So, with a third of the season played, what better time to look at how the Premier League has unfolded so far – and to check out how those predictions are looking!
In terms of the title, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to suggest that Man City look almost unstoppable at the moment. Man United and Spurs are reasonably close behind but both have had to scrap for points in certain games and look likely to drop more points than City, who have brushed aside virtually everyone they have faced. Including both Man City and Spurs.
No silverware is handed out in November, however, and although most of the off-pitch distractions have had no bearing on Man City’s league form, there remains a potential for self destruction with so many volatile characters amongst the squad. They face a tough set of fixtures during December and January, and their credentials will be thoroughly tested over the next few weeks, or even earlier than that should they be eliminated after this week’s final round of Champions League games, a situation which may affect the mood within the club.
With Spurs enjoying a strong start to the campaign, Chelsea have found themselves coming under increasing pressure and not only look like they’re out of the title race, but they’ve been less convincing than usual in cup competitions, and suffered an uncharacteristic slump in their home form.
Liverpool remain a work in progress and will have mixed feelings over the first 14 games. Denied injury time victories thanks to world-class goalkeeping in games against Norwich and Man City, and highly contentious decisions to disallow goals against Sunderland and Fulham may have cost further points. But it hasn’t all been down to bad luck, and the reason why Liverpool are in 7th place is also because they simply haven’t helped themselves often enough with their finishing. Amongst the obvious progress remains plenty of potential for more.
The surprise package of the season has without doubt been Newcastle. I am doubtful whether they can pose a serious threat to the top five or six come May, but at the start of the season, a top seven position might have sounded a little optimistic to the St James’ Park faithful, though it is certainly within their capabilities after the start they have enjoyed.
At the bottom, Wigan really look like a team in trouble. I’m a great admirer of what they’ve achieved since gaining promotion to the Premier League, but each season appears to present a tougher challenge to their top flight status. Roberto Martinez worked wonders towards the end of last season in keeping Wigan in the top flight, but few teams manage that twice in a row and they’ll quickly need to start picking up points to avoid being in a similar boat this season.
The one positive is that a handful of teams are within reach. Lancashire rivals Blackburn and Bolton look just as likely as Wigan to be in a relegation scrap, having shown nothing to suggest that they are currently in a false position. Sunderland, too, could be a surprise candidate for the drop, although a managerial change in bringing Martin O’Neill to the club should improve the mood amongst fans.
Two of my other tips for the drop – QPR and Swansea – have begun life at the top level in impressive fashion, and neither look out of place.
It goes without saying that there will be plenty of twists and turns as the season goes on, and if Man City can be prevented from running away at the top of the league, it promises to be a fascinating year from top to bottom.