Premier League: a race for the title

Noah DeSantis ’19, Managing Editor

The first half of the season for the Premier League has just ended, there have been many surprises and upsets that all fans can appreciate. It is interesting to see how each team is doing so far.

Liverpool

Liverpool is playing one of their best seasons so far under manager Jürgen Klopp. The team is having a great season, beating every major rival and even qualifying for the round of 16 in Champions League. The team were leaders of the table for a long time, until a tough defeat came against Manchester City in December. Liverpool made it all the way to the finals in Champions League in 2017/18, but were upset by Real Madrid with horrific mistakes from goalkeeper Karius to lose 3-1. After this result, Klopp made it a goal to improve his team. And improve he did, spending over $200 million on four new players; Alisson Becker (GK), Naby Keïta (MID), Fabinho (MID), and Xherdan Shaqiri (FWD). Ending the first half of the season in first place leads many to wonder if Klopp’s men can win the title.

Manchester City

Manchester City (Man City) was coming off a Premier League title win in the 2017-18 season with over eight records being set for the league including most total points, best goal difference, and most consecutive victories. Before the season started, there was no specific way that manager Pep Guardiola could improve the squad, and after tough consideration, former Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez was purchased for €60 million. At the beginning of the season, Man City was favored to win the league and looked to have no competition in sight. For the first 12 matches, Man City was seven points clear of second place, but after taking a tough defeat from rivals Chelsea, and with Liverpool going on a great run for first, a title race has begun for first place.

Tottenham Hotspurs

Tottenham Spurs set a different kind of Premier League record in the summer compared to Man City. Spurs are the only team in the league in history to not purchase a player for this season and stick with their already solid squad. With multiple injuries within the team and no new faces to replace them, Tottenham was predicted to do terrible this season and not even end up top five. However, manager Mauricio Pochettino played his team right, using young players to stand up to the competition and show that the future of Spurs is not in jeopardy. The sports website 90min Football News wrote an article pertaining to the Premier league so far. Writer Will Imbo said, “When you consider the amount of injuries Pochettino has had to deal with, coupled with the constant swathe of negativity surrounding the club’s new stadium, it’s a minor miracle Spurs are in the position they find themselves in.” Juan Foyth was a major part of Tottenham’s success, replacing Spurs veteran Jan Vertonghen at defense, the 20 year old Foyth was forced to perform well. After a few mistakes in his first start of the 2018 season, Foyth has stepped up to the stage with a positive presence. Spurs are projected to end up in top five by the end of the season and maybe even have a chance at the title.

Chelsea

Starting the season under new manager Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea gave hope to fans with a 12 game-streak of no losses, but then all of a sudden fell off. Losing to Tottenham 3-1 and then to Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 as their only two losses, it seemed that Chelsea was going to end up out of the top five by January. However, they turned this around after miraculously beating former champions Man City 2-0, guaranteeing them the top five. Currently in fourth place, Chelsea is only eight points away from first. They are suspected to put up a big fight, and if everything goes right during the January transfer window, they may even have a chance to end up top three by June.

Arsenal F.C

Arsenal had a tough 2017/18 season, only ending up at sixth place and losing a legend in manager Arsene Wenger over the summer. But, even with these troubles, Arsenal was suspected to still have a run for top five this season. Nevertheless, having the hardest first two games of the Premier League, playing Man City first and then Chelsea the following week, losing to both pointed to a rough patch for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery. However, even after both of those losses, Emery figured out his tactics and configured the best starting lineup he could with the team he has. Emery did so well, that he even beat London rivals Tottenham Spurs for his first derby match. Arsenal fan and senior Stevie MacGregor said, “I think they are having a very good season; Emery has really helped the team develop into a much better offensive threat. Although there are still some problems, the team has improved a lot since last season.” If you were to ask any Arsenal fan about the season so far, they would most likely agree with MacGregor’s statement that Arsenal is having a very successful season so far.

Manchester United

This season has been one of the worst seasons yet for Man U. Starting off the season with two losses in six games and two red cards in four games, José Mourinho’s men were struggling to find a means to win. However, after the firing of manager Mourinho on Tuesday, Dec.18, the team has been in-form and on fire. Winning a consecutive four games under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a former Man United player, the team seems to have improved in every facet of the game. Although, it can be argued that the teams that Man U beat were underperforming during their match. The next match that the reds faced was against Tottenham Spurs on Sunday, Jan. 13. Man U won only 1-0 with a fantastic pass from Pogba to Rashford and a great finish for the forward. With that win, Man U is proving that they are back and ready to put up a fight.

Rest of the Table

The table for the rest of the year is one to be watching for. With all of the teams between seventh place and 14th place, all being within nine points of each other, the race for top 10 is any team’s to get. Leicester City, the current leader in seventh place, they are only two points ahead of both Watford FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers. It is to be noted that while these teams are wins below the top four teams, anything can happen in soccer and any team can end up in top four if something goes just right.

The Premier League has been very eventful so far and will likely continue to be full of surprises. It will be a very engaging of the season to watch and look forward to for all soccer fans of the league.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

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