The English Premier League has an unfamiliar look with teams like West Ham United and Southampton vying for Champions League places, but that is the beauty of this competition.
Only a few weeks ago Chelsea looked so far ahead that it appeared the rest of the season would be a procession, possibly going throughout unbeaten.
But that all changed over the weekend because Manchester City closed the gap on Chelsea to just three points as the Blues lost their first league match of the season at Newcastle, while Manuel Pellegrini’s side beat Everton 1-0 for their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions. Only a month ago Pellegrini’s job was under threat. Now he is in favor again and the mood at the Etihad Stadium is far more buoyant. City’s only downside is that top scorer Sergio Aguero came off early with a knee injury. At least they have players of the caliber of Sammy Nasri in midfield to rely on. Nasri is fearful of losing his place and is performing as if he wants to convince Pellegrini or prospective employers of his capabilities.
With City’s December schedule looking fairly easy with matches against bottom-six clubs Leicester, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Burnley, they have enough reason to feel they could overhaul Chelsea over the Christmas period.
Big Sam Allardyce has been under pressure in his short spell as West Ham boss, but he is winning the faithful over as his team moved into third as they leapfrogged Manchester United and Southampton – who played each other Monday – with their win over Swansea on Sunday.
Andy Carroll is back to his battering ram best for West Ham and the rest of the side has gelled superbly with players like Winston Reid, captain Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing making worthy contributions.
QPR, meanwhile, moved out of the relegation zone with a vital victory against fellow strugglers Burnley.
Manchester United are finally coming good too under new manager Louis van Gaal with Wayne Rooney finally finding his touch.