Returning after the international break, Manchester City and Chelsea have discovered the kind of form that they will need more consistently if they are to capture the
Premier League title this season.
The weekend saw both sides perform impressively - Chelsea beat London rivals West Ham United 3-0 at Upton Park, whilst Manchester City humiliated Tottenham 6-0 at the Ethiad Stadium.
This season, more than most, consistency will be the key for the eventual Premier League champions. All the pre-season favourites have dropped points frequently and Arsenal have capitalised on this and head the table going in to what will be the usual frenetic festive period.
Whichever team can find consistency during this period will enter the New Year with a momentum that could carry them through the rest of the season.
Manchester City and Chelsea both have huge squads which can help them during a gruelling
season. Arsenal are trying to build such a squad as well and have coped admirably with injuries so far. Will they further bolster their squad in January in order to aid their challenge for the title?
Let's not underestimate Manchester United either. They have been inconsistent, particularly earlier in the season, but they have a pedigree for winning titles and importantly have a fantastic record in the second half of the season when the title race really hots up.
If they have a good festive period they will be able to call on their experience to help them during the run-in and will be dangerous up until the end of the season. They have clawed back bigger points deficits before and will not be giving up until it is mathematically impossible.
However, the weekend's performances by both City and Chelsea will worry their main rivals.
City particularly have shown that at home they are almost unbeatable as they have turned the Ethiad into a fortress. Tottenham were the latest casualties as they were quite simply brushed aside by a rampant City side.
Chelsea were inspired by Frank Lampard against his former club as West Ham once again proved to be toothless in attack and vulnerable to Chelsea's superior skills in the attacking third. Despite these victories both clubs will need to improve further away from home where far too often they have come unstuck to what are seen as lesser clubs.
Once the season reaches the New Year we should be in a position to see who will be the serious title challengers this season. I fully expect City and Chelsea to be part of a group which will also include Arsenal and probably Manchester United.
Tottenham have a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to recover from the embarrassment of their 6-0 drubbing but they are capable of competing with the best on their day but will probably find it difficult to compete over a full season at the moment.
January could also see Tottenham strengthen their squad further. Tottenham and Liverpool are in similar situations in that they have improved their squads recently but still need to find the consistency and stamina that is required over a full season.
The surprise of the season, Southampton, are unlikely to maintain their early season pace. They have been a breath of fresh air to the Premier League this season and their aim has to be to stay challenging the top four positions for as long as possible.
If they can capture a European place at the end of the season then they will be more than happy with that. They have some very exciting English youngsters in their team and are showing the way for other clubs in how to compete with the very best.
All in all this season is building up to be one of the most exciting in recent years with more than just two clubs capable of challenging for honours. The change in manager at the top clubs has meant some indifferent results but now clubs are searching for the consistency that will carry them through the rest of the season.
It is now crunch time and whilst the festive period will not make or break a season it can certainly set the tone for the remainder of the campaign.
Which teams do you think will be in contention for the Premier League title when the
season reaches its conclusion?
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