You’re sat at Etihad stadium with over 40’000 screaming fans. The stadium is vibrating with nerves as everyone holds their breath. The word of the commentator splits the ears of fans worldwide and at home in their living rooms “City need to score”. Every eye of the footballing world is on this game. Suddenly, Sergio Aguero gets the ball and smashes his way through the QPR defence; he pulls his foot back ready to pull the trigger, the English Premier league and the hopes of a city, rest on his boot. “Aguero”! The stadium around you erupts as fans unleash their love and passion for the game whilst jumping up and down and cheering, before running on the pitch and celebrating like they have never done before. The chorus of Blue Moon rings around Manchester and echoes around England long into the night.
The passion and sheer emotion that the Barclays Premier League captures is remarkable, from every high when fans feel as though they are gliding on cloud nine. Then to every low when you’re stood in below freezing temperatures watching your team get beat in an early December match when it’s snowing and its dark at three in the afternoon. The premier league conjures up as many emotions as your mind can comprehend. After United fans broke down in tears last season as the City fans went wild, after Bolton fans wept as they look down the barrel of a season in the championship, after former premier league winners Blackburn found themselves slump into relegation and QPR celebrate with City fans after fighting off relegation, we all return for yet another season, which has certainly been yet another cracker so far.
Currently soaring above the table whilst opening up a three point gap after a riveting 3-4 win at Reading is Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. After the heartbreak of last season, Man United will be as determined as ever to win the title back from bitter rivals Manchester City. It hasn’t been all great from United as they have come from behind to win games far too many times, 10 in total, for Ferguson’s liking as many find it incredible that United are at the top. No draws of yet for United, however losses to Norwich, Tottenham and Everton have hampered their season, whilst second placed City are yet to lose a match. Robin Van Persie has been superb for United this season, netting 9 premier league goals already. United’s defence may need some fine tuning as Rio Ferdinand appears to be creaking with age and Vidic is still yet to return, however the forwards seem to be getting the job done. Javier Hernandez has received the branding ‘super sub’ as he came off the bench whilst United were losing 0-2 at Villa Park to score a hat-trick, winning the match 3-2. At the top of the table however, it seems to be turning into a two horse race between the Manchester teams already, but a disappointing 1-1 draw for City only got them a point at home against Everton. A huge positive for City is the outstanding form of full back Matija Nastasic, which is the reason Joleon Lescott has been left out a lot, quotes David Platt. City are three points behind United, however having not lost a game it is likely they will hit back shortly.
Slipping down the ranks is Chelsea. They were flying at the start of the season. Winning game after game with the strike force of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar and the defensive force of players like David Luiz, it looked like Chelsea meant business under Roberto Di Matteo. The FA Cup and Champions league winners were leading the table before a controversial 2-3 loss at home to Manchester United. Since that game, Chelsea have failed to win a game in the premier league in 6 games, including losses to West Brom and most recently, a 3-1 loss at West Ham. Chelsea fans seem disgruntled with the introduction of Rafael Benitez as new manager, after he entered Stamford Bridge for a mid-week game against local rivals Fulham. He was greeted to the echo of boo’s as he entered, as fans made it clear they were not happy with the choice of Benitez and showed their opinion that Di Matteo should have kept his job. Chelsea now sits 10 points behind league leaders United and 7 behind City. They currently sit 3rd, equal on points with Tottenham and West Brom.
Tottenham’s start to the season has been good, but not great under new manager Villas-Boas. 8 wins is something to smile about which has got them to where they currently sit in 4th place, equal on points with Chelsea, however the 2 draws and 5 losses hinders them. A thrilling 2-3 win at Old Trafford for Tottenham, recording their first win over United since 2001 proved that they would be no pushovers and that they’re determined to succeed this season. Tottenham have had good wins, but disappointing losses stand out as large blemishes on their season. A 5-2 loss at the Emirates is never good, but the stand out loss is the 0-1 defeat at home to Wigan. Tottenham looked lethargic on the ball. They looked slow, they lacked drive and motivation. It was one of those games where they seemed to turn up and act as if they had already won the game. They were in for a shock after Wigan slapped one in and Tottenham panicked to find an equaliser which never came. That said, it hasn’t been all bad, 30 year old striker Jermain Defoe is wreaking havoc. 7 goals for him, including two recently away at Craven Cottage, puts him in fine form. His goal against West Ham was world class as he picked up the ball, darted around a few defenders and slotted the ball as if he was practising in his own back garden.
