We’ve heard it several times before. Managers and pundits alike have said that any team in the top 6 or 7 can win the Premier League, but does anyone really believe that statement? There may be multiple teams who appear as contenders after the early games, but towards the latter half, there are only 2 or 3 realistic candidates. Manchester United and Arsenal dominated as frontrunners at the turn of the millennium before Chelsea entered the fray and replaced Arsenal.
Manchester City have been there and thereabouts this decade. The likes of Liverpool and Spurs have threatened for a year or two, but have never been able to kick on and seal the deal. Leicester City’s climb to the top last season was stupendous, but even they didn’t have any realistic competitors towards the end. Thus overall, the 6-horse title race has been nothing but a myth.
But is that about to change this season? Leicester’s victory last year showed that there isn’t a single team in the league at the moment that is looking at a period of runaway domination. The Foxes have gone back into the bottom half this season, and no similar fairytale looks to be on the cards. Hence, it is down to the regular contenders to fight it out at the top. But who are these regular contenders?
Manchester United, the most successful team in the history of English football, haven’t won the league since 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down. Twice since, they’ve even failed to finish in the top 4. José Mourinho‘s introduction as manager may have changed the mood around the place, but there is still a lot of work to do to get back to the heights of their hay day.
Chelsea are in a period of recovery after finishing 10th last season. They have had a tumultuous campaign this time around, with a lot of ups and downs. Things seemed to have settled a bit with Antonio Conte‘s adoption of his more preferred 3-4-3 formation, but there is still a long way to go before they become a safe bet.
For now, Manchester City and Arsenal look like the most solid outfits. The two teams are joint top at the moment, and have shown several qualities of potential champions already. City under Pep Guardiola started like a house on fire, winning their first games, before losing to Spurs and being held at home by Everton.
They do have their weaknesses, but the brand of football they have been playing under their new manager has been scintillating. In the long run, things look very positive and they are probably the closest team to being called favourites at the moment.
Arsenal are looking really good right now, but the Gunners have been in this position before. Things change for them in the second half of the season, with either an injury or one shambolic performance leading to a decline. Fans won’t expect the title, and so Arsene Wenger can take it one game at a time and look to finish as high as possible.
Liverpool, in their first full season under Jurgen Klopp, have looked like a real threat. Having beaten Arsenal and Chelsea away from home, the Reds are playing with real intent in every one of their games. It remains to be seen if they have it in them to go all the way, but at the moment, they’re certainly looking like a side who will be in the thick of it when business picks up.
Tottenham Hotspur had a great chance to win the league last season, but bottled it in the final few games. They were hot on the heels of Leicester throughout but ended up finishing in 3rd place. Mauricio Pochettino has built a team which has both the ability and stability to challenge for the title.
They missed out last year, but are a lot more mature this time around. Spurs are the only unbeaten team left in the league this season, and also broke the hoodoo around Man City being unbeatable when they conquered them at White Hart Lane last week.
Each of the teams mentioned can win the league this year. They’ve got six top managers and six top squads, each with the ability and the temperament to lift the trophy next year in May. There’s no shying away from it. This time, “6-horse title race” is not just a cliche, it’s reality. For us, as viewers, it is undoubtedly going to be an absolute treat to witness this bout. Get some popcorn, and let the fireworks begin.