With almost half of the 2020/21 English Premier League (EPL) campaign complete, the top six positions in the table are separated by just five points. Even sixth-placed Everton could close that gap further still thanks to a game in-hand on several teams above them making things even tighter than they are now. An uninspiring goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United also underlined how nervy the title race has become, with the gap narrowing between the title favourites and title outsiders.
According to former England international striker and current BBC Sport analyst, Alan Shearer, as many as five teams could win the title race. Shearer, an EPL title winner himself during his time with Blackburn Rovers, said that he couldn’t “remember it ever being as compact” at the top end of the EPL table. Read on as we get the lowdown on the five teams most likely to lift the trophy in May.
Manchester City have regained their confidence
After 17 league games, Manchester City find themselves just two points behind city rivals Manchester United with a game in-hand on the Red Devils. Pep Guardiola’s men appear to have shaken off the disappointment of losing the 2019/20 EPL title to Liverpool and have tightened up immeasurably at the back. They’ve kept nine clean sheets in the league so far this term and the return to form of centre back John Stones has not gone unnoticed. City are becoming a more economical and efficient team this term, which bodes well for a title tilt. It could even be a double-winning season for Guardiola’s men. City are also +350 second favourites to win this year’s UEFA Champions League with FOX Bet, who offer regulated sports betting markets in the US across a rapidly expanding number of states.
Manchester United are making big strides under Solskjaer
With 18 league games played, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are 12 points better off at this stage of the season than they were in 2019/20. Few could have predicted United would sit atop the EPL table after another inconsistent and ponderous start to 2020/21, but the arrival of midfielder Bruno Fernandes has brought focus and dynamism in the middle of the park. Whether United have the firepower to go all the way and shake off the likes of City and Liverpool remains to be seen.
Liverpool have stuttered in the final third so far
The euphoria surrounding Liverpool’s inaugural EPL title victory in 2019/20 has subsided and the task for boss Jurgen Klopp now is to try and make it back-to-back championships. With significant defensive injuries, including central defensive rock Virgil van Dijk, coupled with a lack of spark in the final third, it’s unsurprising that the Reds have tailed off from last year’s form somewhat. However, Liverpool remain firmly in contention, just three points behind bitter rivals Manchester United. Getting their attack firing again will be key, given that they’ve managed just one goal from 62 goal attempts in their last four EPL matches.
Leicester City continue to defy the odds under Rodgers
Leicester City performed miracles to win their first ever EPL title back in 2016, enchanting the football world with their high-tempo brand of football winning global admirers. Although it’s been five years since that feat, the Foxes continue to evolve and have never rested on their laurels. Under the tutelage of boss, Brendan Rodgers, City are firmly in the title race again in 2020/21, with a fit and firing Jamie Vardy at the forefront, who many believe to be the most underrated player in the league. Vardy’s also been ably supported in the goalscoring department by youngsters Harvey Barnes and James Maddison. Their fluid playing style is hard to beat and they are currently averaging almost two points per game.
Tottenham remain on the coat tails of the top four
It would be something of a fairytale for Jose Mourinho’s career in football management to steer Tottenham to the EPL title. The Portuguese “special one” has certainly breathed new life into Spurs, bringing a fresh, competitive edge to their ranks. Despite dropping points from winning positions in recent games, Spurs remain in fifth place, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min arguably the best front pairing in the league right now.
A special mention should also go to Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, who also find themselves nicely placed to at least make a bold bid for a Champions League place. Ancelotti has spent the Toffees’ inflated transfer kitty wisely in recent months, adding a healthy dose of steel and plenty of creativity to bolster the attack led by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.