So it's almost (or it is depending on when you're reading this) the winter break. The points separating the top teams in the Premier League are slim and this is turning out to be one of the most exciting seasons in a while. So let's look at the contenders and pretenders in the Premier League as it stands right now.
The table is as follows right now:
1. Arsenal - 35 pts
2. Liverpool - 30 pts
3. Chelsea - 30 pts
4. Manchester City - 29 pts
5. Everton - 28 pts
6. Tottenham - 27 pts
7. Newcastle - 26 pts
8. Southampton - 23 pts
9. Manchester United - 22 pts
10. Swansea - 19 pts
11. Aston Villa - 19 pts
12. Hull City - 18 pts
13. Stoke City - 17 pts
14. Norwich - 17 pts
15. West Brom - 15 pts
16. Cardiff - 14 pts
17. West Ham - 13 pts
18. Fulham - 13 pts
19. Crystal Palace - 13 pts
20. Sunderland - 8 pts
The point spread of the Premier League in the top half of the table is pretty even, which makes for a fun second half of the season, hopefully.
Arsenal: Arsenal coming into the season would have probably been dubbed "elite pretenders" the perennial 4th place finishers have had a flying start to the season and have found themselves at the top of the table for almost the whole year so far. Arsene Wenger looked to be on the hot seat coming into the year, but now he looks certain to be offered a new contract this season. The addition of Mesut Ozil plus the improved play of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, and the whole defense has seen Arsenal seemingly take the step towards a title.
Manchester City: The team from the blue half of Manchester are up to their normal tricks, scoring lots of goals at home and trying to grind games out away from home. Sergio Aguero is firing on all cylinders, while support players such as Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas, and the reinvigorated Samir Nasri have City in great position should they stay in the top 5 going into the winter break. The keeper situation may cause problems for City, but new boss Pellegrini will find a way to make it work out.
Chelsea: Can you ever count out a Jose Mourinho squad from an EPL title challenge? The Special One returned to London this season and has had a pretty good start to the season, even if he wouldn't tell you so himself. He still hasn't lost a game as manager of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and with his midfield playing so well you almost forget that their strike force is abysmal, almost.
Everton: What the heck? Who would have thought Everton would be on a contender list for EPL title challengers? Well they are on mine, solid back to back performances against Manchester United and Arsenal have morale higher than ever for the Merseyside club. Amazingly they have only lost 1 game so far this season. The on loan duo of Lukaku and Deulofeu are proving to be great pick ups for Everton and Roberto Martinez is looking more and more like a managerial genius each week.
Manchester United: Don't get angry, United fans. You had to see this one coming. Manchester United are a shell of themselves compared to last season. No Sir Alex to be that rock on the sidelines and David Moyes is looking out of his league managing one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) club in the world right now. All eyes are on United to see how they battle during the second half of the season. If they add some quality in the midfield during the January transfer window we could be talking about a completely different United team.
Liverpool: Liverpool are having one of their best seasons in recent memory, but I still don't think they're good enough to put them into the contender discussion. They have the best strike duo in the league with Suarez and Sturridge, but that will only carry you so far. I see Liverpool trailing off into 4th this season. But even if that is as high as they finish, that is a great success. Brendan Rodgers should be everyones Manager of the Season so far.
Southampton/Newcastle: No disrespect to either club, both are having phenomenal seasons considering where most expected them to be this far into the season, but there is no real threat to the top teams in the league coming from either.
So there you have it. My contenders and pretenders so far in the Premier League. What do you think? Did I miss any team that should be on either list? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @theinformsoccer