We’ve reached the third international break with less than a third of the season gone. Some may welcome the chance of a two-week break from the Premier League but to many fans it is an unwelcome distraction. With England almost certain to qualify for Euro 2016 it is essentially a break from football and disrupts the momentum of the season.
However, moan over, what the break does is give us the chance to reflect on the 2014-15 season with 11 games having gone so far. The Blue Sq experts have Chelsea as firm favourites to lift the Premier League trophy next May and very few would argue with that.
Chelsea were not too far away last season, finishing third, four points behind champions Manchester City. However, they have noticeably improved, notably in the signings of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.
Chelsea arguably failed to win the title last year because of deficiencies in attack. A forward line led by Costa is much more of a threat than last year when the main forwards were Demba Ba and Fernando Torres. Injuries may play a part in the second half of the season, but Chelsea look justified title favourites.
City have declined a little. Though Sergio Aguero has been in great form, too many of last season’s stars including Yaya Toure, have failed to maintain that form in this campaign and they have lacked the consistency needed to be a threat to Chelsea so far.
Manchester United have too much attacking talent to stay outside the top four and, if they bring in defensive reinforcements in January, could even finish runners-up.
Southampton have been the surprise package of the season so far and most neutrals will be hoping they can continue to “gatecrash” the top four. Having lost so many quality players in the summer, as well as their manager, their form has been remarkable. It may not last but they could well finish in the top six and may be a decent outside shout for one of the cup competitions too.
At the bottom, all three of the promoted teams have started slowly and are in the relegation places after the first 11 games with Crystal Palace also in trouble. It’s unusual for all three promoted sides to go straight back down again, but they will have to improve once the Premier League resumes again in order to avoid that fate.