How Many Title Contenders Are There in the Premier League?
The title race in the Premier League is often a two- or three-horse race, but this year appears to be a special season. There are several top-notch teams with serious title aspirations. Ten games into the campaign, the top five teams in the league are all still within three points of each other.
Let's take a quick look at the current top five squads in the Premier League and assess whether or not they are legitimate title contenders.
Manchester City might have the most complete team in the EPL, and if anyone is going to run away with the title, they would be the team to do so. Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling provide the offensive firepower, and it is no surprise that City is tied for the league lead in goals scored with 24.
However, defensively Manchester City is not quite as sound. Center back Nicolas Otamendi is having a fantastic season, but John Stones has not been quite as good as Pep Guardiola was hoping when he signed him for that massive transfer fee over the summer. City have only allowed nine goals this year in 10 league games, so their defense is not a glaring concern, but it could be just vulnerable enough to prevent them from dominating the league this season.
Conclusion: Certainly title contenders and probably slight favorites to win the title at this point in the season.
One of the keys to the Gunners' strong start has been their much improved center-back play. Laurent Koscielny currently has the highest WhoScored.com rating amongst defenders in the EPL, and his center back partner Shkodran Mustafi is not far behind, ranking sixth.
Scoring goals has not been too difficult for Arsenal, either, as their 23 goals scored is only one behind the league leaders. Alexis Sanchez has been one of the best players in the EPL this season with 6 goals and 3 assists, and Theo Walcott has also gotten off to a strong start with 5 goals and 2 assists.
Conclusion: The Gunners haven't won the title in over a decade, but this could finally be the year they reclaim the trophy.
They certainly have enough offensive firepower. Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane all rank in the top six in the league in player ratings this season, according to WhoScored.com. With that in mind, it's no surprise that they are tied for first in the league in goals scored with 24.
The problems for Liverpool have been defensively, where they have conceded 13 goals, which is 3 more than any of the other contenders on this list. It might behoove Jurgen Klopp to buy some strong defensive players during the January transfer window.
Conclusion: Their defense is a major concern, and they do not have quite as much depth as the other contenders. A Liverpool title is possible, but they might need to be active during the January transfer window to achieve it.
Eden Hazard seems to be back to his old form as his five goals this season already give him one more goal than he scored all of last season. Diego Costa leads the league with 8 goals, including some late winners.
N'Golo Kante has proved to be a great addition to the squad as he provides superb tackling and interception abilities that help his side regain possession, which takes some pressure off the back four.
Conclusion: Chelsea have proven that last year was a fluke. They have a strong enough team to win the Premier League, and they figure to be in the mix.
Early on this season, Tottenham has proven to be the best defensive team in the league. They have conceded a mere five goals in 10 games, and their back four of Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Kyle Walker is incredible. Rose, Walker, and Vertonghen all have WhoScored.com ratings of 7.30 or higher, which is an elite rating. Alderweireld was named in the EPL team of the year last season, so he is not too shabby, either.
Tottenham has not had as much luck scoring goals, but this is partly because Harry Kane has only played five games so far this season due to injury. Kane has scored over 20 goals each of the past two seasons, so once he returns, it will obviously be a major boost for Spurs. The good news for Tottenham is that Kane could be back as soon as this weekend.
Conclusion: Tottenham is the best defensive team in the EPL and they are undefeated, so you cannot count them out as title contenders.
All five of these teams seem to be legitimate title contenders, which could make this one of the most enjoyable EPL seasons to watch in recent memory. Sadly, at least one of these teams will not even qualify for UEFA Champions League since only the top four teams qualify. It will be fascinating to watch the title race and the race for the top four, as it may be the closest and most contested race the league has seen in years.