The 2021/22 season is beginning to take shape following the opening six rounds of the Premier League campaign, with fans and pundits alike having been given a chance to assess each side’s strengths and weaknesses.
Each season the division’s traditional ‘big six’ clubs begin with ambitions of challenging, but how do the bookmakers rank each side’s chances of being crowned champions at the season’s end?
Here is a breakdown of the top contenders and their odds to win (source of odds):
Tottenham – 150/1
Tottenham’s season so far has been one of two halves entirely, having entered September’s international break top of the division before a disastrous downturn in fortunes.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s reign as manager began with three consecutive 1-0 victories, the Portuguese initially bringing solidity to the side with those wins including an upset of champions Manchester City.
Spurs have struggled since however, crashing to disappointing defeats in London derbies against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, the latter a lacklustre showing as the Gunners claimed North London bragging rights.
Questions have already been asked about the new manager’s pragmatic style with just four goals scored from six fixtures, far from the free-flowing football that had been promised by chairman Daniel Levy during the club’s search for Jose Mourinho’s successor.
The lack of identity – plus the concerning form of Harry Kane who remains goalless in the Premier League this season – means a transitional Spurs have been priced at huge odds of 150/1 to be crowned champions for the first time since 1961.
Arsenal – 100/1
Arsenal endured their worst-ever start to a Premier League season this term, sitting bottom of the division after three games with no points, no goals scored and a huge nine conceded.
Fast forward three fixtures and the gloom has been somewhat lifted around the Emirates, last weekend’s brilliant attacking performance to thrash North London rivals Spurs having increased optimism the club are heading in the right direction.
The returns of Gabriel and Thomas Partey have provided presence to the centre of the side, whilst Aaron Ramsdale has performed well in his first appearances in an Arsenal shirt.
Fellow arrival Takehiro Tomiyasu has already become a fan favourite, but the Gunners remain very much a work in progress and a return to European football next season should be the aim for Mikel Arteta and his side.
Winning a first league title since the club’s ‘Invincibles’ side 18 years ago looks a long way off, even if a youthful side are enjoying a good moment at present.
Manchester United – 11/1
Manchester United’s shock defeat to Aston Villa last weekend halted the Red Devils’ early season momentum, having gone unbeaten across their opening five fixtures of the Premier League campaign.
The arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo raised optimism over a genuine title challenge this season, but there remains gaping holes in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
Already this season the club’s second-string have disappointed in defeats to West Ham (Carabao Cup) and Young Boys (Champions League), the notable drop-off in quality from the first XI meaning a sustained title challenge will be difficult.
It would perhaps be foolish to write off their chances completely given the personnel available, but their odds of 11/1 are reflective of a squad that looks less-equipped than their direct competitors.
Liverpool – 7/2
Liverpool are third-favourites to win the Premier League this season, with Jurgen Klopp’s side currently boasting a one-point lead over the chasing pack following an unbeaten start to the campaign.
The Reds have been fired by the performances of Mohamed Salah, who leads the early running for the Premier League’s Golden Boot alongside Michail Antonio and Jamie Vardy, having scored five goals in just six appearances.
Concerns will be raised over a mid-season Africa Cup of Nations that will see both Salah and Sadio Mane depart for international duty, the club’s back-up options – including Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi – having failed to convince on a consistent basis.
Liverpool’s do, however, have the centre-back depth that was lacking last season following the returns of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, alongside the summer signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
Almost flawless in their run to title success in 2019/20, can Klopp’s side rediscover that consistency following a difficult defence last term?
Chelsea – 11/4
Chelsea boast one of the deepest and most expensively assembled squads in European football at present, with Thomas Tuchel having bolstered his options with the summer arrivals of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez.
The former’s signing from Inter Milan has been viewed as the deal than can turn Chelsea from contenders into champions, and the Belgian has began brightly with four goals in just eight appearances across all competitions.
The west Londoners have also been formidable defensively since Tuchel’s appointment in January, the hallmark of title-winning sides as Chelsea seek a first Premier League crown since 2017.
Last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge was a setback, but the Blues are capable of mounting a sustained push for the championship in 2021/22.
Manchester City – 1/1
Manchester City are the 1/1 favourites to defend the title this season, having won three of the past four Premier League titles under Pep Guardiola.
City at their best are an irrepressible force, with a dominant performance to win at Chelsea last weekend the clearest sign yet that the champions remain the team to beat.
The failure to sign a centre-forward during the summer is perhaps the sole question mark surrounding City, though Guardiola’s is a squad that possesses several avenues to goal and an abundance of creative talents.
City have conceded just one goal in their six league fixtures so far and their defensive statistics are comfortably the best in the division, boasting an xGC of just 2.69 so far this season.
Having won at Stamford Bridge last weekend, a trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday could be a defining fixture in the champion’s defence.