By John Tinker
Twelve games into the Premier League 2021/2022 season and the title contenders are slowly emerging from the pack. Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City seem the only three teams that have a legitimate chance of winning after Manchester United’s slow start and the sacking of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. I am leaning toward Chelsea as the eventual winner and here is why:
After winning the Premier League in 2019/2020, Liverpool followed that up with an extremely disappointing season in 2020/2021. A lot of Liverpool’s issues last season can be blamed in part on injuries, no fans, and family issues for certain players. Liverpool started off this season strong with key players like Virgil Van Dijk returning from injury and Momahed Salah scoring in each of the first nine games. However, Liverpool recently dropped points to Brighton and West Ham which a team cannot do when challenging for the title. One of Liverpool’s main issues is squad depth. Unlike Chelsea and Manchester City, a few injuries can cripple Liverpool’s squad which results in Liverpool starting players out of position. In addition, key players Momahed Salah and Sadie Mane have both confirmed they will be playing in the African Cup of Nations. As AFCON takes place in January this season, both will miss between five to eight games which will leave Liverpool crippled during that period. As a result of little to no squad depth and AFCON, Liverpool will not be able to win the Premier League this season.
After winning their 4th premier league title in five years, Manchester City came into the season as the favorite. Over the summer, Manchester City reinforced their squad with winger Jack Grealish for 100 million pounds after striker Sergio Aguero’s move to Barcelona. Manchester City have the best squad depth with numerous phenomenal players at each position, such as Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva. While Manchester City have great depth, they lack in one position: striker. Manchester City currently only have one official player listed as striker on their team sheet, Gabriel Jesus. This season, Jesus has played best when in a wing position and has not played well as striker. As a result, manager Pep Guardiola has rotated a variety of players in that position which has worked relatively well until now. In certain games like Crystal Palace, the issue of having no clear striker was made very apparent. If Manchester City buys a striker like Harry Kane during the January transfer window, I could see them winning the Premier League. However, at this current moment Manchester City cannot win without a true striker.
Before the 2020/2021 Premier League season, Chelsea spent 272 million pounds on new players and many expected Chelsea to push for the title. By January, Chelsea were in 9th place and looked like they were going to lose in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid. Chelsea was left with no choice but to fire manager Frank Lampard. Manager Thomas Thuchel was brought in and helped Chelsea drastically turn their season around. Chelsea finished 4th in the Premier League and won the Champions League against all odds, beating Manchester City in the final. Chelsea started off this Premier League season strongly and currently sit three points above Manchester City and four points above Liverpool. Chelsea have looked extremely strong defensively having conceded the least goals this season. The one small issue with Chelsea so far is their inability to score in certain games. Having said that, strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner are coming back from injury and that issue will be sorted. Chelsea’s defenders have already scored twelve goals which is higher than any other team, so scoring has come from other places. With one of the best managers in the world and a squad hungry to win the Premier League, I believe Chelsea will win this year.