Football has had a turbulent time over the last couple of years. It all began in Liverpool’s title winning campaign, which was halted midway through due to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. The season was later resumed, and Liverpool would end a 30 year wait for a league title. However, the delay meant the following season would begin without any real break in between as the FA looked to get things back on track.
There were two major impacts of getting football back to the regular schedule. A compacted fixture list which would result in a record number of injuries across the season, with none affected more so than defending Champions Liverpool, being reduced to their 5th and 6th choice centre backs. Then there was the issue of a lack of fans in stadiums. This meant no atmosphere, no twelfth man to cheer their teams on.
However, that all came to an end this season. As teams were allowed to complete full pre-seasons (minus a few players given extended breaks for taking part in international tournaments), and fans were reintroduced to stadiums. And we’re now 7 games into the English Premier League, the greatest league on the planet, and as we’re at another international break thanks to the Nations League, we thought what better time to evaluate the season than now.
Coming into the new campaign, there were a few big spenders, which was slightly surprising considering how much money teams have lost over the last couple of years. But somehow, that didn’t stop Manchester City splashing £100m on Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, or Chelsea dropping £97.5m for their
former player, Romelu Lukaku. And who can forget the return of Ronaldo to Manchester United?
As such, the prospects of these three teams winning the league all increased from previous seasons. Chelsea were the favorites coming into the season, with new signing Lukaku actually trying to find his first goal for the Stamford Bridge club in the league, despite playing for them previously. And as it stands 7 games in, they do currently sit at the top of the table on 16 points, just a point above Liverpool, who they drew 1-1 against earlier this season after going down to 10 men.
Manchester City and Manchester United then sit in 3rd and 4th place respectively in the Premier League table on 14 points, separated only by goal difference. A top 4 that you would normally expect to see competing anyway, although arguably it is Liverpool who are doing the best of the bunch, as they are the only team left with an undefeated record this season, having not yet recorded a loss. Impressive considering they have played both Chelsea and City. Especially when many wrote them off for not having splashed the cash on any big signings this summer, bar their deal that saw Ibrahim Konate brought to Anfield earlier in the summer.
But what may impress people more, is just how close it is at the top, with Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion also sat just below the Manchester clubs, also on 14 points, and again only separated by goal difference. Arguably, Everton being there with new appointee Rafael Benitez is not as big a shock as seeing Graham Potter’s Brighton competing for honors, who have had an incredible start to the 2021/22 campaign.
And just below them, on the cusp of the European qualification places is newly promoted Brentford, who have been a breath of fresh air this season. They started their campaign with an impressive 2-0 win over Arsenal on the opening day, which saw them top the league for a short while. And more recently, they drew 3-3 with Liverpool in a thrilling game that was full of defensive errors for both sides.
Sadly, fellow promoted teams Watford and Norwich City are not having as much fun of a time back in the Premier League, as they sit 15th and 20th respectively. But at least Watford have managed to record a win, whereas Norwich have been leaking goals, only managing to draw one and have lost 6, conceding 16 goals in the process. That’s only 4 goals less than the top 4 teams combined.
Down the bottom with them currently, are Burnley and Newcastle, although that could soon change, with Newcastle having finally been sold by Mike Ashley after years of fans calling for him to leave the club. And they are backed by a Saudi-Arabian outfit, who are rumoured to be 20x richer than the owners of Manchester City. Meaning we could well see a fair few changes, both in playing and coaching staff, with an aim to take them back to the top of the Premier League. Although it’s not likely to be a quick fix.
Of the remaining teams we’ve yet to mention, Leeds are having a much tougher time of it this year, after an impressive campaign. As are Wolves who lost manager Nuno Espirito Santo to Tottenham in the Summer, but he’s not had much luck following the move either. After managing to keep hold of Spurs’ overrated talisman Harry Kane, Santo got off to an impressive start to the season beating City 1-0, and then going on to record consecutive 1-0 wins in their first 3 games. But since then, they’ve become stuck, having recorded 3 losses.
It’s their rivals Arsenal though who have been one of the bigger shocks of the season so far. After splashing more cash than anyone else in the transfer window, arguably paying overinflated prices on young talent, they were sat dead last with Norwich for the first few weeks. But slowly, they have put some more solid performances together, having climbed their way up to 11th in the league. Far from where their fans believe they should be, but probably a fair placing given their performances in recent years.
Still, it’s early days, and a lot can change over the course of the season. It’s unlikely, although not impossible that Brighton and Everton will be right up their competing for Champions League spots and the League title. And similarly, it’s unlikely but not impossible that Norwich can pull themselves out of the relegation zone. But it is still close this season, with only 15 points between 1st and last place, which is only 5 games, and a win for any team could easily see them move up and down any number of places.
What is probably guaranteed though, is that after so many seasons of seeing Manchester City and Liverpool dominating and winning by such large points differences, this season is likely to be much closer. Chelsea are still seen as favorites, alongside Manchester City, but there are any number of teams that could realistically lift the title at the end of the season. All it takes, is a good run of form, and for opponents to slip up now and again or pick up injuries and it could all change.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if players come back fighting fit from internationals, and take it from there.
Written by Josh of FULLSYNC.