English Premier League title chase – Who’s In or out?

epl-championshipThis is definitely, in my opinion, one of the most interesting, competitive and unpredictable English premier league battles in a very long time.In the past the Christmas period and its congested match schedule had produced potential clear favourites to take the title, and in most occasions the team that came out of the Christmas period leading the pack, or second at worst, carried the day come coronation in May.

The year 2017 is, however, refusing to follow tradition as we have a “big six” potential suitors to the crown in Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester united.

Let’s take a look at each club’s situation and their real chances of winning the Premier League:

 

MANCHESTER CITY: Pep Guardiola’s team started off all guns blazing with maximum points after five games, only for the reality of the Premier league to catch up with them and cut them down to earth. True to tradition, Man City under Guardiola have had the most ball possession of all teams in the premiership. There is just one problem though; this is the premiership, where nothing is won in advance.

To have a chance at becoming champions, Man city need to improve on their defence tactically and above all personnel-wise. Without pointing fingers, it is clear that this defensive section is where City have struggled against the big guns like Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. They need to buy “real” defenders.

An improvement in their disciplinary stance would help too and hopefully Kun Agüero will finally stay healthy and on the pitch long enough to make the difference we all know he can!

 

MANCHESTER UNITED After a poor start Jose Mourinho’s boys are knocking on the doors of Europe, with Pogba finally looking like he has been able to shrug off the world’s most expensive player burden, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic hitting form. Ibrahimovic is currently joint second top scorer of the EPL with 13 goals and loads of assists.

To win the league they need a spirited run of positive results, especially against the top five teams ahead of them.

Unfortunately the title charge for Man United does not only depend on what Man United does, but more on what the other leaders fail to do. There is a slight chance though.

 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: This is a pleasant and refreshing team to watch as they seem to be at their best when they play the big guns of the EPL.

To be crowned champions, Pochettino and his boys would need not only to continue winning against the big guns, but stop dropping precious points against the smaller teams on the table. If they manage that, then they might just win it.

 

LIVERPOOL: Jürgen Klopp’s boys are impressive, energetic, mobile and unbelievably aggressive.

Liverpool are clearly not only enjoying success thanks to hard work, but also the club’s absence from the energy sapping European scene, which helps.

To be crowned champions they need to not only continue their positive runs versus the other title contenders, but stop dropping points to relegation strugglers on the league table.

The eventual absence of my favourite Liverpool player, Sadio Mané for the Africa Cup of Nations and the eventual state in which he might return could be a decisive point in their fortunes.

Injuries, which have often accompanied Klopp’s teams, could also hinder their ambitions. This team is one that I would not advice anyone to bet against in the title chase!

 

ARSENAL: Sanchez! Sanchez!! Sanchez!!! 13 goals, several assists, playmaker and team motivator. Arsenal’s chances of finally lifting the trophy hinges, in my opinion, a lot around this exceptional player.

Arsenal’s nonstop dropping of points against less equipped teams in mysterious ways has to stop if they want to be crowned champions and simultaneously, they have to start beating the big boys.

Shkodran Mustafi’s good health is paramount to the defensive success of Arsenal coupled with the necessity to make Sanchez happy.

 

CHELSEA: Antonio Conte’s boys have a sizeable lead over second placed on the table and defensively, I feel, Chelsea is the best performing team of the top six. With a rejuvenated and less erratic spear header in the Premier league’s top scorer, Diego Costa, with 14 goals, Chelsea are looking like sure bets to lift the most coveted league title in the world.

Furthermore, with a star-studded team with no distractions from the European Champions league, Chelsea’s players are set to have fresh legs when the final stretch kicks in.

Conte’s 3-4-3 system is definitely raking in points, but will the others find the antidote to this? Is the recently evident misunderstanding on the pitch by certain players as they lost to Tottenham hotspur a sign of impending cracks in the fortress?

I personally believe that this is a title for Chelsea to lose, as with N’Golo Kanté they have an arsenal that other rivals lack and they just need to stay focused and the title should be theirs.

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January 11, 2017 9:55 pm Published by

1 Comment

  • Jane Orumen says:

    Good evening Sunday Oliseh and congratulations on your recent job as a coach in Belgium.

    It’s nice to know that your job still gives you time to do what you do well, writing of articles.

    I like your last line in your first paragraph about Mancity “There is just one problem though; this is the premiership, where nothing is won in advance”. I wish pundits and football fans will just agree that the EPL is the most difficult league to win. When City captured Pep pundits and fans alike made it look as if he will just walk into England and stroll away with the trophy without a fight. People fail to understand that with so much money to make by participating teams in the EPL every team is fighting for something and so no 3 points is assured until after 90 minutes.

    In the EPL it is very easy for a relegation bound team to upset table toppers, very easy i mean! At times i just feel that there is more of wickedness in the heart of EPL players, they are very good spoilers, they want to be the one to end whatever aspiration or runs you are having. They can put in all their energy into one game to spoil it for the opposition and loose 5 straight games to teams they are suppose to win. Like we call it here in Nigeria they are “bad belles”.

    Going by the topic of this article “EPL Champions Race, Who’s In & Who’s Out i will still like to use your last line again in paragraph 1 of your analysis of Manchester City “There is just one problem though; this is the premiership, where nothing is won in advance”. But for the sake of analysis, i would want to stress first of all that the top 6 teams can still win it, nothing is won yet not even Chelsea being table topper with 5 points lead. In 2011 Manchester United’s 8 points lead over City evaporated over a period of 3 matches and that subsequently handed the trophy to City. Chelsea might be in cruise control now, but i tell you the EPL is unpredictable. Take a look at Manchester United in November they were over 10 points behind the fifth placed team, but as at today, is just 2 points.

    Meanwhile, looking at the 6 teams critically like you have already done, Chelsea has every thing going for them, the team spirit, the tactics, players back to form and wanting to play for the coach, lack of European activities (though this i dont want to believe is an added advantage because we have seen big teams in United and Liverpool not involved in European football yet it didnt count as an advantage to them) and generally even their mistakes are turning to points. hahahahahahaha. As for City their defence is in shambles, Pep is already loosing his cool he’s being overwhelmed by the pressure of the press and the game, his players are missing matches due to indiscipline, big name players not living up to expectations. Liverpool that we all know blows hot and cold, inconsistency should be their middle name, they can win all the big games and drop points against relegation bound teams. They missed Coutinho due to injury and now Mane off to Nations Cup is going to be another massive miss. Boy! The guy has being the engine room in that team, tormenting defences, creating chances and scoring goals. Wow, I hope they truly miss him alot cos they are just breathing down Chelsea’s neck. (bad belle). Anything to write about Arsenal, nothing different from the usual “next season”,”finishing above Spurs or “making the top 4″that is their ambition so i don’t expect anything different. For Spurs, you remember how they evaporated last season after losing to Chelsea? They also blow hot and cold, nothing new about them, their normal season charge is what they are displaying. Finally to Jose Mourinho, Zlatan and 100m Pogba, it is a big surprise that having done business so early in the season, got all the players he needed him and his players are struggling for top 4 not even the trophy now, but given their recent run of 5 wins at a stretch they are showing some signs of competition. Pogba trying to match half of his price tag, zlatan being zlatan and Mata is occupying space and carrying alot of weight along i think they can knock at the door but it wont be opened unto them.

    Maybe after 5 or more games it will be clearer who might be ‘In & ‘Out.

    But i would be excited if Chelsea ends up being the ‘In team’.

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