Premier League champions, players to watch, England at the Euros: Our pundits make their 2021 predictions

Liverpool are tipped by all of our pundits to retain their Premier League title; Sheffield United, Fulham, and West Brom are expected to be relegated; Jack Grealish and Pedro Neto are among the players expected to have a big year; And there's optimism for England at the Euros...

GRAPHIC
Image: Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher, Alan Smith, Gary Neville, Paul Merson, and Jamie Redknapp

Jamie Carragher & Gary Neville

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville made their predictions for 2021 on the final Monday Night Football show of 2020.

Both pundits made Liverpool favourites to win the Premier League and had similar top-four predictions but watch the video below to see why Neville is insisting on Carragher doing a forfeit if Fulham go down - and how Paul Pogba ended up as Neville's player to watch in the coming 12 months!

5:22
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher make their predictions for 2021 including the Premier League winner, the top four and relegation candidates.

Jamie Redknapp

Champions: Liverpool

Image: Will Liverpool be lifting the Premier League trophy again in 2021?

"I think Liverpool will be champions. Last year I said it with a lot of confidence, this year not as much because of the injuries and just what's going on in the world right now. This is going to be a year we'll never forget in so many aspects.

"Last year people were saying about there being an asterisk next to them but that's nothing compared to this year. No footballers have ever been asked to play under these circumstances. It isn't easy and we have to congratulate them to a certain extent because everything else has stopped and footballers have just got on with it. You have to be aware of the mental stress the players are going through.

"Liverpool deserved it last year, no one can ever deny that, but this year is going to be a war of attrition to say the least. You're going to have to really dig in, use your squad. There will be times when it will seem completely unfair, with players picking up this illness and it affecting them.

Also See:

"But whoever wins it this year will probably deserve it more than any other year because you have to raise yourself. Football is so much about the fans. You need them there to give you a boost and to not have them has made it a different competition all together.

"It's amazing Liverpool are top of the league with the injuries they've had. They could have been even further ahead given the draws against West Brom and Newcastle - wins there would have given them a bit of daylight but now everyone else will still believe. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham... Leicester, Everton and Aston Villa have been success stories but consistency is what it's going to take."

Relegation: Sheffield United, and then two from a mini-league

Sheffield United's George Baldock rues a missed chance against West Brom
Image: It has been a painful start to this season for Sheffield United

"I really like Chris Wilder and I loved what Sheffield United did last year, playing that formation, and I felt really sorry for them picking up some bad injuries at the start of the season. Losing Jack O'Connell was a big blow for them and their signings haven't really worked out for them yet. Rhian Brewster is yet to score the goals they'd have wanted.

"This will be the greatest escape. The only hope they've got is that there haven't been too many games where they've been hammered, there have been a lot of 1-0s and last-minute goals against them. But they're going to have to go on an amazing run. You can never say never, but they're in massive trouble.

"And then we've got a mini-league going on. You've got Brighton who have only won one game at home in 2020. Then there's Fulham - Scott Parker has assembled a squad which, in the first few weeks of the season I thought they were bang in trouble, but they have a real chance now.

"West Brom under Sam Allardyce did something very special against Liverpool and then were completely annihilated by Leeds. Crystal Palace are just getting sucked in but I think they have too much. There are four or five teams who could go down. I never subscribed to the idea Arsenal are in a relegation battle, no way."

Player to watch: Pedro Neto

Pedro Neto celebrates making it 1-0
Image: Pedro Neto is on course to be a superstar, says Jamie Redknapp

"One of my favourite young players is Neto at Wolves. He's an amazing player. He's 20 years of age but he plays the game like he's 25 or 26. He's got tremendous desire, wants to win, brilliant on the ball...

"His play belies his tender years and I'm a big fan of his. He could be one of the next superstars. Wolves' model seems to be to sell and they'll find another one because they do it so well."

Euros: Semi-finals - at least - must be the target for England

"A lot of it is going to be reliant on injuries, who is fit, and how much the players are physically and mentally drained after this year. From Gareth Southgate's point of view you've got to hope we have as fit a squad as possible because we're very close to having a really good squad. Gareth has done a reasonable job. There's no reason why we can't do well.

"We've got to be pushing to get into the semi-finals, with the likes of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Raheem Sterling, and good young players coming through, although it might come too soon for the likes of Phil Foden and Curtis Jones. The only area we're a little bit short is in terms of a playmaker, but that might be someone like James Maddison.

"I think Mason Greenwood is showing, with the form he's in, that he's not just going to be in the squad but that people would love to see him start. I want to see some flair in our team. I don't want to see a team that's steady, I want to see a bit of excitement. That's certainly what Jack Grealish brought to the team. Against Belgium, the best team in the world, he was another level, so I'm excited to see him in the Euros in the summer, as well."

Paul Merson

Champions: Liverpool

klopp
Image: Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have quality in abundance, says Paul Merson

"I said from day one and I'll still say it - if you finish above Liverpool and still don't win the league, you're bang out of luck. They're top of the league and yet everyone was saying they would struggle badly without Virgil van Dijk.

"I don't see anybody really emerging as their rivals for the title. I've been watching Manchester City for the past few weeks and every game has looked like a dress rehearsal for a Champions League game. They've gone from pressing the ball to playing in a certain way now. City used to close people down but they're now sitting back.

"Tottenham were top of the league, and now they're seventh. Liverpool won't slip like that - their home record is too good. We thought Leicester might have been the game where their unbeaten home record ended but they blew them away. It was the same against Wolves.

"Tottenham will probably win the top-six mini league but they won't beat the teams who sit back and play the way Tottenham play. They beat Arsenal and Manchester City, who both went and had a go at them, and they've done that too against Manchester United. But when they were faced with Crystal Palace and Leicester, who play the same way as Tottenham, they didn't win either game."

