The 20/21 Premier League season has been an intriguing one, with no clear frontrunner setting the pace for the rest to follow. This could be put down to any number of reasons, but perhaps the most glaring one is the number of injuries that clubs had to endure throughout the first half of the Premier League campaign. In this article we look at those title-challenging squads that have been decimated by injury, leaving them wishing they had the strength and depth that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal, which has come in handy in recent weeks.
Liverpool - Virgil van Dijk And Diogo Jota Missing in Action
The Premier League champions have been far from their fluent best this season, with a non-stop fixture schedule piled on a squad that barely had time to recover from their title winning hangovers. The main issue they have had is keeping things tight at the back, with clean sheets being few and far between.
This has been compounded by the relatively poor form of their two wingbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold as well as a bad knee injury inflicted on Virgil van Dijk by Jordan Pickford.
However, their problems have not stopped there, with their frontline back-up players having been crocked for much of the festive period, as the negative effect of a packed league and cup schedule takes its toll on elite footballers across the board, a fact that is now even being proven by some concerning academic studies.
Diogo Jota was perhaps the gravest of these losses to injury, with the Portuguese flying high before being laid up. Both Jota and Van Dijk are due to return before the end of the season, but it remains to be seen if they can give Liverpool the boost needed to fend of the Manchester clubs, the ever dangerous Foxes, and Spurs.
Leicester City – Foxes Cannot Run Forever
Leicester are every Premier League fan’s secret second-favourite team, due in large part to their never say die attitude when pitted against the league’s big boys. Because their squad is not as padded by expensive acquisitions as some other topflight dressing rooms, they have felt the strain of a packed festive period. Star names like Vardy and Maddison are both being monitored after picking up niggles, and there was the damaging news recently that stalwart midfielder Dennis Praet would be out of action till late April.
Everton – Calvert-Lewin Fitness is Make or Break for Toffees
Believe is or not, the blue half of Merseyside has genuine title expectations this season, even though their fans know their team tend to fade down the Premier League stretch. The reason for such optimism this time around is the incredible form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been talismanic for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
While players Like Fabian Delph have loitered on the injury list all season, the powerful front man has kept himself in peak condition. That was until January, when the first signs of a hamstring problem began to show.
If his young legs recover, Everton could be a force to be reckoned with. If he is side-lined for an extended period of time, the Blues might find themselves slipping back down the standings faster than Duncan Ferguson on a sledge.
Man Utd – Stronger Than Expected
No one gave United a prayer at the start of season, and yet here we are in January and they are top of the league. To make matters better for Ole Gunnar Solskjær, his only injury worries tend to be minor knocks, or ailments effecting players who were out of favour anyway, such as Phil Jones. As such, Man Utd may just prove to be one of City’s closest rivals this season.