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    Joe Jones
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    Premier League 2017-18 mid-season review: Manchester City unstoppable in title pursuit, while West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City look doomed

    It's Christmas day, we're at exactly the halfway point of the Premier League season, with 19 games played out of 38 fixtures.

    So Manchester City are top of the pile, but not narrowly, oh no - they've won 17 on the bounce in the league, have only dropped points in one game, are unbeaten in the league, are still in the running for the Champions League, EFL Cup and FA Cup, and most frighteningly of all, are showing no signs of stopping. Marti Perarnau, who wrote Pep Confidential, reckons this City team are still only operating at 80% of their full potential.

    Manchester United began the campaign just as well as City, if not even better, and any other season they would be either top or just a few points off, but unfortunately for them, they've had blips - as most teams normally do - while City have had none. Barring a Newcastle United 95/96 style collapse for the blue side of Manchester, it's unlikely that United will peg it back, so chances are they'll prioritise the cup competitions.

    The managers of the other members of the big six have pretty much thrown in the towel in the title race - Chelsea have stumbled on multiple occasions and Antonio Conte has voiced his concerns about his side's strength in depth several times, Liverpool's superb attack has been offset by a shaky defence, Tottenham Hotspur have failed to get results against the other big English sides and need some new options in the squad, and Arsenal continue to stagnate in the league, little surprise given they decided to stick with the same manager.

    Outside the top six, Burnley have enjoyed a great campaign, briefly poking their noses into the top four the other week. Led by arguably the best current English manager in Sean Dyche, the Clarets boast a mean defence, while the midfield pairing of Steven Defour and Jack Cork and the addition of Chris Wood up front ensure quality across the spine.

    Leicester City and Everton began the season badly but changes in the dugout, with Claude Puel and Sam Allardyce taking the reins at their respective clubs, have proved that the manager sacking culture does sometimes prove justified, with the Foxes and Toffees back to form and in the right half of the table.

    Watford began the season brightly but the Marco Silva seems to have worn off with the current team form the worst in the league, while a lack of discipline in the ranks, culminating in red cards aplenty, hasn't helped.

    Promoted sides Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion have also done well in the first half of the season and, although they'll be looking over their shoulders, they have a decent platform upon which to build in the new year and, barring a collapse in form, should stay up come May.

    Southampton and Stoke City will not be happy with where they are at present - both sides are established in the league and will have wanted more from the current campaign. Although Mauricio Pellegrino's job is not thought to be in immediate danger, Mark Hughes is believed to be on thin ice and may well be the next managerial casualty of the season.

    Newcastle United began the season fantastically but their form has taken a major tumble in recent weeks, although they stopped the rot with a win over West Ham last time out - much depends on how much money Rafael Benitez is given to strengthen the squad in January (not likely to be much) while the talk of an impending takeover has also provided uncertainty.

    Crystal Palace can be very happy with where they are at the minute considering their start to the campaign was absolutely dire - the appointment of Roy Hodgson was derided but he's done a great job clawing the Eagles back up the table and, providing they can make a few decent signings in January, should survive comfortable.

    West Ham United have had a shocker so far this season and, although there have been signs of revival under David Moyes, the defeat to Newcastle was cause for concern, and then of course there's the disgruntlement over the unpopular new stadium and with the club board.

    Into the bottom three and Bournemouth have plenty of work to do to survive. Nathan Ake has been great since joining from Chelsea but on the whole, the sum of the squad's parts isn't on a par with most of the other teams in the division, though Eddie Howe is a skilled manager and, with some shrewd investment in January, could have the boost needed to survive.

    West Bromwich Albion have endured a miserable run and Alan Pardew hasn't provided an upturn in form just yet, while Swansea City's rails have pretty much fallen off, with a bad defence and dreadful attack. I can see both of these sides going down along with Newcastle.

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