With some of their usual rivals for the title struggling for momentum this season, Arsenal fans will surely be seeing this as their best opportunity to be crowned champions for some years. Two of the key players in their solid start to the season have been Olivier Giroud, who has twelve league goals to his name so far, and record signing Mesut Ozil, who has been at the heart of much of their attacking play. The Gunners will take heart from the fact that they are one of only two teams to have beaten Leicester in the league this season. They will need to continue taking three points against the leading sides – something which they have struggled to do in the past – if they are to truly place themselves in pole position for their first title in 12 years.
After a difficult campaign last season, many supporters will not have been surprised at Villa’s struggles this season. The extent to which they have struggled, however, will have come as a shock. Remi Garde’s side have picked up just two wins so far this season, with one of them coming on the opening day of the season under previous manager Tim Sherwood. They have serious problems at both ends of the pitch, but more noticeably in attack as they are the lowest scorers in the Premier League. They have talented individuals within the squad with the likes of Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede, and have showed slight signs of improvement recently following a win over Crystal Palace and respectable draws at home to Leicester and away at West Brom. However, unless they start to string a positive run of results together, relegation from the top flight for the first time in the Premier League era looks inevitable.
Even if Eddie Howe’s side are relegated after just one season in the Premier League, it is already safe to say their supporters can look back on their campaign with a degree of pride. After a promising start, the South Coast side did stutter slightly throughout October and November as they failed to win in eight league games, though this did come after a serious injury to Callum Wilson. The former Coventry striker started the season brightly with five goals in the first seven league games, including a memorable hat-trick in the win at West Ham. However, after memorable back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Manchester United they have started to regain their form. Avoiding an immediate return to the Championship is certainly achievable. They face a potentially difficult last few games of the season, with games against Manchester City and Liverpool to come in April and a trip to Manchester United on the final day of the campaign. They will need to take advantage of games against their relegation rivals to ease the pressure on themselves in those matches.
While Chelsea won the 2014/15 Premier League title with relative ease, their 2015/16 campaign to date could not have been more different. While also dealing with off the field drama regarding the club’s former doctor Eva Carneiro, the West London giants have endured a torrid time on the pitch. With many of their star players simply failing to perform, their quest for a fifth Premier League title is already over as they sit just seven points above the relegation zone. They have seen a slight upturn in fortunes since Guus Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho as interim manager, as they have remained unbeaten since the former Netherlands Head Coach was appointed. The Blues should easily steer clear of the relegation zone under Hiddink’s guidance, but will surely be facing a period of transition over the coming months as they look to build for next season.
The Eagles continue to impress in the top flight following their promotion in 2012/13, as they look on course for a second consecutive top half finish. Alan Pardew’s side have impressed on the road this season, as they have picked up notable victories against Chelsea and Liverpool. They were the first side to win at Stamford Bridge this campaign, and that seemed to be one of the results which initiated Chelsea’s decline. One of the key factors in their encouraging season has been Yohan Cabaye. The French midfielder has proven to be a shrewd purchase by Pardew, who also managed Cabaye during his time at Newcastle, and has impressed since his arrival at Selhurst Park, contributing with some key goals in the process. Though they have endured a difficult start to the New Year, a place in Europe is not currently out of the question, but Palace fans should be contempt with another top ten finish.
With one of the Premier League’s leading goalscorers in Romelu Lukaku among their ranks and with some of the Premier League’s usual leading teams stuttering, Everton fans may be slightly disappointed to find themselves in mid-table this January. Spurred on by Ross Barkley and Lukaku – who scored in seven consecutive league game across November and December – the Toffees have impressed going forward this season. However, they need to begin turning draws into wins if they want to compete for a place in Europe next season. Though they have only lost six matches this season, they have drawn 11 of their league games this term, the most in the division. They must also look to improve their record against the leading teams, as four of their six defeats this season have come against teams in the top five.
Quite simply the fairy tale story of the season so far. After an incredible end to their 2014/15 campaign, which saw them escape relegation, the Foxes have continued to thrive under new manager Claudio Ranieri, who replaced Nigel Pearson in the summer. They have suffered just two defeats all season and provided one of the most memorable moments in Premier League history in November. Jamie Vardy’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United meant he became the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League games, beating Ruud van Nistelrooy’s previous record. The goalscoring exploits of Vardy and midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who have 29 league goals between them already, have been the main reason for Leicester’s superb run of form. It will be vital that they remain fit and in form if they are to remain in the title race. February could prove the decisive month in their season, as they host Liverpool and then face trips to Manchester City and Arsenal in the space of two weeks.