- Liverpool risk entire season, drown in injuries and lose key players
- Sheffield United crash to very bottom of table with only 1 point
- Arsenal only five points from relegation zone with shocking -5 goal difference
- Manchestery City lacklustre, they fall out of the top 8 teams
- Spurs in top form, shoot to the top of the table with shocking turn
Look no further than your dwindling Fantasy Premier League results to realise just how unpredictable this season of the English Premier League has been.
Whether it’s Aston Villa thrashing champions Liverpool with a monstrous 7-2 scoreline — the first time that Liverpool had conceded seven goals since 1963 — or Arsenal, once known as The Invincibles, being closer to the relegation zone than they were to qualifying for the Champions League last season... It truly is a bit of chaos.
Much like 2020 as a whole, this season has taught us one thing: anything can happen. But why on Earth has it all gone haywire?
Well, firstly, the coronavirus adds an unprecedented level of tension and anxiety to anyone's career goals, even world-famous athletes. Nobody is completely safe from infection. Many major players have had to step out for two weeks at a time due to testing positive, while other Covid-19 outbreaks have forced entire teams to go into quarantine and their matches to be postponed.
Playing a predictable game in the middle of a global pandemic is a lot to ask, even from some of the best players in the world.
It cannnot be understated, either, that these empty stadiums have an impact on player’s minds. There’s a reason home games used to yield better results for teams than away games — the rush of having your own fans on your own turf, showing up in their thousands, cheering you on, creating an atmosphere of excitement and urgency… All of that has completely vanished overnight.
Crowd cheers and boos extracted from the FIFA video games are no substitute for the real thing, and players can’t be faulted for feeling the difference.
The result? No more incontestable top strikers from incontestable top teams — unless you’re Son Heung-min or Harry Kane, to everyone’s surprise — but rather, it’s a game of chance as major teams come up blank on the scoresheet, star defenders are stretchered off every week, and bottom-of-the-table teams fight tooth-and-nail to prove their worth.
Arsenal go down the rabbit hole, while Spurs break a 60-year drought?
Looking back, 2019/20 witnessed a fairly stable list of Top 4 teams in comparison.
It ended with Liverpool at the top of the table, Manchester City one spot behind, Manchester United in third and Chelsea in fourth. The teams that made it to the Europa League were Arsenal, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur. There were no major, jaw-dropping deviations from the season before that.
Last season was so safe, in fact, that Liverpool broke the record for earliest title win — they bagged it with a whopping seven games still to go, proving that everything was going par for the course.
But it’s a different world now — a world where it’s anyone’s game. The Spurs have shot up drastically to the top of the table. They went from sixth place last season, to a comfortable first place now.
The prospects are fantastic for the Spurs, who haven’t won the league since 1961. Star players Hyeung-min and Kane's surprisingly consistent goal-scoring performances have afforded the Spurs seven wins, four draws and only one loss.
It's an embarrassing contrast for their North London rivals Arsenal, who currently sit a meagre five points away from the relegation zone. At 15th place on the table, they have a grand total of 13 points from four wins, one draw and seven losses.
To make matters worse, they have a goal difference of -5, only managing to score 10 goals across 12 games, and conceding 15 goals in the same amount of time.
Meanwhile, if Jose Mourinho’s Spurs continue to dominate the table, they’re on track to be champions of England for the first time in 60 years. Sure, this would put a damper on those Spurs-sans-silverware memes, but it would also mark a moment of capriciousness in the EPL that would shake up the equilibrium of the last few seasons.
Liverpool celebrations dampened by injuries, Covid-19
Speaking of shaking things up — Liverpool are knee-deep in trouble.
Last season, they were on top of the world, ending their 30-year title drought with a massive win under Jurgen Klopp, but that seems like a distant memory now as they sludge through this season with bad luck and an ever-changing starting line-up.
First, they lost star attackers Sadio Mane and Salah for two gameweeks each, due to positive Covid-19 results that prevented them playing.
Then they lost world-class defender Virgil Van Dijk to a season-ending ACL injury, leaving them more vulnerable than ever.
Now, their big buy and lucky charm Diogo Jota — the Portuguese forward who cost them £41 million from the Wolves — has suffered a terrible knee injury during the Champions League, leaving the team at risk of losing their current second spot standing on the table.
As it stands, Liverpool are tied for points with the Spurs — 25 total — though their goal difference is lacking at only 9 points.
If it ever comes down to a tie, and goal difference (number of goals scored minus number of goals conceded) is the deciding factor between the title winner and the runner-up, Liverpool will need to step up their game.
And while Allison Becker has shown his skill in goal, without Van Dijk, it’s anyone’s guess how many goals the team might concede in the remaining 26 games.
Dull Manchester derby shows shockingly shrinking chances for City
That’s not even mentioning Manchester United and Manchester City, who have dropped major points and found themselves in 8th and 9th place, respectively.
United currently hold 20 points to City’s 19, after the two teams faced off on Saturday in a snoozefest of a derby that ended in a goalless draw. That 0-0 result perfectly exemplifies that state of both teams — and puts a major question mark on City’s prospects of acquiring Messi next season.
To put things into perspective, it hasn’t been long since Manchester City won the title two seasons in a row (2017/18 and 2018/19). And while they conceded the title to Liverpool by 18 points last season, they still sat comfortably in second place.
But now, they’re lagging behind Southampton who finished in 11th place last season (Southampton are current Champion League contenders in 4th place).
Even more astonishingly, Man City are behind West Ham United, a team that was five points from the relegation zone last year, who are currently in 7th place, only two points behind Chelsea.
From top 10 to relegation zone, 2020 hasn’t been kind to this team…
As for relegation zone teams, both Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, who were promoted from the EFL Championship to the Premier League this season, are at risk of returning to their previous standings.
But more surprisingly, at the very bottom of the table you will find Sheffield United, who finished only two points behind Arsenal last season at 9th place — they managed a decent 54 points out of a total 38 games. This season, they have a scant 1 point to their name after 12 games played, and they sit firmly at the bottom of the table, with the highest chance of being relegated from the league. It’s truly anyone’s game this season.
As the scoresheets continue to fluctuate, top tier teams continue to drop further down the table and mid-table teams continue climb their way to the top, FPL players will also have to bid farewell to their ‘safe’ picks. Because in a season like this, nobody’s truly safe, as the beautiful game descends into somewhat of a free-for-all.