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Five things learned from the Premier League season so far

Frank Monkhouse | 14 January 2017

We look at how the division is shaping up, and what punters can take going forward

January 2017 means we’ve passed the half-way point of the season and our football experts take a look at the top-five lessons learned to far.

Leicester City v Swansea City - Premier League - King Power Stadium

Foxes on the run

What we all predicted in pre-season has turned out to be true and champions Leicester won’t successfully defend their title. Losing a couple of big names, and the distraction of Champions League football, has played its part in The Foxes’ downfall and they look on-course to finish in the lower-half of the charts.

One thing we have learned about Leicester City this season, or certainly had confirmed, is that they can never be written off, as was proven in December when battering Man City 4-2. Handed an away first-leg tie against Sevilla in the Champions League knock-out phase, progression isn’t beyond them, and Leicester to win the continents’ premier competition is now 40/1 with Coral.

What we’ve learned – Leicester’s league form is at odds with how they’ve coped on the continent. After last season, who’s to say they can’t win the Champions League at a hulking 40/1?

Dimitri Payet next club odds

Hammers feeling homesick

Several of their neighbours kicked up a stink when West Ham were handed the keys to the London Stadium, virtually rent-free. Rivals couldn’t have imagined just what effect the move would have had on The Hammers however and as the bulldozers start to roll on their beloved Upton Park, a piece of the club’s heart crumbles with it.

When West Ham lose at their new digs, they don’t half fall apart, as regulars to Stratford will know all too well. To date Slaven Bilic’s side have suffered four home defeats by at least two goals, meaning backing their opponents -1 on the handicap could be the way to go until we see major improvement.

What we’ve learned – West Ham can’t settle and their defence looks seriously out of place. Opposing them at home on the handicap is a sensible option until they shake out of it.

Christmas Premier League club manager wishlists

Blues can count on Conte

Chelsea went into 2017 top of the Premier League table and looking like a side who will prove difficult to budge. They equalled the top-flight record for consecutive wins when bagging number 13 at home to Stoke on New Year’s Eve.

That success has been achieved on the back of some seriously impressive form at Stamford Bridge, winning nine of their first 10 there, the spare being a 2-1 reverse vs Liverpool. Of those nine wins, six have come without conceding a goal, three ending 3-0. With their noses in front, how they defend in 2017 will decide where they finish the campaign.

What we’ve learned – Chelsea are a miserly bunch in front of their own fans, keeping a clean sheet in six of their first nine home wins. Taking the blues to win to nil will pull its weight this year.

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.

Choke, choke in the big smoke

It’s certainly nothing knew, but we learned, once again, that when Arsenal get themselves in a good position to challenge for top-spot, their players choke. Fans now go to the Emirates half-expecting it, and are rarely wrong.

The Gunners were second-favourites for the title recently, when breathing down the neck of Chelsea, but back-to-back 2-1 defeats in December, against Everton and Man City, and a draw vs Bournemouth bringing in the New Year, means they sit outside of the top-four after round 20. Unlike last season, it’s as tight as you like at the top, with six sides holding a realistic chance of finishing in the top-four. Will Arsenal be one of them? On past form, you must give them the benefit of the doubt.

What we’ve learned – It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Arsenal can win the league, but they can never be written off for a top-four finish at 4/6.

Sadio Mane has been a star since his summer switch from Southampton.

Liverpool in need of an Ian Rush

Jurgen Klopp has transformed his Liverpool side into genuine title contenders and they already boast wins over their rivals – beating Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City in the first-half of the season. At present, they lead the chasing pack, five points behind Chelsea.

Each of their two league defeats in 2016 came away to midtable sides, losing 2-0 to Burnley at Turf Moor and 4-3 vs Bournemouth at Dean Court. That travel-sickness could come back to haunt them at the final count, but the lack of a top-class goal scorer is the main reason they won’t lift the title. Each of their rivals in the top-six have a striker on double-figures for the season already, while Sadio Mane ranks as their leading attacker with nine.

What we’ve learned – Liverpool need an out-and-out scorer capable of putting big numbers on the board. They are nailed on 2/9 for a top-four finish, but 9/2 to win the league.

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