After just four games played in the new Premier League season, the top four already contains the favourite contenders for the title. Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Manchester City, sit top of the table, respectively, already warming their seats in what is shaping up to be a season-long game of top-four musical chairs.
The English Premier League is unlike any other league in Europe. La Liga, the Bundesliga, the SPL, and to a large extent Serie A, have been two-horse races for years. The Premier League has seen times like this, but gone are the days when Manchester United and only one other team at a time vie for the title.
The Premier League can be proud to boast of its top four and, at times, top six – the clubs in serious contention for the title each season.
At this stage, it looks as if both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur would have their work cut out if they are to provide a serious threat to the holders Man City or the European champions Chelsea. But lets not forget, the team currently occupying the top spot finished in 6th place last season – nothing is a foregone conclusion in this league.
Come May, when the music stops, and all 38 games have been played, the table never lies. Manchester United, with their experience – often seen brewing under the surface until the New Year when Ferguson’s teams really mature into their season like a fine wine – are hurt from last season’s final day (final minute) robbery at the hands of their most hated rivals Manchester City – and they’ll be looking to atone.
City, with their hands in and out of Sheikh Monsour’s pocket quicker than Usain Bolt can get his trainers on; have the depth and quality in their squad to practically field two world-class teams for each game of the season.
Much the same can be said for Chelsea this season who, despite their poor ‘also ran’ status in the league last term, will be boosted by their Champion’s League title. Roberto De Matteo was strident in the transfer market over the summer and acquired the most promising talent in the land, in the 21-year-old Belgian Eden Hazard.
De Matteo still has the old guard at his disposal – a back line still intact, a residual from the Mourinho-era – Cech, Terry, Ivanovic, and Cole, not to mention a rejuvenated Fernando Torres on the end of his compatriot Juan Mata’s final balls in the box. Chelsea, for me, are the front-runners this season and, if anyone else intends to win the league, they’ll have to beat them in the head-to-heads.
Arsenal will be the underdogs – a familiar position for them. With their trophy drought now becoming a complex at seven seasons, Wenger’s Gunners will likely struggle to compete as the season unfolds.
Another summer of transfer sagas saw them lose another captain and their best player to a rival. However unlikely though, it would still be foolish to rule them out, as the revitalised defence under Steve Bould sees them remain unbeaten so far, conceding only one goal.
But the season is long and their squad is thin in comparison with their rivals. The imminent return of Jack Wilshere may see them triumph in face of adversity but, if they do win a trophy this season, my money would be on a domestic cup and not on the league.