The Premier League is season more than halfway over, and the tactics, philosophies, preferred starting XI and actual skill of each Premier League team has been well established. It's now the optimal time to start making the big predictions for the end of the season. In this blog, I will be using stats, common sense and overall knowledge to give you my top four for the end of the Barclays Premier League. Of course, if you don't agree with me, make sure to tell us by tweeting at the blog at DST_Tweets.
Fourth: Arsenal F.C.
Listen, I can sit here and make an Arsenal fourth joke (I can make many but understand they don't make much sense anymore). Even though I believe Arsenal will make Champions League, Arsenal needs serious guidance if they would like to be the club they think of themselves as. Let's start with the obvious, Arsène Wenger doesn't have many years with the club no matter how he performs due to his age. It is warranted for Arsenal fans to fear a devolution of their club like Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson's departure. Arsene Wenger is an essential asset in how Arsenal has been able to recruit elite talent like Mesut Özil, who may be keen to leave the club after Wenger's inevitable departure. Also, Arsenal has proven themselves to be less resilient and less versatile in situations where they have had injury issues. This dearth of depth that Arsenal suffers from is something that top teams like Chelsea and Manchester City have proven themselves resilient because of the size of their squads. Even a team like Tottenham performed well in Harry Kane's absence, and if Arsenal fails to replicate this resilience in times of adversity, it will be impossible for them to challenge for the title. Even with Mesut Özil in the side, Alexis Sánchez is so vital to this Arsenal side, and without him, they wouldn't even be a top six team. Much can change, but if this Özil and Wenger saga continue, it could have negative repercussions and have a cancerous effect throughout the club.
Fact: Arsenal have scored 44 Premier League goals but if you deducted Sanchez contributions, they would be somewhere around the tenth position on the table.
Third: Liverpool F.C.
While I have Arsenal in fourth, I feel it in necessary to compare Liverpool and Manchester City because their situations are very similar. This was a tough one to call; neither Liverpool nor Manchester City lacks offensive fire power, but both teams defenses show serious deficiencies. Going into the season I and many people believed that with Sergio Agüero, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, the new managerial tactics of Pep Guardiola it was Manchester City's title to lose, but once again, we've seen how tough it is for any manager to adjust to the Premier League. It is for these reasons that I had to omit them from the top four. Liverpool has conceded 23 goals this season, and if this defensive record continues, it will be impossible for them to maintain their position in the top two. Liverpool's problems are easier to fix than Manchester City's as only Liverpool need one central defender to have more defensive consistency. While Liverpool can certainly have success with some minor defensive deficiencies compared to Spurs and Chelsea, they must improve their defense or offensive output if they would like to be considered legitimate contenders. If you read my New Years Blog, you would know exactly what defender they need... Virgil van Dijk. With VVD they will have depth and even have enough to go three at the back against the big teams. Liverpool is close, but I am not sold yet to put them in the top two. Sorry Pep, enjoy the Europa League.
Second: Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
This has been a particularly strange year for Tottenham Hotspur. Last year ended in disaster as they ceded second place to Arsenal and Spurs lost out of the Champions League in the group stage. However, success in the first half of the season has left Spurs' hopes are high to make the final season at White Hart Lane special. I think last years collapse and the experience they gained in the title race with Leicester will help the team this year deal with the Europa League, FA Cup and trying to be a consistent top four contender in the Premier League going forward. Tottenham is unbeaten at home this season and has the best defense in the Premier League with only 14 goals conceded. Tottenham has also received considerably more secondary scoring from the likes Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min. Had Harry Kane had this support last year, I contend Spurs would have had a much better chance at the title. If Spurs hope to contend for the title seriously, Tottenham cannot drop points to teams like West Brom, West Ham, Everton and other teams because like every team, they have some major catching up to do on Chelsea. All in all, I think this will be a great year for Spurs, and an excellent farewell to White Hart Lane.
Champions: Chelsea F.C.
Chelsea is the ultimate villain and heal: imagine Darth Vader, Grayson Allen, and Lord Voldemort all combined into one, that is Chelsea Football Club. Writing this makes me sick, but we have, to be honest, you might not like them or think they are overrated but with the way the table currently is, Chelsea would have to take a full 180 to let anyone else in the title race. Hazard and Costa reverting to their terrible form of last year seems unlikely, and the two of them have the power to influence matches in such a profound way that I really can't see them dropping many points. Also, Chelsea doesn't have a congested fixture schedule like some of their rivals. Tottenham have the Europa League; Arsenal have the Champions League (not for long though), Manchester City have the Champions League and Liverpool simply aren't as deep as Chelsea. Finally, what is their actual weakness? They are first in the home and away record, they have the top goal scorer who seems highly motivated and NO Champions League football to focus on. This is the perfect storm to Chelsea to win and they will.
Do you agree with our top four? What would you change? Tell us at DST_Tweets.