As the Premier league is now 10 weeks in and the natural running order is starting to take shape, we will have a look at the some of the main contenders to see how they have started and how they may continue as we fast approach the all-important Christmas period.
Arsenal have surprised a lot of people with how they have sprung from the blocks to become the early season pace setters. Expectations were low coming into the season and the opening day defeat to Aston Villa led to calls for Arsene Wenger to step aside. Arsenal finished last season very strongly and some of those calls were premature in my opinion. Their lack of activity in the early part of the transfer window did look a worry but the deadline day signing of Mesut Ozil really caught the imagination as well as Aaron Ramsey’s stunning form and Olivier Giroud's proficiency in front of goal. After their hard fought victory over Borussia Dortmund they also now look well placed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
With the return to fitness of Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Mathieu Flamini, everything looks in place for a sustained challenge for the title they have not won since the 2003-2004 season.
Predicted Finish - 2nd
The return of the “Special One” to Stamford Bridge hot seat brought a renewed buzz around a team that has had more managers in the last number of years than most other Premier League clubs.
With the acquisitions of Eto'o, Willian, Van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle, we have been given a sign of how Mourinho intends to play the game this season. Chelsea already had a potent attacking force which included Torres, Hazard, Oscar and the out of favour Juan Mata. The one big surprise was letting Romelu Lukaku go on loan to Everton, as of all the strikers at Mourinho's disposal, Lukaku look by far the most dangerous and in-form.
The puzzle lies in how Mourinho will seek to ensure his midfield has solidity as well as invention. In several big matches last season, such as at Manchester City, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Swansea in the Capital One Cup, opponents were able to play through them too easily.
The form of the unfashionable John Obi Mikel and Ramires will be key to the defensive side of Chelsea's game but they will need a good balance to go with the numerous attacking options available.
Predicted Finish - 1st
3. Man City
Manuel Pellegrini took over in the summer from the departed Roberto Mancini to try and move Man City to the next level - success in Europe. So far he seems on track with the likely qualification from the group stages of the Champions league while also sitting in 5th place in the Premier League and well situated to make a strong challenge. The purchases of Alvaro Negredo has added a bit of bite to their strike force and looks a good partner for the formidable Sergio Aguero, while in midfield Fernandinho has provided more security to the back 4. Yaya Toure continues to pull the stings in midfield and remains key to the success of the team. A priority for City will be the fitness of Vincent Kompany as without him they look vulnerable at the back.
Predicted Finish – 3rd
Brendan Rodgers is looking to continue the progress made last season and his hard fought battle to keep Luis Suarez at the club during the summer now looks inspired as he currently is one half of arguably the most dangerous partnership in the premier league alongside Daniel Sturridge.
The capture of Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Man City and Simon Mignolet from Sunderland have provided more security at the back. The current form of Steven Gerard is a slight worry with his influence in midfield starting to wane.
The lack of European football this season will be an advantage and the return to fitness of Philippe Coutinho will prove key to providing the SAS with the service required to keep in touch with the league leaders during the season.
Predicted Finish - 6th
5. Man United
David Moyes was always going to come under pressure to continue the standards set during the 27 years of Alex Ferguson’s reign. United’s stuttering start has been a worry for fans although a few good results of late have steadied the ship somewhat. The very public failings in the transfer market are not something United are known for and this may prove their undoing this season.
The general consensus was that United need a midfield playmaker and have done for a number of years now but the purchase of Marouane Fellaini really does not come close to addressing this issue.
Upfront is where United look the strongest with the retention of Wayne Rooney and the reliability of Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez. It is the gaols from these 3 that will make or break United’s season. The emergence of Januzaj has created a buzz around Old Trafford but he will need support from other currently under-performing players to keep United in touch at the top of the table.
Predicted Finish - 4th
The loss of Gareth Bale never looked like a base to build a title challenging team but Spurs this season look arguably a better team with more strength in depth than they have had in the Premier League era.
With the money from the world transfer record deal spent wisely Spurs now look a real force. The capture of Roberto Soldado, Eriksen, Paulinho and Erik Lamela should, in time, prove wise investments. Eriksen looks to be the creative midfielder that Spurs have been lacking in recent years and Eric Lamela, even though he has not hit the ground running, still looks a good bet for the medium to long term.
Predicted Finish 5th
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