Closely behind Tottenham is West Brom who have made a flying start to the season, who are also equal on points with 3rd placed Chelsea. West Brom have conjured up a few good wins this season. They defeated Chelsea at home 2-1 and they beat Liverpool 3-0 on the first day of the season. They may be surprised to find themselves so high up, but Liverpool and Arsenal may be surprised to find themselves so far down. With Arsenal in 10th and Liverpool in 11th, this has been a truly awful season for both sides. Neither side is without their wins. Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2 at home, Southampton 6-1 at home and Liverpool 0-2 at Anfield, but losses such as at home against Swansea and away at Norwich just aren’t good enough for Wenger’s men. Liverpool have also disappointed this season, however topping the score sheets in the league at the moment is Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, netting 10 times so far. Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to get a few more wins under his belt as he will be feeling the pressure sat in 11th place in December recording just 4 wins.
At the bottom end of the table there are stragglers such as Southampton, Reading and Sunderland which is expected. Newcastle will be disappointed to be in 14th, especially after Demba Ba has been in such terrific form having scored 8 goals this season. Aston Villa are also sitting in 16th which is too low for comfort. However the real sad story so far this season is Queens Park Rangers who sit bottom of the premier league, being the only team not to record a win. So many new signings at QPR including super keeper Cesar meant high hopes would be taken to Loftus Road this season after fans streamed in hoping to see QPR sitting high in the table come Christmas. Sadly, this has been anything but the case. To sum up QPR’s season in a nutshell, ‘useless’ would be the word to use. They have looked simply awful, with little determination from the players and an ever worried manager in Mark Hughes who finally received the sack at the end of November. Harry Redknapp replaces Hughes which QPR fans will be delighted about. Redknapp did a superb job at Tottenham and was disappointed to not get the England job. QPR fans must have faith in their new manager who certainly has enough managerial skills in his mind to lift QPR and save their season. It’s not been all bad for QPR however. Their 3-1 loss at Old Trafford against a lacklustre United saw QPR show some improvement. They had the lead over United at one point, and were unlucky not to have two after an earlier goal from Mackie was disallowed for offside, which was marginal. A 0-0 draw under Redknapp away at Sunderland was also superb. Rob Green made a good save which could be one of the saves of the season to deny Sunderland three points. QPR looked a lot better and although it was a 0-0 draw, they looked improved and it could be argued that if that game was played 4 weeks before, they would have been beat again.
Sitting above QPR is Reading who are 3 points ahead and with a game in hand. They gave United a run for their money in an interesting 3-4 loss at home, however Reading have a win on their belt after they beat Everton at home 3 weeks ago. Southampton are 18th on 12 points, a point behind Sunderland who sit on 13 points. Any side in the relegation positions has shown that they can play football and they can dig their way out of the relegation battle, it just depends which team plays their cards right.
After a brilliant start to the season it’s time to get down to business. The table has taken shape and every game from here on is vital to every team, whether fighting to win the title, win a champions league spot or fight off relegation. So from that game when you were sat at Etihad stadium, in your lounge room or in the bar as the weather was becoming brighter and the days were becoming longer in England, the flowers were blooming as summer was coming. Now as we head into the depths of winter you’re stood at the football in 3 jackets, gloves and doing everything you can to keep warm as the days get shorter, colder and the weather gets worse. Fasten your seat belts premier league fans; it’s going to be yet another brilliant season.
Written by Callum Synnott