As many managers have been saying after this season there is no longer a Top 4, instead it’s been replaced with the Big Six because there are six teams who seem to be credible challengers or pretenders to Top 4 if you like.
Those teams are Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. While the Top 4 of Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal has not been broken since Everton did so in 2004 this looks to be the year it will be broken again.
It started off with Arsenal earmarked as one of the favourites to drop out of the Top 4, but four games in I’m prepared to say that my prediction of Liverpool to win the title now looks unlikely.
I think they now look to be the club that will drop out of the Top 4. Their season has yet to start, their defence is a disaster, and Xabi Alonso is sorely missed. Liverpool has played four, lost two, won two. Those two defeats represent the whole of last season’s after only four games. Last season Liverpool were criticised for the amount of games they drew, while this time round they are being berated by people like me for losing two games.
Today they face Burnley at Anfield, who have already beaten Everton and Manchester United. They are certainly no pushovers and could prove to be a formidable opponent for Liverpool. I’d love to see Burnley nick a point.
Manchester City look dead certs to sheikh up the Top 4, and what better way to do so that by beating Arsenal today. Being a Manchester United fan I should hate Citeh, but I don’t. I think what they are doing is fantastic, they have us running scared, and Fergie is clearly rattled with his comment: ‘They are a small club, with a small mentality’.
Beaten by United two weekends ago, Arsenal won’t like losing to both Manchester clubs, so they will be looking for a win today. Man City have won their opening three games, and have yet to concede a goal, while the Gunners have yet to keep a clean sheet. Arsenal should prove to be a delightful appetiser before the main course that is the Manchester derby next Sunday. A City win is all I can see.
What a difference a year makes. At the start of last season Tottenham were struggling above the relegation zone before Harry Redknapp took over, and now look where they are. They’ve had their best start to a season since 1960 winning their opening four games, and lie joint top with Chelsea on 12 points. Having already beaten Liverpool, Spurs toughest test comes today when Manchester United come to White Hart Lane.
I think Spurs momentum should lead them to another victory today even if they are missing Luca Modric. Manchester United hasn’t made the smoothest of starts to the season, and were only lucky to beat Arsenal two weeks ago. I like Spurs a lot, and think they are credible contenders, maybe not for the title but certainly to break the Top 4.
Finally we reach Chelsea who face Stoke at the fortress that is the Britannia Stadium. Carlo Ancelotti has fitted right in at Chelsea and has guided them to 4 wins out of 4. Stoke have enjoyed a strong start to the season and lie 5th on 7 points. No team wins easy at the Britannia, and that is something Chelsea will find out today. I think it will be a Chelsea win, but they should not underestimate Stoke, who, if they are lucky could get a point out of the game.
So, they’re you have it. The Top 4 have departed, and now we have a Big 6. The question is can they keep up the pace? We will all be a little clearer after today’s round of fixtures.