Just as local emergency service teams have started their own football league on the Isle of Wight, the top-flight clubs have also sprung back into action with the start of the 2020/21 season. However, things haven’t gone quite as most expected them to, which is leading some to predict a surprising ending to this year’s title race.
Until now, the biggest surprise in the Premier League’s recent history was probably Leicester City winning the title in 2015-16 despite having only been promoted there the season before. It came as a shock to many, though in hindsight it perhaps wasn’t as unpredictable as it seemed at the time.
Then in 2019/20, Liverpool’s return to league success was another story that football fans took note of. It started the season before, when the Reds came within one point of victory but were narrowly beaten by Manchester City. With a relatively unchanged squad, most were expecting Liverpool to do well.
At the start of last season, the team came out of the box looking sharp, going months without losing a game, a record most didn’t expect to see repeated for a little while. However, their local rivals might be about to shock everyone.
Everton, the club that used to play in Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, last won a league title in 1986/87, meaning they’ve gone even longer than their neighbours without being champions of England.
Are Everton Premier League Contenders?
However, the Toffees currently sit at the top of the league, having won all of their first four games. All of the other favourites have lost at least one of their games so far, giving Everton a three-point lead.
Everton’s performance so far this season has drastically changed the Premier League predictions made by pundits, with many bookmakers giving them stronger outright odds, putting the club ahead of Arsenal, Manchester United and Leicester City.
What’s more, Liverpool lost 7-2 to Aston Villa in early October, something blues fans have taken as a good omen.
Several of them quickly took to Twitter after the match to remind people that the last time the Kopites lost a game by that score was during the 1962/63 season, a year that Everton won the 1st Division title.
Several other striking similarities between the two seasons as well. Manchester United conceded six goals in a single game, Everton conceded two against West Brom, won 2-1 against a London-based team, and managed to keep a clean sheet against Tottenham.
Tougher Games Coming
Of course, these are all just coincidences, but Everton’s form so far has been enough to make many take note. Most of the club’s games have, so far, not been too challenging. For example, in their game against West Brom, a team that hasn’t won a single game yet, they scored 3 of their five goals after their opponents had had a player sent off.
Brighton and Crystal Palace have not fared much better either this season.
There are some tougher games on the horizon, with matches against big sides like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Leicester City all scheduled before Christmas. Their biggest challenge will be at the Merseyside Derby against Liverpool on 17th October.
Liverpool have the statistical and historic upper hand and are the bookies’ favourite heading into the game.
These matches will be a true test of Everton’s ability this season and will give us a better indication of whether they are true Premier League title contenders.
Of course, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea are all the strongest contenders for the league, however, some other clubs are looking stronger than had been predicted before the season began.
Aston Villa sits second behind Everton in the table and will be riding high after their 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool. They are yet to lose a match, though they have a game in hand and have had three easy opponents so far.
Tottenham is looking strong, after beating Manchester United 6-1. The London side has hovered in and around the top 5 for most of the last decade and even managed to reach the Champions League final against Liverpool in 2019. Though, despite their central and defensive acquisitions over the summer, they still have some work to do.
Will we see a big surprise in the outcome of the Premier League this season? It’s too early to say, but it looks like it’s going to be an exciting and close race this year.