By Greg Hudson
The 2014/15 Barclay’s Premier League season is one-third complete, and some clubs are emerging as potential contenders while others falter in the hunt for supremacy. Here’s a list of who’s hot, who’s not, and which side remains a mystery:
Chelsea: Jose Mourinho’s men have gotten off to one of the hottest starts in Premier League history, winning ten of their first 13 contests and going unbeaten. Their free-flowing and creative attack has belied Mourinho’s reputation as a defensive-minded manager, but the defense has been almost unbreakable all season. They sit atop the league by six points over champions Manchester City and frankly don’t look like they can be caught at this point. It’s a foolish thing to say at such an early point in the season, with so much time remaining for players to lose their form or suffer the injury bug, but all signs point to a reality that anyone wanting to win the title this season will have to do so over Chelsea’s dead bodies.
Southampton: The Saints were almost everyone’s – including my own – favorites for relegation after Liverpool and other top clubs raided the club of its best talent during the summer transfer window. But Southampton have not only replaced them, they look like an improved side for it, with new striker Graziano Pelle benefitting from excellent link-up play from new winger Susan Tadiç. Saints currently sit third in the table and based on current form, could put up a good fight for a spot in the Champions’ League next year.
Manchester City: Last year’s champions won’t be pleased with their performance so far this season. It’s almost unfair to say that the team which sits second isn’t hot but they simply haven’t lived up to expectations as the most talented group of players in England. They’ve been too reliant on Sergio Agüero for goals and their once-solid defense has at times looked porous. They’re only six points behind Chelsea but based on current form they might as well be 12 points back because they have their work cut out.
Liverpool: Like City, the Reds came down hard off a great season. They lost superstar striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona and invested in several good players but they simply haven’t meshed yet, and with star striker Daniel Sturbridge out since the end of August, things have looked dire for Liverpool who have just 17 points and sit 11th. It is very reminiscent of Tottenham Hotspur last season, when they lost Gareth Bale and struggled to find chemistry with the seven new players they signed. The good news for the Reds is that Spurs look strong a year later, and so while this season isn’t set to amount to much, improved form next season could see them again return to a fight at the top.
Manchester United: I say United are a mystery because they are a very inconsistent and unbalanced side with four world class attackers but a defense which remains a shambles. Somehow they sit in fourth but how they’ve gotten there is indeed quite a mystery. A team which loses 5-3 to bottom side Leicester but beats Arsenal 2-0 away from home is without question an unknown quantity which we’ll need to watch more closely to learn more about, to see if they’re contenders or pretenders