A look back at the first half of the 2018/19 EPL season
As the hectic Christmas period rolls on, we’re approaching the halfway point in the 2018/19 EPL season. It’s tight at the top and at the bottom, as a host of teams fight for survival in the Premier League, while a select few battle it out to be crowned champions.
We’ve already been treated to some fantastic matches and, to many peoples’ surprise, Manchester City are not running away with the title already, just like they did last year. In fact, it’s Liverpool that currently top the table. The Reds are unbeaten in their best ever start to a campaign and, at the time of writing, have conceded just seven goals in seventeen games.
Another shock is that Machester United are currently languishing in 6th place and 19 points behind the leaders. Having just sacked manager Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has taken over on an interim basis until the end of the season. Whether United will improve is anyone’s guess.
With the vital Christmas period on-going, let’s take a look back at the first half of the season and also a quick glance into next year and who could be crowned champions.
Top of the table
The key clash came in October, when Liverpool hosted Manchester City. Both teams were unbeaten at that point, and that perhaps led to the game being more tame than expected. A cautious approach by both managers led to a goalless draw and kept things tight at the top. Mo Salah has continued to light up the league. Despite some pundits claiming a slow start, Salah is joint top-scorer in the league with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on ten goals. The Egyptian striker also claimed a wonderful hat-trick against Bournemouth in December to mark his return to top-form.
Manchester City didn’t taste defeat until December, when Maurizio Sarri’s perfect gameplan saw Chelsea win 2-0. Chelsea had also drawn with Liverpool earlier in the season in a cracking game. The Blues led until the last minute, when a Daniel Sturridge wonder goal earned Liverpool a deserved draw.
Tottenham just made it through to the Champions League knock-out stage, along with the other three English teams. Spurs started the season slowly but are now moving through the gears. Spurs haven’t drawn a game all season but their problems against the big teams remain. Spurs have lost all but one of the games they played against the current top five, with a win against Chelsea the exception.
Arsenal were the form team in Europe for most of the season. An incredible run of 19 games unbeaten in all competitions recently came to an end, but the Gunners are performing better than expected with new manager Emery at the helm.
Manchester United have hit the headlines throughout this season, mostly for the wrong reasons. Mourinho has finally been sacked and fans will be hoping a new leaf can be turned. More than three years since Sir Alex Ferguson left the role, United still don’t seem to be heading forwards.
Wolves have settled into life in England’s top division with ease. Comfortably in the top ten, Wolves have been impressive, with their standout result a draw against champions Manchester City. Everton and West Ham are two teams also knocking on the door of the top six, but they still seem a long way off from breaking in.
As to who will win it, it’s impossible to call between Liverpool and Manchester City. We are sure it will be one of those two, who look a cut above the rest, but with Liverpool currently just one point ahead of City, it’s impossible to say.
In contrast to Wolves, fellow newcomers Fulham haven’t settled well at all, and are currently propping up the table. Despite being the first promoted team to spend over £100m in the summer, things haven’t gone well at Craven Cottage. That money spent hasn’t seemed to be enough and Fulham sacked manager Slavisa Jokanovic. Claudio Ranieri was the man to replace him and will try to steer Fulham to safety.
Huddersfield and Burnley are the other two teams in the relegation zone at the time of writing. Many tipped Huddersfield to go down pre-season, but Burnley were not expected to struggle this much. A lack of firepower is costing the Clarets, though they are improving of late.
Southampton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Cardiff are the other teams in danger, and it seems likely that any three of these teams plus those in the relegation zone currently will go down. Southampton have a new manager in place who got his first win recently, while Cardiff are outperforming expectations at home after a poor start to the season.
Crystal Palace are consistently incosistent and can’t seem to put a good run together, while Newcastle’s form is also patchy.
We can’t see Fulham staying up and also think Cardiff will struggle as the season wears on. We think those two will most likely face relegation, with Huddersfield the most likely team to take the final relegation spot.