A Look at the Premiership's Usual Suspects for 2014-2015
The Barclays Premiership has around six regulars competing for thetitle every season.
Given the arms race for talent -- such as Costa to Chelsea, Di Maria to Manchester United, Sanchez to Arsenal -- that often include some very silly moves -- Balotelli to Liverpool -- let's take a look at how the 2014-2015 campaign is shaping up from their perspectives. Their records and league position of this date are in parentheses.
1. Manchester City (2nd; 4-2-1; 14 pts)
The Sky Blues are the real deal once again. The defending titlists are the most balanced side, at least for the moment. They took the race with Liverpool down to the wire last season, but this time around, the title seems to be theirs for the taking. Even the subs' bench on this team is better than what some sides have in the top ten. All they need to do is avoid major injuries and/or distractions, and the title is theirs.
2. Chelsea (1st; 6-1-0; 19 pts)
The déja vu tour of José Mourinho has begun. It must be said that the self-proclaimed mastermind and tactician is the right man to lead the Blues. Chelsea were winners in the transfer market this season, capturing Diego Costa from Athletico Madrid and Cesc Fàbregas from Barcelona. They' return a solid defense, and all that was holding them back last season was a reliable striker. With the addition of Costa, Chelsea now possesses of the best in the business. He puts them in position to now dream high.
3. Arsenal (8th; 2-4-1; 10 pts; +4 gd)
The Gunners are one of the few teams in the Premiership to rely primarily on their youth. Arsène Wenger believes in an artistic approach, which definitely justifies the top tier's high ticket prices, but hasn't brought home the hardware since 2004. Their midfield is currently the best in the league. Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Alexis Sánchez are a triowho can give any defense a hard time. Arsenal could use prolific striker themselves but believe they've got enough in their bag to maintain a Top 3 spot and retain a Champions League qualification. The signing of Danny Welback from Manchester United could prove to be a seminal move for them.
And speaking of attacking style, Wenger practices what he preaches. In a way.
4. Liverpool (9th; 3-1-3; 10 pts; 0 gd)
The Reds suddenly revived past glories last season. A club that in recent campaigns consistently finished below their Merseyside rival Everton were fancying their chances for the silverware right up to the last day. But the story is different this time around. They don't have their vampire wannabe, Luis Suárez, who was the Premiership's top scorer last season. Without him, the 'Pool would have been sub-Top Ten. The club remains a long away from the consistent stardom that they enjoyed at one point, and with their Champions League slate, they'll find it hard to maintain form in both, most likely at their expense in both.
5. Manchester United (4th; 3-2-2; 11 pts)
It's just shocking to see the rapid demise of the team that's claimed the most Premiership titles in history. The turmoil of roster churn is painfully evident, as the Red Devils are learning to live without the presence of their usual core of highly experienced teammates. With two managerial changes in last two seasons, adapting to the successively new tactics is a further impedimen. The club simply isn't settled. United have tried to shortcut the process by spending lavishly during the transfer window, but that rarely helps when a side isn't anchored. In all, six new additions came with a hefty price tag. The inevitable result is Louis Van Gaal needing more time than he surely expected to get all of the components working in sync. There's no doubting his managerial skills, but in the world's hardest driving football league, van Gaal has more than just his side with which to adapt. It looks to be a long season.
In the early going, Southampton, Swansea, and Tottenham are flirting with the top of the table. However, none have the depth -- and only Spurs can compare budgets -- to compare with these five pillars of the Premiership. If these sides are to stay among them, large doses of grit and guile will be essential.