With the Premier League season more than halfway gone, there are five (perhaps six) teams that are in the running for the Premier League title. However, there is no one team that has set themselves apart from the pack at the top. More importantly those teams at the top keep dropping points against teams that they really shouldn’t be losing to. 32 Flags examines if any team in the top five actually wants to win the Premier League.
First, let us start with Leicester City. As of right now, they have in the best position to win the Premier League even though they are only leading by three points over Arsenal and Manchester City. But the reason Leicester is the favorite is due to the woeful playing of both of the Foxes’ closest competitors.
Arsenal, picked by many to win the Premier League at the start of the season, are in a bad way right now. As always, Arsenal has been plagued by injuries that have severely weakened the team significantly and has contributed to their three game winless streak. In that span, they conceded a late equalizer to Liverpool, drew against Stoke in a lackluster 0-0 draw and lost to Chelsea (again) at home.
Not to mention that Arsenal is prone to choking when the time comes for them to come up big. The Gunners need to reverse their luck, and soon, if they want to stay in contention for the title and not end up in their familiar fourth spot at the end of the season. Hopefully with Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil back in the lineup, the dynamic duo will provide a spark that Arsene Wegner’s side desperately needs.
Manchester City has had a rollercoaster last few months after they got off to a fantastic start in the season. Since October of last year, City has not been able to string consecutive victories in the Premier League as they alternate from win to loss or tie week after week. Their form guide resembles a pattern as their last 10 games looks something like this: W-L-W-L-W-D-W-D-W-D.
It is also worth noting that City has been woeful away from home, as they have only six points from their last six road encounters, scoring only five goals in those matches. They drew against Aston Villa, Leicester and West Ham; lost against Arsenal and Stoke; and managed to beat only Watford away from the Ethiad. Usually, Manchester City would have managed to take away at least 12 of those points, but with their offense shutting down away from home, they will need to find a way to get Sergio Agüero and company back to his scoring form.
Tottenham is another team that is eyeing the title, and that has surprised a lot of critics. After a terrible start to their season, Spurs have certainly come back with a vengeance after finding their scoring touch this late in the season. With Harry Kane leading the pack with 13 goals in all competitions so far, he is certainly stepping up to his role as a leader of the club and helping his team make a title push.
But much like their hated rivals from North London, Tottenham falls out of form near the end of the season and they end up in Europa League contention ceding the top four places to the other big clubs. But if they wish to achieve winning the title, they must stop losing to the likes of Newcastle United, Everton and Stoke.
Manchester United has been, to put it lightly, a hot mess. Out of all the teams in the title hunt, they have dropped the most points to teams they shouldn’t be losing to. Losses to Southampton, Swansea, Bournemouth, West Brom, Norwich and Stoke (who has beat nearly every team on this list surprisingly) are the reason the Red Devils are 10 points away from the top spot.
Take into account the fact that Man United’s offense has been severely limited at home — as they haven’t scored in the first half at Old Trafford in 11 consecutive matches — and in general. In the past 10 matches, Manchester United scored one goal or less in nine of those games and won only one of those nine. Also, Louis Van Gaal is slowly losing the support of the Devils’ faithful with each scoreless half, and that means that he better get his men in gear and scoring more often, lest he be out of a job before the end of February.
So the fact remains, who will shape up and stop gifting vital points to teams that sit mid table and below? There is still a lot of football left to be played, but if the race for the Premier League crown continues to be this close, we might see the title be decided on the last game day of the season.