The Premier League is at the halfway point of the campaign and the storylines for the season are close to being set, with teams slowly becoming entrenched in positions in the table.
Manchester City are on course to run away with the top-flight crown, and could be on their way to breaking the points record after amassing 52 from their opening 18 matches. Pep Guardiola’s men have played sumptuous football and it would be no surprise if they were to match the feat of Arsenal’s Invincibles of the 2003/04 season to go the entire campaign unbeaten.
The Citizens have the quality and the depth to achieve the feat and secure the first Premier League crown since the 2013/14 season. Their lead over the chasing pack is already sizeable and should only grow as the inconsistent form of the field holds them back. It would take a collapse of dramatic proportion for City to lose the title from this position or a slew of injuries to their best players.
Therefore, the race for the crown should effectively be over, with the rest of the elite clubs in the division having to settle for the battle for a Champions League place. Manchester United sit in second place, and although they remain a quality outfit, their form has not been as dominant as the early stages of the season. However, Jose Mourinho’s men are comfortably ahead of the rest of the field, while Chelsea have enough quality to hold on to their spot even without playing their best football in the first half of the term.
That leaves a battle for the final spot. Liverpool hold it at the moment, but their place could well depend on the future of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been linked with a move to Barcelona and his exit could be a hammer blow in the Reds’ pursuit of a Champions League place.
Mohamed Salah has been outstanding since his move from Roma in the summer. He leads the Premier League with 14 goals, the second-highest tally in the league of his career. The Egyptian is on pace to near the 30-goal mark and has been the creative outlet down the right flank. However, should he drop off in the second half of the term, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are not prolific in front of the net, which could result in them dropping out of the top four given their issues at the back.
Arsenal and Tottenham are waiting in the wings. The Gunners could be one to watch given their lack of commitment in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger has opted to play his youngsters in the Europa League, which may or may not continue pending their progress in the competition. Spurs have not played their best football this season and do have star power at the front along with a strong backline. Backing them at sportsbet.io to make the charge into the top four in the second half of the season would not be a bad option given there is plenty of room for improvement for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
The battle at the foot of the table could be even more enticing as the entire bottom half could get embroiled in a fight to stay in the division. From Huddersfield downwards – no team can feel comfortable about their status. Swansea are propping up the table after the half-way stage and they appear to be in the most trouble due to their struggles in front of goal. Paul Clement is in a precarious position and could be the sixth manager in the Premier League to lose his job this term.
The Swans are in dire need of a spark from somewhere. Their summer moves have not worked out as the club have failed to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, who moved to Everton for £45m. Renato Sanches has been a disaster in the middle of the park, continuing his dramatic fall from grace since Euro 2016. Wilfried Bony has not managed to reproduce his form of the 2013/14 season, and although Tammy Abraham has been a bright spot – his four goals lead the way for the team – the forward has not scored since October. Unless Clement finds an answer quickly, the Welsh outfit will be hurtling towards the Championship.