The Premier League title race is as open this season as it has been for a long time. Aaron Ramsey hoisted Arsenal to the top and kept them there early in the season, with Mesut Ozil bolstering the effort. Then Manchester City emphatically scored their way into becoming the favourites in the minds of many, every home game holding the potential to explode into a festival of goals. Then wily Jose, lurking quietly but ominously over the shoulder, this week rode his ‘little horse’ to the front of the cavalry line, halting City on the way. Now even Liverpool are being touted (a little prematurely, surely) as a team capable of having a say in the title race. Four potential winners, separated by six points. And, as it is at the top, so it is at the bottom. Actually, it’s less the bottom and more the bottom half. Literally, the entire bottom half of the table, from 10th to 20th are only seven points apart. Only seven points.
Key Men for Teams Most Likely to Go Down
Palace has done some eye-catching business in the window, Tom Ince being the most impressive. He may add a vital spark for them going forward but the real engine of their midfield is their Australian defensive shield, Mile Jedinak. Palace makes the most tackles and interception per game in the league, and Jedinak is the number one interceptor and the 11th most frequent tackler in the league individually. As I wrote above, Palace has the lowest amount of average possession, but only concede 13.2 shots a game on average, as few as Liverpool. This is due to Jedinak’s superb roving of that key area in front of their very deep defence, nullifying the opportunity to shoot. He is the captain and is more than capable of seeing his side to safety if he continues playing well.
Although Kevin Nolan has singlehandedly pulled us out of the relegation zone with his back to back Man of the Match performances, and the inspirational Winston Reid returning to the defence, the key man for the Hammers has to be Andy Carroll. Against Swansea he was unplayable in the air, setting up both Nolan strikes, and generally bashing holes in the Swansea defence. Of the teams we still have to play, only Stoke and Manchester City have defenders who can compete with Carroll aerially so the Big Sam method, unattractive as it is, just might get us through with Carroll up top.