Football writers debate Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City’s Premier League chances
Premier League football behind closed doors has resulted in some pretty wild results and performances so far this season.
Liverpool have been beaten 7-2 by Dean Smith's Aston Villa, Arsenal have lost three home matches on the spin, Jose Mourinho is back at the top of the tree and Chelsea have finally sorted their defensive frailties.
But we are no clearer to knowing who will be crowned champions at the business end of the 2020/21 campaign.
A measly six points separate Spurs and Manchester City, who sit first and 10th respectively.
So we asked the Daily Star Sport writers to take a punt on who will emerge victorious in May 2021.
Aaron Stokes – Manchester City
My heart yearns to see Jose Mourinho lift a Premier League again… but my head says there is no way Tottenham will be able to continue this run, while also keeping Harry Kane fit for a full campaign.
Likewise, Liverpool's defensive injury list continues to mount – and I'm not sure a backline of James Milner, Joel Matip, Nat Phillips and Andy Robertson will do them any favours in the long run.
Arsenal are gone at the game, Manchester United are too inconsistent and while Chelsea have fixed their problems at the back, I'm not convinced Lampard can steer the Blues to the crown.
Therefore, through a process of elimination, I'll say Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola's men haven't enjoyed the best start to the season but if they can continue to click like they did on Saturday, they could romp what looks like an open-looking title race.
Ollie Salt – Liverpool
While it seems unlikely they'll run away with it again this season, Jurgen Klopp's champions remain the team to beat in the title race and still find themselves up in second without reaching top gear.
Even the worst injury crisis in the league hasn't derailed them, with wins over Sheffield United, West Ham and Leicester, as well as respectable draws away at Manchester City and Brighton, coming since Virgil van Dijk suffered his potentially season-ending injury away at Everton last month.
If they're still near the top of the table by the time most of their crocked stars return to full fitness, and when Klopp perhaps adds a new centre-half to his ranks in January, Liverpool will be in a strong position to pull away and retain their crown.
Jack Staplehurst – Manchester City
The competitiveness of the new season has been a breach of fresh air, but a lot boils down to the dramatic situation of 2020.
Injuries, shock results – they can largely be attributed to the effects of covid-19. So consistency and who can stick it out until May will be key.
To do so, squad depth is essential, and while Liverpool have coped admirably without key men, this can’t last forever, especially when factoring in other cup competitions.
Spurs and Chelsea have hope, but whether they have the capabilities to withstand a title charge all season is another matter.
City have been there and done it, and have talent throughout their squad. If they can settle down now off the back of beating Burnley 5-0, the title can be theirs in the long run.
Rhys Daly – Chelsea
Although it raised some eyebrows at the start of the season, I'm sticking with my original prediction of Chelsea.
Frank Lampard's side have shown that they can both score goals and keep talented opposition at bay, and that is without seeing the peak levels of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz or Christian Pulisic so far this season.
While Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva look to have title-winning credentials, the duo of Ben Chilwell and Reece James continue to impress with the support of the solid N'Golo Kante in midfield.
With Champions League progression now secured, Chelsea can build on their draw against Tottenham by putting together a run of victories.
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Matthew Cooper – Liverpool
The defending champions have been beset by injury problems and, while the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are big losses, Liverpool should still have enough quality to see of their challengers.
Manchester City have struggled to reach top gear so far, while Jose Mourinho's Tottenham and Frank Lampard's Chelsea are still works in progress.
Liverpool have added to their attacking quality in the form of Diogo Jota and Fabinho has impressed after slotting into defence as Van Dijk's replacement.
Provided there are no more major injuries, Liverpool should be crowned champions again this season.
Dave Armitage – Chelsea
They certainly wouldn't have been my pre-season selection but the way things are panning out, Chelsea look an increasingly solid bet.
It would be wrong to suggest Frank Lampard's men will emerge top dogs by 'default' but you can see a situation where the rest of the field are hitting too many hurdles.
Liverpool's bid to retain their crown is being ravaged by key injures while the other pre-season top tip – Manchester City – just don't look the side they were and may struggle to make a concerted push.
Manchester United look miles off while it's hard to put forward any kind of case for Arsenal to hit the heights.
Leicester surely can't pull off a repeat of that fairytale 2016 triumph which leaves Chelsea, looking ever more dangerous and Tottenham.
Even with Jose Mourinho in charge you'd fancy that his men will go all 'Spursy' and blow up at some point. Over to you Frank…
Gareth Bicknell – Liverpool
While Liverpool rampaged to the title last season, this campaign will be more of a slog for Jurgen Klopp's side.
The manager is suffering the worst injury crisis of his Anfield reign, and his reigning champions are not playing particularly well.
And yet they are still level on points with leaders Tottenham after grinding out the necessary results to keep up, while all of their rivals for the title are also dropping points.
Klopp and his team appear to have achieved what many didn't think was possible by improving the Reds' attack with the inspired signing of Diogo Jota.
And if Fabinho can keep things tidy at the back alongside an assortment of defensive partners, the winning mentality instilled by the manager in his players will see Liverpool through a tight race to a 20th league title.
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