This time last season, West Ham United were mid-way through their seemingly regular flirtation with relegation and were preparing for a painful second half of the season... Here are the five defining factors in the East London club's rebirth, other than the obvious arrival of new and improved players.
When the summer transfer window closed just a few months ago, most fans will have been at least content with how their club bought. We witnessed a number of surprise signings and questionable ones too, but three months down the line, would any of these individuals go back to their old club if they could?
The former Wigan star has emerged as one of Everton's most important players since joining last September. His injury was felt on Sunday and the Toffees need McCarthy fighting fit sooner rather than later if they are to mount a serious challenge for a top four finish.
Ironically, the Premier League season is warming up very nicely as we enter the foggy, festive period of December. The title race is beginning to take shape, it is difficult to predict where the European qualification positions will go and the relegation battle looks set to be the tightest one for a long time.
It was a shrewd move from Brendan Rodgers to go in front of the press last week and admit that he was aware of being the bookies' favourite for the sack. Possibly his smartest move of the season.
Carrick is one of his generation's most decorated individuals. Since joining United from Tottenham in 2006, he has won five Premier League titles, two League Cups and has been a Champions League and Club World Cup winner, as well as playing in two further Champions League finals. He has the kind of top level experience that is matched by very few others...
Having developed statistically calculated strengths of 'finishing', 'dribbling' and 'holding on to the ball', Kane boasts the necessary attributes to link the midfield and attack. While he is unlikely to reach Ronaldo levels of excellence, as per Vertonghen's suggestion, Kane has started to realise his potential under Pochettino after rising to the fore under Tim Sherwood.
Newcastle have flown up the table from 18th to 5th in the space of five matches and Pardew and co are being held up as an example of the good that can come from giving a manager some leeway - and having some patience. It's just a shame that it's all a bit nonsense.
This season Roberto Martinez's team have found it hard to replicate the kind of form that took them to the brink of breaking into the notoriously exclusive top four for just the second time. Despite an indifferent start, however, the Toffees have improved of late and the tightness of the league table so far means that a similar challenge could be on the cards in 2014/15.
Arsenal have been heavily criticised in recent years and there is much debate as to why they continually fail to win the Premier League title or shoot themselves in the foot during key matches. However, critics are far too harsh towards the Gunners and here are five reasons why they should change their tune.
While he perhaps does not receive the acclaim some feel he deserves, Blind is one of United's most important players at present and with the hectic festive period looming, the midfielder's absence is likely to seriously dent their chances of returning to Europe's elite competition.
Out of contract in the summer and therefore likely to be available on cut-price deals in January, here's a look at six short term options for van Gaal and United - any of which could be valuable assets over the next couple of years.
Football has become a massive global brand over time. With the almost daily coverage of Europe's top leagues beamed around the world for multi-million pound TV deals, from here in the UK all the way to the United States, the UAE, China, and South Korea...
Four goals for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup convinced the world that Neymar can carry the goalscoring burden for his country and it's evident that his absence in the eventual 7-1 defeat to Germany affected his teammates. The pressure that comes with shouldering such a responsibility is enough to see any player crumble, but Neymar did so effortlessly...
Dyche has ample time now to work out a system that will help his side overcome Stoke later this month as they aim to climb up the table. However, unless Burnley improve after the international break, the win over Hull may be nothing more than a false dawn in what could be a long season for the Clarets.
If he can prolong the level of consistency he has shown over the last 4 games for the foreseeable future, QPR have a much better chance of staving off relegation. From a personal perspective, though, Austin will look to maintain his good form in order to force his way into Hodgson's next England squad, having arguably been harshly overlooked this time around.