Tottenham have been transformed, Arsenal have finally ended their Man City hoodoo and Liverpool are looking dangerous again… So who will top the Premier League table at Christmas?
- Tottenham enter the international break top of the table on goals scored
- Arsenal have identical points with Man City and Liverpool on their coattails
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Only the most ardent fans of international football will be happy to see the Premier League take a two-week pause right now.
The vast majority just want more after a fascinating opening to the season in England’s top-flight.
After Tottenham went top of the table on Saturday, their north London rivals Arsenal joined them on 20 points following a memorable win over champions Manchester City on Sunday.
City look unusually vulnerable after back-to-back league losses and haven’t got anywhere near top gear in the first weeks of the season.
Beneath them, Liverpool have started positively even if they lost a winning position at Brighton on Sunday, while Aston Villa, Brighton, West Ham and Newcastle form the chasing pack eight games in.
Son Heung-min celebrates as Tottenham retained top spot in the Premier League on Saturday
Gabriel Martinelli’s late winner ensured Arsenal joined their north London rivals on 20 points
This is how the top of the Premier League table looks entering the international fortnight
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Just a few days ago, it looked ominously like City would storm away with it. There was louche talk of Guardiola’s Treble winners winning every single game. But things have changed.
When the latest set of Euro 2024 qualifiers are out the way, we’ll have 10 Premier League rounds until Christmas. By the time the festivities begin, we will have a much clearer picture of who is going to challenge for the title.
We study the upcoming fixtures to predict who is most likely to be up there.
Position now 1st; Points 20
What a start to life at Tottenham for Ange Postecoglou. The honeymoon shows no sign of ending for the Australian boss and the backbone he has brought to the side was evidence again on Saturday.
Spurs managed to grind out a 1-0 win at Luton despite playing half the match with 10 men following Yves Bissouma’s red. You suspect in many previous seasons they’d have slumped to defeat.
With City’s defeat ensuring they remain top of the table going into the internationals, and after six wins and two draws from their first eight games, the outlook looks positive.
James Maddison has been instrumental in Spurs’ bright start, which continued at Luton
Ange Postecoglou’s reign at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has started in a dream fashion
Spurs have a number of winnable games ahead between now and Christmas but also some more examinations too, including clashes with Chelsea, Villa, City and Newcastle.
However, they should continue to accumulate wins and have every chance of still being top come the festive period.
Fixtures and predictions: Fulham (H) WIN; Crystal Palace (A) WIN; Chelsea (H) DRAW; Wolves (A) WIN; Aston Villa (H) DRAW; Manchester City (A) LOSS; West Ham (H) WIN; Newcastle United (H) DRAW; Nottingham Forest (A) WIN; Everton (H) WIN
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 41
Position now 2nd; Points 20
Arsenal finally ended their City hoodoo in Premier League action with that memorable win at the Emirates on Sunday. It proved to be lucky 13 for the Gunners after 12 straight league defeats.
That ensured they remained level with Spurs at the top and provided an immense confidence boost.
Straight away after the international break they face a demanding trip to improving Chelsea, while visits to Newcastle, Villa and Liverpool also sit on the horizon.
There were wild scenes of celebration after Martinelli earned Arsenal victory over Man City
Mikel Arteta was thrilled to finally chalk up a Premier League win over Pep Guardiola
But Mikel Arteta’s side also have a number of games they should win and it’s imperative they back up Sunday’s result and keep accumulating points.
It’s likely they will still be right up there come Christmas and looking forward with confidence to the second half of the season.
Fixtures and predictions: Chelsea (A) DRAW; Sheffield United (H) WIN; Newcastle United (A) DRAW; Burnley (H) WIN; Brentford (A) WIN; Wolves (H) WIN; Luton Town (A) WIN; Aston Villa (A) DRAW; Brighton (H) DRAW; Liverpool (A) DRAW
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 40
Position now: 3rd; Points 18
Sunday will have come as a bitter blow to City and recent weeks have shown there are a few chinks in the Treble winners’ armour.
Recent losses to Newcastle in the Carabao Cup, then Wolves and Arsenal in the league, have given Pep Guardiola plenty to mull over while his internationals are away.
However, City being City, you’d still expect them to be on the coattails of the two north London clubs – if not ahead of them – by Christmas.
Manchester City may have lost at the Emirates but you’d still expect them to be up there
Pep Guardiola’s side have seen a few weaknesses exposed after three defeats in four games
They do have some taxing fixtures – trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, plus home encounters against Liverpool and Tottenham – but have repeatedly shown their class in such games in the past.
City will have a game in hand come Christmas because they’re off to Saudi Arabia to play in the FIFA Club World Cup – another chance to add silverware to their collection.