Relegation: Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham

Sam Allardyce
Image: Does Sam Allardyce have the tools to take West Brom to safety? Merson isn't convinced...

"I would say Fulham or Newcastle for the final spot. Fulham have changed their whole team from the opening day of the season. From the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal to the 1-1 draw with Newcastle, there were 10 changes. Tom Cairney was the only one who started both matches.

"Scott Parker has identified that he needed pace and legs in the team, and they look much better but I just can't see three worse teams. Burnley will continue grinding out results. They've been in this position before and they didn't panic. They're not playing with the weight of expectation.

"There's no chance of West Brom staying up. You can tell me about a blueprint, purple-print, orange-print, whatever print you want. The print doesn't get you out of trouble, it's the players. When Allardyce got Sunderland out of trouble, they had Jermain Defoe up front. He had a player who could score out of nothing. West Brom haven't got that. He took Bolton up to sixth in the table, but this would be Allardyce's biggest achievement in football."

Player to watch: Jack Grealish

"I think this lad is going to get better and better. I feel he will be the difference in us winning the European Championships. If he plays well next summer, England win the Euros. He's the difference and he's the one ingredient England have needed. Whoever wins tournaments has something different and Grealish has got the X-factor."

Jack Grealish in action for England against Belgium
Image: Jack Grealish could inspire England at the Euros, says Merson

Euros: England to win!

"If Grealish plays well next summer, England will win it. If John Stones can get back into the side, I think England will go all the way.

"I've been watching Stones at City recently and he's not been trying to do Cruyff turns on the penalty spot, or beat players on the edge of his box. He's playing simple and when he does that, he's the best centre-half in the country by a million miles. If he sticks to being the footballing centre-half who does the right thing at the right times, he'll be the best in the world.

"If England are to win this tournament, I feel they will need to play three at the back and that can be Stones, Conor Coady and Harry Maguire. I don't feel defensively we're good enough to play as a four, but as a three that can put opponents on the back foot."

Alan Smith

Champions: Liverpool

"I still think Liverpool will retain it - although I'm not sure how close it's going to be. If Man City win their two games in hand they'll be just a point behind, so they can't be discounted, but they just don't appear to have got it all together this season, for whatever reason.

"I know Liverpool have had a little blip over the last couple of games but they're the strongest team and they appear to have that desire to retain it. Even with the injuries they've had they're still up there, the team to beat.

"People have stepped in, the youngsters have done a really good job. They didn't really have adversity last year but they certainly have this season and they've stuck together, which is the hallmark of a winning team, a successful side and they're in a dominant position."

Relegation: Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham

The ball struck Danny Welbeck on the hand before Lallana scored
Image: Fulham and Brighton could be scrapping to stay up, says Alan Smith

"It looks like Sheffield United have had it, unfortunately. It was such a great story, with Chris Wilder bringing them up the ladder and through the divisions, and doing what he did with them last season, some of the football they played, it was a brilliant success story. But it was small margins with them, they were winning by the odd goal and defensively excellent but they're not scoring and confidence has gone at the back. They've had injury problems as well and they've become detached at the bottom.

"West Brom - I think this might be the first time Big Sam experiences relegation, just because of the squad. I don't think it's good enough, I don't think there are enough players there who can get you a goal. They brought in Karlan Grant, and I'm not sure he's going to be the answer.

"And then I think it will be between Brighton and Fulham. Brighton, for all the good football they play, they can't get many wins at all, but I do see them having an edge on Fulham. They have more players who can find the back of the net, they've got their Premier League experience. Fulham have obviously tightened up at the back and fair play to Parker for doing that, bringing in loanees and kind of constructing a brand new defence. But going forward and overall, I'm not sure they're going to have enough."

Players to watch: Emile Smith Rowe and Jamal Musiala

Jamal Musiala
Image: Jamal Musiala is a player to keep an eye on, says Smith

"There are a couple for me. I'm a big fan of Emile Smith Rowe. He's come into the Arsenal first team in the last few games and I'd heard people within Arsenal saying what a good player they thought he was and he had a real chance. He's done his stints on loan at Leipzig and Huddersfield which will have toughened him up and you can see he's a strong player and he has got that creative bent that Arsenal need.

"He'll play a big part from now until the end of the season and help Arsenal up the table. He's got a really good attitude and wants to do well and improve. He's got lots of talent.

"Jamal Musiala has broken into the team at Bayern Munich and he's only 17. I watched the Atletico Madrid-Bayern Munich game when he made his Champions League debut and he was Bayern's best player. Hopefully he'll choose England and in the years to come he'll be one to look out for.

"He looks like a player who doesn't get phased by playing next to World Cup winners and in a club the size of Bayern Munich, and he's scored for the England U21s already, so hopefully Southgate will be able to secure him for England, as he has a few options internationally."

Euros: Solve defensive problems, and England are contenders

"We should qualify from our group. Croatia won't be an easy ride and Scotland, with all the connotations, will be a scrap, while Czech Republic, you never quite know. But there shouldn't be any problems. I think the key for England is defensively can we get that side of things sorted out?

"We've got so many options going forward but it's who plays in central defence - is it a five or four at the back? - the balance in central midfield and whether Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice is too defensively-minded, and who plays in goal because, although Jordan Pickford hasn't let England down, you're always on the edge of your seat and that's not a great positions to be in.

"If we can get a nice strong defence with that midfield in front, I think we've got every chance. France are the team to beat, Spain won't be far away. But hopefully we can give it a good shout in front of our own fans, who will hopefully be back for the Wembley games."

Win £250,000 for free with Super 6!

Win £250,000 for free with Super 6!

Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in Saturday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3:00pm.

Around Sky