SEPTEMBER IS OVER!
Yes, we all have successfully eaten up another 9 months of this new year. Damn, time really flies. It feels like only last week when I was talking about the predictions for the new season.
But here we are, past the Matchday 7, and how the premier league has shaped up has more or less corroborated our expectations. The premier league has been at its entertaining best.
An exciting title race?
Much of the pre-season talk was focused on who will challenge Manchester City for the title. As expected, Klopp’s Liverpool have proven to be most worthy among the lot. But contradictory to most expectations, Chelsea have upped their game too. Emery has slowly been steadying Arsenal’s ship. And then, as always, we have Tottenham. So by the looks of it, it’s going to be a three-horse race for the title (City, Liverpool, Chelsea), which could turn to a four-horse or five-horse race, come May (sorry Manchester United fans).
Overview of the Big 6
Manchester City look scary. They were brilliant last season. This season they are even better. The quality, the depth, the confidence with which they are playing, all points to the fact that it is going to be extremely difficult for anyone to dethrone them from their spot. They have shown plenty of reasons for us to believe that they will retain their title. Though Europe looks like a point of concern.
Liverpool are serious with their ambitions. They haven’t looked as good in years. Their attack was already world class. But Alisson, van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have given them the best defensive record (tied along with Man City) in the league with only 3 goals conceded in 7 games. And did I mention their squad depth? They look competent enough to fight for the title. As the fans have been crying all these years, this could actually be their year. (No pun intended. UNFORTUNATELY!)
Tottenham’s off-field struggles will be problematic for them this season. As if not signing anyone in the transfer window was not enough, the constant delays in moving into the new stadium have created a lot of unrest among the fans and players alike. Though it should not affect their game, the constant uncertainty has surely had a psychological effect on them. They have lost two games and even the ones they won have looked labored. Fatigue of the players is also a major talking point in the media, which I personally not believe is the issue.
Arsenal have silently gone about their business. Though initially struggling, Emery has now slowly picked the team up. Arsenal have now recorded 7 consecutive victories across all competitions. The pairing of Aubameyang and Lacazette can blossom into a deadly attacking partnership. Also, Emery’s experience and the preference he gives to Europa league means Arsenal are genuine contenders for it. Not bad for a post-Wenger era. Is it?
Chelsea are slowly becoming my favorites among the lot (I’m a Manchester United supporter). In such a short span, the way Sarri has got them playing is commendable. Jorginho and Kovačić have been tremendous, and then there’s the brilliant Belgian, Eden Hazard. Still undefeated, Chelsea look good on the eye and capable of challenging for the title. On the other side, Morata is still struggling, their defense is clearly not up to the mark and they will have to cope up with the gruesome scheduling of Premier League when it comes to Europa League matches. I recently wrote a blog about the same where I’ve talked in-depth about Chelsea’s title challenge. You can find it here ‘Can Sarri Pull off a Conte with Chelsea?’.
Manchester United are a club in crisis. It pains me to see them struggling but it was nothing unexpected. The signs were there even before the season began. Mourinho is struggling to get the best out of his players and seems to have lost their support. The Pogba–Mourinho rift is for the world to see. The embarrassing defeat at the hands of West Ham looks like the last straw. Though I do not blame Jose completely, the only viable option left is to sack him or him to resign willingly (which he won’t, since getting sacked will get him 12 million). Jose has been fighting a lost cause. There’s also the talk about Zidane, which has got all supporters excited.
Outside the big 6
They might not be among the so-called ‘Big 6’ but Wolves have been really impressive. It’s not easy for a newly promoted club to settle so quickly in the Premier League. But after initially struggling, Nuno’s side has managed to pick up some impressive points, among which are the draws against the Manchester giants. They play a distinct football and stick to their style of play (evident when they played City). Now many would argue that their success has much to do with their close association with Mendes. That’s true in part but it cannot take the credit away from what Nuno has achieved.
Everton have been decent but a lot was expected of them after the kind of investment they made in the summer. Marco Silva is yet to make his mark.
Watford have lost their initial grace and are now settling in where we expect them to. Still, Javi Gracia’s side has been playing good football and we can expect them to fight for the 7th spot.
In the bottom, Neil Warnock’s Cardiff and David Wagner’s Huddersfield look right at their place. Many were expecting them to go down this season and with what we’ve seen in these initial weeks, they look increasingly likely to follow those expectations.
Predictions for the Top 10
Based on these picks, here are my predictions for the top 10 this season:
Football is a funny old game and things can turn around pretty quickly. Let’s hope we have more of such entertaining football ahead. Premier League was already one of the best in the world, but last night’s game between Chelsea and Liverpool emphasized the fact how it has grown on a technical level.
Author: Shikhil Vyas