It is December 7th. There have been 15 rounds of matches. Leicester City are top of the Premier League.
After a remarkable start to the season, which has seen Leicester claim 32 points, Claudio Ranieri’s side are two points clear at the top of the tree as we enter the festive period. Sitting in second are Arsenal, followed by the Manchester clubs ahead of Tottenham and Liverpool with champions Chelsea 17 points adrift of Leicester in 14th. But who will win the league?
To be top of the Premier League in December cannot be through fluke and fortune. Credit must go to everyone involved at Leicester City and the fantastic work that is going on at the club. The Foxes are flying with non-league-to-Premier-League hero Jamie Vardy setting the Premier League record for scoring in 11 consecutive games and the incredible talent of Riyad Mahrez scoring 10 goals already this season, including a hat-trick on Saturday against Swansea accompanying a very tight, quality group of players. The team are performing wonders, but do they have the strength in depth to sustain it for the entire season? We cannot rule them out of the title race yet!
Arsenal have once again been inconsistent with a combination of fantastic performances and results, such as the 3-0 win over Manchester United, along with some which have been rather poor and disappointing, such as the defeat at West Brom last weekend. With the other big clubs seemingly struggling, Arsenal have as good a chance as any to clinch their first Premier League crown in 2004. However, as always, Arsenal have been plagued by injuries, with midfield duo Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin both having been ruled out for a number of months this week. If they could remain fully fit and more consistent, Arsenal would surely be right up there come the end of the season and could well be in contention for a fourth Premier League title come May 15th.
The Citizens started the season strongly but have since found it difficult to be consistent and it is hard to predict whether it will be the fluid, attacking team that turn up or the jumbled, incoherent side that turned up to play Liverpool and Stoke in recent weeks. Manchester City have arguably the strongest squad in the league and are the richest of the clubs, but, like Arsenal, have struggled with injuries to key players such as Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero. But if they can get the team firing on all cylinders once more, they will prove to be a formidable force which will be very hard to stop.
Under Louis Van Gaal, United have been criticised for their lacklustre performances and lack of penetration in attack. Despite having the best passing and possession stats in the league, as well as conceding just 10 league goals so far, the Red Devils have not had the attacking threat they had under Sir Alex Ferguson as they have scored just 20 goals this term, four fewer than Vardy and Mahrez alone. Manchester United have become the masters of the 0-0 draw this season with four scoreless matches. If they really want to win the title this season, they must start scoring more!
Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea:
Tottenham have started well and have only lost once. Their only defeat came on the opening day of the season at Old Trafford and they have since gone 14 games unbeaten. However, too many draws have limited their place in the table to remain outside the Champions League spots for the time being. However, with Harry Kane firing in the goals again and Hugo Lloris & co keeping it tight at the back, Tottenham can certainly challenge for a top four spot this season, but not necessarily to win the title.
Liverpool look a different side under the charismatic Jurgen Klopp. The German has got the Reds pressing as a team and scoring more goals and are beginning to emerge as serious contenders for the league title following impressive wins at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium. Could Liverpool win their first Premier League title?
Chelsea have endured a horrendous start to the season which was further worsened this weekend with the champions losing 1-0 at home to Bournemouth, yes Bouremouth! It is pretty much a certainty that Chelsea will not win the league and Jose Mourinho has admitted that even obtaining a top four finish will be incredibly difficult.
Clearly no team is running away with the league at this stage with a long way still to go. However, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have the potential to pose a serious challenge for the title. It is difficult to see Manchester United, Spurs or Chelsea winning the league. That leaves Leicester, who continue their incredible form – can they keep it up or will they trail off and slump?