Sep 25, 2009

While we were gone -- at the top

If the English Premier League season is a party, consider us (very) fashionably late. But now that we're six games in, the standings are starting to take shape: who would bet against the top four being the same come May? Not yours truly, that's for sure.

After a series of 1-0 wins, Manchester City proved they're for real by tonking Arsenal and giving neighbors United a run for their money. Can they hold off a challenge from Arsenal? Time will tell but, as ever with Arsenal, there are concerns about how brittle they are. By all accounts, Thomas Vermaelen has proved to be a great signing, but does a midfield of Diaby, Eboue, Fabregas and Alex Song have enough steel? Maybe Wenger should have tried harder to keep certain defensive players.

Meanwhile, Chelsea trundle ominously forwards, the only unbeaten team and with a 100% record. The straw many rival fans might cling to is that the African Nations Cup could derail them, what with Drogba, Essien, Kalou and, possibly, Mikel all set to miss at least a month in January/February to play in the competition.

And what of the other top teams? All have been spotty -- Manchester United losing to Burnley but beating Arsenal, City and Spurs, Liverpool losing to Aston Villa and Spurs, and Villa themselves losing to Wigan on opening day. It'll likely be another month or so before we can judge which of them, if any, will mount a credible challenge to Chelsea.

This week's fixture list shouldn't pose too many difficulties for the top teams, though it should be noted Stoke can be tough to beat at home. The most intriguing game may be Fulham v Arsenal -- Fulham, despite a slow start to the season, are among the best of the non-top six teams.

That said, perhaps Hull will shock us all and take points from Liverpool at Anfield. The beauty of football is that you never really know, do you?


Man City badge image supplied by Wikipedia.

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