In addition to ending Manchester City’s unbeaten streak in the Premier League this season, Mohamed Salah’s game-winning goal at Anfield on Sunday opened the door for the most surprising and open title battle in years.
Even though Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the table after Sunday’s 1-0 win at Leeds and City’s loss at Liverpool, only the most optimistic Arsenal fan would contest the idea that City, champions in four of the past five seasons, remain favorites to win the Premier League again this season.
Erling Haaland’s goals and Pep Guardiola’s team’s championship experience give City the advantage, but it seems like every one of the so-called Big Six, as well as a newly-emerging Newcastle United, are capable of fulfilling their respective aims this season.
Arsenal still has a chance to shock everyone by winning the championship. Blackburn in 1994–95 and Leicester City in 2015–16 both maintained their composure to capitalize on strong starts and finish the season by hoisting the Premier League trophy, and Arsenal has now established themselves as favorites to win the title for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” in 2003–04.
While third-placed Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory over Everton on Saturday confirmed the club’s best start to a Premier League season in the league’s history — it is their best start in 59 years — Antonio Conte’s team has so far avoided the attention and scrutiny that comes with being a title contender. Spurs are championship candidates because to Harry Kane’s nine goals in 10 games and Antonio Conte’s track record of winning trophies in Italy and England (with Chelsea and Juventus). Their trip to Manchester United on Wednesday will provide a realistic assessment of both teams’ chances this season.
Even though United, who are currently in fifth place after Sunday’s scoreless draw with Newcastle at Old Trafford, is obviously still a ways off from being title contenders, for the first time likely since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, they seem to have a manager with a clear strategy to break the club out of its protracted slump. Erik ten Hag still has a lot of rebuilding to do, but the additions he made over the summer, especially Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen, have greatly strengthened the team. United now appears to be a team where everyone is, at long last, pulling in the same direction.
Although they won’t win the league this year, United’s triumphs over Liverpool and Arsenal thus far have given fans hope that they might break a six-year trophy drought by winning a cup.
Prior to Thomas Tuchel’s firing after three losses in seven games, it would have sounded absurd to assume that Chelsea could have a successful season. But since Graham Potter was named as Tuchel’s replacement, Chelsea has won five of its last six matches managed by the former Brighton manager.
With almost £250 million spent on new players this summer, Chelsea would start to resemble a team that has just had a period of significant reinforcement if they were to win their game in hand and move within one point of Spurs and City.
And even though Liverpool is the only Big Six team that has been clearly underperforming this season, having won just three of nine Premier League games to sit in eighth place, last week’s 7-1 Champions League thrashing of Rangers and Sunday’s victory over City showed that Jurgen Klopp’s team is still a squad that is capable of defeating anyone and taking home any trophy.
Despite all of Liverpool’s problems, they remain one of the best teams in the world and are capable of anything this season. Klopp has a midfield to rebuild, defensive issues to address, and £75 million club-record signing Darwin Nunez has had a difficult start to life in England, scoring just four goals in 11 games.
Due to the enormous wealth of their Saudi Arabia-backed owners, Newcastle, led by Eddie Howe, pose the biggest danger to the established Big Six. If Newcastle is as smart and aspirational in their player hiring, they may eventually become as dominant as City has been in recent years. Newcastle is still a ways off from being a title contender, but they are currently outperforming expectations (sitting in sixth place) and will be able to go forward with their ambitions more quickly by luring stronger players if they qualify for Europe.
Rarely has a Premier League season been as competitive with all the top clubs having a chance to take home a trophy. In the competition’s 30-year existence, there have frequently been one or two dominant teams, a few teams going through a transition, and a number of teams lurching from one crisis to another.
While City and Chelsea were nothing more than also-rans — City spent a season in the third tier in 1998-99 — before each club was acquired by billionaires who changed their fortunes and the composition of the Premier League, Liverpool, United, and Arsenal have all experienced great success, but also seasons of despair. While Newcastle’s expectations of reliving their spectacular times under Kevin Keegan in the mid-1990s looked like a faraway dream until the Saudi takeover a year ago, Tottenham is still waiting for years of promise to materialize.
But for the first time, all of the best teams will be in a competitive position at the same time. The 2022–23 season feels like a season that will usher in a new age and might determine what occurs and who wins for the following ten years, even though City’s supremacy may continue this season.