Support our independent LFC content & go advert-free.
Support our independent Liverpool FC content and go advert-free with This Is Anfield Premium.

The 5 Premier League strugglers looking to surprise this season

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Next up in our 2021/22 Premier League season previews are the five clubs we believe will be battling it out for mid-table mediocrity – but could any surprise us?

Liverpool‘s campaign gets underway on Saturday with the trip to newly-promoted Norwich.

Away from the title race, top-four battle and relegation fight, a separate group of sides are expected to be somewhere around the middle part of the table, if not battling the drop.

They are Southampton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Burnley and Brighton, all of whom are difficult teams to predict.

Here’s how supporters of the likely lower half sides think the season will play out…

 

Southampton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, March 1, 2021: Southampton's Jannik Vestergaard looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Southampton FC at Goodison Park. Everton won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Luke Osman (@lukeosman_)

What do you expect from your club this season and where will you finish?

As things stand, I’m not expecting us to finish much higher than around the 15th mark.

The squad has nowhere near enough quality in depth, particularly in the full-back areas, and it’s going to be a long season.

Saints have been as bad as anyone in 2021 so far and need to seriously improve if they are to stay up.

Anything new at your club we should know about?

Romain Perraud will give Saints a different look down the left.

Ryan Bertrand has departed after seven years of service and Perraud has joined from Brest for around £11 million to take his place.

Saints may be a bit more open down the left, but they should also be more dynamic.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's xxxx during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

One piece of advice for fans visiting your stadium?

Enjoy yourself, because, given our defensive record in recent seasons, you’ll have a few goals to celebrate!

One thing you’d change at your club if you could?

There are plenty of problems with the squad and the coaching staff have left a lot to be desired in the past six months, but the issues stem from the owner.

I don’t think there’s a single Saints fan who wants him to stick around.

Thoughts on Liverpool and where we will finish this season?

I would say that’s heavily dependent on how Virgil van Dijk comes back into the fold.

Anfield, matchday lineup, Salah (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He’s the best central defender in the world and if the long injury layoff hasn’t hampered his speed and his ability to bring the ball forward, Liverpool will be right up there again.

I think another attacking signing is definitely needed following Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane‘s struggles last season and a new central midfielder is imperative after Gini Wijnaldum left.

If Liverpool can make some shrewd moves in the final stages of the window, I back them to be in a title race.

For now, though, with the current group, I will say third behind Man City and Man United.

 

Crystal Palace

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 19, 2019: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Robbie Scotcher (@RobbieScotcher)

What do you expect from your club this season and where will you finish?

We’re exciting again. Whether that’s winning football matches or getting relegated going down in a blaze of glory, nobody knows yet.

We could field a competitive team with half of the players from south London this season. We’re not going to win the league, but staying up playing some exciting football will do it for me.

Anything new at your club we should know about?

Palace have made huge investment into our academy and now have Academy 1 status. The club are committed to making a clean pathway from academy to the first team.

The likes of Zaha, Wann-Bissaka and Mitchell have come through recently but this season’s squad will feature players from the under-18s that came runners-up in their league on goal difference.

We’ve so far brought in Michael Olise, Marc Guehi, Joachim Andersen and Conor Gallagher – all young and exciting prospects along the lines of Eberechi Eze. More will be coming.

But the biggest new bright and shiny thing at Palace is the manager, Patrick Vieira.

Is he ready for the Premier League? Not a scooby. But he’s a huge step in the right direction.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 19, 2020: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates with team-mates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One piece of advice for fans visiting your stadium?

Leave early to get here! It’s not the easiest to get to. It’s not London, it’s south London, its own place.

And check for engineering works. You can get to the stadium from a few stations. No doubt one will be closed. And Spoons is your best bet for a pint.

One thing you’d change at your club if you could?

I love the stadium but it needs updating.

Work should be going ahead soon but the Sainsbury’s below the main stand is getting in the way of planning permission.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thoughts on Liverpool and where we will finish this season?

Liverpool will no doubt be title challengers – it will be interesting to see how the transfer window pans out. Other teams seemed to have bought well and strengthened.

Obviously having Van Dijk back is huge, but Klopp could prove to be the difference.

He’s got his full squad who all know what is required and you won’t have the bad luck you had last year. It will be close but, for me, it’s Man City or Liverpool.

 

Newcastle

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 24, 2021: Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin (L) and Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Dave Black (@cm9798)

What do you expect from your club this season and where will you finish?

I’ve come to expect the bare minimum and that’s what we’ll get, if we’re lucky.

We’re stuck in this takeover purgatory, with an owner who doesn’t want to be there and a billion-pound lottery ticket unable to be cashed.

If we can get Joe Willock back in we have at least stood still with where we were at the end of last season, which if I’m being fair was quite promising.

Let’s say we’ll finish 15th and be a year closer to a decision on the ownership.

Anything new at your club we should know about?

Right now, no. Absolutely nothing has changed.

Graeme Jones went away with England and enhanced his reputation as a coach even further. Hopefully, he returns as I’ve no doubt he’s our next manager if Bruce ever gets sacked, or better yet, resigns.

There are no new signings but Freddie Woodman is back from a loan spell at Swansea. Andy Carroll has left (again) and Willock has not yet re-signed.

Oh, and we have a new kit manufacturer – Castore have replaced Puma. Can you tell I’m desperate for goings-on?

