While Arsenal and Manchester City featured among the favourites to win the Premier League title at the start of the season, it's certainly been a challenge to spot the pretenders from the true contenders over the first half of the campaign.


Leicester City, the surprise package of the season so far, have earned their plaudits for some sensational attacking football. They were top at Christmas - quite the change from propping up the table exactly a year prior - and they're still right in the hunt, having only lost a joint-league best of two games so far.

Chelsea have taken Leicester's place as bottom half strugglers after winning last season's title, while Manchester United's new philosophy has been defined as a means of sending supporters to sleep, above all else. This time of year, however, despite all the uncertainty, is where the league begins to take shape. 


The Foxes have relinquished top spot and haven't won (or scored) in three, most recently against ten-man AFC Bournemouth. Forgive me for presuming that we've witnessed the start of their slide down the table; as so many teams punching above their weight have experienced before them. 

Leicester City v A.F.C. Bournemouth - Premier League

But it's a time for the heavyweights to show their muscles and the true title instincts to kick in. Arsenal haven't won a Premier League crown since 2004, but both they and Manchester City appear best equipped to fight it out at the top over the next four-and-a-half months. 


Arsenal have big-name players who have won league titles at other clubs - see Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Petr Cech and a number of others - while the majority of City's squad have been there and done it before in previous Premier League seasons. Each side, in their weekend fixtures, displayed that they have exactly what it takes to kick on.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

Arsene Wenger has praised his side's new-found ability to win 'ugly' - the exact quality Arsenal have lacked since the Invincibles of 2003/04 - with the latest example coming in their win over Newcastle United on Saturday. Laurent Koscielny scored the solitary goal, but on another day the result could have been very, very different. They've Petr Cech to thank for that.


City, though they didn't win in quite the same manner, came through a tough-looking fixture at Vicarage Road later in the day. Watford have been excellent this season, and after going ahead mid-way through the second half, it was looking like another day to forget for Manuel Pellegrini.


Two goals in the space of three minutes, though, salvaged unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat, and in the process City proved that they too can pull out a result when the odds are stacked against them. Goalkeeper Joe Hart was visibly proud of his team in his post-match interview, and it's hard to not get the feeling that City have turned a corner.

Watford v Manchester City - Premier League

We'll see what the next few weeks hold, but the most recent weekend Premier League weekend could prove to be a lot more significant than it initially appeared.


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