Early skirmishes offer prospect of open Premier League

After just four weekends of the new Premier League campaign, only Liverpool and Everton remain undefeated in what is threatening to be the most competitive race for the title in many years. Liverpool currently lead the table with 10 points with Swansea denying them maximum points after a stirring Monday night draw at the Liberty Stadium. But what have the first four matches told us about the title contenders.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Both Chelsea and Manchester City began the season as the favourites to secure the title but their opening day victories apart, subsequent displays have not been convincing.

City destroyed Newcastle in their first match but the Magpies’ game plan for that night was badly affected by the late withdrawal of Yohan Cabaye after transfer speculation unsettled the Frenchman. Despite their lavish spending, Manuel Pellegrini’s team have only recorded one further victory and were beaten at newly promoted Cardiff. A more settled Newcastle team has remained unbeaten since that horror night at Ethiad Stadium.

Meanwhile, Chelsea secured a comfortable opening day win at home to Hull but have yet to score a goal on their travels. A weekend defeat at Everton proves that Jose Mourinho still needs more time to blend his team into genuine title contenders.

Current title holders Manchester United demolished Swansea 4-1 in their first match but needed the help of a controversial penalty to defeat 10-man Crystal Palace at the weekend and in doing so score their first league goals since the Swansea win. Much will depend on David Moyes coaxing Wayne Rooney back to his consistently best form.

Arsenal were also embroiled in controversy at Sunderland where a refereeing decision may have cost the hosts an equaliser. The Gunners lost their first match at the Emirates amid chants for manager Arsene Wenger to spend some money on new players. Mesut Ozil has since arrived but injuries and a longstanding weakness in defence has cast doubts on their ability to mount a serious title challenge.

Their North London neighbours Tottenham have impressed with their style of football but have only scored two goals from open play in four matches. Andre-Villas Boas has invested in the squad following the departure of Gareth Bale and Spurs may yet prove to be live contenders for winning the title with the capture of Dane Christian Eriksen potentially becoming the signing of the summer transfer window at £11 million.

Brendan Rodgers has also been active during the transfer window with special emphasis on strengthening his suspect Liverpool defence. Three 1-0 wins, with every goal scored by Daniel Sturridge, have been the foundations for their current lead in the Premier League. Yet their attacking play also looked particularly polished at the end of last season especially when convincingly beating Newcastle 6-0 at St James’ Park.

Liverpool and Tottenham could yet challenge the favourites in what appears at this stage to be a very open Premier League title race with no single team threatening domination.

John Welsh

John Welsh

A freelance sports writer specialising in football, horse racing, cycling, athletics and betting. Also, the author of book [sc:bookbiolink], a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.
[email protected]
John Welsh

John Welsh

A freelance sports writer specialising in football, horse racing, cycling, athletics and betting. Also, the author of book [sc:bookbiolink], a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe. [email protected]

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