Year after year the Premier League is full of moments of brilliance, great competition and questions of who will come where?, probably the most fascinating battle is the race for the top 4 places and Champions League qualification. Usually when discussing the top 4 race we look at the quality on show and wonder which one of these sides will end up missing out on Champions League qualification, this year however it seems that any side that can find any form will ease into a coveted top 4 place.
With almost all the top teams underperforming thus far, Chelsea the form side of the Premier League already look destined for the title in Mourinho’s second year back in England, they look the most complete team and with clinical frontman Diego Costa hitting the ground running in England they seem to have found a winning formula. Already 6 points clear of main rivals Manchester City and the only side unbeaten in the Premier League they look to be the only top side getting it right this season.
It is expected that Chelsea and Man City will secure Champions League spots relatively comfortably while Arsenal will be hoping to continue their recent good run fuelled by some great Alexis Sanchez performances and you would expect them to secure third place and maybe cling on to the league leaders for as long as they can. The real battle, as with most seasons, is going to be for that fourth and final place.
Manchester United and Liverpool were the bookies favourites to battle for that place but as of yet neither have found any form and are leaving the door wide open for any team to gain some ground in the race. Spurs and Everton who also expect to be challenging for that Champions League spot have been terrible this season, for any good team it looks like the perfect opportunity to break into the top 4 this season but as of yet none of the usual suspects are rising to the test.
In comparison to last season, bar Chelsea who are 6 points better off, the four teams who gained top 4 places have either started poorly again or gone backwards, Man City have once again started poorly but find themselves one point better off this season than last on 20 points, not what they would have liked but no major disaster, Liverpool have been the most disappointing, Rodgers’ side have regressed from 20 points this stage last season to a measly 14 points in the post Suarez era, showing no sign of improvement. Arsenal have also dropped back this season, having been top last season with 25 points, this season has not been as impressive as they are 8 points worse off on 17 although recent performances suggest an upturn in form.
Both Everton and Spurs have also seen massive differences this season compared to last as all Champions League hopefuls search for the kind of form that can begin to launch them up the table. This years surprise package has been Southampton, despite a squad upheaval losing important players such as Lallana, Lovren and Lambert they have bought well and new men Tadic and Pelle see them flying high in 2nd place on 22 points only 4 behind leaders Chelsea.
This Southampton form is no fluke they have been nothing short of marvellous thus far with manager Ronald Koeman making management in the Premier League look easy. Newcastle back in the 11/12 season and Everton last season have been surprise candidates for top 4 places that ultimately failed in their attempts but in a year with so many underperforming top teams it could be a chance for someone like Southampton to break into the lucrative Champions League places.
The season is only ten games old but as of yet none of the Champions League hopefuls have hit the ground running and should Southampton continue this great start they will have every chance of getting a Champions League spot.