What a year it’s been!
And not just the grind to get through the day-to-day, but to not be able to go to watch our favourite teams live inside stadia up and down the country.
Perhaps the associated lack of atmosphere has something to do with the sheer number of strange results we’ve seen in the Premier League in 2020/21.
No one wants to imagine another campaign like this one, and hopefully by August the status quo will have shifted to such an extent that empty stadiums are a thing of the past.
Throughout the current season, the so-called ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League have struggled like never before, with the possible exception of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, although they too began at a snail’s pace.
Eleventh after 10 games, they only ascended to the top of the pile after winning match number 20, albeit they’ve lost just once since.
Pep is doing what Pep does best, and that’s sweeping aside all before him. The Catalan now has the longest winning runs in LaLiga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League. Not too shabby for a coach who some prefer to christen ‘Fraudiola.’
▪️14 points clear at the top of the Premier League
▪️ Carabao Cup final
▪️ FA Cup semifinals
▪️ Champions League quarterfinals
Manchester City’s quadruple dream continues ✨ pic.twitter.com/twgebOXXxH
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 20, 2021
The lack of a full pre-season, positive Covid tests, games every few days, on every day of the week and at various kick-off times…
All of these factors have surely contributed to why we see Arsenal stuck down in 10th position, north London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur in seventh and last season’s champions, Liverpool, languishing in eighth.
An injury list that has seen the Reds’ training ground resemble an infirmary is the chief reason for their plummet down the positions, however, the associated lack of confidence that has accompanied some performances may be a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp.
Chelsea have only really got going since Thomas Tuchel took over, and his 14 games unbeaten to this point speaks of a manager that is totally in simpatico with his staff and players.
Frankly, there’s a real ‘man against boy’ vibe when comparing the Blues under Frank Lampard’s tutelage to the German’s time in charge.
Thomas Tuchel is the genius we all hoped Lampard would be for Chelsea 😪.
Lampard's dismissal still hurts to the bones but we gotta admit Tuchel has eased the pain. Came in and raised the levels. Players we thought were done for suddenly became world-class 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/IvJNA8g2uw
— Tuchel St. Patrick (@Tariq_st_Patrik) March 17, 2021
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still hasn’t convinced at Manchester United.
Two steps forward have almost always been accompanied by one step back, and unless silverware is secured soonest, replacing the Norwegian can’t be discounted.
Perhaps that’s why significant investment still hasn’t been made in the first-team squad, which would almost certainly make a difference at Old Trafford.
So, have we seen the death of the ‘Big Six’? Not at this stage.
There are enough mitigating circumstances to give each of those clubs that have been and are underperforming the benefit of the doubt.
3 – West Ham have won three consecutive home Premier League matches for the first time since March 2019, while David Moyes has registered three victories in a row at home in the competition for the first time since winning his last six with Everton in 2013. Bubbling. #WHULEE pic.twitter.com/R8GvUTQvrs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 8, 2021
However, with the likes of Leicester consistently looking to disrupt the Premier League’s elite, and David Moyes shaping West Ham into a gritty and determined outfit, not to mention Everton’s resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti, the door to enter the upper echelon of the English top-flight isn’t so much being left ajar as being forced open.
Time will tell if this atypical season has been just a blip or not.