Who are the top contenders for Premier League manager of the season?

The Premier League manager of the season award typically goes to the boss of the champions, but that is not always the case as Tony Pulis’ win with Crystal Palace back in 2013-14 shows.

 

This year has thrown up a few unexpected contenders for the crown – here are five names in the frame to take the Premier League manager of the season gong for the 2021-22 campaign.

 

Mikel Arteta – Arsenal

 

Arsenal were widely considered to be outsiders to finish in the top four back in August, especially when they kicked off the season by losing their first three games in a row.

 

A 5-0 humbling at Manchester City meant the Gunners did not even score a goal in August, lengthening their odds to qualify for the Champions League by a substantial margin, but under Arteta’s improving leadership Arsenal have steadily turned things around.

 

Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal splashed huge sums on Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale, but they have become star players in the race for Champions League qualification. Questions were also asked of Arteta after the way he dealt with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but, despite the former club captain’s resurgence at Barcelona, Arsenal appears to be a happier camp now.

 

Discipline remains an issue for Arsenal with silly red cards happening with alarming regularity, but a run of six wins from their past seven games means fourth spot is firmly in their grasp.

 

If Arteta finishes the job and leads Arsenal back to the Champions League after six years away, he will have made a strong case to be named the Premier League manager of the season.

 

Pep Guardiola – Manchester City

 

Guardiola has won the award three times in the past four seasons and the Catalan is again a leading contender with City on track to retain their title.

 

A recent minor wobble may have allowed Liverpool to pile on the pressure but City are in the hunt for the Treble, despite Guardiola regularly playing down their chances of winning the lot.

 

Many thought City’s failure to land Harry Kane, or an alternative elite striker, could be costly this season but Guardiola has used a rotating cast of false nines to help replace Sergio Aguero.

 

Defensive strength remains the cornerstone of City’s bid for another title with Guardiola having crafted the tightest back line in the top-flight, though a recent injury to Ruben Dias is a blow.

 

If Guardiola were to win a fourth Premier League manager of the season award, he would move ahead of both Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, with only Alex Ferguson ahead of him.

 

Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool

 

City are still top going into April but Liverpool’s stunning series of nine straight wins means the Reds can leapfrog their title rivals after the international break.

 

While Liverpool’s wobble around the busy Christmas schedule may yet prove to be decisive in the title race, Klopp has ensured his side now have all the momentum heading into the run-in.

 

Liverpool were always likely to miss Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita during the Africa Cup of Nations, making it even more impressive how the Reds have stayed on City’s tail.

 

The January capture of Luis Diaz from Porto was inspired – Liverpool gazumped Tottenham for the versatile forward – and he has hit the ground running to give the Reds a daunting attack.

 

If Klopp leads Liverpool to the title when City once led by 11 points, he will be hard to ignore.

 

David Moyes – West Ham

 

West Ham’s push for Champions League qualification may have faltered of late, but Moyes was right to highlight the fact nobody was tipping the Hammers for a top-four finish last summer.

 

While only taking eight points from their past six games has dented West Ham’s hopes of upsetting the odds and claiming a Champions League place, they could yet get into the competition by winning the Europa League, having impressively knocked out Sevilla.

 

Not everyone agreed with the way Moyes handled the Kurt Zouma story but the Scot continues to prove those who felt he was a busted flush wrong with stellar work at the London Stadium.

 

Patrick Vieira – Crystal Palace

 

In his first season as a Premier League manager Vieira has been hugely impressive at Palace, transforming their stale style with a raft of impressive young players thriving at Selhurst Park.

 

While Palace spent heavily last summer an investment of around £80 million on what had become one of the league’s oldest squads was long overdue, with Vieira reaping the rewards.

 

Palace have a top-half finish in their sights and Vieira oversaw an impressive 4-0 defeat of Everton before the international break to set up an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

 

The Eagles are now one of the league’s most watchable teams, with Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell earning England call-ups thanks to their development under Vieira this season.

Author: Lucas Carlson