Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal: Revisiting our Premier League table prediction for 2021/22

  • Kobe Tong
Benitez as Everton manager.

The 2021/22 Premier League season has finally concluded.

Manchester City were crowned champions with a dramatic comeback on Sunday afternoon, fighting back from 2-0 down against Aston Villa to ensure that Liverpool couldn’t pip them to the post.

Nevertheless, the Reds will be joining their conquerers in the Champions League next season as they rounded off the top four alongside Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

Our 2021/22 Premier League table prediction

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the table, the trio of Norwich City, Watford and Burnley dropped down to the Championship to make way for Fulham, Bournemouth and the eventual play-off winners.

As such, now is very much the time for reflection and we’re most certainly not alone in nervously looking back at all the predictions that we made before the 2021/22 campaign even kicked off.

Here at GIVEMESPORT, we’ve already hung our heads in shame at the state of our Team of the Season forecast and let’s just say that our projection for the final Premier League table wasn’t much better.

Which, believe it or not, actually came as something of a shock considering that yours truly correctly predicted the exact order of the top four for the 2020/21 season ahead of time.

But alas, the Premier League table that your humble GMS writer thought we’d all be looking at now when I drew it up on August 9, 2020, has instead aged like milk stored in a sauna in the Sahara desert… in summer.

Man City's Gundogan knee-sliding.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v Aston Villa – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 22, 2022 Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Hannah Mckay EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Revisiting our 2021/22 prediction

So, let’s all take a walk down memory lane and see how badly our predicted 2021/22 Premier League table looks now that the final standings have been confirmed – check it out:

20. Watford

Actual position: 19th

Key line: “It’s hard to see Munoz surviving the entire season and without an out-and-out goalscorer to bail them out in do-or-die games, I reluctantly foresee a swift return to the Championship for Ben Foster and co.”

It’s an alright start – hurrah! Well, for the prediction, that is, because it was certainly no fun to see Watford’s miserably predictable approach of cycling through managers every 10 seconds plunging them into the Championship again.

Watford suffer relegation.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Crystal Palace v Watford – Selhurst Park, London, Britain – May 7, 2022 Watford’s Edo Kayembe looks dejected after being relegated from the Premier League Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

19. Crystal Palace

Actual position: 12th

Key line: “Call me a pessimist, but I’ve been looking at the Eagles as a relegation waiting to happen for a few years now and it feels as though their foray into a more risky brand of football could finally prove me right.”

I wrote off Patrick Vieira, you wrote off Patrick Vieira, your nan’s dog probably wrote off Patrick Vieira. Our apology will be in the mail.

18. Southampton

Actual position: 15th

Key line: “With the second-worst defence in the league last season and without the 12-goal Danny Ings leading their line, I have a sneaky suspicion that Ralph Hasenhüttl could be sacked before Christmas.”

To be fair, the Saints looked like a sinking ship on the back of a terrible end to the 2020/21 season which culminated in losing Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard, but they managed to stumble their way to survival once again.

Southampton manager Hasenhüttl.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Brentford v Southampton – Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain – May 7, 2022 Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl REUTERS/David Klein EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

17. Norwich City

Actual position: 20th

Key line: “With Daniel Farke, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki all far better prepared for life in the top-flight, as well as wholesale improvements to their defence, don’t be surprised if Norwich halt their yo-yoing.”

Sigh. You can’t fault my ambition, can you? Norwich didn’t even end the season with Farke and Cantwell as they were absolutely slapped for 84 goals with even fewer points than the 2019/20 campaign.

16. Brighton & Hove Albion

Actual position: 9th

Key line: “Graham Potter’s expansive and exciting football can only go so far now that Ben White has left and they haven’t invested in a new striker.”

One of the worst predictions of the bunch with my lack of hipster’s faith in Potter biting me in the you-know-what. Fair play to the Seagulls because they finally started to churn out wins consistently this season.

