Even after just eleven games of the season, the race for the top four is becoming more and more interesting by the week.
The usual suspects will be there come May, however they will be pushed the whole way by several teams who are desperate to break into the lucrative Champions League positions.
Arsenal lead the way going into the International break, but their lead over Liverpool was cut down to just two points following the Gunners 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United. Going into the game, victory for Arsene Wenger’s side was expected to all but end David Moyes’ hope of winning the league in his first season in charge at Old Trafford. However, Arsenal just simply didn’t turn up. United’s defence was solid and Phil Jones nullified the threat of Mesut Ozil. Although Arsenal dominated possession, they just couldn’t break through United’s defence and David de Gea was rarely tested. It was Robin van Persie, the once Arsenal favourite who separated the teams with a brilliant header from a Wayne Rooney corner, who himself was exceptional.
…It’s their fourth defeat in six games…
The victory for Manchester United was even more crucial considering the teams around them dropped points.
Manchester City were defeated away to Sunderland for the third season in a row. It’s their fourth defeat in six games on the road and it is something that is becoming a major issue. The loss of captain Vincent Kompany is a major blow for Manuel Pellegrini but the loss of creative midfielder David Silva is just as big a blow. The little Spaniard was in exceptional form as of late but a calf injury will force him to be sidelined for several weeks.
…not having a world class striker could cost them dear…
Jose Mourinho’s return is turning into a nightmare, not a fairy tale as he had hoped. Chelsea were very fortunate to be given a controversial last gasp penalty to snatch a point at home to West Brom. The Baggies played superbly and were desperately unlucky not come away with all three points. As for Chelsea, not having a world class striker could cost them dear.
Tottenham can feel hard done by. If it weren’t for the sublime performance of Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal then Spurs would have definitely taken all three points. Krul made 14 saves in the game, a league record and a Loic Remy goal gave the Geordies a 1-0 victory.
…will cause a lot of teams problems…
Liverpool looked in dominant form as they strolled to a 4-0 win over struggling Fulham. The strike-force of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge with Philippe Coutinho in behind will cause a lot of teams problems. Those three will create chances in every game they play but it is there defence which could cost them a top four spot.
Everton struggled to find rhythm as they were held to a 0-0 draw away to Crystal Palace. The Toffees should have taken all three points against a struggling Palace side but Everton were poor with the ball and didn’t look like scoring.
…they were the best team outside the top four…
Southampton may have been a surprise package for some but after several impressive performances and a 4-1 victory over Hull, people will start to take note. Hull boss Steve Bruce said that they were the best team outside the top four and they have a real chance of finishing in a European place.
After a weekend of unexpected results, the top four positions are wide open again. Although Liverpool and Southampton have started the season brilliantly and both sit in the top three, sustaining a challenge throughout the whole season will be very tough. Injuries will play a big part and teams with bigger squads will start to pull away. The top four at the end of the season will consist of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea with the winner coming from one of them.
…Mourinho knows how to win…
Tottenham have the best chance of breaking into the top four but they are struggling to score goals. Roberto Soldado looks starved of service as the wingers are cutting inside too much and causing too much congestion in the middle of the pitch.
As for the top four, City will come good and they will sort their terrible away form out. Their squad is far too good for this dismal away form to continue. Mourinho knows how to win and installs a huge self belief in his squad. Manchester United are so experienced and their experience will start to show as always after the new year. Arsenal have been very impressive so far and look like they can finally mount a serious title challenge although another striker is a must in January if they want to be top of the pile in May.