Two rounds of Premier League action down and only two teams managed to maintain a 100% start to the new season. It’s early days of course and in most instances, way too early to get a clear picture of the big battles that are going to happen further down the line.
But now that all teams have dipped their toes in the uncertain waters of the new season, who looks ready to sink and who is going to swim their way to the title?
The Title Race
One thing clear from the opening two rounds of EPL 2019/20 action, was that reigning Premier League champions Manchester City and Liverpool are likely going to be involved in a two-horse race for the title. Again. Just as the bookmakers have predicted all summer in the Premier League outright winner market.
The Citizens came racing out of the blocks showing style and swagger by firing five goals past West Ham. Despite a 2-2 home draw for the Citizens against top-four challengers Tottenham in one of the big early games of the season, Pep Guardiola’s City once again look as if they are bursting at the seams with title-winning potential.
After amassing the most points ever by a second-placed team in the Premier League last season, but still missing out on the elusive EPL title, Liverpool started with a bang as well. They took opening successes over the newly promoted Norwich and then Southampton. Along with a UEFA Super Cup win sandwiched between their first two Premier League games this season, the Reds have already looked, along with City, a cut above the rest.
The Rest of the Big Six
The same scenario which generally plays itself out season after season is Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United fighting it out for the other top four places (along with Man City and Liverpool). The top four all book a berth in the following season’s UEFA Champions League, so it’s one of the tensest battles in the league.
third-place finishers last term, look as if they could be heading for some choppy waters this season because of their inexperienced manager Frank Lampard and the inability to sign players due to a transfer ban. Will their already-limited squad have the depth to compete over a long season in which they have to deal with Champions League football too?
are sort of in the same boat with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer entering his first full season in the Old Trafford hot seat. United showed an attacking flair as they smashed Chelsea 4-0 in their opening game of the season and have spent big money on bolstering their defence in adding England’s Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Will that bring them the edge they were missing last season?
third favourites to win the league title this season, had to fight back from a goal down to beat the newly-promoted Aston Villa in their opening game. They then got a VAR-assisted draw at the Etihad against Manchester City despite being heavily outplayed in the match. Spurs did go shopping for new talent in the summer, but have they done enough to close the gap on Liverpool and City?
Tottenham’s North London rivals were very proactive in the summer transfer market and look as if they are going to cause a lot of teams an attacking threat with Nicolas Pepe joining Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. It was their defence which let Arsenal down last season, so have they done enough to work their way back into the top four in the country?
The Top Four Race
The bookmakers are expecting a similar outcome to last season. Namely Manchester City and Liverpool occupying the top two, with Spurs being a lock for a top-four finish as well. That leaves another highly competitive race between the other big six to grab that last Champions League place.
The Relegation Zone
Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa were the newly promoted sides to the top flight this season. Aston Villa, who spent over £100 million in the summer on new players, made the worst start of the three, losing their opening two games against Spurs and Bournemouth. Sheffield United, the pre-season favourites for relegation collected four points from their opening two games,
Chris Wilder’s Blades look up for the fight and full of entertainment. Few teams are going to enjoy going to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United this season. Norwich, another of the relegation favourites, have already secured a win, a 3-0 success over Newcastle. That was a great response from them having lost heavily at Liverpool in the first game of the new season.
The Premier League relegation betting scene can’t be surveyed without a look at Newcastle. They lost the steady hand of Rafa Benitez in the summer and new boss Steve Bruce looks to be the captain of a rudderless ship. The Magpies have been cut for relegation already after back to back opening defeats.
Some Early Stats
Crystal Palace, another of the teams that bookmakers had pegged as a potential relegation candidate, were just one of two teams who failed to score over the first two weeks of action (Watford). Everton were the only side to not concede a single goal in their opening two games (W1 D1).
Two hat tricks are already present in this season’s top flight. Man City’s Raheem Sterling earned one on the opening weekend of the season against West Ham, while Norwich’s Teemu Pukki got all of the Canaries’ goals in their win over Newcastle.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane remains the Premier League Golden Boot favourite after his brace in their opening game. The aforementioned West Ham, largely because of their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Man City, conceded more goals than any other team in the opening two rounds (6).