2020/21 Premier League shirts (and masks) ranked
Which of this season's shirts deserves to be crowned Premier League kit champions, and which manufacturers should be nervously looking over their shoulders? We've put together our personal list of favourites and fails, the only way we know how: through our mask designs.
In terms of the criteria, we considered the originality of the design, tangible historical links (not the PR spin) and the impact of the club's chosen shirt sponsor on the overall look and feel of the shirt. After much mid-table wrangling, we ranked the shirts in the following order.
If anybody needs us, we'll be cowering under the kitchen table with our tin hat on.
Claret chest, blue sleeves, no frills. This has been, to quote Bob Mortimer, the “Burnley way” for what seems like forever, even before the age of Sean Dyche. This year’s shirt is absolutely no exception, save for the addition of an ugly, obscure Asian betting sponsor.
We imagine Dyche would prefer timber merchants or a local butcher emblazoned across the chest, but alas, the gravel-throated taskmaster doesn’t control every facet of operations at Turf Moor.
We’ve nothing against the claret and blue, despite the clubs in the bottom two. It’s purely coincidence. Honest.
We liked Villa’s kit last season, and there’s nothing wrong per se with this year’s offering. Despite the faint two-tone stripes down the body, it just feels a little…plain. With the blue sleeves now extending round to the neck, it feels more in line with a Puma template than a sexy Kappa number. It also doesn’t help that the same shirt sponsor is present on a much better shirt further down this list.
Yes, sometimes less is more, and yes, that absolutely applies to some of their classic kits, especially during the seventies. But it’s not too controversial to argue that Leeds haven’t worn a distinct, attractive home shirt since 2003.
Kappa stopped the rot to an extent in the past few seasons, but the combination of shirt colour and sponsor was identical to that of Championship rivals Swansea City. There were high hopes for Adidas’ first ever Leeds kit, but aside from the iconic three stripes on the sleeves, the shirt is far less exhilarating than Bielsaball.
Another Adidas shirt that finds itself somewhat surprisingly around the drop zone, but we’re not holding the German powerhouses responsible for this one. A hefty proportion of blame goes instead to an Australian brokerage firm.
USG’s logo – two union flags smashed together – turns a potential top ten contender into an eyesore with a jarring Brexit vibe, reinforced by the logo’s presence on the sleeves. The irony of USG going into administration after acting unscrupulously towards its customers is certainly not lost on us.
After the blurred lines of 2018-19 and the edgy all-over stadium print of 2019-20, we were expecting big things from Nike this year. Instead, we got sublimated wavy squiggles and a bit of navy trim. We haven’t been this underwhelmed by the Blues since they shelled out £15m on Juan Sebastian Veron.
The change of sponsor didn’t help, either. We’d grown rather fond of the sleek, professional Yokohama Tyres typeface. In its place this year is a giant cartoonish number that seems to get a little bigger every time you look at it.
Carroll. Suarez. Thiago. Liverpool love a good transfer saga, even in the kit department. Months of legal wrangling eventually saw the Reds drop the underperforming New Balance for global giants Nike before the end of the season.
Klopp’s men lifted the title in NB’s final shirt – arguably their best of the lot – but big things were expected from the new signing. The end result of all the drama? A pretty standard template with a bit of teal on the collar and cuffs. To call it understated would be an understatement.
Fair play to Spurs. For a club that has traditionally played in white for over a century, they still try to shake it up, for better and for worse.
We’re honestly unsure what to make of their latest kit, Nike’s fourth for the North London club. While we like the unique geometric pattern that shimmers across the shirt, there’s something not quite right about the Americanised navy bands separating the body and sleeves.
Adidas are in their second stint as Fulham’s kit supplier, and have produced some real head-turners over thirteen years. The shirts of the late nineties (and the 2018 homage) were personal favourites.
The Cottagers have come a long way since the days of Rufus Brevett and Barry Hayles, and so have their kits. The latest may be a template, but we are very keen on the black sleeves and panelling above the chest, and the BetVictor typeface is easily the best of the betting sponsors.
Palace are another of those clubs that have struggled in recent years to produce a shirt that is both traditional and modern, often veering wildly in one direction or another. Over the past decade, they’ve tried just about everything: broad stripes, narrow stripes, no stripes, even a Blackburn-style halved design.
Their latest from Puma might be one of the best. The red stripes (described as arrows by the club) don’t extend fully to the crew neck, and the W88 sponsor looks far more crisp in comparison to its ManBetX predecessor. For us, Palace’s best kit in over twenty years.
There’s a lot to like about Leicester City’s latest. Adidas, like their many predecessors, have thus far opted against tinkering with the deep blue hue. The gold touches on the cuffs dovetail very nicely with the crown of the logo. And though we consider the travel retail group one of the more wholesome kit sponsors, the Thailand Smiles With You message is a refreshing change.
But (and it’s a big but). It’s a template, rolled out across multiple clubs across the globe - and, colours aside, is very similar to number 13 on this list. Adding a couple of bands of gold isn’t enough to propel this into the top half.
How does a West Ham shirt push towards the top half when the league’s other two claret and blue jerseys are propping up the table? Good question. Simply put, it comes down to heritage.
For the 125th anniversary kit, Umbro have once again gone with a sixties-style crew collar, and they haven’t mucked around with the sleeves, which are kept entirely distinct from the body. The sponsor – yes, yet another betting firm – is clean and bold, and the retro-style club crest is in keeping with the rest of the shirt. Another winner from England’s biggest name in kit.
