The Premier League: Fairer and More Competitive?

dennis berryContributor IOctober 20, 2009

LONDON - APRIL 26:  Wayne rooney of Manchester United (10) shoots past Petr Cech of Chelsea to score their first gosl during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 26, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

This Premier League season was set to be an intriguing one before it even started. Manchester City's overspending, Ronaldo's overdue departure and Arsene's over-vocal critics all left us watering at the mouth for a season of change; a season where the big four became a big five or six.

And some would argue that it is shaping up to be just that season; Villa, Tottenham, Manchester City and, to a lesser degree, Sunderland, have all shown signs that the established order is being brought down. But is this really the case?

Tottenham have spent rather less than Manchester City and sit in third, albeit having played a game more. Redknapp has instilled a confidence and workmanship that could well see them up there by the end of the season.

Similarly, City themselves boast a great record so far - sitting pretty in fifth with an extra game that could see them leapfrog Spurs if they win it.

Villa beat Chelsea last weekend to enhance their own credentials.

Sunderland have pulled off some great results - a draw at Old Trafford combined with a brilliant win over Liverpool have won them many sympathetic faces up and down the country.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have struggled to establish the form that saw them finish second last season; they lack a playmaker until Aquilani returns and with Torres and Gerrard injured they have lost their way in recent matches, culminating in tonight's home defeat by Lyon.

Arsenal are plagued by their usual problem; great football, great players but a simple inability to grind out results when it matters - both Manchester games serve as proof of this.

Certainly, there are two Champions League spots up for grabs. But is it so simple? I don't think so.

First of all, take Manchester United. They have been far from brilliant this season. At times, they have been downright lucky. But look at the table - they sit at the top!

Wins against Arsenal and Manchester City may have been somewhat fortuitous, but in the scheme of things that doesn't matter. They are there. When it comes to the run in, you can count on them to hit their top form, and if the current lacklustre performances can see them top the pile, they've almost already got it in the the bag.

Similarly, Chelsea. Blips against Wigan and Villa aside, where Terry and Carvalho had off-days, they have simply demolished every team that came their way. Spurs, who have so far looked almost the real deal, simply could not deal with their midfield. Liverpool were almost lucky to keep it at only a 2-0 loss.

By contrast, the other current top teams can not produce this sort of form.

City have been great going forward, but for all their spending their defence is still a complete joke.

Spurs have looked vulnerable to direct teams such as Bolton.

Villa have a small squad and lack the spending power and the quality edge of other big teams.

Liverpool's opening couple of months have been a disaster; Arsenal had to scrape fourth place last year and unless they toughen up may have to do so again, although granted they have been very impressive so far.

My point is this; the top four may well change this year. Based on current form, predictable results and a bit of guesswork, it will most likely be Liverpool who drop out, if anyone does. Arsenal look the next most likely.

But Manchester United and Chelsea are light years ahead of anyone else. I don't see a big six, a more competitive league.

I see a big two of United and Chelsea who leave everyone else to fight for scraps.


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