With the Premier League back in full-swing after last year’s unscheduled hiatus, and Premier League clubs prying open the January Transfer Window, the league is as tantalising as it is confusing this season.
With a handful of teams battling it out at the top end, we also have to take note of the teams rooted to the bottom end of the table, all scoping out a pragmatic way to beat the drop. Let’s explore how the Premier League stands in January and how clubs are shaping up in the New Year.
Who’s Leading at the Top End
With a host of teams engaging in a top-flight battle for supremacy, it is near-impossible to separate a clear footballing outfit that has dominated this season. Manchester United have inhabited the number one position of late, after Paul Pogba put Burnley to the sword with a vicious volley in the 70th minute securing all three points and the Red Devils holding title winners Liverpool to a stalemate over the weekend.
United’s early-season struggles seem a thing of the past, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer firmly behind the wheel dishing his influence going three points clear of the champions.
Liverpool have been hit with a wave of nostalgia this year, after Man United have stepped up to send shivers down the spines of Kop Faithful. After such an unpredictable year, the Red Devils have served us up some familiarity with the two titans set for a title race of old.
Manchester City (35 pts), Leicester City (35 pts), Liverpool (34pts), Tottenham Hotspur(33 pts) and Everton (32 pts) and are all eyeing up those top four spots and quite possibly the league.
What Teams Are the Surprise Package This Season?
In recent years, newly promoted Sheffield United provided the fans with a plethora of shock and surprise as they entered the race to qualify for the Champions League. 2015/16 was the year that Leicester City performed the impossible overcoming pre-season odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League. But what teams have raised a few eyebrows this season?
Upon their return to the Premier League after 16 years, Leeds United have the foundations to not just secure Premier League football for next season but to potentially cement themselves as a top half club.
Marcelo Bielsa has a wealth of experience at the top-flight and has managed some of the biggest names in football. Having spent two years at Elland Road, the Argentinian has had time to build and develop a championship squad into a Premier League unit.
The English top flight is regarded as the best division in the world, boasting a myriad of footballing talent, but year-after-year a chasm opens between the top six and the rest of the table.
Aston Villa have surprised by effectively carving out a route to the middle of the pack, sitting comfortably in 10th place. Leeds, another footballing giant has also not wasted any time and recorded a handful of wins to secure a mid-table spot after the holidays.
Arsenal is the club that has really raised some eyebrows, with an abysmal 24 points and no real prospect of rearing their heads to look up the table. The Gunners sit in the 11 spot and seem to be architects of their own downfall this season with a string of poor results.
Mounting a Charge to Avoid the Relegation Trap Door
With the Premier League back in full-swing and the January transfer window being pried open by Premier League clubs, many have started to take note of clubs sitting towards the bottom half of the table and how they plan to mount an escape from that fateful relegation trap door.
Sheffield United this season have been nothing short of atrocious, and even though they recorded their first win of the season against a deflated 10-man Newcastle, the South Yorkshire club have a very long way to go to produce a flicker of hope of survival sitting rock bottom with 5 points.
West Bromwich Albion secured the signature of escape artist Sam Allardyce, after Slaven Bilic was shown the door. His reign started overwhelmingly positively, holding Liverpool to a draw at fortress Anfield.
Briefly after West Brom thought they had the right man for the job, Big Sam’s wheels came off getting thumped 0-5 by Leeds and suffered a 0-4 drubbing from Arsenal. Allardyce will be looking to turn a corner in hope of keeping the Baggies in the top flight.
Fulham complete the bottom three in the table and the top three in the relegation betting, being priced in the fixed odds at 1/1 to taste Championship football next season. Scott Parker’s Cottagers have had a torrid start to life back in the Premier League after Parker yoyoed the side back up after one term in the Championship the previous season.
The Whites have secured four draws since last December against some notable teams including favourites Liverpool. Fulham are armed with two games in hand and sit 2 points below Brighton in 18th, occupying the third relegation spot.
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