Although the season is only five games old, certain battles are beginning to play out. It looks like the big three of Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal will challenge for title again, while the battles for European places and relegation are already taking shape and they look as though they are going to be tightly fought. If the top three stay where they are, it leaves one all important Champions League place available. Although other teams will claim they are in the battle for fourth spot, the Betfair Football odds suggest it will be a two horse race between Tottenham and Manchester City.
It’s not known what targets the Man City owners have set Roberto Mancini for the season, but it’s pretty safe to say a Champions League place is up there, along with some kind of silverware. With City being dumped out of the Carling Cup by West Brom, their options for success are dwindling. The Europa League and FA Cup seem like Mancini’s only real chance of winning a trophy this campaign. Mancini will probably be focusing the majority of his efforts into claiming that Champions League spot, even though the Italian is still publically claiming to still be in the title race.
Tottenham could well suffer from their own success last season, the Champions League will push Harry Redknapp’s squad to their absolute limits and their league form could suffer as a result. When Spurs played Werder Bremen in their opening group game, they lost their next league game to Wigan, in a tired looking display. If this Spurs squad can’t handle competing on both fronts then they could be in for trouble. It’s fair to say Mancini’s Man City would sacrifice their Europa League campaign if it interfered with their quest for Champions League football.
Although some people will no doubt make Aston Villa betting tips to make fourth, they look set for a transitional season. However, there is another team who would like to think of themselves as in the race for that fourth spot, Liverpool. After the nightmare start, Roy Hodgson’s men don’t look capable of mixing it with the big boys this season. The Anfield club’s only hope for success this season seems to be in the Europa League and maybe an FA Cup run. If things carry on as they are at the club, it could be a while yet before the 2005 winners return to Europe’s top competition.