The Premier League is only six games old, but already we can see that last season’s two runaway teams, Champions Manchester City and runners up and Champions League winners Liverpool, are already beginning to get a stranglehold of things at the top of the table.
Liverpool occupy top spot at the moment with six wins from six and they face Sheffield United away from home on Saturday lunchtime with a chance to make it seven wins from seven. They are already the first team to win their first six games in two successive seasons and a win on Saturday would see them take maximum points and ensure they maintain a gap over City in second.
Manchester City meanwhile travel to Liverpool on Saturday evening to take on the Reds city rivals Everton at Goodison Park. The Toffees are in a real state of disarray after a disheartening 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United last week and with City being 8-0 winners over Watford in the same weekend, the odds are likely that it will be the visitors celebrating another win.
So the question is, can anybody close the gap on the top two this season, or are we set for another two-horse race for the title next summer?
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Can Anybody Stop City and Liverpool’s Dominance?
Last season, the answer was an emphatic ‘no’ as to whether any team would break the dominance of the top two and in truth, this season looks like being the same. Let’s just look at some basic facts.
- Liverpool are five points clear of Man City at the top of the table with 18 points from 18 available.
- City are second with 13 points, two ahead of a clutch of three teams on 11 points.
- Liverpool have scored 17 goals so far this season (2nd highest total in the division by five). The Reds have also conceded the equal fewest goals this season (5, tied with Leicester).
- Man City have scored an incredible 24 goals this season (the highest by seven) and conceded just six.
- City’s goal difference is +18, Liverpool’s is +12, the next best is Tottenham who have a +4 goal difference but who are already 10 points behind Liverpool.
- Of the 18 players that have scored three or more Premier League goals this season, Manchester City have three players in the list (Aguero with eight, Sterling with five, Bernardo Silva with four) and Liverpool also have three (Mane and Salah with four and Firmino with three)
- Liverpool have not lost a game at Anfield for two and half seasons. They have won all of their last 15 games in the Premier League.
- In the last two season’s Manchester City have amassed 100 and 98 points. Liverpool recorded 75 in 2017/18 but then landed 22 more to record 97 last season.
- Both teams lost a total of six games over the last two Premier League seasons in total. City have lost one more since (away to Norwich) and Liverpool have not lost this season. All their nearest rivals lost more games than that last season alone. Over the same period of time (last two seasons, plus this season) Chelsea have lost 20, Tottenham 22, Man Utd 19 and Arsenal 24 Premier League games.
- Since the start of the 2017/18 season, Man City have scored 225 Premier League Goals, Liverpool have 190. The next best is Arsenal with 158, Spurs with 153, Man Utd with 141 and Chelsea with 137.
When broken down in such a way, it is easy to see how dominant City and Liverpool have been particularly over the past 18 months or so and given how the season has started so far, it looks very unlikely as to whether any of their main rivals, or teams emerging, will be able to reel in the top two this year.
Who will be their nearest rivals if nobody is going to catch City or Liverpool?
With City and Liverpool being on a different level to other Premier League teams, the question is not about who will match them but who will be their next biggest rivals and at the moment, the team that has impressed me most in this respect this season is Leicester City.
Despite a tough start which has seen them face four of the teams finishing in the top seven last season (Wolves, Chelsea, Man Utd and Tottenham), the Foxes lie third in the table and have lost just one of their opening matches, a somewhat unfortunate defeat away to Manchester United in a game they should have perhaps earned a point from.
Of the four ‘big’ names, it looks like Arsenal have enjoyed the better start, but I do feel that if Chelsea can sign a couple of star names in January, then they will be the stronger of the four chasing teams over the remainder of the season. Lampard’s faith in youth looks like being repaid and this is a team I can see improving as they gain in experience over the course of the season.
Our Tip – To Win Outright Without Man City and Liverpool
So if you take Manchester City and Liverpool out of the equation, which of the other 18 teams would finish third in the Premier League and finish highest of the rest? The bookies still reckon Spurs are the 11/8 favourites in this respect and I can see why they have done that, given Spurs finishing third in each of the past two seasons, but for me, I think Chelsea at 6/1 are the smart bet here, although I would be very tempted to stick a smaller bet on Leicester at 16/1 as I think they are going to be fighting for a top four spot.