The Premier League season has just entered its second international break of the season, and the penultimate break before the final international pause. However, it would seem that we are at a pinnacle time of the season for a lot of teams in England’s top flight, and already a lot of them appear to be faltering.
The season has had its fair share of ups and downs, and we are only two months into it. However, in the next seven months we could look back at this time of the season and point to this as the time when we could pick out the winners, and the relegated sides. But what have we learnt so far this season?
Liverpool On The Brink
Jurgen Klopp’s side would have come into this season with one clear intention- to go one better than they did last season. And so far, they are surpassing what even they could have anticipated. All of the sides around them are falling away, and they hold an eight-point gap going into this international break. Of course, some Liverpool fans should be aware that this isn’t the first time they have held a sizable advantage, with the Reds having a ten-point lead last season before finishing second. But, this season feels different.
First, the quality that they have shown has been unlike any Liverpool side in the Premier League era, and they have found a new sense of never say die attitude. The most recent fixture against Leicester City was a perfect example of that, as they were pulled back with ten minutes remaining. In other seasons, they would have settled for a point, or maybe gone on to lose this game. However, this season, they aren’t that team. They pulled their socks up and went hell-bent on getting all three points. They did, and now they have a big lead to hold on to.
The second factor is out of their control but comes down to the luck that Manchester City haven’t had with injuries. They lost Leroy Sane before the season even begun, and have gone on to lose John Stones and Aymeric Laporte over recent weeks. They are now playing an unrecognisable defence, and this has seen the Reds pulled into favourites to win the Premier League with STS.
Manchester United and Spurs Demise
The first weeks of the season have seen an open battle for the top-four, but two of the sides that would be typically competing for those spaces have endured a very difficult start to the new season, and both of their managers are feeling the pressure. Tottenham’s fall from grace has almost gone under the radar because of Manchester United, but Spurs were Champions League finalists only four months ago, and they are now a shadow of that side.
They were hammered by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, before being embarrassed by Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, and the pressure looks like it’s beginning to tell on Mauricio Pochettino. Fans are beginning to turn on the manager, and there is a sense that he may jump at the first chance he has to leave the club. They are currently in the lower half of the table, and a top-four finish looks unlikely due to the pace that has been sustained by Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester. The squad certainly has a sense of staleness about it, and Pochettino may have to freshen that up if he has the desire to go again.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are now at the lowest odds that they have ever had to be relegated with STS, and there is a grave concern at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks like a man under pressure, and the club are certainly regretting not being a replacement striker in the summer as goals as very hard to come by under the current regime. There is no attacking threat in most United performances, and the pressure put on the shoulders of the younger players is something that could see them falter to even finish in the top-six. The inquest will continue as the season goes on at Old Trafford, but there could be darker days ahead for this once famous club.
Relegation Odds Turned On Their Heads
Burnley began the season among the front runners for the drop, but they have certainly moved away from that position with a strong start to the season. The Clarets have been replaced in that doomed pack by a very subdued Watford side. The Hornets have been terrible since the first kick of the season, and they have already replaced one manager in Javi Gracia, and the new boss could also start to begin the heat soon enough. Watford’s sacking culture was applauded at this stage last season as they were comfortably in the top half of the table, but it could easily be their downfall this time around.
They are currently winless at the bottom of the Premier League table, and in truth, they haven’t even looked like getting a win at any point this campaign so far. They are joined in the relegation places by Norwich City, who were one of the favourites to be relegated at the start of the season. The Canaries had caught the attention earlier on in the campaign by putting up a great performance at Anfield against Liverpool and beating Manchester City. However, two defeats in a row and a host of injury problems could mean that it may be a long season.
The third side occupying a relegation place is Everton. Marco Silva is beginning to look like a man that is going to lose his job at some point, and their recent performances haven’t been good enough. After spending big in the summer they have lost their last four, but it remains incredibly unlikely that they will be locked in a relegation battle this season, but it would be disappointing for Toffees fans who were hoping that they could have been challenging for a top-six finish.
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