Impact Sport’s Premier League title predictor

A mere five points separate the top five positions in the Premier League table this year. The big boys have come back stronger than ever after Leicester City’s utter shock defiance of all odds to win the title last season. It’s no evaggeration to say any of these teams could win it.

While many felt Liverpool were in with a strong chance of the top four, not many would have predicted a title challenge in Klopp’s second season in charge.

The German strengthened well during the summer, Saido Mane’s six goals have helped Liverpool to the summit and Joel Matip has strenghtened the backline. Last season we saw glimpses of what Klopp’s Liverpool would look like, and we’ve witnessed it on many occasions this term with thrashings of Watford and Hull, backed up by victories at both the Emirates and Stamford Bridge.

However, what cost them the title in 2014 and what will cost them this season too is their leaky defence, they have kept just one clean sheet sofar.

Chelsea have also made great strides this season after a shambollic 2015/16 campaign. The Blues have benefited from not having the distraction of European football, meaning they are able to put all their focus into league matches.

Things weren’t looking so rosy following a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal back in late September but since then their form has been formidable, five wins, 16 goals scored and none conceded.

This can be explained somewhat by Antonio Conte reverting to three at the back, he used this to great effect with Italy at Euro 2016. The defence looks more solid and the attack is firing on all cylinders, with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard back to their title-winning form of two seasons ago.

At one point Manchester City were looking like running away with the title, they had won all six of their league games but a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham brought them crashing back down to earth.

Since then City’s form has been mixed. The defeat against Tottenham has removed the fear factor and teams are now more willing to go after City. Having said that they are still in a strong position, just two points off the top.

Also a 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions Leauge demonstrated what Aguero & co. are capable of. Summer signings Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito have settled well, Raheem Sterling looks a different player and Kevin De Bruyne is a lethal presence in attack. They are frail at the back however, with the intermittent absence of Vincent Kompany.

There are plenty of reasons for Arsenal fans to be positive. Alexis Sanchez is flourishing in his new forward role, Theo Walcott is having his best season in years and Olivier Giroud is always a useful option on the bench.

When you add to this the creative quality of Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla then you have a very strong side indeed. However, much like Liverpool and City, Arsenal have problems at the back despite the arrival of Shkodran Mustafi at centre half.

Tottenham are the only remaining unbeaten side in the Premier League, yet find themselves outside the top four. Why is this the case? The simple answer is too many draws and not enough goals.

The best defence in the Premier League last season looks as solid as ever, despite the injury to Toby Alderweireld. The problem has been scoring goals, which of course haven’t been helped by the loss of Harry Kane.

Vincent Janssen is finding his feet and yet to score from open play and while Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli have chipped in, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela only have one league goal between them which simply isn’t good enough. However, with the return of Kane from injury and Alderweireld to come back, there is reason for optimism, but the title looks unlikely.

United have been excluded from this assessment of the title race. This is because they are very much a team in transition, Jose Mourinho still doesn’t know what his best team is. There is no doubt of the talent in the United squad with the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the heavy 4-0 defeat away at Chelsea suggests that they aren’t quite ready to challenge.

It is, of course, still early days and difficult to make a prediction. But as we come towards Christmas, this time of year can be pivotal as a turning point in any teams’ season. My money is on Manchester City to win the tite by turning their recent dip in form around and regaining the momentum which made the sky blues reach the summit at the start of the campaign.

Tyler Gerrard

Image courtesy of Peter Woodentop via License here. No changes made to this image.

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