Premier League: Liverpool remain title favorites after 17 rounds

January 5, 2021

The English Premier League takes a break to pave way for the FA Cup, after a high tempo 17 rounds of matches and being at the midway point Liverpool have shown all the credentials to defend their title. The Reds are well at the top of the standings, jointly with Manchester United on 33 points ahead of their Monday 4th January game against Southampton. While Liverpool have been the most consistent side in the league over the past two seasons, they have dropped their guard a bit in recent matches, drawing three of their last five games. 

Liverpool’s trip to St. Mary’s to take on Southampton will be the last of the 17th week of matches before the FA Cup takes center stage. Southampton have failed to score in their last three matches and will be hoping to start the year with a win, having collected three points only from their last four matches. However, on Liverpool are tipped to win the clash.

Manchester United had a slow start to the season and a shaky campaign in the Champions League but have recently been on a fine surge. They currently have the joint most wins (10). Bruno Fernandes has been key to the team’s resurgence and his 11 goals and seven assists place him as one of the most valuable players in the league at the moment.

Chelsea have also made headlines in the first half of the league season. After a great early run, they finished 2020 on a low and started 2021 in the same fashion. The team that once sat at the top of the table and was considered a serious title contender, is now eighth on the log. They are struggling and the defensive mettle they had seems long gone and rarely do they keep clean sheets anymore. Manager Frank Lampard’s job is under serious threat after the team suffered three losses in their last five matches and after the preseason expenditure, there’s nowhere to hide for the former Chelsea midfielder.

Chelsea’s serious issues started when they lost 3-1 to Arsenal on Boxing Day 2020. While it was a blow for Chelsea, it heralded a good run for Arsenal who have now won three matches on the bounce. The recovery at Arsenal has lifted spirits and the talk of the Londoners being relegation candidates has disappeared. While the wins have started coming consistently, fact remains, Arsenal still need to strengthen, and they are expected to have a busy transfer period in January.

Elsewhere, Leeds United have been the best performing side of the three that got promoted. While West Bromwich Albion and Fulham are stuck in the relegation zone, Leeds are 12th. However, they have been among the poorest in defence so far. The team has conceded the second most goals (33), and only West Brom have a worse return in defence, having conceded 39.

Burnley, one of the early strugglers, are on the rise, as seen in their matches towards the midway point. They have showed good signs on and off the pitch and 2021 should be a good year for the team. American investors ALK Capital’s takeover has been approved and the team has pulled out of the drop zone with a five-point buffer and it can only get better for them. 

For Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, wins are still proving hard to conjure consistently and are only above Sheffield United in the standings. The two newly promoted sides have been billed favorites for relegation and their runs in the first leg don’t suggest otherwise.

At the foot of the standings is Sheffield United. High flyers last season but the weakest side this season. Sheffield are the only winless side this season in the Premier League and are the strongest favorites for relegation, having lost 15 of their 17 matches. At eight goals, they are also the poorest in attack.

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