The 2019/20 Premier League title race has been over as a contest since the start of the year and Liverpool confirmed their champions status with seven games to spare when Chelsea beat Manchester City on June 25.
As the campaign winds to a close, attention will soon turn to next season as the Premier League’s big clubs prepare for another assault on the title. Will City reboot and wrest the trophy back? Can Manchester United and Chelsea close the gap to make it a four-way title race?
There will be a seven-week break between seasons, and with no European Championships or Copa America to keep football bettors entertained, you could be tempted to turn to play casino games and tweak your roulette strategy. Alternatively, use the downtime to prepare your futures bets for when the new campaign gets underway.
So, with that in mind, here is an early look at the futures market for the 2020/21 Premier League champions.
Manchester City (evens)
After two utterly remarkable seasons that saw City be spoken of as one of the great English teams of all time, this season has, by comparison, been a major disappointment.
City were 23 points behind Liverpool when the Reds clinched the title, losing nine games.
A failure to replace captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany coupled with the long-term injury of Aymeric Laporte made City susceptible in defence, and despite hugely outscoring Liverpool, there were too many games where wastefulness proved costly.
But despite the huge points difference this season, City have been installed as favourites to win back the title in 2021. With the two-year Champions League ban overturned, any prospect of a mass exodus of top stars has been put to bed and Guardiola is expected to strengthen in the transfer market.
A new central defender is a top priority and perhaps a holding midfielder after a disappointing debut campaign from Rodri. Exciting academy talent Phil Foden will continue his rapid rise and attempt to fill the sizeable boots of David Silva. It will be interesting to see if Guardiola enters the market for a new striker. Sergio Aguero’s injuries have hurt City, while Gabriel Jesus has not produced the constant stream of goals required from a No. 9.
City are expected to bounce back in a big way next season, but much will depend on a successful summer of recruitment. Get that right – and keep the top players fit – and City may well live up to their short odds.
History beckoned for Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team and while they fell short of 100 points and their perfect home record was ended by the 1-1 draw with Burnley, that should not distract from an incredible season.
Winning the title – their first English top-flight championship in 30 years – with seven games remaining is testament to just how dominant Liverpool have been.
The challenge now is whether the Reds can emulate their heroics and successfully defend the trophy. Klopp is also presented with the dilemma of where to improve on a team that has been near-perfect over the last two seasons, one that is now the English, European, and world champions.
The German has already insisted that Liverpool will not be making any big investments in the transfer market, although the expected arrival of Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich will add another level of quality to the middle of the park.
Liverpool were also fortunate with injuries this season. None of their top stars – in particular the front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino, and defender Virgil van Dijk – spent any considerable time on the sidelines.
The current futures odds of 7-4 reflect that lack of squad depth compared to City. But Liverpool were unstoppable this year, and the squad seems so settled under Klopp, that a successful title defence would surprise no one.
Manchester United (8-1)
The drastic jump from Liverpool’s odds to Manchester United’s indicates that the bookies believe next season will be another two-horse race.
United have been one of the stand-out teams since January, coinciding with the arrival of Portuguese midfield star Bruno Fernandes. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also landed on a fearsome attack of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood, while the return to fitness of Paul Pogba has provided some much-needed class to midfield.
However, glaring problems remain and how well Solskjaer addresses those weaknesses in the off-season will go a long way to determining United’s title credentials.
Goalkeeper David de Gea, for so long United’s best player, has become a liability over the past two seasons and the defence in front of the Spaniard needs upgrading, namely a solid partner for Harry Maguire.
United still seem way off being able to recapture past glories, but a good summer should see them at least close the gap on Liverpool and City.
Chelsea have exceeded all expectations this season. The Blues look set to seal a top four place and are in the FA Cup final. These achievements are in stark contrast to the pessimism surrounding the club last summer when star player Eden Hazard departed for Real Madrid and a transfer ban meant no replacements could be signed.
Frank Lampard has already been busy strengthening his squad for next season, and the arrivals of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig has understandably got the fans buzzing with excitement. Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Kavertz is expected to follow the duo to Stamfords Bridge.
Like United, though, Chelsea have some key weaknesses that need fixing if they are to mount a serious title challenge in 2020/21.
Similar to United, there is an issue at goalkeeper that needs fixing. Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive keeper, has struggled to convince, while central defence and left-back have also been problem areas.
If Chelsea can sign defensive recruits to match the attacking signings of Ziyech and Werner, then it could be an exciting season for the Londoners. Will it be enough to win the title? The 14-1 odds suggest no, but they should get closer.