An unpredictable Premier League season winds down

Much is to be determined during the final two months of the Premier League soccer season in England, a year removed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liverpool Football Club rolled to the league title last season — their first in the Premier League era, which started in 1992. This season has been less straight-forward, and as of now there is no clear favorite to take home the Premier League trophy.

Allegheny student Owen Harkins, ’21, touched on the title race this season and how he sees it shaping up during the final couple of months.

“Right now, Manchester City is my favorite.” Harkins said. “Their current string of play has been very deadly and they have been unbeaten for a long stretch of time.”

(Manchester City’s) current string of play has been very deadly and they have been unbeaten for a long stretch of time.

— Owen Harkins, Class of 2021

Harkins credited Manchester City for their ability to play their best in big moments, especially now with it being late in the season. He believes that could wind up being a key factor in the final result come season’s end.

“They’re a team finding their stride at the right moment of the season and I feel like it is going to carry down the stretch and they’ll eventually lock up the title here fairly soon,” Harkins said.

Harkins highlighted how the next few games will be extremely important in determining this season’s title race.

“I do believe Manchester City should be considered the odds on favorite to win this year’s title based on their current form, but you never know because it is the Premier League,” Harkins said. “There is a reason why it is considered the greatest league in the world, because anyone can win the league at any time, any year, so the next few weeks will definitely be important.

Harkins compared Manchester City’s campaign to Liverpool’s title winning season last year. He emphasized the importance of consistency in order to reach that great level that the Reds displayed in the 2019-2020 season.

“I think in the current form City has right now they could run away with it, being very similar to what Liverpool did last season,” Harkins said. “However, if Manchester United is able to get their act together and Manchester City slips up a little bit then I feel like they can pull it back a little bit and turn it into a two or three horse race here down the stretch.”

Outside of the race for the elusive Premier League title, the top four positions in the league and a place in the Champions League are close.

Kristian Snyder, ’21, a Liverpool fan, discussed his team’s Champions League chances and whether or not Liverpool’s season has been a disappointment.

“Virgial Van Djik, Liverpool’s captain and one of the greatest central defenders in the world tore his ACL in the beginning of the season, and that is one of the biggest reasons as to why Liverpool has been struggling so much this season as compared to last,” Snyder said. “That injury, along with others to some of our most influential players has been a major factor in the team’s decline over the past year.”

Liverpool is uncharacteristically in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League. With with some surprise teams around them in the league table, Snyder is concerned that it is quickly slipping out of their reach.

“I personally don’t think Liverpool will finish in the top four,” Snyder said. “Especially with Van Djik injured, he’s that rock at the back that they’ll be missing.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a major role in an unusual season in the Premier League. Fans and experts alike believe that it has had an impact on teams and possibly the final standings at the end of the season.

Thiago Nardi, ’22, touched on the impact he believes the pandemic has had on soccer over the past 12 months.

“I think COVID in general has affected every league around the world, not only the Premier League,” Nardi said. “But definitely when you have teams such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United with a big fan base that makes a huge impact as other teams don’t have the pressure from the fans, giving them better opportunities against the bigger clubs.”

The current Premier League season continues through the end of May, and at that time a title winner will finally be crowned in England.