We're already eight matches into the Premier League season. Might as well just pack it in and go home. What else is going to change by the end of the season?
Unfortunately, that's the attitude for quite a few football fans. The campaign isn't even a quarter of the way through, and you've got some Arsenal supporters popping the champagne bottles, while Manchester United supporters are preparing for the club's descent into the Championship.
It's always the same every season. Some clubs overachieve early, while others underwhelm. By season's end, everything has leveled off, and the table looks close to what you expected it would before the season.
Here's a look at the standings heading into Matchday 9.
|Premier League Table—Matchday 9|
These three clubs haven't gotten of to the starts many expected they would, but they should start climbing up the table very soon.
There may be no player who is more important to his club than Christian Benteke. Without the Belgian striker, Aston Villa would struggle to get near the top half of the league. With him, the Villans should finish 10th or better.
The 22-year-old forward had been out with an injury since late September. He made his return as a substitute last week against Tottenham.
Getting Benteke back is crucial for Villa. They aren't anywhere near as deadly with Libor Kozak leading the line. That's a big deal when Aston Villa's defense is spotty, at best.
That mediocre back line is why they need the Belgian forward so badly. With him up top, they've got a lethal attacking trio with Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann. When those three break forward on the counter, it covers up so many of Villa's defensive deficiencies. Villa are using that counter as a form of defense.
With Benteke on the pitch, Villa should begin their ascent up the table.
You get the feeling that the best is yet to come with Manchester City. For as bad as their defense has been at times, they're still only three points off Arsenal at the top.
The key will be getting Vincent Kompany back in the lineup. The Daily Mirror's Alan Wilson reported the centre-back will be out for the match against Chelsea on Sunday. It's a double whammy for City because not only are they losing their best defender, but they're also replacing him with Javi Garcia, who's looked bad when having to play in the back four.
When Kompany does return, Manchester City are a surefire top-four club and a title contender. They've got the talent everywhere else on the pitch, with Sergio Aguero in particular on a great run of form.
Unlike Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini is a calming influence in the dressing room. He understands the concept of putting a campaign together. Pellegrini won't be afraid to sacrifice style points if it means grabbing a draw against a club like Chelsea or Arsenal.
Perhaps the biggest question mark will be Joe Hart. He must start playing better if City are to make a title push. You can't get consistent results when you're not confident in the guy between the sticks.
Enough has been said about Manchester United's slow start to the season. Let's just look forward.
At Everton, David Moyes almost always had his teams struggling out of the gate. Then came the inevitable questions as to whether this was the year the bottom would fall out for the Toffees. Instead, Everton made that late-season charge and got into the top half after all.
It happened far too often to be a coincidence. There's something about Moyes' managerial style that enables things to come together in the second half of the season and make up for a slow start.
Why can't the same thing happen at United?
Don't forget that Arsenal were sitting ninth in the table on Oct. 21. They were able to claw their way back up the table and finish fourth.
While getting in the Champions League will be difficult with the combined improvement of Liverpool and Tottenham, United will at least be able to move into the top five by season's end.
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