The 2013-14 Premier League table continues to prove preseason predictions of the best experts wrong as surprise clubs lead the EPL and contenders struggle to stay afloat.
With Manchester United struggling mightily to put together wins and get back into contention, the title may be up for grabs, and plenty of clubs look poised to be in the running as the season progresses.
Let's take a look at the updated standings for the EPL and predictions for the upcoming Matchday 9.
|Rank||Club||Points||Matchday 9 opponent/prediction|
|1||Arsenal||19||Crystal Palace (W)|
|2||Chelsea||17||Manchester City (W)|
|3||Liverpool||17||West Brom (W)|
|4||Manchester City||16||Chelsea (L)|
|5||Tottenham||16||Hull City (W)|
|7||Everton||15||Aston Villa (D)|
|8||Manchester United||11||Stoke City (W)|
|9||Hull City||11||Tottenham (L)|
|11||Swansea City||10||West Ham (D)|
|12||West Brom||10||Liverpool (L)|
|13||Aston Villa||10||Everton (D)|
|14||West Ham||8||Swansea (D)|
|15||Stoke City||8||Manchester United (L)|
|19||Crystal Palace||3||Arsenal (L)|
Notable Matchday 9 Matches
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
Unlike Manchester United, powerhouses Chelsea and Manchester City have clawed their way back from early-season woes and each find themselves in the top four.
With the two separated by just a point and accompanying surprise clubs Arsenal and Liverpool at the top of the standings, either club is just one big win away from potentially getting on top of the table after Matchday 9.
City have won two straight matches, each in 3-1 victories over West Ham and Everton, while Chelsea have won three of four with a draw in between. With both clubs entering new eras under recently added managers, a league title in the first year would be a heck of a start.
Chelsea have scored 31 percent of their goals in the last 10 minutes, so look for the Blues to flex their clutch muscle and take down the surging City in this battle of heavyweights.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Manchester City 1
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal
No club has shocked more world football fans this season in England than Arsene Wenger's squad, which sit atop the league table with 19 points through eight matches.
Where will Arsenal finish?
The emergence of new addition Mesut Ozil and the suddenly dynamic offense has dazzled as of late, including some pretty goals in a 4-1 domination over Norwich City on Saturday. Along with a Liverpool draw, the Gunners were able to get back on top of the league table outright.
Expect more of the same in their Matchday 9 showdown against Crystal Palace, who come in with just three points in eight games and are flirting with relegation.
Winners of five of their last six (the sixth being a draw), the Gunners are the most fun squad to watch in the Premier League, and their re-emergence near the top of the table is undoubtedly a good thing for the landscape of world football.
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Crystal Palace 1
Manchester United vs. Stoke City
If the defending champions want any chance at fighting for their title down the stretch of the season, they'll need to start stringing together victories, and Matchday 9 is a golden opportunity to do so.
Are United out of the title race?
On Saturday, the Red Devils will host the struggling Stoke City, who have lost three of their last four EPL matches. Even worse, they've only scored once in those four.
Meanwhile, David Moyes' squad squandered an opportunity to string together two straight victories over the weekend, drawing against Southampton at home.
Manchester United are already eight points out of Arsenal's EPL table lead, and with a plethora of emerging clubs around them, Wayne Rooney and company will have to bounce back quick.
That added fire from the reigning titleholders will allow them to put together a couple of goals, but one is all they'll need to top a tanking Stoke club.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Stoke City 0