Top 3 EPL Teams Separating From the Pack?
In the last several months, talk was that the English Premier League could be contended by as many as 7 different teams! While the traditional likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United were all basically assumed to be near the top of the table by season’s end, surprising starts by Arsenal and Liverpool meant that the race could be more open this year. Additionally, strong runs by Everton and Tottenham suggested that this could be the most open league battle in decades!
However, since the hectic Holiday run of fixtures, three teams pushed through mightily and have now opened a small gap between the top 3 and the rest of these supposed “contenders”. Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City are only separated by 2 points, yet 4th place Liverpool sit a full 4 points behind 3rd placed Chelsea. With the gap beginning to widen in the New Year, is it a given that only one of these top 3 teams can really win the title?
Based on pre-season predictions, the only surprise here is Arsenal. Top of the table after a decade long trophy drought and a lack of big-spending ambitions has turned many heads. Though after signing Mesut Ozil at the end of August, this current standing reflects just how quickly a big signing can change the confidence and fortunes of a soccer club!
Meanwhile, Chelsea and Manchester City have built upon years of success and have amassed incredibly deep and talented squads. Although their foreign superstars have often struggled to match the physicality of the Premier League in away matches, their home form has been incredible. They also play some of the most delightful soccer around, and many feel that it is just a matter of time before one of these clubs pulls away.
But the intriguing thing here is the lull in the several other teams that were supposed to be right there with them. Liverpool has had a sensational start to the year led by the free-scoring Luis Suarez, but a rough Holiday stretch featuring losses away to both Man City and Chelsea sees them slightly off the pace. Manchester United has been inconsistent all year, and their woes continued with a loss to Tottenham, who’s own troubles have now resulted in the removal of manager Andre Villas Boas. Meanwhile, Everton’s hopes have dimmed, as they simply cannot beat teams, now reaching 8 draws on the year (though their 2 losses remain the best in the league). These clubs look set to be the ones battling it out for that 4th place Champions League position. I can sense a dramatic battle between Liverpool and Man United brewing for that spot!
But one thing that the English Premier League has taught us over the years is that any points gap in the table can be overturned in an instant. The next 2 games could see Liverpool right back into contention and even Manchester United (now 11 points off the lead) could somehow get back in the title race. While Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City can feel good about being in the lead pack, there is still nearly half of the season left to play for, and surely there will be several more twists in this tale!