Speculation at the start of the English Premier League season was that it was going to be the most open in years – and that has certainly been the case so far.
Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday was no surprise considering their poor record in recent years at Old Trafford. It closed their lead at the top of the Premiership to only two points.
The fact that it is Liverpool in second place and not United, Chelsea or Manchester City, indicates how unpredictable it all is, although Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers is making a remarkable transformation since taking over from Kenny Dalglish only a year and a half ago.
Dalglish was in relaxed mood on his recent visit to the Cayman Islands last month and at 62 does not look destined for another high profile managerial post.
David Moyes has weathered the turbulence of indifferent United form for now but apart from Robin van Persie’s first-half winner and the renewed brilliance of Wayne Rooney, United were far from impressive. They may have climbed to fifth place but unless Moyes secures at least a top four finish he could be seeking employment elsewhere next summer.
The fact that Southampton is third emphasizes how bizarre this season is turning out. The Saints beat Hull City 4-1 at home and by reaching these dizzying heights for them vindicates the seemingly suicidal appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as Southampton manager 10 months ago.
The Argentine could barely speak English, had a patchy record at a number of clubs and was taking over from Nigel Adkins who had brought Southampton up from League One to the Prem in successive seasons and was doing reasonably well in his first season in the top tier. The omens were against Pochettino lasting more than a few games but he has done an admirable job against all adversity. Realistically though, Southampton can only expect a mid-table finish, so their fans are probably savoring their position gleefully.
It’s World Cup qualifiers this weekend, so the Saints can enjoy their divine position for an extended period. They play Arsenal at home on Nov. 23 in their next Premiership game and the other big teams will be wishing them well.
Fourth placed Chelsea were extremely fortunate to grab a point at home to West Brom, equalizing after getting a totally undeserved penalty, given when Ramires clearly threw himself down in the dying seconds.
Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday was no surprise considering their poor record in recent years at Old Trafford.