Brentford’s win in the Championship play-off final means we now have all 20 teams confirmed for the 2021/22 Premier League season.
It’s a landmark year for England’s top flight, as the competition heads into its 30th season. The action all kicks off on Saturday 14th August, with fixtures set to be confirmed on Wednesday 16th June.
Check this page throughout the season for all our weekly 2021/22 Premier League predictions, but in the meantime, here’s our look at the early state of play…
2021/22 Premier League Predictions | Summer Snap Verdicts
An encouraging late run to finish 8th can’t quite get Mikel Arteta off the hook for what was a largely underwhelming campaign for the Gunners. Ironically, seeing rivals Spurs seal the final European spot on the final day might play in Arteta’s favour in 2021/22 given he’ll have no midweek distractions to contend with next season; on the flipside, he’ll have no excuses not to string some consistent form together next season either. The Spaniard will need a strong start to silence the doubters.
11th place in 2019/20 felt about right for an enigmatic Villa side capable of mixing it with any side in this division if in the right mood, but Dean Smith may need to be wary of raised expectations next season after never seriously troubling the bottom six all campaign. The Villains still have a Jack Grealish-shaped dilemma to solve even if their main man stays this summer, with their form notably tailing off during his absence in the final few weeks of the season, but the ambitious signing of Emi Buendia looks a real statement of intent heading into the off-season. Another exciting summer awaits.
Finally in the top flight after several near misses, the Bees should be served well by the joined-up thinking that runs through all aspects of the club. Early momentum looks key to their survival hopes and if the fixture list gets them off to gentle start, they could surprise a few. As with any newly promoted side, a smattering of fresh stardust will be required, but this is a club with the capacity to outsmart a few complacent EPL sides in the transfer market. Whatever materialises, they look a worthy addition to the top flight.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Goals, goals, goals. Brighton look to have their goalkeeper and defence sorted for the long term, having conceded only 46 times last season (only two less than Man Utd), but their lack of a clinical cutting edge once again saw them draw too many games in a season that really should have been more comfortable for the Seagulls. If they can upgrade on the likes of Neal Maupay and Aaron Connelly, it might be less of a nail-biter next year.
A 17th place finish doesn’t quite tell the full story, with Sean Dyche’s streetwise Clarets never seriously looking destined for a death spiral towards the bottom three.
With Dyche delivering his side of the bargain, it’s now time for Burnley’s new owners to deliver on theirs. The Clarets boss has been promised a decent war chest to work with this summer. He might need to use it, with midfield an area that looks in particular need of extra stardust.
They made heavy work of the last few weeks of the season, but Chelsea’s nervy fight for a top four finish will be a distant memory after sealing a second Champions League title. Thomas Tuchel’s next task will be to transform the Blues back into full-blown title contenders, but to do that he’ll need to coax some more convincing finishing out of the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Harvertz.
With a year of Premier League football under their belts, that pair should only improve in 2021/22. That means Tuchel can probably afford to take his time in the transfer market this summer, and a few canny acquisitions could see his Blues challenging the Manchester clubs from the get-go next season.
Hospital pass or one hell of an opportunity?
One thing’s for sure: whoever steps into Roy Hodgson’s shoes at Selhurst Park will have a difficult summer on their hands, with several Eagles stars out of contract and the powers-that-be reportedly key to lower the average age of the Premier League’s oldest squad.
Expect the Palace board to take some time assessing their options, given they were left badly burnt the last time they took a risk on a Premier League rookie. Frank De Boer arrived in 2017 promising to revolutionise the Eagles style of play. The Dutchman lasted just 10 weeks before panic set in and the Eagles put the distress call out to Hodgson. His successor will need to get off to a convincing start, as it’s easy to see a scenario where Palace are looking for another firefighter by the autumn. Big Sam’s free again…
It’s back to square one for the Toffees. The departure of Carlo Ancelotti has scorched any hopes of a rapid-fire move into the transfer market this summer, but the new man at Goodison will have strong foundations to build on, if he can just improve on that atrocious home record.
The hiring of the Italian was meant to be a sign that Everton were aiming higher than perpetual upper mid-table finishes.
Ancelotti didn’t manage to change that, and patience might be required for the next incumbent to make the changes required for Everton to ‘do a Leicester’.
Leeds were guaranteed to burn out. The Premier League would expose their naivety… They wouldn’t get anywhere by staying loyal to Championship players. How Marcelo Bielsa’s band of brothers proved most of their doubters wrong as they recorded a first top-half finish in the Premier League in 19 years.
Now it’s quashing the ‘second season syndrome’ malaise that must be the target for the Argentinean, although Leeds’ energetic style of play should ensure they have a better chance of avoiding the fate of Sheffield Utd, who fell the wrong side of fine margins in 2020/21 after mostly edging tight games in their first season back. Some extra depth wouldn’t go amiss, but the future looks bright in West Yorkshire.
