Now over half-way through, the Premier League table is starting to take shape. Undoubtedly, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt throughout the footballing pyramid. Outbreaks at a handful of Premier League team facilities has meant a build-up of fixtures due to postponements. This, alongside another season plagued by VAR controversy, has meant unpredictability has become a common theme.
Despite this, from what we’ve seen so far, we can attempt to make some predictions for how the season outcomes will unfold.
The Title Race
It has been a strange season for last season’s runaway champions. A shock 7-2 loss away to Aston Villa seemed only to be the beginning of their woes. Losing both starting centre-backs, Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, to season-long knee injuries has meant that manager Jürgen Klopp has been forced to make-do with Fabinho and Henderson filling in on multiple occasions. After struggling to score for 483 minutes over the New Year period, they have seemingly found form again; netting six in their last two. Liverpool fans will be hoping that victories against Spurs and West Ham will have helped them find their feet again in the title race. They are not out of it by a long way, but they now find themselves playing catch up after a poor spell of form.
United have been a much-improved team, but something is still missing in order to transform them into a consistent title challenger
At the beginning of January, United fans were ecstatic as their team, somewhat surprisingly, sat at the top of the Premier League table. Since then, a mixed bag of tight games against Burnley, Liverpool, and Fulham, a shock midweek defeat to Sheffield United and a thumping 9-0 victory over Southampton has meant they now level on points with their Manchester neighbours, who have 2 games in hand. Since Bruno Fernandes’ move from Sporting Lisbon, United have been a much-improved team, but something is still missing in order to transform them into a consistent title challenger.
Could we see a repeat of Leicester’s 2015/2016 heroics? The East Midlands outfit once again have impressed and now find themselves currently 4th. Brendan Rogers’ side would likely have to find greater consistency in their remaining 18 games. Star-man Jamie Vardy has struggled this season to get firing with injuries plaguing last season’s Golden Boot winner. A loss against Leeds last weekend shows their vulnerability to slip up without Vardy in the side.
[City] have been very much back to their usual selves, winning their last 8 league games and finding themselves at the top of the table
Manchester City have imposed themselves as the Premier League’s dominant team in recent weeks. For City’s standards, it was a slow start to the season, dropping points to the likes of West Ham and Leicester. Since December however, they have been very much back to their usual selves, winning their last 8 league games and finding themselves at the top of the table. It has been City’s defence that has made them seemingly unstoppable. A revived John Stones playing alongside last summer’s £60 million man, Ruben Dias, has transformed Man City into the League’s best defence: conceding only 13 goals in 20 games. Going forward, they seem to be the team to beat.
Only 4 points separate West Ham United in 5th and Arsenal in 10th, meaning the race for European qualification is likely to be a close one. A good run of form could see any of these teams quietly slip into the top 4. Chelsea and Tottenham will both be attempting to respond to what has, so far, been an underwhelming season. West Ham, Everton, and Aston Villa will all be pleased with their improvements this season, having all finished in the bottom half of the table last time around. Arguably, this could be the most exciting of the league’s contests.
It took until the 12th of January until Sheffield United managed to muster a win, any resurgence is likely to be too late for Chris Wilder’s men
The fight to escape the drop is slightly more predictable. The current bottom three: Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, and Sheffield United, have fallen behind Brighton in 17th (especially after the Seagull’s victory at Tottenham on Sunday). It took until the 12th of January until Sheffield United managed to muster a win, any resurgence is likely to be too late for Chris Wilder’s men. Despite a managerial change mid-season, bringing in survival expert Sam Allardyce, West Brom have seen little improvement. They have conceded the most goals in the league (52) and are not too prolific at the other end either. Fulham are without a win since November, despite some strong performances in recent weeks. They are in desperate need of a win soon for any chance to avoid the drop.
What is for sure is plenty more excitement to come before the season ends on May 23rd.
(All information correct at the time of writing)
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