Finally, it seems like Chelsea might have some competition.
For so much of the season so far it has appeared as if Jose Mourinho’s side will stroll to the title with no trouble whatsoever. The Blues have started incredibly well, and it would probably be an understatement to say that their main rivals have not.
Manchester United have continued to struggle as they transition from the Ferguson era. Man City have lost key games at key times. Arsenal went into the season without enough defenders, and this has ended up being a constant thorn in their side. Liverpool – after the fantastic performances of last season – have been nothing short of woeful.
While you’d still have to be a very brave man to suggest that anyone other than Chelsea will win the title, the events of the weekend just gone have at least suggested that they may at least have more of a fight on their hands.
All the previously mentioned teams won; and importantly, won in ways that demonstrated that they may have turned a corner.
For Arsenal, an away fixture at West Brom is just the kind of game that they fail to win, but Arsene Wenger’s side managed a gritty 1-0 win at the Hawthorns.
For Liverpool, a win at home to Stoke in a game that could have taken them into oblivion. There has been so much pressure on Brendan Rodgers and his side in the last few weeks; a visit from Stoke was probably not particularly high on Rodgers’ early Christmas wishlist. Thankfully for the Reds, a late winner from Glen Johnson secured a crucial three points for the underachieving side from the red half of Liverpool.
Manchester United needed to win, but they didn’t just need a victory. They needed to win in style. After a huge investment in the summer, the Red Devils have been poor, and have looked lacklustre even in the games that they have won. This weekend was a different story, with Louis van Gaal’s side putting in a complete performance at home to Hull.
After the midweek heroics, City needed to get their act together in the Premier League, and fast. Unfortunately for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, they were up against the high-flying Southampton, and many were predicting an upset in the Sunday afternoon game at St Marys. In the end, those predictions turned out to be totally incorrect, as City bossed Saints in the second half to win 3-0.
And Chelsea? A 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light simply must go down as two points dropped for Jose Mourinho’s side. For now, the Blues have a six-point cushion, but with their main rivals coming into some form, Chelsea really need to pick themselves up from this if they want to maintain momentum in this title race.
The smart money is still on the boys from West London; but the way things are looking, this title race is far more open than it appeared a few days ago.