Who Should Be Considered the Favourites to Win the Premier League This Season?
With a whole plethora of new faces, from managers to players, joining and departing the top flight, the Premier League has become an almost unrecognisable landscape when compared to the beginning of last season. Last season’s top three all experienced a change of hands at the wheel and based on the start to the current season, it hasn’t been smooth across the board. A mere eight games into the season and we’ve already witnessed a few shocks, but has that changed who will be considered favourites for the title?
Sitting pretty at the top of the table are Arsenal, who have surprised most with their performances this season. The club record £42.4million signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid took many by surprise and boss Arsene Wenger must be given credit for his capture. Despite previously being considered a team of under-performers, the combined efforts of a resurgent Aaron Ramsey, who has now added goals to his game, and Olivier Giroud means they will surely better their fourth placed finish of last season. Do I honestly see them as title contenders? Despite being top of the pile, we are only eight games into the season and I don’t see them as title challengers. They have only played one real quality side in Tottenham, which they won, but the real test of their character will be in the coming weeks when they play Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Currently second are Chelsea, who were my pick for the title prior to the league kicking off, under new manager Jose Mourinho. The ‘Special One’ returned to Stamford Bridge to replace the outgoing Rafa Benitez and the Blues are just two points behind the Gunners. Chelsea possess one of the best group of attacking talents in the world with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata, Willian and Andre Schurrle. Personally, I see them having the strength in depth, which Arsenal lack at present, to ultimately see them finish the season strongly.
Liverpool, third in the table, will do better than their seventh placed finish last campaign under Brenden Rodgers, but won’t challenge for the title. Much of their season’s hopes and aspirations are down to their striking duo of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. For all the controversy, Suarez is undeniably a world class finisher, whilst Sturridge has continued his rich vein of form into this campaign. The Reds, like Arsenal, have been a surprise package this season and picked up 10 points even before Suarez had completed his ban. Now that the Uruguayan is back in the team, with the new look SAS strike force Liverpool look set to push for a top four finish.
Manchester City, under the guidance of new manager Manuel Pellegrini, are occupying the fourth position and are hoping to wrestle the title back from their cross-city rivals. The Sky Blues seem to be starting to click in the league after back-to-back 3-1 victories over Everton and West Ham. Add to that the impressive 4-1 drubbing over Manchester United and they will definitely be within a shout of the title. However, being undone by Aston Villa and Cardiff City will be a concern.
If you had said that Tottenham Hotspur would be a stronger team without Gareth Bale, then I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But that seems to be the case as the world-record transfer of the Welsh wizard to Real Madrid has seen the funds reinvested into the side. Manager Andre Villas-Boas has brought in seven players to ease the burden of losing their star man and has sprinkled quality throughout his side. Their potential success in cup and European competitions may be their downfall and see them stumble at the last hurdle again, but they could finally break into that top four elite.
Which brings me to last season’s winners Manchester United and new boss David Moyes. Granted, replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was an almost impossible job to come into, however, their failings in the transfer market did not do them any favours, having missed out on a number of targets before settling on Marouane Fellaini. To say that the Red Devils have struggled this season would be an understatement after having lost to West Brom, Liverpool and Manchester City. I think that this season we will see a transitional period for the trophy holders, but I don’t think you can write them off for the title regardless of their poor start. I don’t think they’ll win the league this year after suffering three defeats already, but stranger things have happened.
It would be foolish of me to try and predict the final top six with so long left in the season, but so far it seems that we are in for one of the most open and competitive Premier League seasons for years.
Published on October 25 2013 for The Huffington Post.