to underline their readiness to battle for the title this season.
July 18 Derby W 1-2
July 24 QPR L 4-2
July 28 Brentford D 2-2
July 31 Preston CANCELLED
Aug 7 v Everton W 4-0
The 2020/2021 season will always be an unforgettable one for Liverpool as the team fought so hard to make the top four and a place in the UEFA Champions League. Losing their title to Man City last season, The Reds will be glad to have ever-reliable defender, Virgil van Dijk back into the team after 10 months of absence due to injury.
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp’s ambition this season will definitely be to reclaim their Premier League title, but it will take mother luck for them to withstand Man City, tooth and nail, this season.
Despite fortifying the team with the addition of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, the team has managed to pull through their preseason-friendly games, losing 4-3 to Hertha Berlin. No doubt, the Reds are still expected to finish on a high this season.
July 20 FC Wacker Innsbruck D 1-1
July 20 Stuttgart D 1-1
July 23 Mainz W 1-0
July 29 Hertha Berlin L 4-3
Aug 8 v Athletic Club D 1-1
Aug 9 v Osasuna W 3-1
Leicester City against all odds, defeated Manchester City in the Community Shield 1-0 at Wembley to win their first trophy this season. The title also adds up to the FA Cup victory over Chelsea in the final as well.
However, the surprise winners of the 2016 Premier League title have struggled to replicate such heroic performance as Leicester City under manager, Brendan Rodgers will be facing the task of rewriting the club’s history once again.
The Foxes narrowly missed out from next season’s UEFA Champions League after losing 4th place to Chelsea in the last matchday of the league. One interesting part of the team is that they have shown some level of consistency and could just break even this season. And with the signings of Patson Daka (Red Bull Salzburg), Boubakary Soumare (Lille), and Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), a lot will be expected from them.
July 24 Burton Albion D 0-0
July 28 Wycombe L 1-0
July 31 QPR D 3-3
Aug 7 Community Shield v Man City W 1-0
Except the unusual happens, Arsenal may continue to fall short of their true identity, that is, competing for titles in the Premier League.
The team finished 8th last season and have had a contrasting preseason campaign where they managed to pull a handful of wins. The last preseason game they played against Tottenham at the weekend, the Gunners lost 1-0.
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However, Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, who recently splashed huge cash to sign Ben White from Brighton, Nuno Tavares (Benfica), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht) and Mika Biereth (Fulham), this summer transfer window, may have made a statement of intent to battle to earn a return to Europe.
July 13 Hibs L 2-1
July 17 Rangers D 2-2
July 24 Millwall W 4-1
July 25 Inter Milan, Orlando CANCELLED
July 28 Everton or Millonarios, Orlando CANCELLED
Aug 1 v Chelsea L 2-1
Aug 8 v Tottenham L 1-0
Perennial underachievers, Spurs have always shown their determination to compete for the Premier League title in the last five seasons only to falter when it matters most. There may be a glimpse of hope after the team defeated Arsenal 1-0 in their last preseason game last weekend.
Last season was also not different as the team finished sixth in the league.
With the arrival of record signing, Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta) and Bryan Gil (Sevilla), the team looks likely to finish on a high this season under manager Nuno Espirito, who is still struggling to keep hold of striker Harry Kane for the 2021/2022 season.
July 17 Leyton Orient D 1-1
July 21 Colchester W 3-0
July 28 MK Dons W 3-1
Aug 4 v Chelsea D 2-2
Aug 8 v Arsenal W 1-0
The Toffees finished 10th last season (2020/2021) despite having players on the injury list. However, Everton will be hoping to move steps further after making some impressive signings such as Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace), Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth) and Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen) ahead of new summer.
Questions have also been raised about how the team would cope under new manager, Rafael Benítez after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid.
July 10 Accrington Stanley W 3-0
July 17 Blackburn W 1-0
July 25 v Millonarios, D 1-1 and then won on penalties
July 28 v Pumas W 1-0
Aug 7 v Man Utd L 4-0
Despite having a decent preseason campaign and the signing of players such Emiliano Buendia (Norwich), Ashley Young (Inter Milan), Josh Feeney (Fleetwood Town), Finn Azaz (West Brom), Tim Iroegbunam (West Brom), Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen), Danny Ings (Southampton) , Aston Villa will definitely be on the neck of some top teams in the Premier League this season.
July 21 Walsall W 4-0
July 24 Stoke L 2-0
July 28 v Nottingham Forest CANCELLED
July 31 v Bristol City W 3-0
Aug 7 v Sevilla CANCELLED
Another team with the potential to cause upset in the Premier League. David Moyes’ team had a fairy-tale campaign last season and finished 6th.
The club also got busy in the last few hours of the transfer window sealing deals for Thierry Nevers (Reading), Pierre Ekwah Elimby (Chelsea), Armstrong Oko-Flex (Celtic) and Alphonse Areola (PSG)
July 9 Dundee D 2-2
July 13 Leyton Orient D 0-0
July 13 Northampton W 1-2
July 21 v Reading W 3-0
July 24 v Celtic W 6-2
July 31 v Brentford W 1-0
Aug 7 v Atalanta W 2-0
No doubt, Wolves will be hoping to maintain their high-flying form this season to send a statement of intent to other teams in the topflight.
However, their European engagement might prove a welcome distraction for the team and could ultimately affect their domestic challenge.