Brighton's Potter celebrates.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain – April 16, 2022 Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter celebrates after the match REUTERS/Hannah Mckay EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

15. Brentford

Actual position: 13th

Key line: “The shrewd signings of Frank Onyeka and Kristoffer Ajer were exactly what the doctor ordered, so I fully expect the Bees to be the furthest away from the relegation zone of the three promoted clubs.”

Two places off and I got ahead of myself with Onyeka, but hey, the logic was sound. They were, after all, the only promoted team to consolidate their Premier League status.

14. Burnley

Actual position: 18th

Key line: “Sean Dyche keeps Burnley in the Premier League, it’s a fact of life.”

A fact of life, you say? A fact of life? Death, taxes and Dyche keeping Burnley in the Premier League, yeah? Yeah??? Everything I thought I knew is a lie…

Burnley's relegation is confirmed.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Burnley v Newcastle United – Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain – May 22, 2022 Burnley’s Charlie Taylor looks dejected after losing the match and being relegated from the Premier League REUTERS/Scott Heppell EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

13. Newcastle United

Actual position: 11th

Key line: “Like it or not, Mike Ashley’s unerring faith in Bruce will provide a level of stability compared to the clubs around them and they can only decline so much when Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are on song.”

While I might not have been a million miles away with my predicted position for Newcastle, the manner in which they achieved it was, well, somewhat different to the way that I’d pictured.

Had Ashley and Bruce still been around as in my wild little fantasy there, then you can rest assured that the Toon would be planning away trips to Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic for the 2022/23 season.

12. Leeds United

Actual position: 17th

Key line: “Second-season-syndrome happens to the best of teams, but it just happens that Leeds will deal with it better than most with Marcelo Biesla at the helm, even if their transfer business hasn’t exactly been inspiring.”

A muddled prediction and a muddled season with the let’s-just-sprint-the-living-daylights-out-of-the-opposition approach blowing up in Bielsa’s face as his successor kept them up by the skin of his teeth.

Leeds survive relegation.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Brentford v Leeds United – Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain – May 22, 2022 Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips and Archie Gray celebrate after the match as Leeds United avoid relegation from the Premier League REUTERS/David Klein EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

11. West Ham United

Actual position: 7th

Key line: “It might sound cruel, but it’s hard to see West Ham’s achievements last season as anything other than the ceiling for this side, particularly when Michail Antonio remains their main asset up front.”

With West Ham suddenly saddled by European football and barely adding to their attacking ranks, it was easy to think that their league form would implode in 2021/22, but kudos to David Moyes for proving me wrong.

10. Aston Villa

Actual position: 14th

Key line: “Losing Jack Grealish was a crushing blow, but a swift reaction in the transfer market with the arrivals of Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and Ings leads me to think that Villa will continue their upward trajectory.”

Yeah… so it turns out replacing your star player with a spending spree on random attacking luxuries doesn’t make for the cleanest transition in the world. Villa should really be ashamed for finishing as low as 14th.

Aston Villa's Cash scores.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v Aston Villa – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 22, 2022 Aston Villa’s Matty Cash celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Hannah Mckay EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

9. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Actual position: 10th

Key line: “However, I’m inclined to think that a fresh take on one of the strongest non-‘big six’ squads in the division will re-energise Wolves’ push towards the European places, particularly with Raul Jimenez returning.”

Dare we say that this was absolutely spot on give or take over-egging the final position by just one slot? It felt inevitable that the arrival of Bruno Lage would give Wolves a much-needed kick up the rear.

8. Tottenham Hotspur

Actual position: 4th

Key line: “Either way, though, I’m not convinced that Nuno Espírito Santo is the right man to elevate them back towards the top four places and it will take more than Cristian Romero to balance out their top-heavy assets.”

To be fair, my suspicion that Santo wasn’t the man for the job at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved to be true and who knows, maybe Spurs would have finished eighth in a world where he stuck around.

Santo as Tottenham manager.
Soccer Football – Pre Season Friendly – Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur – JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester, Britain – July 21, 2021 Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

7. Everton

Actual position: 16th

Key line: “Call me crazy, but I actually think that Rafa Benitez is better suited to Everton’s ambitions than Carlo Ancelotti; leading me to think that the Toffees will make marginal gains without ever threatening the top four.”

