The pre-season ahead of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign has been a little different to most. The end of the 2019/20 season blurred into the beginning of last season, giving players little time to have a break and recharge.
This summer, we have seen the delayed European Championship and Copa America, plus the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Olympic Games football tournament. All of these factors and tournaments combine to make this an interesting pre-season for many Premier League clubs.
Manchester City are the defending champions going into the the2021/22 Premier League season and they have played two friendly fixtures ahead of the new season. Pep Guardiola’s team defeated Preston North End 2-0 and Barnsley 4-0. They will play Blackpool before the Community Shield fixture against Leicester City.
In terms of the results against Preston North End and Barnsley, there is little to take away from the wins. If Manchester City had lost both matches with a full strength team, eyebrows would be raised but otherwise, there is nothing special to report. Come the beginning of the Premier League season we know exactly what to expect from Manchester City and Guardiola, regardless of pre-season performances.
Much of the emphasis during pre-season is to get the players up to speed ahead of the competitive action. No team wants to be losing all their friendly matches but at the same time, getting players fit and ready for the Premier League kick-off is more important. Liverpool is a good example and they have been playing friendly games against German and Austrian opposition, often with 45 minutes played before changing things around and playing a different team. Known as ‘mini-matches’, Liverpool were held to draws against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart plus lost 4-3 against Hertha Berlin.
If Liverpool were to play any of these teams during the competitive season, they would be huge favourites to win and likely to do so comfortably. It is all about getting the players ready for the first Premier League fixture against Norwich City on the 14th of August.
Leicester City, who won the FA Cup last season, recently suffered a 1-0 defeat against Wycombe Wanderers in a pre-season game. The Foxes have also been defeated by Burton Albion and held to a draw by Queens Park Rangers. These are all uninspiring results but Leicester City fans are not getting concerned. Jack Johnson, a Leicester City journalist spoke following the loss to Wycombe Wanderers and said, “Another good run-out. The result is irrelevant with the whole squad getting another 45 minutes in. Fitness is the key at this point of pre-season.”
Perhaps the only teams who will be worried about their pre-season results are those who finished poorly last season or have a new manager at the helm. The likes of Crystal Palace, Southampton, Burnley, and Newcastle United have been picking up positive results throughout their pre-season matches but that is not going to have much of an impact on their position in the outright winner market for the Premier League.
In fact, Manchester City could lose all of their pre-season fixtures and the Community Shield yet remain the favourites with the bookmakers to win the Premier League title.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.