Is it time to starting showing Leicester City a little more respect? Should we be truly worried about the state of Chelsea? More specifically, is it time to bid farewell to JosA� Mourinho? And lastly, is this the same old Tottenham?
In the case of all three clubs, the answers are never that simple.
Here’s the short of it: after 16 matchesa��we’re approaching the halfway pointa��the Foxes, who were this close to relegation last season before surging, top the Premier League table. End of. They’ve claimed 35 points. For reference, the took all of 41 last season.
Let’s say the bench mark for fourth is 70 points, what Manchester United came away with last year. With the way the season has gone thus far, there’s no reason to believe Leicester won’t get there, especially when you consider a whole 66 points remain to be claimed. Will they fall off? We keep thinking so, but they just won’t go away.
One thing I will make clear: unlike many in the Premier League, they have been extremely fortunate with their lack of injuries. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are playing out of their minds, not unlike Luis SuA?rez and Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool in 2013 when they combined for 52 goals and 19 assists. Currently, Vardy and Mahrez have combined for 26 goals and 9 assists. How long can it go on?
What to make of Chelsea? Every week, we think they’re just about to get it together. They nick a one-goal victory over Norwich City, then lose to AFC Bournemouth. They win their Champions League group, then go 2-0 down to Leicester before showing signs of life.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if Mourinho was any other manager, with the squad at Chelsea’s disposal, he would have been gone two months ago. Now, after yesterday’s loss, he said he feels betrayed:
a�?One of my best qualities is to read the game for my players and I feel like my work was betrayed. One possibility is that I did an amazing job last season and brought the players to a level that is not their level and now they can’t maintain it.a�?
Suffice to say, those are incredibly damning words. So, who goesa��the players or the manager? We all know how this movie usually ends, we’re just not sure how long the run time is for this particular club.
Finally, there’s Tottenham. After Sunday’s loss to Newcastlea��their first Premier League loss since the opener at Old Trafforda��we will see how they respond. Fans can keep saying they’ve turned the corner, and in some ways they have. But it’s clear reinforcements are neededa��particularly for players like Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane.
The Dane’s form has dipped considerably in recent weeks but he continues to maintain his starting spot. As for Kane, there’s been only one game this yeara��the final Europa League group match against Monaco last weeka��in which the Englishman hasn’t played. Do you think exhaustion is setting in?
Now, they’ve got some relief in the likes of Nacer Chadli and Nabil Bentaleb returning from lengthy injury layoffs, but each player was struggling before they missed time. Tottenham, particularly manager Mauricio Pochettino, needs to get the best out of these guys before the January window arrives. And while he shouldn’t buy someone in winter simply for the sake of it, the club needs a true backup striker, for starters. That said, it’s very hard to strengthen in January.
One final note: during Tottenham’s unbeaten streak, they won just six matches and drew the other eight. Until Sunday, Spurs were the only club with one loss with the exception of Leicester. But it’s draws like the scoreless ones to Everton and a very beatable Chelsea, it’s dropping points they should have won against the likes of Stoke City and Arsenal, it’s not taking advantage of a struggling Swansea sidea��those are some of the results that continue to separate Tottenham from the top.
But if there’s any season when top four remains possible, it’s this one.