With the Premier League season more than well and truly underway, it is time to have a look at each club and how they're doing and where they're on (or off!) course to finish.
Fulham have been consolidating their position in the Premier League for a number of seasons now and tend to finish mid table and comfortably stay up. This season is a little different however, they have been all over the place and sit in 13th place at the time of writing. In my opinion, they have been underperforming all season and without Dimitar Berbatov's heroics, could be in a bit of bother. They are only 6 points above the relegation zone and that is by no means a huge margin at all. I think Martin Jol and his men will be nervously looking over their shoulder in the coming weeks as they hope to avoid slipping further down the league.
Fulham do however have some winnable games coming up before March in the form of Wigan, West Ham, Norwich and Stoke. I think they'll need to pick up 7 points from these games to feel safee come March as they face the 2 Manchester clubs before March too. So far they have been less than impressive and completely uninspiring to say the least. They are incredibly unpredictable this season as they can go from being the first team to get beaten by QPR to winning away at West Brom.
Fulham could do with improving their squad and consolidating it in January as I feel they lack some strength in depth and rely too heavily on Berbatov and Ruiz. I also feel they could do with freshening the side up with some youth as 10 of their first team squad are 30 or over. Fulham need to work on performing consistently and getting their good players playing like Rodallega. They've got some good experience in there but some players just aren't playing to their full potential such as Hangeland and Petric.
In conclusion, I think Fulham will be fine, they always tend to be and have so far showed glimpses of how good they can be. If they iron out the bad performances and pick up some points even when they play bad then they'll be fine. Lots of room for improvement though and they desperately need to.
You never know what to expect when you watch Liverpool this season, and so far it hasn't been great. A lot of money has been spent on that team and they have overpaid for a number of players in my opinion. They have suffered very much so from not being consistent enough. They had a slow start to the season and have slowly been moving up since then but they should still be higher than they are with the squad that they possess.
Brendan Rodgers has come in and tried to get Liverpool playing some nice passing football but Liverpool have struggled to adapt until the festive period where they seem to have finally got the hang and kicked into gear picking up some impressive results. After their good 3-0 win against Sunderland they are in 8th place at the time of writing and they seem to be getting stronger as time goes on. They have relied rather heavily on Luis Suarez's goals this season and will be looking to bring in another forward to partner him in attack in January. Brendan Rodgers seems to have finally got them playing and they look to have gotten into their stride recently.
Liverpool's main problem by far has been their consistency and their poor home form at the beginning of the season didn't help either. They have had quite a poor start to the season in general in which they have been so unpredictable.
In conclusion, Liverpool seem to be over the worst of their problems and playing well, they finished 2012 and started 2013 strongly and I think if they bring in a quality strike partner for Suarez then they can finish in 6 or 7th. I think the Champions League is a bit too much to ask yet but perhaps next year.
City have been distinctly average this season so far, they have failed to perform anywhere near as well as they did for large parts last season. In my opinion, City are lucky to only be 7 points behind leaders United and other teams seem to be catching them now. They have had quite a lot of fortune this season and have managed to score late goals to win games in which they haven't played well. Aguero was injured for a while and they sorely missed him, this did however ease Mancini's selection dilemma as he no doubt struggles to pick from Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko and Ballotelli.
I think City's main problem has been the form of their midfielders, Yaya Toure has not been anywhere near as good as he was in the latter part of last season. David Silva has improved in recent weeks but for most of this season he has been rather uninspiring. Silva makes City tick with his weaving runs and defence-unlocking passes. Toure is also badly missed when he doesn't play well as he normally dominates midfield and has that rare ability to carry the ball forward effectively to start attacks. Toure will be again missed in January due to the African Cup of Nations tournament too.
City are solid defensively in my opinion and have no problems in that region but going forward they look much less threatening than they used to. They have been struggling to break teams down and similarly to Chelsea, I feel they could do with working on a plan B for when it gets tough. This has never been more evident than in their 0-0 draw with West Ham earlier on in the season when it just wasn't working for them so they provided little threat.
In conclusion, I think City will be United's closest challengers for the title this season and 7 points is by no means insurmountable. They do however need a huge improvement from the first half of the season if they are to do so.
United have had a good start to the season and sit very comfortably at the top of the table with a 7 point lead at the time of writing. Their performances do no reflect this as they have conceded a huge amount of goals this season. They have gone behind on numerous occasions so far and have had to come back strongly to win games and grind out results.
I think Sir Alex Ferguson will be concerned with how many goals his team has conceded early on in games. One thing that he can feel good about is how his team have come back to overturn losing positions on so many occasions. They have got quality throughout their team but I feel they could do with a quality central defender. Vidic is getting a little old and is injury prone these days whilst I feel Ferdinand is on the decline and isn't good enough for the team anymore. Evans is turning into a great defender and improving year on year but Smalling is a weak link when he plays in my opinion.
United started 2013 well with a comprehensive victory against Wigan and will look to build on that with a derby win over Liverpool. If they can keep going as they are and keep other teams at arms length while they stay at the top grinding out results then I think they can easily go on to win the league.
In conclusion, I think United will win the league this year if they tighten up their defence and stop conceding goals early on in games. They have made it hard for themselves so far this season and still remain at the top of the league so when they really start playing they should be comfortable.
How do you think these teams have done so far? Tell us in the comments section below!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!