Well, what a happening footballing moment we have going on these days. There’s national teams playing national teams, players hitting appearance tons for country and some other people whining about why a couple of injured/injury prone players would rather play for club and not country. All that drama is good enough for another article, this one is all about the Premier League and the top teams in it, well if you can call them all top teams, that is.
When the Premier League started, or rather when Chelsea were finally done with all the transfer business they had to do for the summer, the entire universe let out a collective sigh in conformation of the fact this was Chelsea’s year. The sophomore year for any Mourinho team is the time when they are the most lethal, brutal team to compete against. And Gosh, has it turned out as such? Spectacularly so in fact. 11 games, 9 wins, 2 Manchester draws, 1 Arsenal win and 1 Anfield victory mean Chelsea are ludicrously close to making the best start to a premier league campaign when they visit West Brom and then Sunderland post the very important International Friendly break.
Well, it’s not a break per se, it’s actually the best time for players to get injured and derail the campaigns for their respective clubs. Chelsea have controversially averted that injury blow that comes with these breaks but they wont probably have the luxury the next time around. However, in all likelihood, history would have been written by then.
So since we have some time to spare and watch the Spain vs Germany international friendly, it is probably the best time to make Christmas wishes, or New Year wishes if that’s more dear to you. At this point, it is important to have a look at the seasons when Jose Mourinho has been the manager of Chelsea during new year:
|Season||Games Played up to New Year||Won||Draw||Lost||Points||League Position|
The regulars at the this blog would have taken the point home by now, if by some mistake you are unable to understand the point, here it is: Jose Mourinho has never missed the Premier League trophy whenever his Chelsea side have been top of the League table at the beginning of the year. Going by the signs, it is pretty easy to assume what position this Chelsea team would welcome 2015 with.
Nonetheless, there are doubters, always. So as to clear the air and let the haters make peace with the ‘facts’, I would be laying out the probable outcomes of the next fixtures of the possible contenders for the 2nd 3rd and 4th place in the Premier League. The 1st place is untouchable at the moment unless City can hire a Martian as their Manager, or Wenger is possessed by Lucifer himself.
For these ‘assumptions’, we would be considering 4 teams vying for the top 4 positions, with Southampton added to the list as an exception, thanks to the extraordinary run they currently are on. You guessed it, Liverpool’s place has been taken up by the Saints because regardless of the hatred my heart harbours for them, they don’t seem like reaching anywhere beyond the mid table place which had started to just feel comfortable for the Reds before Luis Suarez won them a Champions League Spot.
They are back in their comfort zone and will stay there, I suppose. The other curious case is that of the Spurs, the White Hart Lane inhabitants have already done all the mercurial things Liverpool are trying to do with the Suarez money, and frankly speaking Mauricio Pochettino needs at least one transfer window to clear Daniel Levy’s mess, that is assuming he lasts that long.
So with Manchester City, Arsenal, Man United and Southampton as our competitors in focus, let’s bring the Microscope.
As of now, Manchester City are the most powerful, obvious, capable, sensible and most of all stable team that can Challenge Chelsea for the title come the end of the season. They have lost points against teams that they should have beaten easily, but they held Chelsea and earned a vital victory in the season’s first Manchester Derby.
They didn’t go for Stellar additions to their team in the summer transfer window simply because they were the reigning Champions, and not all managers have the courage to Change a winning combination. City are the only team who match Chelsea in terms of strength in depth and the attack but the lack of hunger in the team for one more run to the trophy this season is evident. Perhaps that is the only reason for the eight point gap that Chelsea have maintained over them.
