With the 2021-22 Premier League season kicking off in two weeks, more and more pundits have placed their bets on the top four and there seems to be a familiar pattern.
There were a mix of nail-biting affairs and blow outs in the Week 8 of the EPL.
Many teams are fighting to stay within distance to the top of the table and when the games concluded, here is what we learned.
Brighton continue to play well with no reward
Unfortunate has been the theme for Brighton all season so far. They have only secured one win against Newcastle but since their first game, they have played quality football yet have come up short aplenty.
They have played well against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham where they eventually lost. Against weaker teams in Crystal Palace, West Brom and Burnley, they just haven’t had enough to get a victory.
Graham Potter will be hoping to see the results pay off soon as the longer they go without a win, the closer the relegation zone becomes to Brighton. They have played a better brand of football compared to the other relegation candidates so far and deserve to remain in the Premier League.
Callum Wilson is vital for Newcastle
When Newcastle decided to bring in Callum Wilson, they needed him to be a key fixture to their success. It has played out exactly the way they expected. All the results of Newcastle have fallen solely on his shoulders.
An interesting trend in the first games shows that in matches where he scores or assists a goal, the Magpies have been unbeaten. Against Southampton who are reeling from losing Danny Ings, Wilson could not make an impact and ultimately lost 2-0.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manages to grab results when needed
The drama between Solskjaer and Manchester United continues like a rollercoaster. United grabbed a crucial 3-1 victory over Everton which has given Ole another lifeline at the club.
His job has been on the chopping block at various times this season and after going down to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, it almost felt like the bubble was going to burst in the game against Everton.
With talks of United approaching Mauricio Pochettino, a loss at Everton would have likely seen Solskjaer being let go from the club. But yet again, when it was needed the most, Ole manages to secure a victory and live to fight another week.
Leeds’ defensive inefficiencies letting them down
Leeds had caught the league by surprise with impressive early showings against top teams in the league. They love to play counter attacking football and they aren’t shy about being aggressive by getting numbers forward into the box.
We have seen them be able to dissect teams with the ball but that has also left them vulnerable on defence.
One of the concerns for Leeds’ fans are the counterattacks that they made concede. They have had plenty of goals scored against them in open play as their aggressive tendencies leaves them vulnerable at the back.
In the four losses so far, Leeds have conceded 13 goals and it just leaves them with to much work to do. We have seen that they have goal-scoring capabilities but if Marcelo Bielsa can find a balance between attack and defence, they have also shown the ability to grind out results.
Edouard Mendy has given Chelsea the defensive lift they needed
Chelsea were experiencing major defensive headaches early on but with the arrival of Edouard Mendy, things have turned around. Credit must go to the defenders also, but it was clear that with Kepa Arrizabalaga, the defence was a lot more frantic.
Across all competitions with Mendy as goalkeeper, Chelsea have kept six clean sheets and conceded only two goals. Meanwhile, the Chelsea attack keeps rolling with Timo Werner finding form and Hakim Ziyech settling in nicely.
If Chelsea can continue to keep up the defensive fortitude they have shown recently, they can become a major force in Europe.
Watch out for West Ham climbing the table
In a highly congested midtable, West Ham got the job done against Fulham and they currently sit 12th. They have managed to navigate difficult fixtures early on and are now looking to build off those performances.
Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen have been the main men driving this team. Outside of their losses to Everton and Newcastle, every game they have played has been competitive and they’ll be looking to gain ground towards the upper half of the table with easier fixtures.
Harry Kane has evolved his game to the benefit of Spurs
The English striker has always been one of the best strikers in Europe with his ability to score goals in a variety of ways. However, he’s taken his game to a whole another level this season.
He’s become a versatile forward and even midfielder at times. His ability to create opportunities with his passing game has been a part which hasn’t been seen often. Now he drops deeper into the midfield to pick the ball with the likes of Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura running ahead.
His connection with Son has given Spurs are world-class duo going forward and if Gareth Bale can find form and fitness, they will have a potent attack.
Except for their match-up with Everton, Kane has had one goal or assist in every single game since the start of the season. He has been so vital to Tottenham previously scoring plenty of goals. But now he is not just scoring but setting up goals for the team. His willingness to become a support player has given Tottenham a dynamic edge.
Wolves need offensive reinforcements in the January transfer window
Raul Jiminez and Wolves are in dire need for extra help in the goal-scoring department. This past transfer window, they lost Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota who were key players in producing opportunities.
So far Wolves have only scored eight goals in eight games and during this past transfer window, their major signing was 18-year-old centre-forward Fabio Silva.
Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence have tried their best to support Jiminez but have not been able to produce. The midfield has been disappointing this season especially Adama Traore who has failed to build from his strong showing of four goals and nine assists last season.
While the defence has carried Wolves in their games so far, the attack is something that will desperately need to be addressed if they have plans to contend for a spot in Europe.
The two heavyweights of the league are scraping by
Manchester City and Liverpool coming into this new season would rightfully be viewed as the major contenders for the title. However, with the unpredictability this new season has provided their lustre may be starting to wear off.
Both teams are looking feeble for their own reasons and while they have been producing results, they have certainly had better performances.
Liverpool haven’t looked amazing since their drubbing suffered against Aston Villa. Their injury toll is mounting up as their defence is looking very shaky.
They’ve been fortunate against weaker sides to secure three points but during last five games, they’ve only secured eight out of a possible 15 points.
Meanwhile, Manchester City are labouring even more as they haven’t got into a rhythm at all this season. After they were punished defensively during their second game against Leicester, City have managed two wins against Arsenal and Sheffield United and three draws.
The shocking statistic is that in those five games, City have only scored one goal each.
Whether these sides continue to struggle through their results is undetermined. They do look as vulnerable and other teams may be encouraged to try and take advantage of poor performances. But so far, they are hanging on.
Arsenal continue to be the model of inconsistency
What should Arsenal fans expect each game? Nobody seems to know. The Gunners continue to surprise in the best and worst ways possible. After one of their best performances against Manchester United, they were dominated the following week by Aston Villa.
While their defence has improved this season, their lack of creativity to produce goal scoring chances is concerning. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe haven’t been amazing so far. The talent is there but the execution has been missing.
Outside of United this season, they’ve been able to feast on relegation candidates Fulham and Sheffield while also defeating a gritty West Ham.
However, they have fallen short against stronger quality sides and fans must be frustrated that they don’t know how the side will turn up.