Photo credit courtesy whoscored.com
As the fifth anniversary of this article rolls around it gets harder each year making prediction and projection based on early season form, either way, let’s get into formation:
Almost 1/3rd of the way into the EPL season and the familiar trend in previous years (league table is shown above) indicates this is where the newly coined top 6 begins to take shape, let’s dive in to see how and why.
Man City: Strengths – Pep’s team has started another season with swagger & clinical ruthlessness dispatching top and middle table teams whilst dominating games. Goals are coming from open play, set pieces, and even CB & DM are scoring which is usually a hallmark of title-winning sides and a deep squad. The currently look unstoppable
Weakness – The question remains how they will cope with 12 games over the next 6 weeks especially if injuries & fatigue to key players (Fernandinho, KDB, D. Silva) set in.
Rank – 60% chance of winning the league with the prediction to come 1st.
Man Utd: Strengths – United started the season playing with flair, pace, & attacking brilliance especially at home. They have the best defense so far and backed by a super human goalie DDG. Jose is a wily old pragmatist who is a winner with a point to prove.
Weakness – Injuries to key players (Pogba) and the slump in form to Mikhi has led to 4 points from the last 12 available. These factors have had an enormous effect on the team play but Jose’s extra conservative tactical setup away from OT has not helped either especially against teams they should be putting away.
Rank – 40% chance of winning the league with a prediction to come 2nd.
Spurs: Strengths – When in full strength, have the most balanced team in the league as they can match City’s attacking display due to the telepathic understanding btw Kane, Alli, & Eriksen, as shown by their recent UCL display against Madrid &, have arguably the best CB partnership.
Weakness: Struggles with adapting to Wembley, dependency on Kane’s clinical finishing, and their familiar mental weakness to bottle it when it matters most seems to draw them back always.
Rank – 35% chance of winning the league with the prediction to come 3rd.
Chelsea: Strengths – Retained the core of last 2 Chelsea title winners which helps drive the winning mentality. They are still the best at grinding out results when their backs are to the wall which is driven by Conte’s Italian efficiency and organization.
Weakness – Injury to Kante for the past couple of weeks highlighted how critical he is to their defensive setup and counter-attacking play. There always seem to internal turmoil every other year with news of Luiz & Conte’s falling out making the rounds and this can threaten to unravel their season
Rank – 30% chance of winning the league with prediction to come 4th
Liverpool: Strengths – Speed has been the keyword for the reds this season, the amazing front trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino can tear apart any team who plays a high def line. Geggenpressing still is capable of forcing teams into unforced errors they can quickly punish you with
Weakness – The overflogged issue of the weakness in their central defense has already seen them fall 12 points behind City. Lack of a solid CB seems like it will hurt their chance of finishing top 4 this season.
Rank – 20% chance of winning the league with prediction to come 5th
Arsenal: Strengths – Thier home form has been impressive so far with only the Manchester teams having a better record. The new front trio of Lacazette, Ozil, & Sanchez has the real potential to cause real damage when they get going especially against non-top 6 opposition.
Weakness – Wenger’s strange tactical decisions in benching Lacazette or other big players remains a mystery. Contract disputes with their 2 best players (Ozil & Sanchez) leave a lot of room of uncertainty hanging over the team with performance and rotation especially if they fall further behind in the top 4 race and then Wenger has to prioritize Europa cup as a way to get back into UCL next season.
Rank – 15% chance of winning the league with prediction to come 6th
Titles are not won in Nov but they definitely can be lost this month, the unpredictability of the EPL tells us there is a lot of twists and turns left in this title race. Watch out for Mid table & relegation contenders articles coming soon.
By Ayo Laiye