It’s still relatively early days in the Premier League but, as we run up to Christmas, we can take a lot from some of the performances so far. We might be just about a third of the way through, however, a lot of what the teams are already telling us could dictate positions after 38 matches.
As with any league in football, things can quickly change. The Premier League isn’t known as one of the most exciting in the world due to constant one-horse or two-horse races. There is always competition for the top, be it from the old guard or a new team trying to break into the English elite.
As we’ve seen so far, many of the bigger clubs are already asserting themselves but surprise packages – such as Southampton, West Ham and Swansea – are also vying for top-four places. Whether they can maintain or improve their form into the murky depths of the season remains to be seen, whereas we know the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, for example, can use their strength in depth when push comes to shove.
Top-spot holders Chelsea are firm favourites and the obvious choice. Don’t just listen to me though, the betting tips that can be found at betting.betfair agree. They’re 3/10 on, with closest rivals and current title holders City way back at 9/2. United are at 20/1, Arsenal at 49/1 and the odds get more and more distant from there.
Looking at the current league, will the biggest scorers get the chance to run away with it or will those with a tight ship be able to come good in the New Year?
The Champions League places are in perfect order of goals scored. Riding high are Chelsea with 30, City with 27 and Southampton and United joint with 24. Eleventh-place Everton are an anomaly with 23 goals putting them joint-fifth with West Ham in the ‘goals for’ stakes. But typically goals mean points.
City’s Sergio Aguero leads the individual stats with a stunning 12 goals so far and he is closely followed by Chelsea’s Diego Costa with 11. The top-two teams have the top-two finishers and again that shows the correlation between finding the net and league success.
Keeping them out
Third-place Southampton have kept themselves in the running by not conceding many up until a 3-0 drubbing by City last weekend. In 13 games, they haven’t yet reached double figures in goals against, with only nine getting past their defence and first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster. This is indicative of how they’ve played and how deserving they are of the spot. Top-place Chelsea have conceded 11, with second-place City conceding 13.
Oddly, neither the first-place nor second-place teams feature in the top three for clean sheets. Southampton’s Forster rides high with seven in the league, meaning he has conceded in less than half of his matches so far. Swansea are holding on to a decent spot with six clean sheets. The fractured nature of clean sheets shows that while defence is key, it is goalscoring that is the main player in 2014.
Chelsea are scoring in abundance and keeping their goals against tally down low. Though it’s not always a clean sheet, they can rely on their firepower to deliver when they need it to get them out of trouble. An uninspiring performance recently against Sunderland shouldn’t change things too much. What they’re doing is working and the smart money would be on the London side this year. It just so happens that the numbers agree.