Liverpool and Manchester City remain the teams to beat after three seasons of total dominance but a rejuvenated Manchester United and free-spending Chelsea could force themselves into a four-way race for the title.

As the 2020-’21 campaign begins just 48 days after the close of the previous campaign here’s a detailed look at the title contenders, European hopefuls and newcomers in the top-flight this season.

The Contenders


After a first league title in 30 years, Liverpool’s challenge will change radically. The club have freed themselves from the burden of history but must ensure the 2020-’21 season does not become a huge anti-climax.

A lack of fresh blood for the second consecutive season is a risk for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who have amassed 196 points over the past two seasons.

Left-back Kostas Tsimikas is the only addition so far, as back up to Andy Robertson.

The financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic meant the arrival of Timo Werner never transpired as the German instead headed for Chelsea, again leaving Liverpool with little as back-up for the front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

However, ahead of a season that will offer precious little time for respite, Klopp has at least had longer to prepare his squad, with his three major title rivals involved in European action in August.

Transfer business so far

Ins - Kostas Tsimikas - Olympiakos, £11.75m.

Outs - Dejan Lovren - Zenit St Petersburg, £10.9m, Adam Lallana - Brighton, free transfer, Morgan Boyes - Fleetwood, loan, Kai McKenzie-Lyle - Cambridge, free transfer.

Manchester City

City will not have Lionel Messi to take the title fight to Liverpool after the Argentine opted to remain in Barcelona, but it is at the other end of the pitch that Pep Guardiola’s men needed to improve anyway to bounce back from a disappointing campaign.

Despite scoring 17 more goals than Liverpool, the dethroned champions finished 18 points behind in second last season.

One addition to the defence has already been made, with the £40 million ($52 million) signing of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth to provide cover at centre-back and left-back.

A marquee central defender is expected to arrive at the Etihad before the window closes in October, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly top of their wishlist.

Spanish international Ferran Torres had been added to a stellar cast of attacking talent to replace Leroy Sane, while David Silva’s departure opens the door for 20-year-old Phil Foden to build on his impressive performances in the final stretch of last season.

City could be distracted by their desire to finally claim the Champions League in what could be Guardiola’s final season in charge.

The Catalan is entering the final year of his contract and has been heavily criticised for failing to get City beyond the quarter-finals of Europe’s top club competition over the past four years.

Transfer business so far

Ins - Nathan Ake (Bournemouth) £41million, Ferran Torres (Valencia) £21million, Pablo Moreno (Juventus) Undisclosed, Yan Couto (Coritiba) £5.5million.

Outs - David Silva (Real Sociedad) Free, Ernest Agyiri (Released), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich) £54m, Luke Bolton (Dundee United) Loan, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru (Sheffield Wednesday) Undisclosed, Jack Harrison (Leeds) Loan, Lukas Nmecha (Anderlecht) Loan, Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale) Loan, Claudio Bravo (Released), Yaboah Amankwah (Rochdale) Loan, Angelino (RB Leipzig) Loan.

Manchester United

United shot up to third in the second half of last season on the back of a 14-game unbeaten run in the Premier League after the January signing of Bruno Fernandes.

A flourishing young front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood and more midfield depth with the signing of Donny van de Beek offers United some hope that they will not be left in the shade of their two biggest rivals, Liverpool and City, for much longer.

However, the manner in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men ended the season in mid-August, physically exhausted after a Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla, raises questions over whether they can maintain a title challenge in a crammed calendar over the next nine months.

An ambitious attempt to land Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund has stalled, leaving Solskjaer short on options beyond his preferred front three, while there is also a lack of cover in defence.

Transfer business so far

Ins - Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua) Loan, Donny van de Beek (Ajax) £40m.

Outs - Alexis Sanchez (Inter Milan) Undisclosed, Tahith Chong (Werder Bremen) Loan, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Oldham) Free, Dion McGee (Released), Angel Gomes (Released), Ethan Hamilton (Peterborough) Free, Michael O’Hara (Released), Largie Ramazani (Released), George Tanner (Released), Alex Fojticek (Blackpool) Free, Joel Pereira (Huddersfield) Loan, Matej Kovar (Swindon) Loan, Demetri Mitchell (Blackpool) Free, Dylan Levitt (Charlton) Loan.


