The Premier League has just passed the halfway stage of the season, and there is still much to be decided. However, one of the matters that already seems to have been decided is the destination of the Premier League title, with Liverpool boasting a healthy 13-point lead. But, what have we learned so far this season?
Jurgen Klopp’s Side Dominant
All the talk at the beginning of the season surrounded how tight the fight for the championship would be this campaign. However, Liverpool have made a mockery of that talk and instead have made Leicester City and Manchester City’s efforts this season look tame. The Reds hold a 13-point lead at the summit, and have scored the most and conceded the fewest.
December was a great month for the Reds as they not only kept their winning streak, with convincing wins over Everton and Leicester, but they also won the Club World Cup, against Flamengo. One of the key performers was Trent Alexander Arnold, who won the PL Player of the Month Award.
Their dominance shows no sign of stopping, and their record of dropping just two points in 20 fixtures is frankly remarkable. Their recent season success against Sheffield United means that they have gone a whole calendar year unbeaten in the Premier League, and are now just 12 games shy of the unbeaten record set by Arsenal.
There looks to be no reason why they can’t go on and break it. They have been looking for depth in this transfer window, and already announced the signing of Takumi Minamino. Injuries who normally plague Klopp’s side do not seem to be an issue this time.
New Forces Emerging
The top four places are still in the balance, but with City and Leicester holding a big advantage over the chasing pack, it would seem that fourth is the only place in a contentious situation. Chelsea currently occupies that position, but their recent form is showing uncanny resemblances to last season where none of the top teams could put in a strong set of results to capture the Champions League place.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have defied odds once again this season by emerging as one of the contenders to pounce. Many experts wrote them off at the beginning of the season, citing that Europa League football would damage their chances. However, they are level on points with Tottenham, one point behind Manchester United, and six behind Chelsea.
Chris Wilder’s Remarkable Job
Sheffield United are having a season to remember on their return to the top-flight. They have already recorded 29 points, which means they are only 11 shy of the magic 40 total that many believe means survival. They are currently in the top half of the table; sitting above Arsenal and Everton.
Their strength is certainly in their defensive structure. Their rotating back three is something that has caused every side in the division problems, while Dean Henderson has kept the second most clean sheets in the Premier League this season. It looks almost certain that they will be in the Premier League again next season.
The season so far hasn’t been without its drama off the pitch. Unai Emery, Marco Silva, and Mauricio Pochettino have all lost their positions. The latter of which saw the astonishing return to English football for Jose Mourinho.
Emery was replaced by former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta, while Carlo Ancelotti was the shock replacement for Silva. Time will tell whether these appointments will have a positive effect on the pitch.
Relegation Dog Fight
Once again, the real drama in the Premier League is at the bottom end of the table where teams are fighting for their lives. Watford looked cut adrift at one stage, but the decision to replace Quique Sanchez Flores with Nigel Pearson looks to have worked wonders.
Since his appointment, the club has won three in four and are now two points away from safety.
Norwich City looks doomed for the drop having lost the most games in the league so far this season (13). The Canaries are now seven points away from safety, while Bournemouth also finds themselves in deep trouble.
The Cherries have won just once in five over recent weeks, and that has seen them drop into the relegation places.
Aston Villa and Southampton enjoyed a good Christmas period and jumped out of the relegation places, but they aren’t in the clear just yet. Meanwhile, Burnley, West Ham United and Newcastle United may be looking over their shoulders anxiously.
The last few months of the season should be enthralling, as the drama is only just beginning.