Point/Counterpoint: Which team will win the Barclays Premier League?


Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Elan-Paolo DeCarlo: The Barclays Premier League is up for grabs this season. Through 26 weeks, Leicester City has shocked the world, Arsenal has tried their best to “Arsenal” an open title window and Tottenham Hotspur has elevated to a level of true contention.

Elsewhere on the table, we’ve seen Chelsea collapse to the point of firing Jose Mourinho, Manchester United has become the most boring team in the league and Liverpool; well, we just won’t talk about my beloved Reds.

As for the title race, consider me a skeptic on Leicester. Most observers have expected the Foxes to flounder, but they haven’t. Yet. They sit just two points clear of the Spurs and have dates with Southampton, Man U and Chelsea left. Consider me a skeptic.

Joe Burns: Arsenal have without a doubt the best chance of winning the league this year after beating Leicester City. This is especially due to the weakness of their competition, namely Manchester City and the sad excuse known as the Tottenham Hotspurs.

Arsenal have already shown their slew of injuries this year, with key players such as Frances Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez already accumulating months on the bench. However, unlike past years when the injuries have come at a crucial time during February and March, this year the team has managed to bring back their starters just in time for the home stretch.

Ozil has shown he is the best central attacking midfielder in Europe and has plenty of support from the increasingly healthy midfield. Giroud has been lights out this season compared to those past and with Sanchez, Walcott and Danny Welbeck healthy enough to support him I don’t see a team that could challenge.

Not only is their offense superior to most, but a fighting defense with Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, who is arguably world class at right back, will be almost impossible to crack for other teams in the Premier League.

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, left, celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur’s at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

DeCarlo: There’s no question Arsenal should be the favorite to win the league. On paper, they’re the best team. Petr Cech is world class in between the sticks and their attacking front of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott give them the ability to score with anyone.

But it’s still Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side hasn’t won the Premier League since the 2003-04 “Invincible” campaign, and for good reason. Arsenal has the well-deserved reputation of being soft, oft-injured and are a side just waiting to shoot itself in the foot.

That’s why I believe in Tottenham. The North London team is nearly a mirror to the Gunners. Spurs are led by English wunderkind Harry Kane up top. Kane is second in the league in goals in the midst of a dominant season. Spurs have seen midfielder Delle Alli develop into a true box-box game changer and Christian Eriksen may be the most underrated playmaker in England.

Anchoring the defense is French international keeper Hugo Lloris with nine clean sheets to his name. Mauricio Pocchetino’s side is young, athletic and hungry. Sitting just two points back of leading Leicester, Spurs are poised to make a run at the top.

Burns: Not only is believing in Tottenham silly, it’s also incredibly shortsighted and naive. While I understand the belief in an underdog team showing enough consistency and talent to win the Premier League, the truth is there is only room for one mid-tier team anywhere near the top of the table every year, and this year it is Leicester.

Tottenham’s young crew have no real experience playing at the top of the table with the best, or the quality to keep performing at their high level throughout the end of the season. Harry Kane falling out of form or being injured would be an absolutely devastating blow to the squad and a multitude of other spots have no real backups to provide support; as the season winds down there is little chance they will be able to prevent fatigue and injury.

Lastly, despite obvious talent and skill from coach Mauricio Pochettino, he has never shown execution in finishing a league title. While he has brought multiple sides up through the league, he has shown again and again during his tenure at Espanyol and Southampton a failure to complete the feat at the top as the year winds down.

Due to all these factors, I find it unfathomable to believe Tottenham will finish first and will more likely fall out of the top four as the Spurs have done many times before.

Elan-Paolo DeCarlo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at elan-paolo.decarlo@uconn.edu. He tweets @ElanDeCarlo.

Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.

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