Things are starting to tighten up.
Manchester City ensured that when they defeated Arsenal, drawing within three points of the table-leading Gunners, while Chelsea pulled within two points.
Meanwhile, clubs like Everton and Manchester United handled their business, staying in the hunt for a top-four spot. With Liverpool and Tottenham on tap, we should head into Week 17 with a better idea of who the contenders and who the pretenders are atop the table.
|Premier League Table|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||3||6||7||17||22||-5||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||3||5||8||13||19||-6||14|
Arsenal are really struggling now, having drawn Everton and lost to Napoli and Manchester City in their last three matches, but they'll have a chance to remind everyone they are still a contenders with a match upcoming against Chelsea.
And if nothing else, Arsenal have done well all year to win the games they are expected to win. Anything less than a win against Chelsea will be disappointing, but also keep in mind that the Gunners have dealt with a lot of injuries and are just now starting to get healthy. There are a few players who are probably a bit run-down at this point.
Obviously, both Chelsea and Manchester City are very serious contenders and are each starting to prove why they were the two most popular picks to win the league heading into the season. They have the deepest rosters and a smorgasbord of stars between them.
Liverpool had struggled against top competition this season, but they ended that in a big way against Spurs. The Reds had taken just five points against Manchester United, Arsenal, Southampton, Newcastle and Everton, but they absolutely smoked Tottenham, 5-0.
The Reds aren't to be taken lightly.
And then there is Everton, who just keep on picking up points. The Toffees have lost just one game on the season and continue to look like a team that will be hard to keep out of Europe next season. While a league title probably isn't in the cards, it wouldn't be shocking if Everton remained in that conversation for much of the season.
They are a very, very dangerous team.
Gareth Bale ain't walking through that door, Tottenham.
Spurs didn't just lose to Liverpool, oh no—they lost by five goals. At home.
Spurs have resembled a team with a lot of very good players but lacking a dynamic, game-changing force they can base their style of play around. At this point, a top-four finish looks like it will be very difficult to obtain unless Tottenham figure things out.
It was fun while it lasted for Southampton, which have dropped down to ninth on the table after hanging around near the top of the table earlier in the season. The club hasn't won since November 9, losing to Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa in that time and drawing with Manchester City and Newcastle.
They are a good team, there is no question about that—and a top-10 finish would be an excellent accomplishment—but it's become clear that there is a clear delineation between them and the top Premier League sides.
Ditto for Newcastle, which can beat any team on any day but lack the consistency to make a serious run at Europe. That was clear enough against Southampton over the weekend, when the Magpies let three points slip through their fingers in the second half.
The team that has beaten Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United and drew Liverpool has also lost to Hull City and Sunderland and was blown out by Swansea City, 3-0. If they could consistently play at a top level, they'd threaten for Europe.
But for now, it appears more likely they'll be the thorn in the side of the top clubs but finish outside of the top five.
Manchester United looked excellent against Aston Villa, but consistency has been the issue. With Robin van Persie out to injury, we'll find out a lot more about this United team in the next month. They could insert themselves back into the title race given the talent they have, but it won't be an easy task, as they are still 10 points behind Arsenal.
They shouldn't be dismissed, but at this point, a top-four finish seems like a far more obtainable goal than another league title.