Here are their fixtures till the New Year:
|22 Nov||Swansea City||Home||Draw|
|20 Dec||Crystal Palace||Home||Win|
|26 Dec||West Brom||Away||Win|
Now Don’t fret too much that they aren’t losing games. They probably will lose at least one of the above fixtures. This indeed is the worst case scenario for us. It can’t get better than this for them. They are bound to lose more than the 4 points we are predicting. Last time out, they drew away at Loftus Road. So Swansea can be a tricky team for Pellegrini’s men when they visit the Etihad. Southampton this season have been, well, Southampton. You can’t make mistakes this season at St. Mary’s, can you? City will probably hang on to a draw through the skin of their teeth. They may even win, or lose. Thing is, nobody can say for sure. But yes, they will at least draw one and lose one. So this table is the best case outcome for City.
Total Points at New Year: 44 (at best)
Arsenal, as has been the case for a long time, are a Champions League team. They are in touching distance of the coveted 4th place and are the closest you get to a sure thing. Especially now that Arsene Wenger has himself shaken off the Mesut Ozil/Alexis Sanchez hangover and has confessed the commitment to buy the defensive players Arsenal need so badly. Consider it done then, wish granted. 4th place is yours.
If Manchester City have suffered at the lack of the drive and hunger to win again, despite being stable enough. Consider Arsenal the epitome of stability. They have long surpassed the point where stability becomes stagnation. Too much of it can make an Arsenal out of any team. Well, let’s not delve too deep into French problems.
Here’s the Gunner’s version of the fixture list:
|22 Nov||Manchester United||Home||Draw|
|29 Nov||West Brom||Away||Win|
|06 Dec||Stoke City||Away||Win|
|13 Dec||Newcastle United||Home||Win|
|28 Dec||West Ham||Away||Win|
This is probably the best of times that has ever been to host Manchester United. Not so much for Arsenal. Combine Arsenal’s recent fondness for giving away leads and Manchester United’s knack for late goals, this is a draw at best. West Brom should be swept aside easily by the phenomenon that is Alexis Sanchez and so should be Stoke, QPR, West Ham and Co.
Fixtures where Arsenal will lose points have to be those against Southampton (Twice!), Liverpool, and none other than Alan Pardew’s rejuvenated Toon Army. We aren’t saying that the Gunners will lose points in all of these games but yes t hey would lose one of these and draw another. That’s the best they can hope for at the moment.
Remember, it’s not January yet and that defence still has Nacho Monreal in it.
Total Points at New Year: 39
If you are confused, Louis Van Gaal’s men are at 7th in the League table after 11 games. Whether Arsenal decided it was time they gave their most historic arch rivals a close battle or United did this to be competing with Arsenal for the most ridiculous Defence Cup, we frankly have no idea. What we do know is that Arsenal and United have a point differentiating them. United’s problems are the result of a completely different course of tragedies. The end result however, is the same.
A shambolic defence and a misfiring attack, bar the individual brilliance of Angel Di Maria. Van Gaal was last seen somersaulting in front of the Red Devil’s supporter for his time requirements in order to turn the tides of fortune in their favour. He hasn’t been able to finalize his first choice 11. Even after 11 games and hundreds of million pound checks are gone.
This is what Manchester United will be up against till January arrives:
|29 Nov||Hull City||Home||Win|
|02 Dec||Stoke City||Home||Win|
|20 Dec||Aston Villa||Away||Win|
|26 Dec||Newcastle United||Home||Draw|
|01 Jan||Stoke City||Away||Win|
Some people may contend that Arsenal have a better chance of getting a victory at the Emirates. They may turn out to be true. In fact, the current season and the previous one have been so uncharacteristic of Manchester United that they can win against a top team one week and then lose to Burnley or Leicester the next.
At this juncture, common sense screams that the games labelled as draws may turn out to be zero point affairs for Manchester United. For the moment, we believe this is the best they can get out of the fixtures until next year.
Total Points at New Year: 34
Never has it been so difficult to decide where a team will finish at the end of Season then it has been this year. If last season was the most open title race, this season can boast of the most open top 8 ever. Credit goes in large to the Saints. Honorary mentions can include West Ham, Swansea City and Stoke City. Newcastle United have their own tale to tell.
