Premier League: Can Anyone Catch Chelsea This Season?
We are now 20 games into the season in the English Premier League, and Chelsea are currently atop the table with an impressive 49 points.
The Blues have won 16 of their 20 games, and they are five points clear of second place Liverpool, so it seems that they are the clear favorites to win the title at this point.
But are there any teams that are capable of beating out Chelsea for the Premier League title?
Let's take a look at the top teams in the EPL.
Who has the best chance of catching them?
Jose Mourinho's side got off to a slow start this season, but they have rolled off nine wins in a row in all competitions to put themselves on the periphery of the title race. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have both been key to United's improved play, and they are both rated as top 10 players in the EPL this season, according to WhoScored.com's rating system.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's emergence in recent weeks has also been a huge boost for Manchester United, as he has three goals and three assists in his last eight appearances after being a non-factor for the first three months of the season.
United are certainly one of the most talented teams in the league, but their slow start will likely prevent them from winning the title this year.
The Gunners are currently in fifth place, eight points behind Chelsea, and their title hopes appear to be pretty bleak at this point. Arsene Wenger's side are sixth in the league in shots on target per game and in shots conceded per game.
They are fourth in the league in possession per game, and they have the fourth-best goal differential in the EPL.
They are a very good team, ranking second by WhoScored.com's ratings, but unless something drastically changes, they don't seem likely to close the eight-point gap.
City have a tremendously talented team, and they have a magnificent coach in Pep Guardiola, so it is difficult to write them off from the title race completely. City are first in the league in possession per game (no surprise considering who their manager is) and second in the league in both pass success rate and dribbles completed per game.
This shows that they have the skill to control games and create goal-scoring opportunities better than almost any other team in the league. I would not be surprised if they went on a hot streak and gave Chelsea a run for their money.
Tottenham are currently seven points behind Chelsea, but one could argue that they have played almost as well as the league leaders so far this season. They rank fifth by WhoScored.com's ratings.
Tottenham have allowed one fewer goal than Chelsea, giving them the best defense in the league so far this season, but their offense has let them down, as Spurs rank fifth in the league in goals scored. However, Tottenham may be getting unlucky offensively, as they lead the league in shots per game and are second in the league in shots on target per game.
It is very possible that more of these shots are going to start finding the back of the net in the second half of the season for Tottenham, and if that happens, they should expect to close the gap on Chelsea and make a push for the title.
Liverpool are currently only five points behind Chelsea for first place, which is a very manageable gap with almost half the season remaining. One positive for Liverpool is that they are clearly the best attacking team in the EPL, as they lead the league in both goals and shots on target per game.
Liverpool's defense is somewhat suspect, as they have conceded more goals than any other team in the top six, but they surprisingly allow fewer shots (7.8 per game) than any other team in the league. I'm not arguing that Liverpool is the best defensive team in the league, but it is possible that their high goals against total could be a tad misleading and maybe even a bit of bad luck.
Considering their scoring capabilities and their ability to limit their opponent's shots, it seems that Liverpool is the team with the best chance to catch Chelsea and win the EPL title this season.