EPL: The pretenders and the contenders

by ‘Ifreke Inyang

So we have to endure two weeks without league football, no thanks to the international break. Sigh. But what a few weeks of proper soccer we have had across Europe!

In England, another intriguing, dramatic season is steadily shaping up.

Chelsea have pulled away from the two Manchester clubs, with a healthy four point game. You have to wonder why a lot of pundits, still feel Roberto Di Matteo’s men won’t last the distance. Yes, they have had nasty publicity, from John Terry’s racism trial to Ashley Cole’s irreverent outburst at the FA. But somehow, at Stamford Bridge, drama doesn’t quite blossom into crisis. And they have remained unbeaten so far, conceding a league-low four goals.

Manchester United, may have lost two games already, but they sit in second place. Last week against FC Cluj and Newcastle, Alex Ferguson started Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck – an all-attacking cast. And they delivered the goods, with Rooney particularly impressive in his new midfield role.

City are still in there. And when they lose concentration at the back, they have an inspired Joe Hart, to bail them out. Arsenal are undoubtedly in the mix. With Per Mertesacker, a key figure in their much improved defence and the ever dazzling Santi Cazorla, anything is possible.

It is however still strange that Everton are in the top four. You however will not put your money on them to stay there beyond Christmas at best. In the other part of Merseyside, Liverpool are a long way from those with genuine hopes for the league title. 13 points adrift and struggling to win games, Brendan Rodgers, will have to be content with keeping the Anfield club up.

It’s Action 2.0 after the break. Pretenders, Tottenham Hotspurs play Chelsea. And then there is the intriguing back to back games between Manchester United and Chelsea. The picture will indeed become clearer, as we approach the half point of the league and we will know which teams are in with a shout.

We absolutely can’t wait for the blaady international break, to swing by.

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