We are now closing in on the final third of the English Premier League season and things are now slowly shaping up. While the situation is getting tighter in the bottom half of the table, the mini-leagues in the top half are becoming more fluid with each passing game. Just like it has done since the first ball was kicked at Anfield, Liverpool on August 17 2013, this season promises to be as frantic and exciting as ever.
You cannot predict with precision how the table will look like come May 2014, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Manchester City will be difficult to dislodge from the summit of the table where they ascended to with such ominous ease on Wednesday night. They have always been imperious at home from day one, they have now also sorted out their away record and that can only be telling.
Still in all the four competitions and with over a third of the season to go, they have already scored a phenomenal 115 goals and look like about to score every time they win possession of the ball — which is very often. They are unbeaten in 20 games and are improving every week and so deep is their squad that they can cope with a few injuries to their key players. They are rightly being considered as favourites.
And they have the chance to assert their credentials on Monday night when they host challengers Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium where every team has come empty-handed so far. They have scored minimum two goals every match and the Blues, who have been exactly prolific this season, need to match that score at the very least even to secure a point. It is certainly not impossible but definitely not easy.
Another way of getting a point for Jose Mourinho’s men is to do exactly what he criticised West Ham United for on Wednesday night — play 19th century football. It will not be the first time for him to do that because he has used similar tactics to win matches, including the Uefa Champions League title with Inter Milan. Indeed, his boys will also be familiar with those tactics having used the same on their way to the same title in 2012.
It will be interesting how positions will keep changing in the top-three. The Arsenal, who have enjoyed prolonged periods at the top this season were displaced by City following the exciting two-all draw away to Southampton on Tuesday night, but will now look to reclaim that position tomorrow if only for a few hours with a win over the improving Crystal Palace while waiting for events at the Etihad the following day.
The other mini-league of teams fighting for the fourth Champions League slot got stretched in mid-week and my Liverpool now have some breathing space following their emphatic 4-0 demolition of Merseyside rivals on Tuesday night and Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-1 thrashing at the hands of City. The Reds will be looking to consolidate their position in the coming weeks while looking at the possibility of soaring even higher.
And we need to talk about Manchester United again. As it has been pointed out several times already every match is now becoming a must win because they have fallen far too behind. It was, therefore, a welcome result on Tuesday night against Cardiff City and the signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea, coupled with the return to action by Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney mean they can now take off.