We’re almost into February, there’s a way to go but soon enough we’ll be approaching the home stretch, so who’s going to win the Premier League title? All right, we all know it’s going to be Manchester United, but let’s take a broader look at the top of the table as we delve into my lamentably realistic top 5 predictions.
1. Manchester United
The unstoppable juggernaut continues. Alex Ferguson’s dominant Manchester United will surely claim a record nineteenth title in May. It’s a testament to the wily Scot that he can field a team that regularly features three players over 35, a world class striker with one outfield goal this season and Michael Carrick, and still win the league. In all seriousness, with Berbatov finding lethal form, the best defence around and an obdurate refusal to lose, it’s hard to see past United for the championship.
Arsene Wenger may be revered as a genius amongst Gooners, but the Emirates’ trophy cabinet hasn’t looked too clever in recent years. While the aesthetically pleasing nature of their football is widely lauded, Arsenal are just not solid enough to be champions. Despite goals being scored from all over the park, with Nasri standing out, the long-term injury to Vermaelen and the limited success of Squillaci have proved a chink in Arsenal’s armour. If it weren’t for shaky centre-backs and a lack of ruthless efficiency, the classy football of Arsenal might be winning the Premier League. As it is, they’ll have to settle for second-best.
After a spectacular start followed by a dreadful dip, Chelsea seem to be heading in the right direction again. Some say age is beginning to tell on the Blues, with the spine of Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Anelka all the wrong side of 30, and the title now seems beyond their grasp. However, despite some tricky fixtures against the rest of the top 5 still to come, the vast experience of the reigning champions should see Chelsea’s pensioners ease into the final automatic qualification place for the Champions League proper.
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4. Manchester City
Famous scarf-wearer Roberto Mancini, having reneged on his promise last season, will this season lead an improved City to the Champions League places for the first time. The off-loading of wasted talents, Adebayor and Bridge, should aid squad morale and the recent addition of Dzeko will no doubt allow City to avoid relying on the talismanic Tevez for their goals. However, big money buys you players but it does not buy you a team and that, combined with the cautious tactical approach of Mancini, means that Sheikh Mansour’s dreams of the title will have to be put on hold for at least another year.
5. Tottenham Hotspur
The league’s entertainers might be great value per goal (scored and conceded), but Redknapp’s cavalier Tottenham, far from improving on last season’s 4th place, will fall back to 5th this year, and the barren wasteland of the Europa League. Signing of the season, Van der Vaart and the swash-buckling Gareth Bale may have lit up the Premier League, but our strikers’ lack of goals, the revolving door of centre-backs and the enjoyable distraction of the Champions League mean that, as much as it pains me to say it, Spurs’ foray into club football’s richest competition will have been an eventful but painfully short one.
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