I don’t… I don’t… I don’t even know what to say. I wasn’t drunk, I promise.

6. Leicester City

Actual position: 8th

Key line: “I fully expect the Foxes to launch yet another assault on the top four, perhaps with Patson Daka smashing home the goals, only to fall five or six points short when they enter the spring months.”

After back-to-back seasons of challenging for the Champions League places, Leicester left most Premier League predictions looking silly by plunging down into the lonely plains of mid-table. Eighth, in the end, was actually a strong finish.

Leicester's Rodgers and Maddison.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Leicester City v Norwich City – King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain – May 11, 2022 Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers and James Maddison celebrate after the match REUTERS/David Klein EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

5. Arsenal

Actual position: 5th

Key line: “Unshackled by their absence from European football and bolstered by White’s arrival in defence, I can see a world where Arsenal challenge for the top four with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang firing on all cylinders again.”

WE GOT ONE! At long, long, long last, I finally nail a prediction. Thank the footballing gods that Arsenal bottled the Champions League race otherwise I’d have absolutely no credibility left.

4. Manchester United

Actual position: 6th

Key line: “How can United sign Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but only finish fourth?! I know, I know, it’s not a decision that I’ve taken lightly, but I just think that there are three teams who will outperform the Red Devils this season.”

Even before United re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo, this was seen as something of a pessimistic prediction, but the sad reality of the situation is that even my downbeat forecast understated how poor the Red Devils would be.

Man Utd's Ronaldo fumes.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Watford – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – February 26, 2022 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

3. Liverpool

Actual position: 2nd

Key line: “Ultimately, I think their inferior squad depth will cap them around the 85-point mark, but don’t be surprised if Virgil van Dijk’s return sparks a chain reaction of resurgences amongst players like Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara.”

The whole ‘Liverpool don’t have enough depth’ cliché really caught me out as Jurgen Klopp’s men easily hurdled 85 points to take City all the way. Though, I did seeing Van Dijk, Mane and Thiago’s renaissances coming.

2. Manchester City

Actual position: 1st

Key line: “Again, so much depends on whether Kane arrives at the Etihad Stadium or not, but with my gut telling me that a deal will be impossible to complete in just a few weeks, I can’t see City retaining their title.”

Actually, 2021 Kobe Tong, it didn’t depend on Kane at all because the Citizens were still able to win their fourth Premier League title in five seasons despite not having a recognised centre forward.

Guardiola lifts the Premier League trophy.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v Aston Villa – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – May 22, 2022 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League REUTERS/Hannah Mckay EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

1. Chelsea

Actual position: 3rd

Key line: “With Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech inevitably getting better and Thomas Tuchel having Guardiola’s number when it comes to tactics, the Blues have all the tools to win their first title since 2017.”

It looks bad, I know, but I wasn’t alone in thinking that Chelsea were going to kick on from their Champions League triumph by winning the Premier League with a free-scoring Romelu Lukaku leading the line. Simpler times…

Chelsea's Lukaku clapping.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Watford v Chelsea – Vicarage Road, Watford, Britain – December 1, 2021 Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku applauds fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Only 1 out of 20

You win some, you lose some.

Chelsea, Everton and United fans must be furious that my prediction didn’t turn out to be true, while Palace and Brighton supporters must be delighted that it turned out to be a load of rubbish.

However, if we can learn anything from the reality that I flit between nailing GIVEMESPORT’S Premier League prediction and completely messing it up, it’s the fact that even attempting to look into the footballing future is nigh on impossible.

The Premier League trophy on display.
Soccer Football – FA Community Shield – Manchester City v Chelsea – Wembley Stadium, London, Britain – August 5, 2018 The Premier League trophy on display before the match Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Why? Well, because the beauty of this high-octane, low-scoring and ever-evolving sport that we call our own is fundamentally unpredictable by nature and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Unless maybe for a season just so we can look like the second coming of Nostradamus. Too much to ask?

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