An 8-0 victory, a perfect start, the Big 6 falling apart and the newly promoted teams showing signs of being ready for a survival fight. It has been a fantastic start to the Premier League 2019/20 season. With six rounds of action done and dusted, the table is starting to take shape. It’s not the shape that was quite expected though.
Top Two Further Distance Themselves
The gulf between Liverpool and Manchester City to the rest of the league seems to be widening. The Premier League title race is a full-on two-horse race and nothing more. Just as it was last season. Liverpool have been setting the pace with a six match winning streak from the start of the season.
While there have been wobbles in their performances, notably their defence looking shakier than it was during the last campaign, finding ways to win as they did in a tricky trip to Chelsea recently, shows what they are made of. Winning without playing well is never a bad thing.
Reigning Champions Manchester City have scored a ridiculous average of exactly four goals per game in the opening six fixtures. But even with that, they haven’t been able to keep pace with Liverpool. Dropped points in a draw against Tottenham and then a shock away defeat at the newly promoted Norwich has hampered their start.
But Pep Guardiola’s men seem to get better following the rare occasions on which they do lose. The outstanding scoreline of the season so far has been their 8-0 victory over Watford. It looks once again as if they are going to have to mount a big chase to Liverpool. But despite Liverpool’s hot start, Manchester City are still the odds-on favourites to make it three titles in a row.
The rest of the Big Six go missing
While Liverpool and Manchester City are getting stronger, the rest of the members of the so-called EPL Big Six seem to be going backwards. Spurs haven’t won away from home in the top flight since January and overall, home and away, have collected just two wins in their opening six games of this campaign.
Their North London rivals Arsenal have massive defensive problems which continue to set them back. They struggled to beat the newly promoted Aston Villa at home recently. Chelsea are going through their transition having to deal with the obstacle of not being able to get any new players into the club until next summer. The Blues also have an inexperienced manager in Frank Lampard and are relying on youth to try and get them a top-four finish.
Then there’s Manchester United who started the season in style with a 4-0 win over Chelsea but have since won just one of five in the top flight. They are another of the Big Six with an inepxierenced boss. Pressure is mounting on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson look a long way from ever being replicated. A tame loss at home against Crystal Palace and one at West Ham have increased tension at Old Trafford.
The early drop in standards by Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have really rattled the perception of the Big Six.
The new challengers
After six rounds of action in the English top-flight, Leicester, West Ham and Bournemouth we’re all sat in the top six. So there appears to be, at least early on, a level playing field between a lot of teams. That should make the race for Champions League and Europa League spots very exciting this season.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Leicester are the most backed dark horse to get a top-four finish. With a wonderful blend of youth and experience at the club, they look as if they can put together a very strong campaign.
West Ham haven’t looked as solid and settled as they currently are under Manuel Pellegrini, for many a year. They had a great summer in the transfer market and an easy home win over Man Utd recently will have lifted their self belief. But Leicster and West Ham aren’t the only ones.
There are other clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley who will be looking at anyone who isn’t Liverpool or Man City and see nothing to fear any more. So there doesn’t appear to be a Big Six this season, just the Big Two and that opens the field up to what could potentially be a fascinating jostling for position in the top half of the table.
Watford relegation bound?
At the foot of the table, Watford remains a heavy favourite to suffer relegation this season. It’s a season that couldn’t have gone much worse for them. Two points from their opening six games, a change of manager and an 8-0 drubbing are the stuff of nightmares. Still, there are four teams at shorter odds them the Hornets are to get relegated.
Aston Villa are one of those. The Villains have been competitive but early results haven’t gone their way. Spending a huge transfer kitty in the summer increases pressure on them. Villa are joint favourites with Newcastle to suffer relegation this season. The Magpies have steadied the ship a little bit after a rocky start, but are expected to suffer in the long term.
Norwich and Sheffield United, who were promoted to the top flight along with Villa, have produced some big moments between them. The Blades have remained undefeated on the road impressively, while Norwich pulled off a shock win over reigning champions Manchester City. Will either have enough to survive the rigours of the top flight?
Time will tell, but those flashes of competitiveness form the newly promoted teams will keep the likes of Brighton, Crystal Palace and surprisingly Wolves under some threatening clouds of relegation. Wolves, who earned seventh place last season in the top flight are the shock strugglers of the early season, failing to take a win in their opening six games.