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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: The Premier League season has reached the half-way point with runaway leaders Liverpool surging toward the title.
The following commentary takes a look at how the traditional ‘big six’ have fared so far, with surprise package Leicester also coming under the microscope:
Jurgen Klopp fulfilled Liverpool dreams during an incredible 2019, but the best looks set to come next May as the leaders, winners of 17 of their 18 league games, power toward a long-awaited English title.
Last May, Liverpool painted Madrid red as they beat Tottenham 2-0 in the Champions League final to secure a sixth European Cup.
That continental conquest eased the pain of being pipped to the Premier League by Manchester City and Klopp’s troops have been on a mission to recapture domestic bliss ever since.
After winning their first Club World Cup in December, Liverpool returned from Qatar to deliver a chilling statement of intent as they demolished Leicester on Boxing Day and moved a step closer to being crowned English champions for the first time since 1990.
Given the sky-high standards set by City over the previous two seasons, their failure to keep pace with Liverpool ranks as a disappointment for Pep Guardiola’s men.
A third successive title has perished on the rocks of questionable close-season recruitment and a possible dip in desire after City’s treble-winning glory last term.
Stripped of Vincent Kompany’s invaluable leadership and old-school defensive qualities after the Belgian moved to Anderlecht, City have been further hamstrung by injuries to Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, Rodri and Sergio Aguero.
Kevin De Bruyne has been excellent and inspiration could come in the Champions League, a competition City have never won and Guardiola hasn’t conquered since 2011 with Barcelona.
Expectations were low when Chelsea legend Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge in the close-season, but the Blues have enjoyed an encouraging start thanks to their manager’s youth revolution.
Lampard’s lack of experience in the dugout — he was hired after just one season in charge of second tier Derby — hasn’t stopped him reviving stale Chelsea with an infusion of young blood headlined by Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
While Chelsea have been too leaky at the back and lack a cutting edge against defensive opponents, Lampard’s team have largely held their own and look far more vibrant than the dour unit assembled by his predecessor Maurizio Sarri.
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