Analyzing The Premier League Two-Horse Race Going Into 2015

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Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool — none of these clubs have posed a threat to Chelsea or Manchester City during the 2014-15 Premier League season.

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  • In the case of Manchester United and Arsenal, it was their inability to sign the necessary defensive reinforcements while focusing on attacking players — and the subsequent injuries which forced inexperienced defenders to man their defensive line — which caused their demise. Arsenal — like Liverpool — were unwilling to address their frailties at holding midfielder.

    United conducted the majority of their transfer business after the beginning of the Premier League season, costing them points while they were constructing their style of play. Liverpool was unable to overcome the loss of Luis Suarez and the subsequent injury to forward Daniel Sturridge.

    With these failures, United and Arsenal lie in a congested battle for the final two Champions League qualifying places, while Liverpool have dropped off the pace and are hoping to reemerge in the battle for third or fourth place.

    Unlike the other contenders, during the 2014 summer transfer window Chelsea addressed the issues which kept them from challenging for the Premier League title during the 2014-13 season.

    During that season Chelsea struggled with both scoring and central midfield creative play. To rectify these problems, they signed center forward Diego Costa and central midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

    “Unlike the other contenders, during the 2014 summer transfer window Chelsea addressed the issues which kept them from challenging for the Premier League title during the 2014-13 season…”

    The addition of Costa brought the type of physical finishing striker that tends to thrive in the Premier League, and he has already become Chelsea’s best striker since Didier Drogba — scoring 13 goals in 19 matches.

    Fabregas is a creative central midfielder who has played the majority of his career as a central attacking midfielder and “False 9” center forward. He brings the technical ability and youth that Chelsea lacked last year when they started 35-year-old Frank Lampard.

    Pairing him with the disciplined and physical Nemanja Matic has covered his defensive shortcomings and allowed him to concentrate on providing the service that Chelsea previously lacked. During the 2014-15 season he has led the Premier League in chance creation, with 60 created so far.

    Combined with the tactical nous of manager Jose Mourinho, the experienced defending of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, and the attacking creativity of Eden Hazard, Celsea have created a well-oiled machine that makes them the best squad in the Premier League. Chelsea only lost one match so far this season, a 2-1 December 6th Premier League match to Newcastle, and still retain the possibility of winning the Quadruple.

    Manchester City, on the other hand, has had a much rougher first half of the season. Yaya Toure — the heartbeat of their central midfield — has played leggy and disinterested, while Vincent Kompany — the marshal of their defensive line — has not continued his high level of play from previous seasons.

    They have also had to overcome multiple injures to their most important players including David Silva, Samir Nasri, and all of their forwards, Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic, and Edin Dzeko. City had a slow start to the 2014-15 Premier League season, dropping to sixth place after the fifth round while also struggling to qualify for second place in their Champions League group.

    However, Aguero has dragged his team to success; becoming the best player in world football not named Ronaldo or Messi. City have not lost a Premier League match since October 25th, and now sit three points behind league leaders Chelsea.

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    City will need their new center back addition Eliaquim Mangala to continue to grow in his starting role as Kompany’s partner to help solidify a defense that has not been as reliable as Chelsea’s. Also, City must rely on Fernandinho, Fernando, Gareth Barry, and Frank Lampard — who reportedly had his loan from NYCFC extended — to run their central midfield, while Yaya Toure leads the Ivory Coast during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Both teams are still alive in the FA Cup and Champions League, giving them both extra mid-week workload. They will host teams from the League Championship, and should advance even with with a collection of squad players in their starting lineups.

    The two teams host elite European teams in Paris St. Germain and Barcelona respectively, and could both advance or be eliminated from the tournament, with Chelsea having the better odds of reaching the 2014-15 Champions League Quarterfinals. Chelsea are also competing in the Capital One Cup, with their second-leg home match against Liverpool on January 27th, four days away from their January 31st match against City.

    In the second half of the season Chelsea will be away to both of their London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, while City will visit Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, and Manchester United.

    Next: The 2014 Premier League Awards