The Premier League has shut down for a two-week winter break with no further games scheduled until February 5.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the winners and losers so far this season as English football’s top-flight clubs take a breather.
City have emerged as red-hot favourites to win their fourth Premier League title in five seasons after embarking on a storming 12-game winning run in November. Their star players have been in imperious form and it is difficult to see Pep Guardiola’s side blowing their nine-point advantage at the top.
David Moyes’ side are proving last season’s sixth-placed finish was no flash in the pan and despite back-to-back defeats are well-placed to improve on that and challenge for Champions League qualification. Wins over Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham attest to the Hammers’ credentials.
Villa fans had little to cheer after a fifth straight defeat in November but the winning feeling, on and off the pitch, returned with the arrival of Steven Gerrard. The club appear to be on the rise and the stellar signing of Philippe Coutinho indicates more big-name players could be keen to get on board.
Brentford are on a four-game losing streak but have bounced back from a similar run before this season and there is no doubting their first season in the Premier League has so far been a huge success. They appear on course to retain top-flight status and Thomas Frank’s brand of football is widely admired.
How far United have fallen behind in the title race has become more apparent this season. Fans continue to question whether there is a cohesive plan in the boardroom and on the training ground, while uncertainty over Ralf Rangnick’s appointment appears to have caused more unrest in the dressing room.
Leeds’ second season back in the Premier League has been a chastening experience due to loss of form and a debilitating injury crisis. Marcelo Bielsa’s thin squad has been shorn of key players and some fans are at odds with the club’s long-term vision of developing young talent over investing in proven players.
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright are under increasing pressure after a series of knee-jerk managerial appointments and expensive player signings have backfired. Fan protests at Goodison Park are gathering momentum as the club’s slide towards a relegation battle continues.
Burnley sit rock-bottom of the Premier League with just one win from 18 matches. In a season disrupted by coronavirus, the Clarets have been hit hardest, with four games postponed in total since November. Sean Dyche is a master in the art of survival, but his side are now playing catch-up under serious pressure.