Gunners shade English debate
© AFP

"The championship is so wide open now," opined JSPWorld, capturing the tightness of, arguably, the most intriguing English Premier League title race in years. Indeed, just seven points separate the four pre-season favourites - namely leaders Arsenal, runners-up Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea - with third-placed Manchester City continuing to threaten a major upset.

As was the case with the first FIFA.com 'Have Your Say' topic, which asked users to compare Brazilian superstars Kaka and Ronaldinho, the latest instalment triggered an overwhelming response. Despite the proximity of the contenders, however, many users gave a definitive response as to the where the trophy would end up in May 2008. Not that there was a consensus.

"Although Chelsea may not be first now, they will be," declared Oowataband, who believes that Jose Mourinho's departue from the hot-seat, along with the appointment of Avram Grant, will have given the side "the drive to win". By contrast, Duduman believes a team in a lighter shade of Blue will be given cause for celebration at the end of the season: "Manchester City have indeed surprised everybody with their power this season. I think that Man City will be crowned champions of the Premier League."

Others are convinced that English domestic football's biggest prize will go to a team in red. "Liverpool will be the champions," stated youngraul, who keeps a close on on proceedings from Gambia and reckons that with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres pulling the strings, his claims "cannot be disputed". Facemelter has a different outlook: "Manchester United will easy win the title again this year, no question about it. With Rooney back in the game, teaming up with Tevez and Ronaldo, they have it locked."

Top of the standings, unbeaten and boasting a game in hand over Chelsea and the Manchester pair, the Gunners have certainly underlined their title credentials and it has not gone unnoticed among FIFA.com users. "Arsenal for sure. They lose one of the best players in the world, and suddennly their entire squad doubles in confidence and skill," brenaim wrote, referring to Thierry Henry's close season transfer to Barcelona and describing the first few pages of the 2007/08 Premier League story as "almost magical".

Arsenal the favourites... just
This user was certainly not alone in his assessment that Arsene Wenger's side would reign supreme, with the likes of Buki14, bestyrfc1, Papo0218, realmadridcf, shekmk, Neelam, chrissy2007 and KIJANGA pointing to the form of players such as Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. In fact, although it was extremely close, Arsenal shaded the debate from Manchester United, with Liverpool and Chelsea nonetheless receiving firm backing and Manchester City remaining the outsiders - and the neutrals' favourites: "As a Torino fan I hope it will be Manchester City (the poor relative as we are)," carlodm added.

Ninjae is one of several users who feel that Arsenal have what it takes to regain the title they last won in 2004. "They've shown great character post-Thierry Henry and I dearly hope they win it. It will be a just reward for Arsene Wenger's brand of football and philosophy. I doubt if any other coach in the world can get youngsters and previously unheralded players to perform the way he has consistently done. They'll deserve it."

Player power - essentially their exciting triumvirate of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney - also holds the key to a potential Manchester United conquest, according to fisoye, Tbjones1025, williams, iblees and galapagos, while Eyinmisan judged that "the thought of Manchester United having a full squad at their disposal is frightening".

One Liverpool fan was equally upbeat over Rafa Benitez's current cast and the unity within the club's fans. "Gerrard is world class and so it seems is Torres - his goals have been sublime," wrote Steevo. "Finnan, Kuyt, Crouch, Alonso, Reina, Agger... in fact the whole squad are fantastic. The supporters of Liverpool always have a togetherness but it seems more so this season." And Steevo should know - he has been following the Reds for 34 years!

Although Chelsea presently sit back in seventh, they appear to have hit form under new coach Grant and, in the view of benjie112, can not be written off. "The fact still remains that the best will always be the best. The season is still young. Chelsea is a strong contender for the title and that's a headache for all the other teams," the Blues devotee added. "It is Chelsea's year," agreed opsyfm.

The latest leg of the 2007/08 English Premier League title marathon will unfold this coming weekend with four contenders going head-to-head: Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield; Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

In the meantime, with the MLS playoffs set to begin, football enthusiasts can turn their attention to the battle for gold in USA, which is the subject of FIFA.com's latest 'Have Your Say'. We look forward to hearing your views.