What we’ve learned from the 2013/14 Premier League so far

by John-James Grice

Soldado SpursAlthough we’re only a couple of weeks into the new season, we can already tell what certain teams are going to do, where they need to improve and if they’re able to punch above their weight. Here, we talk about five things we have learned from the first two rounds of games and what certain Premier League sides must do if they are to fulfil their pre-season ambitions:

The title race is going to be close

Coming into the new season, last season’s top three sides all had new managers at the helm, all of them looking evenly matched. Meanwhile, two of the other challengers – Tottenham and Liverpool –have made some key signings in the summer, while a late transfer window splurge from Arsenal may yet see them enter the title race.

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta said that it could be a six-horse race, while the anaemic scoreless draw between Manchester United and Chelsea on Monday night proved that it’s going to take something special from one of the big teams to break free from the pack. Liverpool and Spurs have two wins from two, while United and Chelsea remain unbeaten.

Tottenham look like title contenders

Prior to the start of the season, the expectation was that Tottenham would be happy to just qualify for the Champions League and keep Gareth Bale. However, in the wake of a possible world record transfer deal involving the Welshman’s sale to Real Madrid, manager Andre Villas Boas has made some impressive signings.

Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado and potentially Erik Lamela are now at White Hart Lane, and their 100% winning start suggests that they could be serious contenders for the Premier League crown, even without Bale to call upon.

Arsenal need new faces

To their fans’ relief, they are now through to the group stages of the Champions League, and managed a good win away at Fulham last weekend, but their paper-thin squad and early defeat at home to Aston Villa prove that Arsene Wenger must start spending. Moves for Wayne Rooney and Luiz Suarez were wide of the mark and the only new signing they have is Yaya Sanogo, a France youth international.

Wenger needs a new striker, a right-back, centre-back and a goalkeeper at the very least. Fortunately for him, it seems that he’s got the funds to make a late move in the transfer market, but he has to act quickly.

Liverpool look better

Under Brendan Rodgers, progress might be slow, but Liverpool appear to be moving in the right direction. Domination of Stoke in their opening game and holding on for a 1-0 win away at Aston Villa suggest that they may be ready to push for a European place once more, especially with the performances of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.

Although both wins were without Luiz Suarez, they can’t afford to lose the Uruguay striker. Despite always courting controversy, without him, Liverpool appear much less potent, especially against the big teams.

Cardiff need to keep it up

Their 3-2 win over Manchester City was the weekend’s most surprising result. However, we already know that the Bluebirds are capable of performing against the big clubs, as their recent record in cup competitions shows, but they need to perform like they did on Sunday every week in order to avoid relegation.

Cardiff are still one of the favourites for relegation despite the win, largely because promoted clubs tend to go straight back down in the first season more often than not. Reading proved that last season, but Cardiff have enough about them to stay up.

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