The British Premier League has been dominated by the same few faces for the past two decades.
Apart from the 2015/16 season when Leicester City stormed up the table to take victory, there have been just five teams that have usually vied for the top spot since the turn of the millennium. Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have been top contenders for twenty years, leaving other teams in the dust.
2020/21 Season Surprises
The 2020/21 season is therefore coming as a surprise to many, with underdogs leading the way in the early stages and some of the teams that are usually strong contenders falling way behind. The current season is offering up some interesting prospects for fans and particularly those who like to place wagers on the outcome of the season. Many gambling sites are currently offering shorter odds for surprise additions to the top half of the table.
As of the second week in February, approximately halfway through the season, the top half of the table included Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Everton, Aston Villa and Leeds United, with Arsenal just scraping into 11th position. Tottenham enjoyed a strong start to the season but will need to pick up their game if they are to remain in contention for the championship.
West Ham have been delighting fans with their recent performance on the pitch, helped in part by the signing of Jesse Lingard. Lingard scored twice for the team in his match day debut against Aston Villa and looks to be a strong addition to the team, which has been defying pre-season predictions and playing well. Before the start of the season many had West Ham as a possibility for relegation this season, due in part to a lack of market activity over the summer. The signing of Lingard and the strong team play over the past several weeks has taken West Ham from relegation prediction to championship contender in just a few short months.
Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2004 but have almost always been hovering around the top six. However, as we reach the halfway point of the latest season, they are struggling to even make it into the top 10. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were known for having one of the strongest midfields in the league. The team achieved and still hold the record for being the only club to win the Premiership without losing a single game, but this was 16 years ago. Performance was not up to par last season and it is not looking like 2021 will bring any more success than 2020 for the team (perhaps formerly) known as the “Invincibles”.
Liverpool entered the 2020/21 season as champions and expectations were high that the club would make a good hash of defending its title. However, although performance has not been terrible, Liverpool seems to have lost a little of its spark this season. Defensive injuries were bound to have some effect on overall team performance but most fans were expecting a strong performance up front. Some bad on-pitch decisions and a slowness to capitalise on opportunities has left the squad still with a chance of winning, but currently only in fourth position.
Leicester City are the only team outside of the big five that have won a Premier League title this century. Having never won the league previously, Leicester became a fine example of how the underdogs can be victorious and gave hope to struggling teams everywhere. The Foxes are now looking at the possibility of taking home a second title in 2021. The club currently sits in third position, just behind Manchester United and with a few more points to go to catch up Manchester City. Leicester have played 22 games out of the 38 total and have won 13 and drawn four. With 16 games to go, there is a chance that they could catch up and take home the trophy once again.
Sheffield United have been bouncing between the Premier League and the Championship for several years now, after being promoted back to the Premier League in 2017 for the first time in a decade. After being promoted once more in 2019, Sheffield United enjoyed a strong season, finishing in the top half with a safety net of 22 points separating them from the bottom three. However, in the current season things are not going quite so well for the Blades. The club have improved their stats somewhat in recent weeks after an extremely poor start to the season that left them with just two points from their first 16 games. With a couple more wins under their belt they are now up to 11 points from 23 games but, at this stage, that still leaves them bottom of the league.
It is still all to play for in the top half of the table, with plenty of games to go and teams pulling surprise wins out of their hats at every turn. Most bookmakers are going with Manchester City as the favourites to win, but there could be some high-value betting taking place on teams such as Leicester, Everton and West Ham as the season continues.