The EPL took a break between rounds 7 and 8 for international fixtures but thankfully we won’t have another one for a few weeks.
The table has changed a little from week 4 so let’s get stuck in.
Chelsea are still romping away at the top with 22 points from a possible 24. In fairness they haven’t played anyone significant yet. Coming up in week 9 are Manchester United, still woeful on defense but at least electric on attack and, for the moment, the best games to watch come Saturday afternoon as goals are pretty much guaranteed at both ends.
It’s an away game for Chelsea but I think they will have too much composure and defensive strength even for the likes of Di Maria, Falcao, RVP and Rooney. Fabregas and Costa have struck up a formidable partnership this season with Fabregas providing opportunities almost at will. There is some doubt whether Costa will play but their industrious midfield is quite capable of scoring too, think Oscar or Willian just to name two.
After watching Chelsea destroy Roma in the Champions League without Costa I have to admit they are really firing on all cylinders but for now I’m going to stick to my original prediction of 2nd place in May. There are too many top teams still to play for their points haul to be definitive at this stage.
United by contrast are dropping points almost every other fixture and with only 12 from 8 games are well short of what is needed to make the top 4, let alone 3rd I predicted. On the other hand things are improving and the goal scoring department is proving real value for money in terms of entertainment. Daley Blind popped up with an equalizer on Monday night at West Brom so maybe the mid is starting to work a little better but defensively some shopping will need to be done in January to get to the lofty heights of my prediction of 3rd.
Manchester City gave away a 2 goal lead in Moscow in the Champions League but ran riot at Spurs on the weekend. Only they know why they cannot transform their league form to European matches. Possibly it is lack of experience at this level but with a few seasons in the Champions League between most of the players this excuse is wearing thin now. City play high-flying West Ham (currently 4th) this week. Expect a lot of goals from Aguerro and a lot of complaining from Sam Allerdyce. Still my favourites to win the EPL. By Monday I expect them to have 20 points from 9 games.
Fourth to twelfth are covered by 3 points and include Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs. Everton are 13th a further point back!
Liverpool are at home to Hull and will be hoping their Champions League hangover doesn’t translate to a poor league result. Liverpool looked absolutely rubbish against Real Madrid. Yes, one should consider the opposition, the current European champions but this is the coach everyone thought was refreshing and would bring glory back to Liverpool and English football.
In my opinion he looked out of his depth. His team pressed hard in the opening salvos but this is not a tactic any team can pursue for 90 minutes, especially not against a team so adept at pushing the ball around. It is looking more and more like Suarez was the reason Liverpool did so well and not the manager. Time will tell but 4th may yet be a struggle for Liverpool this season. I would suggest an urgent replacement is needed for at least 3 of the 4 defenders who played on Wednesday and Gerrard needs to play a lesser role too. Balotelli is getting the blame for a lot of Liverpool’s failure to score and while he may not be without fault he is certainly not the only one playing below par.
Arsenal are away to Sunderland this week for now separated by only three points. I expect Arsenal to win this game and accelerate their march up the table. Wellbeck is finding his feet nicely and in partnership with Sanchez is becoming a player worth watching, potentially an astute purchase by the Gunners. I expect teams like West Ham and Southampton to fade as the season progresses, much like Swansea have since week 4. Arsenal still on target to make top 5 in my book.
Tottenham are having a strange season so far in terms of results. 3 wins and 2 draws doesn’t make good reading but they beat West Ham (4th), Southampton (3rd) and poor QPR and drew with Arsenal and Sunderland. They have played 2 of the other top 6 contenders in Liverpool and City but lost both heavily, conceding 7 goals in the two games. I think they have the squad depth to make 6th but they need to string some performances together against the mid and lower placed teams to get there. The ups and downs of this season must surely frustrate all Spurs fans, however losing 1-0 to West Brom puts the 2-2 draw United achieved on Monday into a much better light for the Red Devils.
In my opening predictions piece I suggested Everton were the team who would suffer the most this season with the loan players returning to their respective clubs. They managed to sign Lukaku from Chelsea but he is not the player we saw in 2013/4. I am actually a bit disappointed with the performances we see weekly from Everton. There seems to be a lot less desire on display. Martinez will have to make some changes if they are to achieve the 7th spot I predicted.
I can’t wait for the weekend!
Did I miss something? Post your opinion below and let’s hear it.