This Premier League campaign has been one of the most entertaining in its history. Three teams are currently unbeaten after 12 games which has never happened before in the history of the league and the quality of football that teams are producing has been exciting every football fan across the globe. Teams like Arsenal seem rejuvenated and ready to challenge for the top four again and after 12 weeks of fixtures, it is clear to see that there are multiple teams involved in this year’s title race. The question is how many of these teams will be in contention near the end of the season.
How are the reigning champs fairing?
It is fair to say that reigning champions Manchester City are the team to chase. The playing standard of Pep Guardiola’s side is yet to be matched by any of their Premier League rivals and it is yet to be seen whether any of the top teams will be able to win as frequently and as emphatically as Man City have done. They have brushed aside Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United this season whilst drawing with closest rivals Liverpool. Their 12 game unbeaten run has also seen them rack up a +31 goal difference, with four players already scoring +4 goals in this year’s campaign.
No Premier League team is yet to have highlighted any problems with City’s system and their performances keep improving. The third goal against United saw them put together 44 passes before Ilkay Gundogan slotted home and this goal encapsulates the quality of football that the champions are producing. Their Champions League campaign has produced their only loss so far this season but they have silenced any doubters and this is the most complete that the side has looked since Guardiola’s appointment.
If the Premier League is an open race at the moment, City will do their best to rid of the competition. The Citizens have looked outstanding in almost every game and are the definite favourites to win the league at this moment in time.
Are Liverpool the Citizens closest challengers?
If one team are to challenge Man City it is Liverpool. The Kopites are currently in second place and have got off to their best start under Jurgen Klopp. The addition of players such as Naby Keita and Fabinho has only strengthened their side, adding to the lethal attack of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who remain pivotal to Liverpool’s title aspirations.
It is recent changes in the defensive outfit which has improved Klopp’s side. Andy Robertson is having the best season of his career whilst Virgil Van Dyke has firmly established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world since signing for the Reds. Their goalkeeping problems have dramatically improved since the addition of Alisson and rising England talents Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have stabilised their defensive instabilities. The latter has recently been voted in the top five for Europe’s Golden Boy which highlights his influence on his current side.
Arguably, Liverpool are yet to go through a continuous difficult set of fixtures and December will be a critical month in their title challenge. They meet Everton, United and Arsenal in the Christmas period and if Liverpool are to keep within touching distance of Manchester City, then they will need to continue their superb form during one of their most difficult runs of the season.
Are Chelsea in contention or are they a side in a rebuilding process?
It should be noted that the beginning of Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea tenure has been exceptional. The Italian is the first manager in Premier League history to be unbeaten in their first 12 games and when considering the side he took over, this feat is more impressive. Chelsea’s lacklustre showing last season resulted in their failure to qualify for the Champions League and ultimately resulted in the departure of Antonio Conte. This, however, has not stopped Sarri in mounting a title challenge.
Last season’s struggles though could result in questions being asked about Chelsea’s title contention credentials. They have been playing excellent football so far but have slipped up a few times. They failed to beat Everton at Stamford Bridge despite having chances to snatch the win, and it is results such as these which have caused them to currently be four points behind the leaders.
Sarri has been excellent so far in rebuilding the confidence of his side and Eden Hazard has found his form once more alongside side Alvaro Morata, who has looked sharper in recent weeks. Sarri has also created an impressive midfield with Brazilian Jorginho performing fantastically whilst a new look Ross Barkley adds to Chelsea’s squad depth.
Whilst Chelsea’s squad is improving and will add to the title race excitement this season, they may be a little out of reach of City and Liverpool and it could be a case of finishing in the Champions League spots and mounting a significant title push in next year’s campaign.
Are there any outsiders?
Spurs and Arsenal have been two teams in good form so far this season. The Lilywhites, under the management of Mauricio Pochettino since 2014, have become a consistent top four side in recent years. The question is, do they have enough to challenge for the title? They are a side that are constantly improving but complications with their new stadium only add to distractions at the club and a potential mid-season move away from Wembley may unsettle their form.
Arsenal have also put in some excellent performances this season. New manager Unai Emery has transformed the Gunners playing style but similarly to Chelsea, they are a side in transition. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette have performed superbly recently and their draw against Liverpool shows that they are capable of unsettling title contenders and adding to this seasons excitement.
It may be the case that both of these teams will fall short of being involved in the title race this season but they will certainly shake things up at the top of the table.
Who will be there come the end of the season?
Manchester City and Liverpool are this season’s favourites and perhaps for good reason. They have the strongest sides and their managers have had a long time to develop their squads. Whilst other squads may keep chase, most teams are in a transitional period that may see them slowly slip away.