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Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton – Title Contenders?

December will be the key determiner says Tom Beresford.

The current Barclays Premier League table typifies why it is the most exciting league in the world. I myself had to rub my eyes a few times in disbelief that neither of the regular ‘top 3’ are in their habitual positions after 11 games this season.

No one, including the well-known BBC pundits Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Martin Keown (who might I add, played for the respective teams) would’ve predicted that Arsenal, Liverpool and surprise package Southampton would occupy the top 3 positions over a quarter of the way into the season. Yet I still don’t believe they can sustain it.

The key component this year will be the strength in depth of these squads. Although Arsene Wenger smashed his transfer record with the acquisition of Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million and Southampton have spent around £40 million this season so far, it is difficult to see how they can maintain their position if they’re troubled by injuries.

For Southampton, their title contender prospects will be hugely affected over the course of this month as they will face Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea in the next four games. Mauricio Pochettino has done wonders at St Mary’s this year and it has shown in recent weeks where Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and captain Adam Lallana have all been called up to the international squad this week.

After losing only the one game this season and conceding the least amount of goals, Martin Keown on Match of the Day 3 this week stated ‘There’s now a respect for Southampton. I couldn’t see them winning it but they’ll have a huge say in who does win it’

Luis Suarez’ return proved to be the perfect addition to Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side. His eight goals in six appearances since coming back from his ten-match ban has complemented their typically exceptional defence. However, Liverpool haven’t been claimed as ‘title contenders’ before and so it will be the multiple fixtures in December which will verify whether they can truly be seen as title contenders.

The defeat to Manchester United last weekend shows that a lack of creativeness in the final third is still an issue for Arsenal. With just the one major signing in the last transfer window and having lost the only game against the ‘top 4’ sides, Arsene Wenger’s side can only be seen as title contenders if they achieve more positive results when they face Chelsea and Manchester City in December.

With Mourinho’s magic not taking full effect, Manchester United relying on the revamped Rooney and Manchester City conceding freely on their travels, it is difficult not to write off the current top 3 if they invest intelligently in January.

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