Old Trafford, Manchester” (CC BY 2.0) by Sean MacEntee

Jurgen Klopp” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Terry Kearney

As the English Premier League entered the New Year, reigning champions Liverpool led the table but only just. While Jurgen Klopp’s men ran away with the title in 2019/20, the race for the title this year promises to be a much closer affair.

Liverpool may be ahead at the start of 2021 but they edge out second placed Manchester United by goal difference alone. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men also have a game in hand and are looking for their first EPL title since the golden age of Sir Alex Ferguson. Behind the top two, just four points separate the teams from third to seventh place. It promises to be the closest title battle for many years but who will come out on top?

Teams Rated

In fact, neither Manchester United nor Liverpool are currently listed as favourites to win the Premier League in 2020/21. Despite sitting outside of the top four, Champions League places at the start of the New Year, sbo.net can reveal that the bookmakers have Manchester City as clear favourites to win the EPL.

That may be surprising considering that Liverpool have made the running for much of the season while Manchester United are showing the best form of any side in the division right now. City undoubtedly have a strong squad but Pep Guardiola’s men certainly aren’t in pole position. Those odds will continue to be updated by sbo and there will be news and opinions as the title race develops. Have the sportsbooks got it right or will one of the current top two clubs claim the crown?

Two-Horse Race?

Having won the top flight division for the first time in 30 years in 2019/20, Liverpool have continued to maintain their grip and are tipped by many to make a successful defence. Egyptian international striker Mohamed Salah is in form and, while there is some speculation over his future, he’s continuing to provide the goals that have driven the Reds up the table. Liverpool have dropped more points in this campaign than they did at this stage last season and the 7-2 loss at Aston Villa was one of the biggest shocks in recent years.

Liverpool need to guard against dropping more points while Manchester United simply have to maintain their current form. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men also suffered a big defeat – 6-1 at home to Spurs – but they’ve recovered from that to challenge for the title. The top two are starting to establish a gap over the chasing pack but the race is far from over at this stage of the season.

Other Challengers

Leicester City’s Premier League title win in 2015/16 is considered to be one of the biggest shocks in sports history but, since new manager Brendan Rodgers took over at the King Power Stadium, the Foxes have been consistently challenging for the top four. Leicester sit in third at the start of 2021 and, while they’re not expected to win the title, very few would write them off completely.

Tottenham Hotspur are in fourth place having led the table for some time. Jose Mourinho’s side lost their grip on top spot following a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool and that loss sparked a poor run of form. As we have seen, Manchester City are favourites and they, along with Southampton and Everton, are locked with the other teams on 29 points.

Below the top seven, Chelsea will also hope to be in with a chance of challenging for honours at the end of the season. Frank Lampard’s men endured a slump in form at the end of 2020 and the manager may want to enter the January transfer window with a view to addressing that situation.

Whatever happens, this could be the closest Premier League race ever and, while Liverpool and Manchester United have just started to establish that lead, there are plenty of challengers in the chasing pack who are just waiting for the top two to slip up.

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