Much like Steve Bruce’s side, Puma’s 2019-20 shirt wasn’t exactly easy on the eye. The press release said it paid homage to the 50th anniversary of the Fairs Cup triumph. In practice, that meant adding a sixties-style crew neck to a shirt which otherwise bore no resemblance to that worn in 1969. Bobby Moncur certainly didn’t lift the trophy with FUN88 emblazoned across his chest.
Free of their own quasi-historical design nonsense, Puma have ironically produced a shirt far more in keeping with club tradition. Most of this is down to the increased number of stripes down the body; any number less than seven is sacrilege in our eyes. Not spectacular, but safely mid-table. Minus points for the red player lettering, though.
For a decade, Umbro and Nike looked for ways to stamp their identity onto the sky blue City shirts. For the most part, any tangible experimentation – contrasting sleeves, motion lines, colour panels - was consigned to the sleeves and sides.
Not so with Puma’s latest effort. The all-over mosaic pattern is said to be inspired by Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter artworks. Rather than changing up the sleeves for the umpteenth time or adding rather inconsequential trim, we like that Puma have taken a risk with this year’s design. It’s not quite a Manc masterpiece, but it’s a unique composition all the same.
Wolverhampton Wanderers has evolved at a frightening pace in recent years; a transition very much reflected in their kit. No longer are they plucky Premier League underdogs turning out in cheap Le Coq Sportif shirts, sponsored by Doritos or British betting firms. No, now they are firmly entrenched European challengers, wearing the same kit as the big boys, and are backed by East Asian betting firms (as is the way these days).
Except it’s not the same kit as the big boys: it’s better than many of them. The repeater pattern, reminiscent of Netherlands ’88, is sublime, and the matte black sleeves are a much-needed contrast for the shiny gold chest. Some might say it’s a bit much, but we’d take ostentation over the 2011-12 equivalent.
It’s 1983, and Second Division outfit Brighton have held their own against a much-fancied Manchester United in the FA Cup Final. Gordon Smith is presented with a chance to win it late in extra time. His shot is smothered, the game finishes a draw, and United thrash the underdogs in the replay.
That’s as close as the Seagulls have come to claiming top tier honours. The 2020 kit is a gorgeous homage to that heroic failure at Wembley. Nike have brought back the pinstripes, but also added a nice white collar into the mix (the original shirt was a V-neck). They won’t win any silverware for it, but the 2020-21 shirt is fully deserving of a top six spot.
This Southampton shirt is a triumph against all the odds. It’s made by Under Armour, not by one of the established ‘big four’. The stripes are gone, replaced by a sash in a nod to the club’s first ever kit, The main sponsor went bankrupt and pulled out, but not before thousands of fans had bought a top with their logo plastered all over it.
It could so easily have been hell for the Saints - and we certainly felt for their marketing and commercial departments in September – but the shirt itself was the club’s salvation. The gorgeous shade of red, the black cuffs, the nineties-style collar. Blessed.
The most controversial placing in the league table. Does the current United home shirt really deserve to be in the top four? Can it possibly stack up against the shirts from ’92, ’94, even 2015? And, the inevitable cry from City fans: how can their all-over shirt pattern be four places higher than ours?
Like their local rivals (and many other top tier clubs), United’s design is inspired by something: in this case, the club crest. When we first saw some leaked prototypes, we feared the worst: the vertical yellow and black pattern had serious bus seat vibes. Thankfully, the final product was more subtle. Distinct without being overbearing, we think it deserves to be up there.
The Toffees’ tops had become a little stale in recent years, and Umbro’s swansong “inspired by Goodison” effort was, alas, in vain (because it wasn’t very good). Out went English heritage and in came Danish design. Hummel were tasked with manufacturing their first Premier League shirts in 14 years – and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The horizontal stripes are apparently a soundbar representation of Everton anthem Z-cars (not that we care; it just looks like cool stripes to us). The shimmering shade of blue is spot on. The white piping on the sleeves and the muted crew neck are spot on. And the chevrons. Those sexy, sexy chevrons. It’s so good to see them back in the top flight, where they belong.
A very strong contender for the top spot, but edged out by not one, but two shirts…
I was only three years old when the Baggies released their barcode kit(s), so I’ve no idea how they were received at the time. The early nineties was a mad period for kit design, in the Football League as much as anywhere.
The club themselves describe it as a classic – then again, they would say that, having brought it into the 21st century this season. The sublimated pattern has been ditched, the wibbly vertical lines straightened and refined. The Ideal Boilers logo is clean and on-brand, but still harks back to that bygone age where electric appliances, rather than far-flung gambling firms, dominated shirt sponsorship.
One of those very rare homages that actually improves on the original. Take a bow, Puma.
Was it ever in doubt? For decades, Arsenal have produced consistently sensational shirts. The bruised banana, the lightning bolt, the centenary celebration. The traditional red and white home jerseys have been of a high standard, too, even if we weren’t huge fans of 2012’s blue cuffs.
In recent years, the Gunners have captured the kit zeitgeist, combining football with fashion in a way few English clubs can. They did It with the away shirt last year, and they’ve done it again with the home variant in 2020.
Inspired by the old Arsenal art deco logo, the repeating pattern is nothing short of stunning. Arsenal are no strangers to a sublimated crest pattern, but never before have they pulled it off with such panache. There’s plenty of history in there, too – apparently, the chevrons face both ways in a nod to the different direction of the cannon through the decades – but ultimately, it just looks good.
The two-tone stripes on the sleeves, the white crew neck and the now-synonymous Emirates sponsor all come together on what is an almost flawless shirt. They’ve had their ups and downs on the field, but Arsenal remain the team to beat when it comes to kits.