|Liverpool's James Milner and Virgil Van Dijk labored in vain against Manchester United, is this a case of poor form or Liverpool won't challenge this season? (Photo credit: ESPN)|
If anyone had asked who the top three in the premier league would be at the end of the season, the easiest picks would have been Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in no particular order depending on who you're asking, but reality is saying something different at the early stage.
The premier league is taking a weird shape this season but we won’t be flattered just yet; Manchester City didn’t top the league until December and they never looked back but will things be the same this season with lots of potential banana peel?
The 3-3 draw at St. James’s Park left us with too many questions about City’s fragility at the back and the fact that teams can actually get points off them if they’re brave enough. The Newcastle template should be a good reference for anyone hosting the champions.
Elsewhere, is there more to the poor form of Liverpool or it’s just a case of injuries and ill luck? The Kops are winless in three this season and while many expected them to drown Manchester United on Monday, it was the reverse that happened.
Talks of the absence of Sadio Mane following his departure to Bayern Munich will not go away with fans wondering if he was the catalyst upfront; Roberto Firmhinho is consistently proving to be off color and Luis Diaz seems to be getting tired of doing the running alone.
Something isn’t connecting with Mohammed Salah these days, he may have scored twice already but this isn’t the Salah the league celebrated down the years and with his new contract at Anfield, fans will soon start asking questions.
Diogo Jota is injured and he’s sorely missed. Tiago Alcantara and Naby Keita are unavailable and that leaves Klopp with only Jordan Henderson as his fittest central midfielder. Fabinho came off the bench in the second half against Manchester United but he looked a lot off the pace and that is a concern too.
Joel Matip and Ibrahim Konate are unavailable, Joe Gomez partnered Virgil Van Dijk on Monday and they struggled together; Liverpool are seven points off the top of the log and concerns must be growing among the fans because the league is one of fine margins.
Chelsea is another team that has fallen badly off the pace. The 3-0 loss to Leeds left Thomas Tuchel in shock and he may have to manage his emotions better. He was wrong with his complaints about the referee, Kalidou Koulibaly was rightly sent off and none of the goals conceded was contentious.
Chelsea are believed to be close to signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Wesley Fofana; Auba will help them with goal scoring but can he stay out of bad books? Fofana wants the move despite Leicester’s hardball and it’s probably a matter of time now. Strange as it sounds, heavy bids have been reported for Everton's Anthony Gordon, the question is why?
Chelsea must wake up before they slip off too quickly, it’s hard to chase in the premier league and the margins would hurt more when they realize it’s just a matter of one or two points between them and success… The time is now.