It was a season tinged with a sense of what might have been for Brendan Rodgers, but an FA Cup win and an improved points finish on 2019/20 suggests the Northern Irishman can be broadly happy with the steady strides his club have made since his arrival in 2019. The aim going forward surely has to be improving squad depth after that second successive late-season slump, but given the managerial chaos surrounding many of their rivals this summer, Leicester look to be in a strong position in terms of summer planning as they gear up for another assault on the Europa League.
It was ultimately the title defence that never was, but Reds fans will probably look at things in the round and bank a third-place finish after a season where everything seemed to conspire against them. Liverpool’s injury woes did perhaps expose a level of complacency around squad depth and the need for invention from a position of strength, but a late run to secure Champions League football does mean Klopp has the platform to build his ‘Reds 2.0’ with several of his key stars now hurtling towards their 30s. Fine-tuning looks necessary to pull them back closer to Man City next year, and the acquisition of 22-year-old Ibrahima Konaté is a promising start.
No treble or quadruple in the end, but it was still a wonderful season for Manchester City as they clicked into top gear after a relatively slow start to the campaign. That fight for a first Champions League trophy remains the overriding goal for 2021/22 but their major rivals will have to work hard next year to match them over a 38-game season. It could also be a busy summer in the transfer market as the club start life without the legendary Sergio Agüero.
Steady progress for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, who can look to a strong 2nd place finish and a flawless away record as signs of genuine progress for the Red Devils after eight years without a league trophy. However, Europa League and FA Cup misfires suggest the Norwegian still has a blind spot when it comes to transforming Utd into genuine elite-level players, and the pressure will be on him next season if his side show any signs of regressing in their push for Premier League silverware. Another group stage exit in the Champions League would also place the Utd manager under pressure, but for now he looks to have enough credit in the bank to be given some serious funds for further strengthening this summer.
12th place… what was all the fuss about? Steve Bruce is the Premier League’s born survivor, and the experienced EPL campaigner shut out the criticism to record an ultimately comfortable mid-table berth. The calm around St James’ Park could only be temporary once fans return in full next season, given that final league position doesn’t exactly tell the full story of a campaign where the Magpies looked woeful at times, and Bruce may need to pull some rabbits out the transfer market given this squad leans so heavily on the talents of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.
The ultimate EPL/EFL yo-yo club are back for another bite at the top flight, and it doesn’t look like the prudent Canaries will be brandishing the chequebook too much this summer. That said, Daniel Farke’s side should be stronger for their bruising 21-point campaign in 2019/20, provided they can hold on to ready-made top-flight talents in Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell after cashing on Emi Buendia,. Firepower remains the major stumbling block to their hopes of avoiding another immediate drop, with a counterweight to 31-year-old Teemu Pukki surely required to keep the Canaries competitive.
After a damp squib second half of the campaign and uncertainty surrounding the ownership at St Mary’s, it could be a difficult summer for Ralph Hasenhüttl in the transfer market as he looks to embellish a Saints squad that looked desperately thin on the ground at times last season. If the Austrian is showing any signs of frustration with life on the South Coast, he’s yet to truly show it, but 2021/22 has a sense of being make-or-break in the rosy relationship between club and manager. Keeping Danny Ings sweet once again remains their key objective this summer, but this could be a team in trouble if they don’t provide their leading man with some much-needed supporting acts.
Daniel Levy’s sticky summer shows no signs of easing for now with moves for Antonio Conte and former boss Mauricio Pochettino seemingly hitting the buffers. Levy now needs to pull a rabbit out the hat from somewhere as he looks to patch up his uncomfortable relationship with the Spurs fanbase, and more importantly, signal to Harry Kane that Spurs mean business moving forward. Keeping the England captain would be as good as any aggressive moves made in the transfer market this summer, but even if Kane stays, the new manager will be expecting some wriggle room to refresh a squad in need of plenty of surgery.
Watford are back at the first time of asking, but will the world’s most unconventional club finally plump for stability in their bid to re-establish themselves in the top flight? Xisco Munoz successfully negotiated a rocky start at Vicarage Road to help power the Hornets to a relatively hassle-free automatic promotion bid, but the Spaniard will need to carry out some strengthening up top with only Ismaila Sarr hitting double figures in the Championship last season.
WEST HAM UNITED
The rehabilitation of David Moyes in complete, but could the Scotsman come to rue a season of overachievement that may well lead to raised expectation in East London? The Hammers will be enjoying a full-fat European adventure for the first time since 2007 next year, but to fight credibly on two fronts, the Hammers boss will need reinforcements to inject extra energy into a squad that looked to be running on empty towards the end of the last campaign. Moyes already looks to be making early in-roads into the market with talented Slavia Prague duo Alex Kral and Adam Hlozek reportedly on the verge of signing.
Wolves are at an interesting crossroads, with the decision to dispense with Nuno’s services after his first rocky season at Molineux certainly catching most neutrals unawares. The Portuguese model looks to be remaining in place, however, with former Benfica boss Bruno Lage reportedly the man Wolves believe can help the club push back closer to the Premier League elite. The loss of Raul Jimenez last season exposed Wanderers’ major weak point last season. Adding extra creativity in midfield looks a must if Lage is to stand any chance of building successfully on Nuno’s legacy.