Have you taken a look at the EPL table lately? Here, go give it a glance. No, this isn't another one of my "Where Villa could be" columns. Today I want to talk about the top of the table. Manchester United have seemingly run away with this season, though it still may be competitive thanks to their loss to Wolverhampton a couple of weekends ago. (That gives me the chance to point you to this gif that Aaron posted on his twitter account after the loss. It is, without question, one of the best gifs I've seen in a while.)
But outside of the top 6? Realistically, no one has a shot. Right now, the number of points that separate 1st from 6th is greater than the number of points between 6th and last. Sure, if you're in the middle of the table, you can make a charge for the top, but you're not getting into the first five positions.
So the season seems to have come down to those first five. Which brings us to this week's question: Of the five teams currently atop the table (Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea) who would you most like to see win the title?
You'll find our answers below, and hopefully we'll find yours in the comments.
Aaron: Arsenal, and it's not particularly close. My feelings about Chelsea have been spelled out here before, but in case you've forgotten: I detest them. I detest Manchester City to slightly a slightly lesser degree, but I will not be pleased to see them win anything any time soon. I don't have anything against Tottenham really; they're an English team I like to see do well in European competition and table position aside I'll generally pull for them in the league. But there's the jealousy factor; there's no reason Villa can't be as good as Spurs, and we're not anywhere close, and that bothers me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Manchester United and I won't be disappointed if they win the league, but it's boring. The status quo often is. Of the eighteen years the Premier League has been in existence, United has won it eleven times. Where's the fun in number twelve?
Arsenal has certainly had their share of success, but from my perspective they're easily the most likable of the Big 5 (let's not kid ourselves with this Big 4 business.) They're easily the most entertaining team to watch in the Premier League. They have just enough weaknesses to make them endearing (or at least capable of being endearing.) Arsene Wenger is that rare figure in professional sports that doesn't seem like a complete and total moron. And while Wenger is capable of being massively annoying, there's a stubborn insistence amongst a certain segment of English football fans unwilling to give him any credit seemingly because of his other-ness, and they're the ones that bleat the "Arsenal haven't won anything in years" cries the loudest.
More than anything, I want the Premier League to continue to become more entertaining. Who wouldn't rather watch Wigan than Stoke, or West Brom (before they lost their damned minds) than Birmingham? And teams like Arsenal beating out teams like Manchester United and Manchester City can help further that goal. People are stubborn, especially people involved in sports. But they also want to win, and if given enough evidence that their methods aren't only dull but ineffective, they'll adapt eventually.
Gareth: It was really tempting to go with Arsenal, because of how impressive they were against Barcelona this week. Ultimately, though, I think I'd like to see their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur grab the title. Like Arsenal, they play an eminently watchable style, and it would be awesome to see them go on a big run that shoots them up the table. On top of that, Spurs haven't won a league title since the 1960s, and it would be great to see a club that hasn't won in forever manage to steal the title out from under Manchester United and Arsenal.
So to sum up, we've got:
1) Entertaining football
2) A club overcoming a sizable points gap (Spurs are currently ten points behind Manchester United)
3) The title goes to a club that hasn't won it in a long time. We joke about Arsenal not winning anything in a long time, but they've still been one of the three dominant teams of the Premier League era. This would be genuinely unexpected.
What more do you want?
Kirsten: On one hand, I'd rather have Arsenal win. I like their style, I love SamiArse™, Andrei Arshavin makes me giggle with glee, and who doesn't want a champion that leads 4-0 and then manages to drop points? It'd be hilarious. Plus, the Gunners' away kits are lovely. Yes, that's a factor. Plus wanting Manchester City to lose--the team everyone loves to hate. No one, save maybe Joe Hart, is likable on that team. The fact that they swiped James Milner and put him on the damn bench makes it even worse.
But if I said any club other than Chelsea I'd be in big trouble, so we're going with Chelsea, although in all honesty I think they need to lose this season. Ancelotti's stuck in the past, and maybe a slight failure would make him see that the Blues need younger players, fresh blood, tactics based on which team they're playing.
Robert: You know, if this had been asked earlier in the week, I'm not sure I could've given a convincing answer. I probably would have said Manchester United based solely on the fact that they deserve it. They've played more consistent soccer than any team in the league and there's been no let up. But then Arsenal-Barcelona happened. Did you watch that match? How could you root for any one of the five except Arsenal after what happened?
That whole second half was some of the most exciting soccer I've ever gotten to see, and I love every minute of it. Had it ended 1-0 Barca, it still would've been amazing. But the fact that they charged back and netted two goals makes Arsenal all the more impressive. There doesn't seem to be anything too dislikable about this team, so I don't feel badly about hoping they win it. The only request I have of them is this: just keep playing exciting soccer.