As the halfway point of the season approaches, with the traditionally bumper packed festive period sure to throw up a few surprises, what can fans expect to see in the second half of what’s already looking to be a real thriller of a season?
How Long can Chelsea’s Unbeaten Run Continue?
Chelsea are now looking very much like the out and out favourites after a phenomenal 11 game unbeaten streak – Sun Bets have them to take the title at 4/6, and if their run continues, those odds will shrink very quickly. Currently 6 points ahead of nearest rival Liverpool, the focus is on how and when they will drop points. Looking at the upcoming fixtures, it is quite easy to imagine this run continuing into January, with two home games against Bournemouth and Stoke their last fixtures of 2016, and while neither of these are pushovers, Chelsea have conceded once at home since September. That goal came against Spurs, who will be Chelsea’s first fixture of the new year, and who will feel they have a good chance of ending Chelsea’s winning streak.
Tight at the Top
The chasing pack is looking very competitive, with Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs all within 4 points of each other, and an improving United breathing down their necks. A strong run, combined with a dip in form from the league leaders could potentially throw any of these teams back in the mix. Liverpool and City will face up on New Year’s Eve, and with Chelsea playing Spurs, Arsenal are the only team to not be playing another Top 5 team in the next month.
Arsenal will be desperate to improve on recent form, having taken no points in their last two games against City and Everton, despite leading in both. They play West Brom, Palace, Bournemouth, Swansea and Burnley through December and January, with clear potential to pick up some much needed points.
Despite their win against the Gunners, Pep’s City are increasingly looking like they have been found out. Their festive fixtures feature only one home game, and some potentially tough away tests to Liverpool, West Ham and Everton. But with Aguero’s return from suspension imminent, the ever mercurial City are still very much in contention.
Liverpool have a similarly mixed bag with some tricky fixtures, but coming off the back of a tight win away against Everton they will be hoping to put together a strong run of form. Two key games against City and United will provide a litmus test on whether they have the potential to compete for the title.
Spurs are looking to improve after a slump in form in October and November, and taking points away against Southampton and Watford in their next two games will be key in a month where they will face Chelsea and City.
Considering the odds for the Premier League outright, it is hard to look past Chelsea, who are in their best form in years. Most betting outlets have them to take the title at 4/6, and if their run continues, those odds will shrink very quickly. Manchester City are currently at 5/1 and Liverpool at 11/2, with City looking the better value bet there. Both managers are untested in the Premier League, but City’s squad have the edge in experience. Arsenal are at 10/1, reflecting their inconsistency, but if they manage to pick up some form, we could be looking at real narrowing of those odds come February. If you have any faith in Arsenal, now is the time.
Calum Stephens is a writer, journalist, amateur gambler and long suffering Charlton supporter with a background in Politics and academic research. Specialising in European and English football league analysis and predictions.