At one point it was either Liverpool or Manchester City. Now it looks like Manchester United and Leicester might steal the show. It seems the season finale will just be as exciting as the previous one, with odds changing each month as some teams step-up and goliaths frail all of a sudden. Things are changing quickly, with the table shifting positions rather abruptly each month.
As we move on to the final phase, some Premier League teams are in serious trouble to not only reach the crown, but to avoid leaving the league. West Brom, Fulham, and Sheffield United are all contending for relegation. Arsenal has also had one of their worst seasons but has managed to climb their way up from the lower positions to the middle of the table, despite defeating Liverpool 7-2 and ending the year with 16 points (now 24). They do have the consolation prize of winning the FA Cup, but their championship dreams are still far behind.
Liverpool won their first Premier League in over 30 years last season and stand favorites to win their second, securing their hold as one of the new top teams in the English football league. But Manchester City looks strong to go for their 3th title in four consecutive years. Before December, it seemed nothing would stop Liverpool of winning their second title, but in three games their level shrank down with the long-term injury of key defense player, Virgil van Dijk and won no games. Last season they managed to win by settling the new record of “fewest matches to win the championship”. They are way behind those numbers. Currently they stand third with 33 points, three less than #1.
Manchester United is another big contender, and currently they stand first in the league with 11 wins and three loses. The Reds have not won the title since Alex Ferguson´s final season in 2013. They did not strike as favorites in the beginning, but the signing of Bruno Fernandez gave the squad the stability they needed. They might look like the most-likely contenders now, but their rise is still very recent.
Manchester City have been one of the season favorites to win the title before United moved up, even with a sub-par performance season. They can only finish with 81 points, way short from the 198 of previous seasons. But it could be enough. Their squad remains the most highly functional and skilled in the league, even superior to that of Liverpool and United. They began with a limp in the first few games, and then recovered with nine wins and five draws, looking more solid and confident as the end comes near. They stand 5th with 32 points, four points below United.
Leicester City has had one of their best seasons with 11 games won, including a 5-2 victory against Manchester City with a hat-trick goal. Consistency is key if they wish to challenge for the cup. They stand 2nd one point away from United but have a lot of strong breathers just two point less. No points must be conceded at this stage.
Tottenham had some great games under the direction of Jose Mourinho ever since Mauricio Pochettino was sacked. He managed 33 points, including a 6-1 victory against Manchester United in October. Their high point died in December though when they gave two losses and two draws. They now stand 4th just 3 points away from #1.
Chelsea did OK during the season, but a lack of consistency keeps them as an underdog in position #7 with 29 points. They have hired a new army of players, and even some sportsbooks had them as favorites to win the league, once. December was their worst month with six defeats in a row.
Some other teams have done a good job and could shift things around if their good results keep coming.
Everton had a decent start with and have the same points as Manchester City, 32. They remain consistent, and could challenge the top contenders so close to the top. James Rodriguez was brought in from Real Madrid, for free apparently, and has not disappointed so far, although he is still far below his best capacity. Everton looks a better challenger for the following season once the new players finish settling, as they are building up quite well.
Southampton has been improving in the last three years to begin their challenge against of top-table teams, but for this season they are far behind with 29 points. In their last 5 games they have only won 1.
This will not be an easy year to pick a favorite to win the Premier League. Some say it will Manchester City, but they have some climbing to do. Everton is also looking solid. United seems to be a safer bet given the points advantage they already have. Take your pick!