Monday, 22 November 2010

New boys enter title race - can they last the pace?

Fulham v Manchester City , Premier League 21/11/2010 Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City celebrates scoring the second goal 0-2 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

In a Premier League season that is proving as unpredictable as ever it also seems the title race is just as open.

The ‘big four’s’ monopoly on the top four positions may have been broken last season but many still saw the Premier League title as an honour bestowed on a select few clubs – namely Man United and Chelsea
in recent years.

That certainly seemed to be the case earlier this season, with Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues taking the division by storm and charging into a convincing lead at the top.

Many thought there was only going to be one winner.

But as autumn turned to winter the Londoners' apparent invincibility proved a fallacy and three defeats in four games has seen Man United draw level with them as well as a host of clubs who now lurk just

One of those clubs is Arsenal, who are just two points further back. They missed the chance to go top after conceding a two goal lead against North London rivals Spurs on Saturday.

Speaking after the game a refreshingly honest Harry Redknapp declared his Spurs side ready to challenge for the title. On the evidence of their performance at the Emirates, you wouldn’t bet against it.

Then there is Man City. Just three points behind Chelsea their apparently 'poor' run was blasted away by a goal filled display at Craven Cottage on Sunday. Carlos Tevez in particular was in great form
and when he scores City usually win.

Sitting three points shy of top spot and with Sheikh Mansour’s billions at boss Roberto Mancini’s disposal in January should he need it, they should not be ruled out either.

There is a long way to go, of course, and it needs to be pointed out that despite their poor recent results Chelsea are still joint top with Man United - are they likely to lose three of their NEXT four games as well? I doubt it.

It would also take a mammoth effort from either Spurs or City to usurp the usual top three, who always come into their own after Christmas and have the experience of gruelling title run-ins. But they have looked more vulnerable this season than they have in several years and are no longer streets ahead of the competition.

You never know, if City and Spurs (and Bolton don't forget!!!) keep their good form going, in May we actually get something we never thought would happen - a fifth name inscribed on the 18 year old Premier League trophy.

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