The English Premier League 2021-22 is scheduled to start on 13 August and will be held in the United Kingdom. Twenty teams will be gunning for glory in this edition. While some will like to add another Premier League trophy to their wins, others will hope for their first victory.
With a slew of new signings in some of the teams, the excitement of an encounter among the best of the best in the world is surely high.
This month, a few important games will be played between some of the strongest contenders for this season’s Premier League trophy. Here’s a look at some of the top English Premier League 2021-22 games to look forward to in August.
(Main and featured images: Dave Thompson/POOL/AFP)
(All match dates are for UK timezone)
This is an important game not only because it is the first for both teams this season, but also due to their intense rivalry and respective standings in the previous season.
Leeds United finished ninth in the Premier League table (2020-21) — a commendable feat given that the team was in the Championships, which is a lower division in the football pyramid, in the 2019-20 season.
After a gap of 16 years, Leeds re-entered the Premier League 2020-21 after winning the Championships the same year. Manager Marcelo Bielsa will be looking at another victory, now that the team is among the top 10 Premier League teams.
Manchester United was the second-best last season and is one of the four Premier League teams that qualified for the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been managing The Red Devils for almost the same time as his Leeds United counterpart.
Solskjær’s boys make for a charismatic line-up. They include goalkeeper David De Gea, centre-back Harry Maguire (also the captain), midfielders Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, promising young forward Marcus Rashford and Uruguayan legend Edinson Cavani.
Adding teeth to the front is winger Jadon Sancho, who was signed in the ongoing transfer season from Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund for US$100 million (RM423 million).
If Sancho makes his Premier League debut in this game, which he most likely will, it would be interesting to watch his attempt at piercing the solid Leeds defence helmed by its brilliant captain Liam Cooper.
Speaking of defence, Man United also has its hands on Real Madrid legend Raphaël Varane — one of the greatest centre-backs of the time. So, along with Maguire, Varane might form an impassable Man United wall for any opposition.
Number 7 versus the Premier League champions 2020-21 — that’s Tottenham vs Manchester City, respectively.
While it might seem that City is the heavyweight here, the two sides are actually level in their recent one-to-one meetings. In its last four games against the Spurs, City won two and lost the others.
Ahead of this season, City set a record for the most expensive football transfer in English history when they bought the talented Jack Grealish for US$138 million (RM584 million) from Aston Villa. The winger is hailed as one of the finest players in the world, and City manager Pep Guardiola now certainly has a powerful attacker in the midfield, which already has the Belgian great Kevin De Bruyne.
Grealish’s purchase means that Guardiola is looking at add more trophies to his glorious cabinet, including the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League. City was, after all, the finalist in last season’s Champions League, but lost to Chelsea 1-0.
On the other hand, Spurs, too, has a formidable line-up, including two international captains.
England national team skipper Harry Kane, if he remains at Spurs, is strengthening the front while French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who led his national side to victory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is also the skipper of the Spurs squad.
Then there is Son Heung-min, the South Korean forward who is considered one of the best Asian footballers in the sport’s history.
To bolster the defence, Tottenham got Argentine centre-back Cristian Romero from Serie A side Atalanta for US$58 million (RM245 million) this season.
Additionally, the team has a new manager — Nuno Espírito Santo, who played a stellar role in bringing the Wolves into Premier League in 2018 and his resume includes names such as Porto and Valencia.
The game will be played at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, so the Spurs have the home advantage.
Aston Villa ended up on the 11th spot in last Premier League season.
While Villa lost Grealish to Manchester City, the team has a fresh signing in Emi Buendía — a high-performing Argentine winger who was purchased from Norwich City for US$45 million (RM190 million).
Buendía was responsible for Norwich’s promotion from the Championships to this season’s Premier League. His presence is likely to strengthen Villa’s attacking midfield. And even though Grealish may not be on the midfield, Villa can rely on the skills of English forward Ollie Watkins.
The team also has an edge over Newcastle considering their last five meetings, having won two, lost one and drawn two. Additionally, Villa has the advantage of home ground as the game will be played in Villa Park, Birmingham.
Arsenal managed to finish eighth in the last season, thanks to a series of successive victories towards the end.
On the lookout for someone with an intelligent defensive ability, team manager Mikel Arteta zeroed in on Brighton & Hove Albion’s Ben White and got him for US$70 million (RM296 million) in the current transfer season.
In their last five meetings, Arsenal won three while Chelsea managed only one victory, and that win came in a friendly on 1 August.
Chelsea bosses, however, have faith in the team’s powerful line-up, consisting of some of the biggest names in football. There is Brazilian genius Thiago Silva in the defence and French legend N’Golo Kanté as the general of the midfield. Also in the midfield is Italian UEFA Euro 2020 champion Jorginho.
The team finished fourth in the Premier League table last season and is the defending champion in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League.
However, this time, they signalled their intention of going for the top spots in both leagues by spending US$135 million (RM571 million) to re-acquire Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan.
Lukaku has been in a blazing form, with his 24 goals in the 2020-21 Serie A season that helped Inter end Juventus’ reign as champions of the Italian top flight.
As for this Premier League game, Arsenal might have an advantage as it will be played on their home ground at the iconic Emirates Stadium.
To be played in Etihad Stadium, City’s home ground, eyes will be on the new signings and those from whom a good performance has always been expected. For instance, will City’s Grealish be able to knife through Arsenal’s defence now that there is White? And since each would have met a formidable Premier League team just before this encounter, the success or failure in those games will have a bearing on both team’s performances.
Champions League hopeful, City has maintained a decisive edge over Arsenal in their last five meetings with four wins.
There is no doubt that Guardiola’s side is at its best and is expanding its attacking options with Grealish. Arsenal will be hoping to beat City in their den. If that happens, it would be an early advantage for The Gunners and might build the confidence they need.
Liverpool finished third in last season’s Premier League. It is also a contender in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, making this a must-watch game between two Champions League contenders.
Jürgen Klopp, the team manager, is hailed as one of the best in the world. The squad consists of some big names of European football, including goalkeeper Alisson, defenders Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Jordan Henderson, and forwards Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool recently bought the powerful French centre-back Ibrahima Konaté from RB Leipzig, who is known for his accurate long passes and dominance in the air.
The team has a 3-2 advantage over Chelsea in the last five meets. Since the game will be played at the Anfield Stadium, Liverpool’s home ground, the Blues may find themselves at a disadvantage. However, one never knows which way the game might go!