Fixtures and predictions: Brighton (H) WIN; Manchester United (A) WIN; Bournemouth (H) WIN; Chelsea (A) DRAW; Liverpool (H) DRAW; Tottenham (H) WIN; Aston Villa (A) DRAW; Luton Town (A) WIN; Crystal Palace (H) WIN; Brentford (H) Postponed due to FIFA Club World Cup.
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 39 (with game in hand)
Position now: 4th; Points: 17
Liverpool will be satisfied with their league position and it could have been even better but for Lewis Dunk’s equaliser at the Amex on Sunday.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side are right on the shoulder of the leaders and have shown their mettle by continuously coming from behind to win.
While they will be tested by games against City and Arsenal before Christmas it is quite difficult to see Liverpool dropping too many points.
Mohamed Salah shone but Liverpool were only able to take a point from Brighton on Sunday
Jurgen Klopp knows his side have a relentless schedule between now and Christmas
In fact, they have enough winnable games to raise the possibility they could lead the way come December 25.
That’ll especially be the case if they avoid defeat in those crunch games and Klopp can successfully juggle their Europa League commitments.
Fixtures and predictions: Everton (H) WIN; Nottingham Forest (H) WIN; Luton Town (A) WIN; Brentford (H) WIN; Manchester City (A) DRAW; Fulham (H) WIN; Sheffield United (A) WIN; Crystal Palace (A) WIN; Manchester United (H) WIN; Arsenal (H) DRAW
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 43
Position now: 5th; Points: 16
Villa had to settle for a point from a fiery west Midlands derby against Wolves on Sunday but that came off the back of three straight league wins.
Unai Emery has certainly transformed the club’s fortunes in his 12 months at the helm and there’s no reason why they can’t still be in the top six come Christmas.
There are a few games where dropped points could happen – with Spurs, City and Arsenal all on the agenda – but equally they might go the whole 10-game stretch unbeaten.
Pau Torres earned Aston Villa a point against Wolves with his first goal for Unai Emery’s side
Where Villa can’t afford to be waylaid is in their matches with Luton, Fulham, Bournemouth and Sheffield United, where they’ll be favourites to win.
Their Europa Conference League participation will also stretch the squad but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t continue to pick up points.
Fixtures and predictions: West Ham (H) DRAW; Luton Town (H) WIN; Nottingham Forest (A) DRAW; Fulham (H) WIN; Tottenham (A) DRAW; Bournemouth (A) WIN; Manchester City (H) DRAW; Arsenal (H) DRAW; Brentford (A) DRAW; Sheffield United (H) WIN
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 34
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Position now: 6th; Points: 16
Brighton haven’t enjoyed the best run of results but they remain well-positioned in sixth after battling their way back to take a draw from Liverpool on Sunday.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side are still adapting to playing in the Europa League alongside domestic action but their resilience has been in evidence this week.
They have to visit a chastened City immediately after the resumption but have more than enough opportunities to pick up some wins between then and Christmas.
Lewis Dunk earned Brighton a late point against Liverpool as they remained in the top six
Trips to Chelsea and Arsenal will be tricky, however, and if Brighton reach late December still in the top six and through to the Europa knockout rounds, it’ll be a job very well done.
Fixtures and predictions: Manchester City (A) LOSS; Fulham (H) WIN; Everton (A) DRAW; Sheffield United (H) WIN; Nottingham Forest (A) DRAW; Chelsea (A) LOSS; Brentford (H) WIN; Burnley (H) WIN; Arsenal (A) DRAW; Crystal Palace (A) DRAW
Predicted points tally at Christmas: 32
THE CHASING PACK
West Ham, who nicked a late point against Newcastle on Sunday, come next and they’ll identify quite a few games they should be winning between now and Christmas, in order to keep knocking on the top six door.
The Hammers’ main test comes on December 5 when they make the short trip to Tottenham.
Newcastle are a point further back and would have hoped for a little more consistency to start the season with.
Their game with Arsenal at the beginning of next month will be fascinating and they’ve also got to face Chelsea, Man United and Spurs before Christmas.
Mohammed Kudus earned West Ham a late point against Newcastle at the London Stadium
Scott McTominay’s dramatic double in stoppage time earned Erik ten Hag some respite
With blockbuster Champions League games as well, it’s going to be a gruelling few weeks.
As for Man United, they’re 10th after Saturday’s dramatic late turnaround to beat Brentford. Following a torrid opening to the campaign, it simply has to be a turning point for Erik ten Hag.
A derby with City looms after the restart and they’ve got Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea before Christmas but also a good number of games they can and should win.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify
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