The 2011-12 English Premier League season has been described as the most exciting season ever. Sergio Aguero’s last minute goal against QPR on the final day was the perfect metaphor for the ups and downs of last year. The current campaign is struggling to equal those dizzy heights so far but it’s time may come yet.
As managers look forward to improving their squad in the January transfer window, I will attempt to complete the difficult task of naming who will be the Premier League’s top 5 clubs by the end of this season from my point of view as a Manchester City fan.
5th – Tottenham Hotspur
Andre Villas-Boas deserves credit as he seems to be getting the best out of Jermaine Defoe. With the help of some other key players, Defoe’s goalscoring ability has helped to push Spurs into the top four. Attacking players like Bale, Lennon and Dempsey are performing well too. This has lead to Spurs being joint-second top scorers in the Premier League and on equal points with Chelsea.
Where they lack stability is in defence. AVB’s side have let in 23 goals so far this season – more than any team in the top 12. If Spurs can defend better and carry on scoring then they definitely have the players to get a Champions League spot. However, I don’t think they will spend money on the defence in January and will just miss out on a top 4 position.
4th – Everton
My decision to give Everton my 4th place position is based on Marouane Fellaini not being sold in January. I’m not saying Everton are a one man team – actually far from it. Baines, Pienaar and Mirallas all have four assists each and Nikica Jelavic has scored an impressive 5 goals. Nonetheless, Fellaini stands out from the crowd with an incredible 8 goals and 4 assists from his central midfield position.
If Everton can continue to play the way they are doing and they can hold onto Fellaini over Christmas then I think the Champions League is well within their grasp. David Moyes is a fantastic manager and really deserves some reward for the tremendous work his has done for the club over the last 10 years.
3rd – Chelsea
Things seem to becoming less and less hopeful for Chelsea fans as they saw their club go out of the Champions League in the group stages. Combined with the appointment of a manager they hate and Torres still seemingly unable to find his old form, the outlook is bleak for the London side.
With the amount of money Roman Abramovich throws at the club and the players at Rafael Benitez’s disposal, I can’t see Chelsea coming outside the top 4 but I can’t see them battling for the title either. I think Chelsea fans may be disappointed with this prediction but should keep in mind that it is still a Champions League spot and is definitely not to be scoffed at.
2nd – Manchester United
This may seem a blatantly obvious choice from a City fan but choosing between United and City for top spot really was the most difficult decision I faced when writing this. United have been scoring goals for fun in the Premier League which comes as no surprise as they have the likes of Van Persie, Rooney and Welbeck in the starting 11. On the other side of the coin, Vidic’s long-term injury and Rio Fernand not being the centre-back he once was, has left Fergie’s side looking very suspect defensively.
My main reason for giving United second place is because they are still in the Champions League. Ferguson will be very eager to show his squad’s ability and I can’t see him shying away from either European or domestic challenges. However, in the end, this may be United’s downfall. Trying to juggle the two competitions is hard and players get tired. Going for Champions League glory may mean the Premier League title race falls by the wayside.
1st - Manchester City
Now anyone reading this may be sarcastically saying “Oh what a surprise! We didn’t see this coming!” but as I stated in the last section of this article, this was not an easy decision. Neither Manchester side has been at the top of their game so far this season but I think both may be back in full flow again sooner than we think. None of the players, back room staff or fans will have wanted to see City play so poorly in the Champions League but their early exit from the competition may be a blessing in disguise.
If Man United reach the semi-final of the Champions League, they will have to play at least 540 more minutes of football than Manchester City (that’s not taking into account possible extra time). That sort of game time can put a strain on a squad and could make the difference between the two teams in the title race. It’s obviously not going to be easy for either side and it’s going to be a very close race but I think the Blue half of Manchester will triumph once again – maybe not quite as dramatically as last season though.