This season’s Premier League title race is turning into more of a 1500m running race, with the two front-runners too reluctant to step into first position because they are so worried that the competitor they are fiercely battling with will creep up and overtake them from behind when they can’t see.
Liverpool and Chelsea seem determined to stay side-by-side on the track at the moment, withstanding any opportunity to take the lead and let the other out of side their sights. Whenever one slips, the other does the same. Whenever one takes a giant stride forward, the other must follow suit.
Maybe it will continue like this until the contest draws to a dramatic climax, when one team will emerge as victors after a final-straight sprint to the finish line. Because, currently, neither looks as if they want to race clear and leave their opponent straggling behind with a mammoth task to catch them up.
Of course, there is a long way to go in this season’s Premier League title battle, and there are many more twists and turns still left to unfold. Manchester United will enter the fray at the head of the pack once they have completed, and inevitably won, their games in hand, and they correctly remain second favourites to win the championship when May comes around, despite currently lying six points adrift of leaders Liverpool.
But while United remain a few wins off the top, it has been left to the other two clubs that are chasing the title to battle it out at the summit so far this season. With Arsenal having already lost to Fulham, Hull, Stoke, Man City and Aston Villa, it has been up to Liverpool and Chelsea to provide the early-season entertainment at the top of the table. And they have, though perhaps not in the way that Rafael Benitez and Big Phil Scolari would have wanted.
The two sides have stayed extremely close together since the start of the campaign, both suffering similar lows but enjoying the same highs – they have both won eleven games as to date. Both clubs have endured sea-saw seasons so far, pulling off a fantastic victory one week before throwing it all away with a silly draw against a relegation candidate the next.
The funny thing is, though, that they seem to both achieve the same result on a particular weekend. When Liverpool drop two points at home to promoted Hull, Chelsea do the same a day later against West Ham. When The Reds go to Lancashire and see off Blackburn with minimum fuss, Chelsea travel to the same part of the country and perform in equal measures to defeat Bolton.
It has seemed that neither club actually wants to break clear at the top of the Premiership, though of course we know that is not true. Yes, it has started off like a long-distance running race would, but we know that Chelsea and Liverpool would rather not remain side-by-side for too much longer. It creates too much tension and means unnecessary significance is placed on each individual fixture by fans and the media.
For other teams though, and for neutral fans as well, it has means a much more exciting league campaign so far. With the top clubs slipping up much more than in recent seasons, it has meant the Premiership has been more unpredictable and thrilling. With new phenomenons like Hull City and Aston Villa, the score of no game can now be guessed without a hint of anxiety.
With Liverpool having already been held by four lower teams at Anfield, and Chelsea having only won three of their games at Stamford Bridge so far, it has been far from boring. Let’s just hope it continues in that fashion until May, though as a Liverpool fan myself I desperately hope we can maintain our solid start to the season and end so many years of despair by lifting the trophy.
The front-runners may well stay very tightly together for quite a while longer though, before one team starts to cement themselves as the leader of the pack. The title race may have begun like a long distance running race, but the action has been much more exhilarating that the comparison suggests. This is sure to be one hell of an intriguing campaign at the top of the table.