There’s still a long way to go this season, but like I’ve been saying before the season started, this season will be the most competitive Premier League season in a very long time.
The talent from top to bottom in the league is closer than ever before. Clubs in the bottom half are stronger and have talent more evenly spread throughout their sides than in previous seasons, while the clubs near the top of the table are far weaker defensively than in previous years.
Today was a perfect example of this as West Ham United defeated Chelsea, Swansea beat Arsenal, Reading gave Manchester United several shocks and Everton stopped Manchester City from winning at home.
It’s important to note that the clubs outside of the giants are winning by playing as teams instead of relying on star individuals to lift them up. West Bromwich Albion, despite their recent slip, are a perfect example of this. They work hard and play extremely well as a team, but it’s hard to pick out specific individuals that are the reason for their success.
As the teams lower down the table make smarter decisions in the transfer market, picking players that fit within their system, it helps them compete against the top clubs by playing them at their game. Gone are the days of negative tactics of forming a wall of 10 defenders in front of your goalkeeper for most of the game. Lower table clubs are playing expansive football and trying to outdo the big guns.
The end result is a far more enticing and competitive Premier League. Even teams who are in the lower reaches of the table are playing well. It’s just their defensive woes that are letting them down. QPR, Southampton and Reading spring to mind.
Despite a poor run of form at times, you can look at the other teams in the league and see plenty of potential. Stoke City, Aston Villa, Norwich, Wigan and Fulham have nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve all shown positive sparks of life this season, and a good run of form will boost them up the table.
Inconsistency has plagued Newcastle United, which isn’t surprising given their injury problems. Sunderland, out of all of the clubs in the Premier League, are the ones who I don’t have kind words for, except their clinical striker Steven Fletcher. With a different manager and different style of play, they would be miles better.