No other mid table team had been so brutally dismantled in the previous seasons as were Southampton. One star after other from Mauricio Pochettino’s underdogs squad was tempted away from Saint Mary’s. Predictions of an eventual relegation were rife and their was no hope. Enter Ronald Koeman, whom nobody tipped to be as good as the departed Argentine. After 11 games, not only are Southampton well clear off the relegation zone, they are dreaming of a Champions League spot.
Even Pochettino couldn’t do what Koeman has accomplished. The Academy and the transfer have been spot on. This is really the stuff of legends. A team, dismantled, rose from its ashes and outperformed the teams that were involved two of the biggest transfers in last couple of years.
Till New Year, Southampton have some tough fixtures to negotiate:
|24 Nov||Aston Villa||Away||Win|
|30 Nov||Manchester City||Home||Draw|
|08 Dec||Manchester United||Home||Win|
|26 Dec||Crystal Palace||Away||Win|
Southampton have begun very, very well. It won’t be wrong to say that all this time they have been punching above their weight. Their has to come a point when they will start to show the lack of composure, grit and determination that is needed to battle out points from the very best of teams.
This is something the kind of opposition that they will be coming across more than 5 times out of the total of 9 matches to be played till new Year. On their day, any of City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton can quash the Saints.
Belief is something that has been taking them places this season, and it has to sustain for quite some time for the Saints to be able to do what this table shows them doing. It is indeed the best that they can do. It is the real perspective. Because in here somewhere, I admire this team and it’s spirit. But it has to end sometime, perhaps City will start it. For the moment, they are top of the world, and that is what matters.
Total Points at New Year: 42(at best)
Howdy, I savoured the best part for the end. Chelsea are two games away from having the greatest start of all time to a Premier League season. The next two games will be deciding that. Despite all the ‘FIFA Virus’ drama, Diego Costa condemned Liverpool to a home defeat last time Chelsea played a Premier League match. Chelsea have some of their players in the forms of their lives. Cesc Fabregas, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Azpilicueta, John Terry and Gary Cahill. Every one seems to be doing exactly what they are supposed to, and more.
This is a team that is perfect in the very sense of the word. However, there can be improvements in departments like defence, considering Chelsea have conceded more than double the goals conceded by Southampton. This makes their goal difference second to the Saints despite having scored more.
History says that if Jose Mourinho can maintain this lead over Manchester City and others till January 1, 2015, his team would be celebrating the Premier League title once more.
Chelsea’s fixture list has these among it till New Year:
|22 Nov||West Brom||Home||Win|
|06 Dec||Newcastle United||Away||Win|
|13 Dec||Hull City||Home||Win|
|22 Dec||Stoke City||Away||Win|
|26 Dec||West Ham||Home||Win|
The fixtures are mostly against teams that are inferior to Chelsea to a large extent. However, the nature of these games can only be decided considering the fact that all players stay fit and healthy. However, that doesn’t seem like a real possibility. Chelsea are therefore bound to drop at least a couple of points.
Spurs are the first suspects for New Year. The other team obviously being Southampton. Both will be tough away games. However, Chelsea have shown the winning mentality this season and should be able to come out on top against all the other teams. We don’t need to name every player who has been playing well this season, because the list is long.
To save time lest just get to the total points Chelsea would have accumulated by the New Year: 54
Consider the above mentioned figures and then it becomes quite obvious that this ‘assumed’ list of results will leave Chelsea at top of the table with 54 points.
Manchester City will be 10 points behind, give or take a couple of points. This means Chelsea will effectively have the job of just leading the pack. Southampton would be somewhere in the 3rd or 4th spot, depending on how they can perform against the best of teams.
Gunners would be playing peek-a-boo with the Saints for the same spots and United would be effectively out of the top four even on the New Year.
Let us know in the comments your version of the table at Christmas or New Year, or let us know if you have anything to say!