Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea & Arsenal go under the scanner at the halfway mark of what could be one of the tightest seasons in recent times.
Liverpool have gone 4 games without winning or scoring a goal, Manchester United have played some of their best football since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester City are rediscovering their title-winning form from a few years ago while the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal have blown hot and cold. It is exactly the halfway point of what is set to be one of the most exciting Premier League seasons in recent times and only 11 points separate the top 10 teams. With a delayed start, no crowds and a congested calendar, this is a season like no other and the big teams have struggled to keep up with the pace. Here is our Premier League half-term report for the Big 6, analyzing how they have done so far and predicting where they will eventually finish.
1. Manchester United
Manchester United had a horror start to the season with home defeats to Crystal Palace and Arsenal and the 6-1 humiliation against Tottenham Hotspur. However, since their defeat to the Gunners on the 1st of November, Manchester United are unbeaten in the league and have won 9 of their last 12 games. The Red Devils sit on top of the table after 19 games and are playing the best football they have since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. While Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and co have shown some bright sparks, the heart and soul of this team is the Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes. Fernandes has 11 goals and 7 assists so far this season and his form and fitness will be integral to any Manchester United title charge in the second half of the season.
Predicted Finish: 3rd
2. Manchester City
It took a while for Manchester City to click into top gear in the Premier League this season but as we approach the halfway point, they have found their mojo again. Manchester City have lost only 1 game since their shock 5-2 loss to Leicester in game-week 2 and have won the last 5 Premier League games in a row. They also possess the best defence in the league, conceding only 13 goals all season and only 2 in their last 9 games and that is a sign of a champion team. This City team is littered with world-class talent across the pitch and with players like Aguero, Jesus and Laporte on their way back from injury, City will be favourites to win the league.
Predicted Finish: 1st
It was always going to be difficult for Liverpool to match last season’s relentless success but through a mixture of bad form and injuries, Liverpool’s title defence has struggled to pick up any momentum. The likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Thiago and Diogo Jota have all picked up key injuries throughout the season that have left Jurgen Klopp reeling at the back. The front 3 have also come under criticism of late and have struggled to put up the numbers we have come to expect from world-beaters like them. While Anfield has continued to be a fortress for the reds, they have struggled away from home this season and have managed only 2 wins on the road at the halfway point.
Predicted finish: 2nd
A majority of Arsenal’s season was spent in disarray as Arsenal suffered their worst start to a league campaign in 45 years. Mikel Arteta and Arsenal managed only 1 win in 10 games between October and December and were left stranded near the relegation zone at Christmas. However, since their victory over Chelsea over Boxing Day, Arsenal have won 4 out of their last 5 games and have been inspired by their youngsters Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe. The other bright spark of the season for the Gunners has been the defence. Arsenal have only conceded 19 goals in 19 league games, only in 2 of the last 12 seasons have the Gunners conceded fewer at the halfway point.
Predicted Finish: 7th
There were high hopes for Chelsea this season after their record-breaking transfer window where they spent over 200 million pounds on the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy. Unfortunately for the Blues, Frank Lampard is yet to find a system that compliments all of his players and Chelsea are languishing in 8th place at the halfway stage of the season. Chelsea’s biggest worry this season has been the lack of goals from their attackers with Ziyech, Pulisic, Havertz having only managed 1 goal apiece this season. With only 2 wins in 8, Lampard is under massive pressure to turn things around at the bridge or he could be the latest manager casualty in the Abramovic era.
Predicted Finish: 4th (at best)
6. Tottenham Hotspur
With the additions of Sergio Reguilon and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg in the summer and the resurgence of Tanguy Ndomble, Tottenham have looked a completely different outfit this season. Mourinho has transformed this “nice” Pochettino side into a team of “nasty” winners. Jose has made Tottenham hard to beat and tough to break down as Tottenham have only conceded 17 goals this season. They also have been fluid in attack and possess 2 of the best attackers in the world in Heung Min Son and Harry Kane who have combined to score 24 of Tottenham’s 33 goals this season.
Predicted Finish: 5th
[Image Credit: Premier League]