Last season, Manchester City won the title. Well, won would be an understatement. The Citizens didn’t just don the crown, they absolutely destroyed all forms of competition. 2nd place Manchester United was 19 points behind, meaning that the gulf between 1st and 2nd was actually larger than the gulf between 2nd and 6th (Arsenal), and was equal to the distance between 8th (Everton) and 20th (West Brom). The Sky Blues had the stingiest defense while scoring 22 more goals than any other team! So, a simple waltz to the crown again, no problem, right?
Liverpool was viewed as the team most likely to mount a challenge, but still, was anybody truly expecting the Reds to leapfrog Manchester City last weekend and take over first place 16 game weeks into the season? Well, that’s just what happened as the Merseysiders dusted the Cherries and the Sky Blues fell to the Blues at Stamford Bridge. Order upended!
Other than when a Cinderella team such as Leicester crashes the ball, the Big Six teams are assumed by birthright to occupy the top half-dozen spots in the table. That’s why it was a surprise that as late as Week 15, Everton and Bournemouth were both ahead of wayward Manchester United. Then the Red Devils ruthlessly dispatched Fulham, Everton drew at home with Watford, and Bournemouth was pasted at the Liberty. Order restored!
With all four Champions League teams (Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham) having qualified for the knockout stage via midweek results, and with Arsenal and Chelsea doing likewise in their Europa League groups on Thursday (long after Burnley’s departure), things are going well for Premier League’s Big Six sides both domestically and on the European stage as we hit mid-December. (Of course, some Manchester United fans may not view things quite as rosily, at least in the EPL.)
So what’s in store for Week 17 now? Can Liverpool hold the top spot, or will Manchester City quickly snatch it back? Does Jose Mourinho have a trick up his sleeve, or will Everton and/or Bournemouth reassert themselves? Will West Ham keep the goals flowing to crack the top half of the table, or can Fulham somehow plug the holes in its leaky defense? Could Southampton or Huddersfield climb out of the relegation zone, imperiling Burnley? How much rotation shall we see from the exhausted upper tier sides, as well as from others playing in Carabao Cup next week (Leicester and Bournemouth joining Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Tottenham)?
Manchester City v. Everton (early game)
Crystal Palace v. Leicester
Tottenham v. Burnley
Fulham FC v. West Ham (late game)
Southampton v. Arsenal
Brighton v. Chelsea
Liverpool v. Manchester United (late game)
HOW TO WATCH EPL GAMES THIS WEEKEND (in U.S.)
Dates: December 15 & 16
Available Broadcast TV:
NBC: Fulham v. West Ham
Telemundo: Liverpool v. Manchester United
Available Cable TV:
NBCSN: Manchester City v. Everton, Tottenham v. Burnley, Brighton v. Chelsea, Liverpool v. Manchester United
Universo: Manchester City v. Everton
NBC Sports Gold: Watford v. Cardiff, Crystal Palace v. Leicester, Wolves v. Bournemouth, Huddersfield v. Newcastle, Southampton v. Arsenal
Be sure to join us in the comments as the live action unfolds on Saturday and Sunday!