By far the biggest spenders of the transfer window across Europe, the Blues have splashed out nearly £200 million on Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell and bolstered a leaky defence with the signing of former PSG and Brazil captain Thiago Silva on a free transfer.

More could still be to come with Rennes’ Edouard Mendy reportedly top of Chelsea’s list in their hunt for a new goalkeeper.

Frank Lampard achieved his main goal during his first season in charge by securing a place in the Champions League despite a transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

But expectations on the former England international will be far higher this season as owner Roman Abramovich will demand to see a return on his investment.

Lampard cannot afford for the attacking talents of Werner, Havertz and Ziyech to take their time to adjust to the Premier League.

However, most importantly, he must find the right balance to improve a defence that conceded 54 goals last season, more than any other side in the top half of the table.

Transfer business so far

Ins - Timo Werner - RB Leipzig, £45m, Hakim Ziyech - Ajax, £33.3m, Xavier Mbuyamba - Barcelona, undisclosed, Ben Chilwell - Leicester, £50m, Malang Sarr - Nice, free, Thiago Silva - PSG, free, Kai Havertz - Bayer Leverkusen, £71m.

Outs - Willian - Arsenal, free transfer, Pedro - Roma, free, Josh Grant - Bristol Rovers, free transfer, Jamie Cumming - Stevenage, loan, Nathan - Atletico MG, £2.7m, Danilo Pantic - Cukaricki, loan, Izzy Brown - Sheffield Wednesday, loan, Jamal Blackman - Rotherham, loan.

European hopefuls

The race for the European spots was one the highlights when Premier League resumed after the coronavirus pandemic. The race for the Champions League as well as European spots went to the last day as the big boys prevailed over their overachieving challengers.

Chelsea and Manchester United sneaked into the Champions League slots at the expense of Leicester City, while Tottenham pipped Wolves to the Europa League place.

This season Spurs will hope their slow revival under Mourinho gathers pace and will look to challenge last season’s top four sides. The north-Londoners have added to their squad depth with signings of Matt Doherty from Wolves, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton and goalkeeper Joe Hart on a free transfer. The only big loss has been that of defender Jan Vertonghen.

Arsenal under Arteta having already won the FA Cup and Community Sheild will look to move up the table after an eighth-place finish last season. The Gunners have addressed their defensive issues with signings of Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba both arriving from Ligue 1. In attack, Willian’s services have been secured from Chelsea.

However, their biggest signing this season is likely to be retaining the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has reportedly agreed a new deal at the club. The Gunners will be expected to fight for Champions League spots even though they have a tough battle on their hands.

Wolves who missed out last season have added Fabio Silva to the ranks this season along with Marcal and Vitinha. No European football this time out, could actually help Nuno Espirito Santo’s team to get back into European competitions next season.

Leicester have had a quiet summer with only full-back Timothy Castagne arriving from Atalanta. With departure of Ben Chilwell to Chelses, the Foxes will find it hard to repeat their fifth-place finish of last season.

Everton are sure to be in the mix for European spots after being a real force in the transfer market this season. The pick of the arrivals at Goodison Park being that of James Rodrigues from Real Madrid. The Toffees have strengthened their midfield with signings of Allan from Napoli and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford.

With Carlo Ancelotti at the helm from the start this time out, expect Everton to have a real go at the top six.

The newcomers

Leeds United stormed into the Premier League after a 16-year absence. Under Marcelo Bielsa, the Whites look a mouth-watering prospect thanks to their attractive brand of football. Backed a passionate fanbase, Leeds United are certain to be a credit to the Premier League this season. However, how Bielsa is able to retain the style while having to fight the relegation battle remains to be seen.

West Brom and Fulham are the other two sides promoted back to the top flight. The two sides are no strangers to the Premier League but have also frequently faced relegation in the recent past. The Baggies under Slavan Bilic having secured a dramatic promotion on the final day will look to have a more prolonged stay in the top flight.

Fulham who were relegated in 2019 came straight back up after Scott Parker rejuvenated the club. However, their struggle to score goals could be a big problem for them in the top flight.

Premier League matches of the new season will be shown live in India on Star Sports Select and Disney+Hotstar VIP from 12 September.

(With inputs from AFP)