City and Reds look good amid tight EPL tussle

Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring a goal against Liverpool during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London, December 29, 2013.

SINGAPORE- It is often said that England's top flight is the best football league in the world.

And if the level of competitiveness on show in the current campaign is anything to go by, that belief is impossible to refute.

We have reached the halfway mark of one of the most exciting English Premier League title races in recent memory and with the top five separated by just six points, it would take a brave man to predict where the trophy will end up in May.

That said, it is difficult to see past Manchester City, who are second a point behind Arsenal, as favourites at the moment.

In Manuel Pellegrini, the champions of two seasons ago have an experienced, no-nonsense manager who is not afraid to drop underperforming stars - just ask England's No. 1 keeper, Joe Hart.

And, of course, it helps that he has strength in depth. Look at the substitutes City's boss had at his disposal over the weekend: Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo - all players who would walk into any other starting XI.

Conversely, their main title rivals are a club whose challenge depends greatly on the form of one man - Luis Suarez, easily the player of the season so far.

I must admit, I never expected the Uruguayan to be in this sort of form after returning from his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

In fact, I did not even expect him to still be a Liverpool player this season, in the light of his transfer saga over the summer. As long as he can stay fit and, without the distraction of European football, Liverpool will be causing some of the top sides problems and may well be the dark horses.

But it is not just near the top of the table where all the action is.

A look at the bottom half shows 10 clubs within seven points of each other, with Swansea City in 11th essentially three bad results away from being sucked into a relegation battle.

The fight will go down to the wire but I can see both Fulham and Sunderland playing Championship football next season.

Fulham are in a right mess both on and off the pitch while Sunderland's awful start to the season - no wins in their first eight matches - means that they have dug themselves into a deep hole.

Of the bottom three at the turn of the year, the only club who can escape the drop, in my opinion, are West Ham United. Sam Allardyce's time as manager may be running out but the Hammers should stay up, based on the quality of players they have.

Another club that should be doing better with the squad they have are Tottenham Hotspur.

Big things were expected following a £107 million (S$223.7 million) summer outlay on players like Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela but few, if any, have justified their massive price tags.

Andre Villas-Boas paid for their underwhelming performances with his job but I doubt his departure will be enough to save Spurs' season.

In fact, given their form and that of the teams around them, a club who had title aspirations at the start of the season will be lucky to finish in the top five.


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