By Grady Bruch, Staff Reporter
It’s been a surprising start to this Premier League season with lot’s of teams rising and falling in the table. But the season is still young, and a quarter of the way through, anyone can still make a run for the title. With that I give you my predictions for the top six teams in the Barclays Premier League at the end of the season alongside extra time.
First place- Arsenal have the least goals against any Premier League side and to nobody’s surprise have slipped into second place this far through the season. After a poor first game against West Ham, Arsenal have allowed only five goals in eight games alongside three straight wins by three goals. Arsenal fans can thank rivals Chelsea for handing them a World Class goalie Petr Cech over the summer, but the real star of the team has been Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has found the back of the net six times in the previous three games and has looked unstoppable since Arsenal’s embarrassing loss to arch-rivals Chelsea. Mesut Ozil has been the other bright spot for Arsenal, leading the premier league in assists and has been extremely influential to Arsenal’s run to second place. The world class defense and unstoppable midfield has led many to believe all Arsenal need is a Striker. I think Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Ozil can produce enough goals to win the Gunners its first premier league title since the invincibles of 2003.
Second Place- Manchester City have the most goals of any English Premier league team so far this season with 24. With David Silva leading the league in the assists and Sergio aguero second in goals with six, there seems to be no way to stop the best attack in England. Aguero is one of the many who were injured during the international break and now Manchester City will be without their superstar for at least six games including a clash with rival Manchester United. There's no question Manchester City will be contending for this year's title especially with Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s awful start to the season. Coach Manuel Pellegrini brought in many great players during this summer's transfer window including Wolfsburg superstar Kevin De Bruyne and Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi and with these signings comes the expectation of trophies and if trophies don't come then Manchester City will likely see Pellegrini out the door. Although the midfield and forward lines have some of the best players in the world, I expect a second place finish for the citizens due to their weak and very elderly defensive line.
Third Place- Manchester United spent the most money of any English Premier League team this summer and we’ve seen them move up a solid four spots in the table since last season. Many expected keeper David De Gea to make his dream move to Real Madrid but saw his current club stall at the last minute of the transfer window to retain their superstar. Possibly the most criticized and praised player in the league Anthony Martial has shown why he’s worth 55 million dollars as he has sparked Manchester United into its current third place position. Louis Van Gaal maybe be horrible at understanding the English language, but he has a clear sight of English soccer tactics and it's easy to see that the dutchman is the best coach for such a prestigious club. Although David De Gea is basically a human brick wall he will need more help from a his very mediocre defense line and this leads me to believe Manchester United just aren’t prepared to lift the trophy again, so it will be a third place finish for the Red Devils this season.
Fourth place- West Ham, the Virginia Commonwealth university of European soccer have defeated Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all away from home. The Hammers are led by Former player and very successful coach Slaven Bilic who has led a team of mostly irrelevant players to defeat some of the best teams in the world. Of course not all credit can go to the coach, but a lot of credit can go to Bilic’s superb summer signing Dimitri Payet. Payet has embarrassed the greatest team in England and pounded five shots into the back of the net. The true unsung heroes of West Ham is the defensive line. Led by center back Winston Reid, West ham has been one of the toughest teams to score on. Simply watch the last 10 minutes of Manchester City vs West Ham game and you will know what desperation defending looks like. With Barcelona loaned out defensive midfielder Alex Song still yet to play a game I fully expect the Hammers to finish the season strong and sneak into fourth place taking some Champions league matches to their new stadium next season.
Fifth place- Chelsea and Jose Mourinho are lost. Don’t worry though because the rest of the world is also scratching their heads over why Chelsea sits in 12th place a quarter of the way through the season. But many still believe (including me) that Mourinho can turn this sinking ship around and carry it up the table. Eden Hazard, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesc Fabregas are just a few of the many Chelsea stars who look like completely different players from last seasons championship squad. These huge problems aren’t even the biggest controversy surrounding Stamford Bridge; instead it is the Spanish beast Diego Costa who catches the interest of England. Costa is a great player but and even better manipulator, showing this specific skill drawing a red card from Arsenal defender Gabriel, dropping Arsenal to 10 men. Chelsea has a very weak schedule not playing a top three team until christmas and if there was ever a time to go on a run it would be now. With all the problems surrounding the Blues there is one thing for sure and that is, the team is really good, leading me to believe Chelsea will take home fifth place this season.
Sixth place- Leicester City, and the unstoppable machine called Jamie Vardy have shot up into fifth place this season. Heralded as the comeback kids of the English Premier League, Jamie Vardy and the foxes have comeback from a deficit to tie or win in 5 of their 8 premier league matches. Vardy leads the Premier League in goals with 9, but the man truly deserving of credit is Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez has the fifth most goals and the fourth most assists of all premier league players and there have been no signs of stopping this great run. Coach Claudio Ranieri also deserves some credit for the rise of Leicester City. The only major downside to this leicester squad is the defense. The foxes have given up about as many goals as most relegation zone squads and there comes a time when you just can’t comeback from every deficit. Its safe to say the foxes are a longshot for european soccer next season but the best part about the English Premier League is, anything can happen, So the cinderella story of England can finish this season in a very solid position of sixth place.
7th- Tottenham (key players Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris)
8th-Everton (key players Romelu Lukaku)
9th- Crystal Palace (key players Yohan Cabaye, Yannick Bolasie)
10th-Swansea City (key players Andre Ayew, Jonjo Shelvey)
11th-Liverpool (key players Philippe Coutinho, Simon Mignolet)
12th-Southampton (key players Jose Fonte, Sadio Mane)
13th-Stoke City (key players Xherdan Shaqiri, Mame Diouf)
14th-Norwich City (key players Wes Hoolahan, Nathan Redmond)
15th-Aston Villa (key players Brad Guzan, Micah Richards)
16th-Watford (key players Odion Ighalo, Etienne Capoue)
17th-Sunderland (key players Jermain Defoe, Jermain lens)
18th-West Bromwich Albion (key players Saido Berahino, James Morrison)
19th-AFC Bournemouth (key players Callum Wilson, Steve Cook)
20th-Newcastle (key players Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko)