With the 2021/22 Premier League season set to get underway in around a fortnight’s time, teams all over the country will be working frantically to get any last-minute bits of business done before the opening weekend of the campaign on August 13th, which will kick off with new boys Brentford hosting Arsenal in west London.
As always, the goal for the ‘Big Six’, and the teams that often find themselves in and around the top half of the table, will be securing a European football spot, and more often than not in recent seasons, a surprise outfit has usurped the bet exchange favourites and squeezed their way into the lucrative positions.
So, as the countdown to the much-anticipated season continues, let’s take a look at three outside teams that could challenge for European football in this exciting, upcoming season. Read on to find out more!
Having once sat pretty at the top of the table in the early stages of last season, thanks to the goalscoring prowess of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton fans will be left seething that they missed out on one of the Premier League’s seven European football spots. Carlo Ancelotti has since returned to Real Madrid, leaving the door open to Rafa Benítez, who famously won the Champions League with the red half of Liverpool. The arrivals of Andros Townsend, Demarai Gray and AsmirBegović have left a bit to be desired on the transfer front, but Benítez is a seasoned professional in the Premier League and across Europe, and he could well make the Toffees European contenders, even if it is the Conference League.
After a 16-year absence from England’s top-flight, Leeds United had a fantastic maiden season back in the Premier League last campaign — finishing an impressive ninth-place, and just narrowly behind north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The arrival of Junior Firpo from Barcelona was well received from the fans of the Yorkshire club, and he will help make Marcelo Bielsa’s side sounder defensively, whilst the permanent arrival of Jack Harrison, who spent the last three seasons on loan at Leeds, will be another welcome addition. Moves for Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher and Kristoffer Klaesson will only help their cause. However, they could probably do with better back up upfront to Patrick Bamford.
Aston Villa are another side who will be rather disappointed with their final league position last season — 11th. Dean Smith’s side were real contenders for European football at around the halfway stage of the season. However, a slump in form resulted in them free-falling down the table. They have brought in the 2020/21 Championship Player of the Season, Emiliano Buendíaand are reportedly chasing Bundesliga star Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen. If they can keep a hold of Jack Grealish, who is believed to be a prime target of Manchester City, then they could a real thorn in the sides of the ‘Big Six’ this season.
West Ham have set the bar high for themselves this campaign. David Moyes’ men agonisingly missed out on a Champions League spot towards the back end of last season, and the east Londoners will be hoping that they go one better this year.