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St. James’ Park. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One piece of advice for fans visiting your stadium?

Don’t skip leg day. We insist on placing the away fans up in Level 7 – the highest part of the stadium – and unless you like long queues for lifts, which I assume will only be longer now, you’ll be taking the many, many flights of concrete stairs.

You can see for miles though and it’s like playing Football Manager in real life with the top-down view of the 2D pitch.

One thing you’d change at your club if you could?

No prizes here – new ownership, please.

It would be nice to be the richest club in the world, of course, but at this stage just somebody of standard wealth who wants the football club to be all it can be will do just fine.

I should be absolutely buzzing to be able to go and watch Allan Saint-Maximin play football but I swore I wouldn’t give them another penny of my money whilst we’re in this state.

I expected it to be over by now.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates after scoring the third goal, his second, with team-mate Ibrahima Konaté during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thoughts on Liverpool and where we will finish this season?

Getting Konate in early was a great move and with Van Dijk and Gomez returning from injury you hopefully won’t have to go through anywhere near the same number of centre-back partnerships as you did last season.

As it stands, I think you will come up slightly short in the title race, purely because I feel you need one or two more options at the top end of the pitch.

I’ve no doubt you’ll be in the top four and if you had a relatively injury-free season you could challenge for the title again.

But that’s always unlikely and that tricky winter period looks like it’d be difficult to navigate with what you’ve currently got.

 

Burnley

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Burnley's Chris Wood during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Leicester City FC at Turf Moor. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Tom Whittaker, No Nay Never Podcast (@NoNayNever)

What do you expect from your club this season and where will you finish?

Unless there’s a lot of activity towards the end of the transfer window – I’m not completely ruling that out yet – then it would be prudent to expect more of the same from Burnley.

Another lower mid-table finish is most likely. I’m not complaining…

Anything new at your club we should know about?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Although new owners arrived last season, bringing with them the hope of a loosening of the famously tight purse strings at Turf Moor, early indications are that it’s business as usual at Burnley.

Jeff Hendrick and Aaron Lennon, who left in the summer of 2020, are still yet to be properly replaced.

Stoke defender Aaron Collins arrived for a reported £12 million, and while it seems a sensible investment and a good bit of future planning, he’s not expected to make much of an impact on the first team until James Tarkowski’s seemingly inevitable departure next summer.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 31, 2019: Burnley's manager Sean Dyche reacts during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One piece of advice for fans visiting your stadium?

The Cricket Club adjacent to the away end is definitely the best place for away fans to drink. It’s always a lively and convivial atmosphere there.

On one of those famous grim Tuesday nights in Burnley, try a Bene and Hot – you definitely won’t find it on sale at any other football ground in England.

One thing you’d change at your club if you could?

I’d ensure the manager signs the mooted new four-year contract that is on the table.

It may seem small, especially with Sean Dyche still having a year left on his current deal and all possible Premier League alternative jobs now taken, but so much of what the club has achieved over the last few years is down to him.

After nearly nine years, it’s difficult to imagine life without him.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates with team-mate Kostas Tsimikas after scoring the second goal during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thoughts on Liverpool and where we will finish this season?

The return of Van Dijk is a huge boost, of course, and like Burnley, I can only see your home record improving once fans are allowed in again.

I always find it hard to see past Man City but I think it will be a much closer title race this year, with Man United and Chelsea improving, too.

It should be an exciting one for the neutral.

 

Brighton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Yves Bissouma during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. Brighton & Hove Albion won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

FAN: Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire)

What do you expect from your club this season and where will you finish?

Hopefully, the style of play will continue as before but we will stop being the poster boys of xG and actually start scoring some more goals and winning matches.

There’s a degree of optimism amongst fans that we might even be able to beat teams below us in the table – last term saw four draws and two losses against the three relegated teams – and that might convert into a season when we can stop worrying about relegation earlier.

Ben White will be a loss, but £50 million is a good fee for someone who was our third-best defender last season and who only won the Player of the Season award after it was hijacked by Leeds fans.

Finishing position: 13th.

Anything new at your club we should know about?

Nothing significant, no major changes to personnel.

After a season of playing in blue we are back to the traditional stripes as our home kit.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 28, 2020: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates with team-mates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

One piece of advice for fans visiting your stadium?

Stay on the concourse for a while after the match finishes – traffic and trains are a nightmare so you might as well enjoy a couple of pints and watch the (many) screens in the away area.

If coming down for the weekend you’ll have a blast, it’s a great city for nightlife.

One thing you’d change at your club if you could?

People leaving early. It’s a free country but what motivates them to do that is beyond me.

I can understand if we are 3-0 down with 10 minutes to go but if it’s a tense finish why miss out on the last few kicks that could make such a difference to the result?

You wouldn’t leave a film or a restaurant before the end so why make an exception for a football match?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp waves to the supporters after a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thoughts on Liverpool and where we will finish this season?

It won’t be an easy season.

Loathe them or loathe them, Man United have strengthened and will be challenging, while City and Chelsea have money to burn as always, although their transfer policy has been a bit hit and miss in recent years.

Van Dijk coming back will make a difference and there’s a chance that it could be a breakthrough season for Harvey Elliott if the club decides to give him a chance.

Prediction: 3rd.


PL Previews

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Fan Comments