The Blues look unstoppable, even before a full third of the games has been played. They have won the easy games and the tough ones. Like when they went behind against Burnley on opening day and Swansea City in their third contest. Or in their epic 6-3 win at Everton. And they have won the small games and the big ones. In fact, they would have been completely perfect, had Manchester City not equalized in the 85th minute and Manchester United in the 95th against them. Still, Chelsea danced past West Brom on Saturday. Such was their dominance that after two goals and a red card to the other team, they could coast for the last hour and conserve their energy for their continental campaign at midweek.
Getty ImagesTom Dulat
Newcastle discover winning formula
It’s quite an extraordinary thing that’s going on in Tyneside. When the Magpies were still winless after seven games this season, it seemed like manager Alan Pardew would finally be fired. Perhaps this should have happened a long time ago, after a 16th place two seasons ago and a 10th spot last year, in spite of considerable investment in players every transfer window. But Pardew’s way-too-long contract seemed to protect him, as did owner Mike Ashley’s ego. Now, improbably Newcastle have figured things out. They have, in fact, won five in a row and slogged their way back up to fifth place. On the weekend, a 78th minute Moussa Sissoko strike took them past Queens Park Rangers in a tricky game. That’s exactly the sort of thing that happens to you when things are working.
Getty ImagesNigel Roddis
Manchester City grappling with pressure to repeat as champions
After a second title in three years, City are once again finding it hard to replicate their championship season. The draws at Arsenal and at home against Chelsea are perfectly understandable. But they have been dropping points needlessly, losing to Stoke City and West Ham, and tying at QPR. That’s the sort of stuff you can’t afford to do if you’re going to win this league. The Premiership is won in the big games against the major rivals, but can be lost by dropping too many points to the other teams. On Saturday, City were hardly convincing but managed to get a necessary result, coming from behind against Swansea. Yaya Toure got the winner, a welcome sight after the form that saw him score an immense 20 goals out of midfield last year had eluded him for a time.
Getty ImagesJan Kruger
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United fail to shake off their slow starts
Once known as the Big Three, this threesome of storied clubs is living through a difficult year. First of all, none of them are actually in the top three. They are having disastrous campaigns and share many issues. All have been ravaged by injuries and wretched defending. The Gunners have made their worst start since 1982, even though they no longer have the excuse of losing major contributors every summer. United, now under Louis van Gaal after David Moyes’s abortive attempt to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, have already seen some 40 injuries, many of them to the defense. Finally, Liverpool, who have massive striker problems of their own and can no longer score and create for them as Luis Suarez did with so much gusto. Huge, huge problems.
Getty ImagesSteve Bardens
Tottenham continue to tease despite its late win over Hull City
So Spurs managed to overturn a deficit this weekend, and clawed out a win at Hull City. The truth is that they already have five losses this season and that they looked totally disjoined and disheveled in the first half. It’s come to a point where it’s surely no longer the manager that’s the problem, as Mauricio Pochettino is the umpteenth capable man who has struggled. The raw truth is that since the Spurs 2011-12 campaign went south on them in the spring, they haven’t been the same. Certainly, they have since lost Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, but the talent pool has been more than replenished. Never again did they catch lightning in a bottle. And it doesn’t look like they will right now either.