The Premier League began in 1992. Since its formation, only five sides can boast of holding aloft the League trophy. This would suggest that the Premiership is formulaic, merely a ceremony each week before the big teams are victorious and claim three points repeatedly.
Nothing could be further from the truth. From the teams chasing the title to the clubs who came up from the Championship last term – every team goes into each game with at least a glimmer of hope. The Premier League retains its reputation as the most exciting in Europe for this very reason.
Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich were the promoted teams this season and each of these outfits has played at least one of the supposed candidates for the title. Eddie Howe, Quique Sanchez Flores and Alex Neil can pat themselves on the back as they have constructed teams that can go toe to toe with any side.
In terms of eleven versus eleven, then the Premier League can boast the fact that there is a closing gap between the giants and the rest of the league. This in turn, makes it the most competitive and exciting in the world.
So, the promoted teams aren’t certainties to drop straight back down, so with just over a quarter of the season played – who looks like they will be plying their trade in the Championship next season?
Tim Sherwood has bid farewell to Villa Park recently. Navigating the Midlands club away from relegation last season and taking them to the F.A Cup Final, it seemed that Sherwood was the answer Randy Lerner had been looking for.
Unfortunately, overseeing six successive defeats at the time of writing with their sole victory being a 1-0 opening day win over Bournemouth, has seen Villa fans take umbrage with another apparent season of struggle. This was enough to see another managerial casualty and the Villans banking on a fruitful honeymoon period for their prospective new boss. Uncertain times for Aston Villa.
The North East aren’t exactly smiling either. Sunderland have already had a change in manager – with last seasons saviour Dick Advocaat doing a Danny Glover ( He was just too old for this s#*t ) and leaving the job open for Sam Allardyce. Big Sam is the ideal man to bring stability to a club that has resided on a rocky foundation for the last few seasons. The Black Cats have a squad to escape, but a rapid overhaul of an aging defence will be Allardyce’s first port of call.
Newcastle boss Steve Mcclaren has a slightly brighter outlook. A team that has the capabilities to forge a mid-table finish will give Magpies fans hope that if given time, the former England manager can breed a little success. The problem is though, that the St James Park job is something of a poisoned chalice, with owner Mike Ashley looking to simply tread water rather than give the fans what they deserve. With Giorgino Wijnaldum, Ajoze and Moussa Sissokho in the side however, Newcastle will always have a shout.
Can Merseyside expect an improvement on last season?
Everton are quickly building a reputation as unpredictable. Accumulator wreckers. From one match to the next, you have no idea which Toffee’s team will turn up. Roberto Martinez has a battle on his hands to acquire the most reclusive of talents – consistency. He can call on excellence such as Barkley, Coleman, Baines and Lukaku, yet masterminding a way to get them all playing on the same level has so far eluded him.
Brendan Rodgers finally paid the price for failing to recreate the success he reaped in 2013/14. Expensive players failing to reach the heights their pricetag demands and insipid displays left Rodgers with no option but to fall on his sword. It isn’t all doom and gloom however.
His successor Jurgen Klopp has ridden into Anfield on a wave of optimism. His own brand of press conferences have left a nation of journalists purring about the German’s charisma, but it is his own brand of football that leaves Scousers expecting bigger and better times in the league. His ‘GegenPress’ style of football, which concentrates on pressing the opposition and full blooded attack, could signify the biggest revolution at Liverpool for quite some time. Klopp will expect a distinct improvement on league position. So will the fans.
The biggest story of the season thus far has to be Chelsea’s struggles. The current Champions languishing in the depths of the league as they attempt to defend the title is in stark contrast to the way they started last season. The reason?
Firstly, their power players are lacking form. Eden Hazard was the fulcrum of their team and main outlet last term, but nothing seems to be going right for the mercurial Belgian. Perhaps opponents are a little more wise to his tactics and a keener eye is being kept on him?
Not only this, but suspensions, behind the scenes drama with club doctors and needless mind games have detracted the focus away from the pitch and onto Mourinho’s struggles. The Stamford Bridge outfit must try to recreate last seasons mettle and chemistry, but that may be difficult if Mourinho continues to ostracise players, as he has done with Matic recently.
The two Manchester clubs have begun brightly, with City spending most of the time top of the league and United performing above expectations. Questions do remain though.
How will City cope without their main attacking threat Sergio Aguero, who has hamstrings made of cheese? What about the absence of David Silva? Can they manage without defensive lynchpin and captain Kompany? Pellegrini must try and answer these conundrums if he is to regain the title. If Aguero can be kept fit, even if he is limping throughout the remainder of the season, his importance to City’s gameplan dictates he must be selected!
United hover dangerously around the top of the league, yet to some, it seems as if he is yet to settle on his best line up and formation. Trying to force midfielders into defensive positions and with no squad depth at the back may leave Louis Van Gaal with a problem until January. Throw into the mix Wayne Rooney struggling for form and it leaves you with only one thought – Van Gaal deserves credit getting them into contention!
Arsenal are the other early runners, with Wenger still getting stick from a section of fans but has them playing well and they are in the thick of things at the top of the table. With Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla to call upon, then it is little wonder they find it so easy to carve open opponents.
They find themselves within kicking distance of Manchester City and above a mysterious United. Critics can call into doubt the Gunners staying power though – on more than one occasion over the last five or so seasons, the North London club have been in contention, only for them to fall away come business time. Wenger must erase the doubts and show he now has the team to silence the naysayers. Signs so far point to a sustained challenge, but so much hinges on if they can maintain fitness of Ozil, Sanchez and Coquelin.
Surprise packages they may be, but in terms of eleven players, London clubs West Ham United and Crystal Palace boast a huge threat.
Slaven Bilic has evidenced the power and incisiveness his team possess, in victories over Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. In Dmitri Payet and Lanzini they have genius in their ranks and if injuries can be avoided, then their relative lack of depth won’t harm their prospects too much. More to come from the Hammers if their lofty league position is anything to go by.
Palace fans always turn up creating noise for their team. Well, they’ve had plenty to shout about. Manager Alan Pardew has recruited well, and with counter attacking players such as Bolasie, Zaha and Puncheon in their team – they will always have the pace to hurt opponents. A major coup in the shape of Yohan Cabaye signing for the Eagles has also given them nous in the centre of the park. This nous will be vital if they are to aim a little higher and gain European qualification. Much will depend if Pardew can sign a defender in January as they look a little light at the back. Times are bright though.
The biggest surprise though, is the continuation of Leicester City’s form from last seasons miraculous escape from relegation. In terms of wins in 2015, then only the very top teams can claim to be anywhere near what the Foxes have achieved. When Claudio Ranieri took the reins in the summer after Nigel Pearson was disposed of unceremoniously, most thought their great escape was just delaying the inevitable. Someone didn’t tell Ranieri.
He recruited well, with players like Fuchs at the back giving their experience to the rest of the team and Okazaki giving versatility to the attack. He also didn’t change too much, so the feel-good factor could continue. His infamous tinkering has also been ditched, leaving a serene man with assuredeness leading his men. The Foxes currently reside in the top four places, with striker Jamie Vardy the top marksman in the league. The King Power stadium is rocking and rightfully so, as this must be way beyond what the fans were expecting.
This is the beauty of the Premier League. It is also why it is the most difficult to predict, making apps like Dohyo very difficult!
With variables like injuries, manager meltdowns, suspensions and the odd 35 yard rocket to decide fixtures, it is safe to say that the next three quarters of the season will be just as unpredictable as the first quarter – and we will love every second of it.