Before the start of the new season, all the talk was about the Premier League being a two-horse race between champions Chelsea and Manchester United. Having watched the former plunder 12 goals in the opening two games against West Brom and Wigan, it might seem a foregone conclusion that these great rivals will end up occupying the top two spots on the table.
But with plenty of ambitious clubs striving to reach the level of the best two teams in England, who will be the most likely to threaten their shot at the title?
Having spent over 100 million pounds during the summer transfer window on stars such as David Silva, Mario Balotelli (pictured) and James Milner, the minimum expectation is that City at least qualify for Champions League football next season. It has been argued that City will take at least a season to find cohesion after bringing so many new players to Eastlands, and their disjointed performance at White Hart Lane strengthened this stance.
However, a ruthless 3-0 victory against Liverpool has demonstrated the quality they have at their disposal. There should be no doubt that, on their day, City can beat anyone in the division. The question mark that surrounds the club is whether their star studded line-up will have the motivation to go to places like Blackpool and Wigan and get a positive result.
Nonetheless, they are the most likely of the chasing pack to topple Chelsea and United’s dominance, but it still might be a step too far for them this season.
Spurs showed last season that they can beat the best the Premier League has to offer through victories against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. But their Achilles heel came in the form of weak losses to Wolves and Stoke City. They have already begun to solve this problem with an impressive home performance against Manchester City, followed by a strong away victory against Stoke.
Their squad is littered with quality through the likes of Gareth Bale (pictured), Luka Modric, Ledley King (when fit) and Niko Kranjcar and World Cup star Giovanni Dos Santos. Having just qualified for the Champions League, their greatest test this season will be handling the physical demands of a packed fixture list.
If they can overcome this and display some ruthlessness against the so-called smaller clubs, they could well find themselves competing for the title.
Keeping Cesc Fabregas (pictured) away from Barcelona’s clutches provided a massive boost for the Gunners. Losing their captain and most influential player would have been disastrous for a club that has already sold key players over the last few seasons, such as Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini.
Like Tottenham, they have shown that they can beat the best on their day, but they have also consistently dropped points to teams below them on the table. Despite playing the best brand of football in the league, Arsenal have yet to master the art of winning ugly. Manager Arsene Wenger keeps talking about what a great side he is building, but it has yet to be seen over the course of a whole season.
This has to be the defining season for Wenger’s wonderkids, some form of silverware has to be won, otherwise he could find himself out of a job. Unfortunately, I believe that they will again be in the mix for a large part of the season, before predictably falling off the pace.
Even their bitter rivals Spurs have greater strength in depth than Arsenal this season.
Even the most optimistic Liverpool fan would admit that this season is one of re-building, with little to no hope of winning the title. Though they managed to keep hold of their two stars in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres (pictured) and signed Joe Cole, the squad’s overall quality is no-where near that of Chelsea and United.
Some might even argue they will struggle to make the Top 4. A lack of funds, creativity and a heavy reliance on Gerrard and Torres has led to them falling down the pecking order. A courageous 1-1 draw with Arsenal to start the season was undone with a lackluster loss to Manchester City.
Although a club of such stature is always mentioned as a title contender, the expected departures of Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt will further weaken a club that has already been labelled a “sinking ship”.
Personally, I hope that Arsenal and Liverpool somehow manage to compete for the title. But even at such an early stage it appears to be between Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. What do you think? Is it unfair to write off Arsenal and Liverpool this early?