Premier League: Spurs and Arsenal lead the way

Football Thursday October 12, 2023 By: Harry Howes

The Premier League has paused for yet another international break and while we all just want the domestic action to return, it at least gives us a chance for a breather to take in all the drama that’s taken place so far.

There’s an unlikely contender in the title race while Chelsea are continuing to struggle in mid table. With eight games played so far, we’ve taken a look at all the key Premier League talking points.

North London rivals lead Premier League title race

After sweeping all before them on the way to an historic treble last season and spending handsomely during the summer, City were the clear favourites to step up a gear and secure their fourth consecutive title.

But with two consecutive defeats under their belts, Pep Guardiola’s side find themselves playing catch up to Tottenham and Arsenal at the top of the table. Gabriel Martinelli’s late deflected strike was the difference as the Gunners beat City for the first time in the league since 2015 on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta ran former mentor Guardiola close last term but ultimately ran out of steam. But after improving the squad over the summer with the likes of Declan Rice and David Raya, Arsenal will fancy their chances of securing a first league title since 2004.

But standing in their way, for now, are current league leaders and fierce rivals Tottenham. The North London side remain unbeaten and look reborn under new boss Ange Postecoglou.

The Harry Kane-shaped void up front has been filled by Son Heung-min, who is thriving in a central role, while summer signing James Maddison is pulling the strings from midfield. Spurs have been accused of being weak at times in the past but they’ve certainly shown character so far this campaign.

Goals from Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski deep into stoppage time snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Sheffield United, while a late own goal from Joel Matip secured them all three points in a controversial contest with Liverpool.

It’s still early days so it remains to be seen whether they can sustain their form long term. However, there seems to have been a shift in mentality at Spurs and it would be the ultimate irony if they went on to win the title the season after Kane finally left in search of silverware.

City’s defeat to Arsenal came just a week after surrendering at Wolves and the reigning champions will be desperate to turn things around after the international break. Erling Haaland has picked up where he left off with eight Premier League goals already but with Kevin De Bruyne sidelined with injury, the pressure is on the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva to offer the missing creativity and unlock rival defences.

Landscape shot of Stamford Bridge from the top of the stand

2023/24 Premier League Hospitality

Chelsea and Manchester United struggles continue

While both sides won at the weekend, those results perhaps paper over the cracks of their seasons so far. Chelsea have already suffered defeats to West Ham, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, while they also failed to score at Bournemouth.

A scattergun approach to transfers over the summer saw a lot of fresh faces arrive alongside new manager Mauricio Pochettino, who still seems to be working out his strongest line-up.

Saturday’s 4-1 thumping of Burnley was their second win in a row and with Raheem Sterling seemingly back to his best, they could now start to push on. But they may lack the firepower to reach the heights they desire, with new striker Nicolas Jackson struggling to score regularly so far.

Much like Chelsea, Manchester United have also been unconvincing and find themselves 10th in the table. They’ve lost four of their eight games so far, including home defeats to Brighton and Crystal Palace, while two injury-time Scott McTominay goals saved them from embarrassment against Brentford last weekend.

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are yet to get going and while Rasmus Højlund has shown promising signs, including an imperious Champions League display against Galatasaray, he’s yet to score in the league.

Both Chelsea and United will undoubtedly improve as the season progresses but for now, both sides look a long way off mounting any kind of challenge for the European spots.

The race for the top four

Liverpool have been flying so far this season and have perhaps gone slightly under the radar. Jurgen Klopp finally seems to have sorted his midfield issues, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister adding a balance to their side.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah has been as consistent as ever, scoring five times in the league so far, while Darwin Núñez is slowly starting to become a reliable forward option.

Aston Villa are hot on their tail and the improvement they’ve shown since Unai Emery’s arrival a year ago has been remarkable. The Spaniard has well and truly put his Arsenal disaster behind him and proven that he’s more than capable of competing on these shores.

The Midlands side made shrewd summer signings, including exciting winger Moussa Diaby, who seems to be getting the best out of Ollie Watkins. The striker is a constant threat and he’s forced himself back into the England squad after scoring a hat-trick in Villa’s 6-1 win over Brighton.

Elsewhere, Newcastle will be targeting another top four finish after securing a long-awaited return to the Champions League. They followed up an 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United with a stunning 4-1 win over PSG and have shown when the likes of Kieran Trippier and Alexander Isak are at the top of their game, they’re a match for anybody in Europe.

Who’s in danger of relegation?

After the first few games of the season, you’d have been forgiven for assuming the relegation battle was done and dusted. The three promoted clubs looked doomed and those above them were breathing sighs of relief.

But after gaining their first wins of the campaign, both Luton and Burnley are beginning to find their feet. Rob Edwards secured Luton’s first ever Premier League win away at Everton and they limited high-flying Spurs to just one goal at the weekend.

While they still have a huge job on their hands to survive, they’re not quite proving to be the whipping boys they were predicted to be over the summer. Meanwhile, it was against Luton that Burnley’s first three points of the season arrived.

With just one point from their opening eight games, Sheffield United are rooted to the bottom of the table and desperately need their luck to change. Similarly, Bournemouth are yet to win despite backing new manager Andoni Iraola heavily in the summer transfer window.

Wolves and Everton have improved after tough openings to the campaign while Brentford, who started the season strongly, seem to have stagnated and they’re struggling to get wins on the board without the suspended Ivan Toney.

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