July 17 Crewe L 1-0
July 24 v Real Betis W 1-0
July 26 v Las Palmas L 3-2
July 31 v Stoke D 1-1
Aug 1 v Coventry W 2-1
Aug 7 v Celta Vigo L 1-0
Shocked many top Premier League teams with their free-flow style of football under manager Marcelo Bielsa as the team finished 9th place last season.
The team will be desperate to surpass their previous position but may be limited to achieve it due to their inability to fortify the squad with quality players.
They have signed the following players ahead of the new season; Junior Firpo (Barcelona), Jack Harrison (Manchester City), Lewis Bate (Chelsea), Sean McGurk (Wigan), Amari Miller (Birmingham), and Kristoffer Klaesson (Valerenga).
July 27 Guiseley W 3-2
July 28 Blackburn D 1-1
July 30 Fleetwood L 2-1
July 31 Real Betis L 3-2
Aug 4 v Ajax L 4-0
Another team that has failed to retain their Premier League glory of 94′ where the team finished as champions ahead of teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Having finished 12th in the table last season, The Toons have what it takes to cause more upset this season, most especially with the signing of Charlie Wiggett (Chelsea), Remi Savage (Liverpool), and Cameron Ferguson (Tranmere Rovers).
July 18 York City L 1-0
July 18 Harrogate Town L 1-0
July 23 Doncaster W 3-2
July 27 Rotherham D 1-1
July 30 Burton Albion W 2-0
Aug 7 v Norwich W 3-0
Certainly one team that have proven to pick points against some of the top six teams in the Premier League, Burnley finished 17th on the table last season and will be desperate to move one step further.
With the acquisition of Nathan Collins (Stoke City), Mark Helm (Man Utd), Jacob Bedeau (Scunthorpe), Harry Williams (Free), Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), it is expected that the team would hold their own in the new campaign against other Premier League teams.
July 24 Oldham W 2-0
July 27 Blackpool W 1-0
July 31 Tranmere W 2-1
Aug 7 v Cadiz L 2-0
Yet to fulfill their true potentials despite having quality players in their disposal, Crystal Palace will be hoping to thrive this season after finishing 14th in the table last season.
With the addition of players like Jacob Montes (Georgetown University), Michael Olise (Reading), Remi Matthews (Free), Marc Guehi (Chelsea), Joachim Andersen (Lyon), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea) Loan, the team seems to have the balance to face tough oppositions in the Premier League.
July 17 Walsall W 1-0
July 23 Stevenage L 1-0
July 24 Ipswich W 1-0
July 27 Charlton D 2-2
July 31 Reading W 3-1
Aug 7 v Watford W 3-1
Having finished the 2020-2021 season in 15th place, Southampton must avoid the poor start they made last season this time around if they must remain in the Premier League.
The team has indicated their readiness to finish on a high going by the business they have done in the summer transfer window. Players such as Theo Walcott (Everton), Romain Perraud (Brest), Dynel Simeu (Chelsea), and Tino Livramento (Chelsea) have been signed to strengthen the squad.
July 24 Fulham D 1-1
July 27 Cardiff W 4-0
July 31 Swansea W 3-1
Aug 4 v Levante W 1-0
Aug 7 v Athletic Club L 3-1
The 2020-2021 Championship winners are not strangers in the Premier League. Norwich was relegated in the 2019-2020 season and made a dramatic comeback after winning the second-tier league.
This time around, they will be hoping to make a good impact in the Premier League after making some quality additions such as (Pierre Lees-Melou (Nice), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea, loan), Kenny Coker (Southend), Milot Rashica (Werder Bremen), Angus Gunn (Southampton), Flynn Clarke (Peterborough),Ben Gibson (Burnley), Dimitris Giannoulis (PAOK), Liam Gibbs (Ipswich Town) to the squad ahead of the new season.
July 16 King’s Lynn Town W 1-3
July 20 Lincoln City W 1-0
July 23 Huddersfield W 2-0
July 28 v Coventry CANCELLED
July 31 v Sheffield Utd CANCELLED
Aug 3 v Gillingham W 5-0
Aug 7 v Newcastle L 3-0
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Brighton look heading for another tough season following a poor campaign last term when they finished in 16th position. Much shouldn’t be expected from Brighton this season and they may face a relegation battle.
July 24 Rangers D 0-0
July 31 Luton W 3-1
Aug 7 v Getafe L 2-0
Newly promoted Brentford will enjoy their return to the Premier League but will find it difficult competing for a place to guarantee them a stay beyond this season. They are likely to finish bottom at the end of the season.
July 17 AFC Wimbledon W 1-0
July 20 Boreham Wood W 2-0
July 23 Cambridge United W 3-1
July 24 Watford W 3-1
July 28 Man Utd D 2-2
July 31 West Ham L 1-0
Aug 4 v Southend W 3-2
Aug 7 v Valencia W 2-1
Without a doubt, Watford seem destined to fight for relegation this season with the quality of players at their disposal. Watford in the 2019-2020 season were relegated to the Championship and made an instant return to the topflight league.
July 14 Millwall W 3-2
July 17 Colchester W 2-0 & 2-1
July 24 v Brentford L 3-1
July 24 v West Brom D 0-0
July 27 v Stevenage D 1-1
July 31 v Barnsley CANCELLED
Aug 7 v Crystal Palace L 3-1