Manchester City remains the favorite to win the Premier League, despite being six points behind Arsenal. However, there are doubts whether the bookmakers’ evaluation is correct or if this year will truly belong to the Gunners. And what about Liverpool? Can Aston Villa, currently in third place, be the “new Leicester”? On the other end of the table, who will be at risk of relegation after Christmas? This is the most exciting race the Premier League has ever seen – a Christmas present for football fans, for sure.
So, here is a club-by-club analysis in alphabetical order of how each English team is faring at this moment. Arsenal faced a true test of their title ambitions in their trip to Liverpool. They took an early lead, but conceded an equalizer soon after. Despite last season’s disappointing result, they are showing a hunger for victory and have been making few mistakes, indicating that they could be in contention for the title. They had a revelation, though they almost stumbled against Sheffield United at home last Friday. John McGinn leads by example, and they have the best goalkeeper, Emi Martinez, and the top scorer, Ollie Watkins. However, their inconsistency away from home, with 13 points dropped, suggests that finishing in the top four is a more realistic goal than winning the title.
Five wins in their last six games, including a 3-0 triumph at Old Trafford, tell the story of how coach Andoni Iraola responded to criticism by imposing his high-pressing style on the Cherries after a tumultuous start. They will finish far from the relegation zone. The team has been hindered by injuries. With Ivan Toney only returning on January 20th and top scorer Bryan Mbeumo sidelined for three months, who will score the goals? However, a ten-point advantage over the bottom three means there is no need to panic.
Leeds United is always a joy to watch, but something feels off. They have conceded goals in every game. The constant rotation of their two goalkeepers and 72 changes in the team, a league record, can hardly help. There’s a sense that they could do even better with a talented group and coach like Roberto De Zerbi. Their first away win against Fulham may be a turning point, but they have been too mild. Vincent Kompany needs to make them more pragmatic and harder to face on the field.
In their cameo appearances, there have been signs of better times after a very challenging year. The return of talented player Christopher Nkunku and reaching the semifinals of the League Cup will boost morale. However, the top four seems out of reach, as they make too many mistakes in the Premier League. There are persistent rumors that they might replace coach Roy Hodgson with Steve Cooper, who left Nottingham Forest. That would be dangerous. Hodgson will probably have Palace climbing again after a poor season, especially with Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise back in good form.
West Ham has secured four wins in five games since the ten-point deduction. The arrival of defender Jarrad Branthwaite and the return to form of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin are key factors in their resurgence. Coach Sean Dyche deserves enormous credit for changing the mentality after a defeat to Spurs.
Fulham’s concerns that they would struggle after losing top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic have not materialized. Two recent consecutive 5-0 wins and their first spot in the League Cup semifinals are proof that Marco Silva has worked some magic. The home loss to Burnley may have been just “one of those bad days.” Despite not being at their best, they are only one point away from the top spot after a draw at home against current leaders Arsenal. There’s a persistent feeling that this rejuvenated team under Jurgen Klopp has not fully consolidated, and the goalless draw against Manchester United in the previous game cost them the top spot on Christmas Day. Losing Mohamed Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations won’t help.
Despite the doomsayers, Brentford is competitive in every game and has been a pleasant surprise in the top flight. If they do get relegated, it will be after a lot of fighting and persistence.
Manchester City has won five trophies in 2023, including the Club World Cup. They are at best the best team on the planet. The problem is that they have not been performing as well in the Premier League, conceding goals and dropping points. The City has talent, but they are finding out why no team has won four consecutive Premier League titles. It’s hard to still have that hunger. Despite a challenging point at Anfield, they seem like an ordinary team overwhelmed by a multitude of problems and the negative vibe surrounding the club (which only increased after the loss to Bournemouth). The acquisition of Ineos may have an impact on the necessary changes.
Newcastle United has scored the least number of goals – a damning statistic for Erik Ten Hag, who urgently needs a recovery. Hindered by a large and unfortunate injury list, the team appears overwhelmed and tired. Atypical mistakes by Kieran Trippier affirm this point. Out of the Champions League and the League Cup, coach Eddie Howe needs a New Year charge to avoid being blamed for the team’s regression. Don’t bet against them when the injured players return.
Nottingham Forest took a gamble by sacking popular coach Steve Cooper and replacing him with Nuno Espírito Santo. It’s a bloated team struggling without top scorer Taiwo Awoniyi. They are a team that needs to watch out for relegation.
Sheffield United’s return of Chris Wilder may trigger a kind of rebirth. They have certainly shown new fight and resilience to end Aston Villa’s home record. However, there are question marks about their lack of quality.
Brentford is the most entertaining team to watch this season. Their fast-paced football is breathtaking, and coach Ange Postecoglu deserves the praise from fans. However, he hopes that the team can achieve more than just popularity. They still concede too many goals.
The talents of Mohammed Kudus and Lucas Paquetá, combined with the threat of Jarrod Bowen, make David Moyes’ team dangerous. Despite performing well in European competitions and the Premier League, it was disappointing to see Moyes field a weakened team in their 5-1 defeat in the League Cup quarterfinals against Liverpool at Anfield. It was a missed opportunity.
Wolverhampton Wanderers defeated Manchester City and Tottenham at Molineux and will be more threatening when winger Pedro Neto returns soon from injury. Poor away form and some luck with VAR have been costing Gary O’Neil’s team a higher position than 13th.