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Thursday, 26 December 2013

How the EPL takes shape before New Year's Day

West Ham United 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa 2-1 Swansea City
Hull City 2-1 Fulham
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace
Norwich City 1-3 Manchester United
Cardiff City 0-2 Sunderland
Everton 2-1 Southampton
Newcastle United 2-2 Arsenal
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Stoke City

EPL Table @ 31.12.2013:
1. Manchester City 41 pts (+37)
2. Arsenal 40 pts (+18)
3. Chelsea 40 pts (+16)
4. Everton 37 pts (+13)
5. Liverpool 36 pts (+21)
6. Manchester United 34 pts (+11)
7. Newcastle United 34 pts (+6)
8. Tottenham Hotspur 34 pts (-2)
9. Southampton 27 pts (+6)
10. Hull City 23 pts (-6)
11. Aston Villa 22 pts (-6)
12. Stoke City 21 pts (-11)
13. Swansea City 20 pts (-2)
14. Norwich City 19 pts (-17)
15. West Bromwich Albion 17 pts (-6)
16. West Ham United 17 pts (-9)
17. Cardiff City 17 pts (-17)
18. Sunderland 16pts (-15)
19. Fulham 16 pts (-17)
20. Crystal Palace 16 pts (-20)

There seems to be a clear pattern on how the League is taking shape. It's no real surprise to see City, Arsenal and Chelsea in the mix. However, I would definitely not be betting against Liverpool not being title contenders, as they would have completed 2 tough matches by Sunday (lost against Manchester City and are expected to lose against Chelsea, who's fortress under Mourinho has thus far remained intact). After that, they will have an easy run of fixtures that would be in their favour. At one point I considered Everton a title contender until they lost their unbeaten home record against bottom team Sunderland, who looked resurgent and defiant in defending against all odds. Sunderland is expected to put in the same kind of effort against troubled Cardiff City, which would potentially lift them off the foot of the table.

I had my doubts for Manchester United went they went up against Hull due to their tigerish defensive record at home. It was a lucky 3 points considering it could have gone either way. I'm expecting another fight by Norwich, who beat us 1-0 last season, and I won't be surprised if they raise their game against the dethroned champions at home, despite a tiring run of fixtures. Of course, United will chop and change, but will it be good enough against Norwich? I would still think Norwich will edge this one, but I would love to be proven wrong.