Weaknesses for EPL's top teams

Where do Man U, Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham need to improve?

Originally Published: December 6, 2012
By Joe Prince-Wright | ESPN Insider
Fernando TorresIan Kington/AFP/Getty ImagesFernando Torres has had a disappointing season for Chelsea.

As the midway point of the season approaches, there's no runaway leader in the English Premier League title race.

Just when one team looks to be pulling away at the summit, it falters. Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been guilty of that so far.

Their weaknesses -- highlighted with alarming regularity and on the biggest of stages -- have left managers and fans scratching their heads in frustration. How can some of the greatest teams in the EPL make such glaring mistakes on a regular basis?

Let's take a deeper look at some of the problems riddling the top four teams of the EPL table.

Manchester United: Conceding early goals

Over the years, Manchester United has been known as the team that never gives up, the side that salvages late winners or equalizers. But this season, Man U has taken it to another level.

In seven of United's 15 league games this campaign, they've won from losing positions. Time and time again they've looked down and out, and only because of their offensive prowess have they been able to capture a win from the jaws of defeat. Defensively, United has been all over the place, conceding 21 goals (only Spurs have a worse defensive record among the top 10). Across all competitions, United has conceded the first goal 14 times, coming back to win on 10 occasions.

But United will go only so far without sorting out its defense. Going into this Sunday's top-of-the-table clash with Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson knows his side has to stop the steady stream of goals flowing into the United net.

"It's a worry," the manager said. "I cannot ever remember us conceding so many goals before Christmas. So it is a concern, there's no question about that. I think we're getting punished for every ball that goes in the box at the moment, but saying that, we should still be defending far better."

Joe Prince-Wright is a freelance writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a former college soccer player and now plays for Arbroath FC in the Scottish Second Division. He's covered the English Premier League, Serie A, Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team for several years.