If there’s one thing that pundits and punters are guilty of, it is making sweeping assumptions on the opening weekend of the season. With an opening day defeat or victory, a whole campaign’s fortunes are then quickly mapped out, the Premier League title race is decided.
It is either doom and gloom or jubilant scenes for those who make the headlines at the end of the first week and, although it certainly makes for good copy, it does not necessarily mean these statements will hold true come the following May.
Usually, however, six weeks of the season offers a fairer barometer for how the Premier League table will look and, even allowing for some indifferent results, it is beginning to shape up.
This season, though, is special and, although the marketing teams at Sky and BT Sport try to convince us that this will be the case every year, this time they really do mean it.
Because after the first half dozen weeks of the 2020/21 edition of the Premier League, it almost seems as if no single entity wants to win the competition and although someone ultimately will like every season beforehand, neither you nor I has an idea as to who that team will actually be.
To say the form book has gone out of the window is a huge understatement and with all the traditional “big six” clubs dropping points with reckless abandon, the league landscape is as wide open as it has ever been.
Take the simple fact that Everton are top of the shop after the first half dozen matches. When you consider how they finished last time around, it seems as if Carlo Ancelotti has finally moulded the team to be his own.
Admittedly the Toffees did come unstuck at St Mary’s in their last outing, as Southampton ran out 2-0 winners. On the evidence of their South Coast showing, it is fair to say that this was Everton’s worst performance of the season thus far.
That they lost to the Saints and are still leading proceedings, just goes to show that nobody can get a serious run of early form together and the pre-season favourites are struggling to make a collective championship claim thus far.
With Merseyside outfits locking out the top two places in the table, many will point to Liverpool and say that it is nothing more than business as usual. However, The Reds will have to make do without Virgil Van Dijk for at least the next six months.
Which means, the hyper-dominance of Liverpool over the past couple of years now looks set to become a thing of the past and, although defending the Premier League title is not beyond them, they won’t necessarily roll over teams with the same ease.
You only need to look at their recent win over Sheffield United to see that Jurgen Klopp’s men more vulnerable and less swashbuckling than before, which will be good news for the rest of the division.
The same can be said for Manchester City and, although they have played a game less than their considered Premier League title race rivals, Pep Guardiola’s all-star squad is far from firing on all cylinders.
With Sergio Aguero already missing a handful of matches through injury, the sight of him being ushered off in the 1-1 away draw at West Ham, will have only made City fans and Guardiola wince once more.
Because a City side without Aguero at the point of attack is a different beast altogether and a beast that is not quite as vicious against opposition defences, something that will undoubtedly play into the hands of their rivals.
That group could, Jose Mourinho will hope, include Tottenham. Although Mourinho’s men may be purring in the final third, it is their inability to see out the full 90 minutes and the dropping of points that comes with it, which may hamper their chances of a genuine title tilt.
A look across North London and Mikel Arteta almost seems to be invoking the spirit of George Graham at present and with inconsistency at the fore, you would be hard pressed to suggest that the Gunners can go on and win a first Premier League since 2004.
While if you have awoken from your Old Trafford slumber, you would have seen Manchester United and Chelsea both flatter to deceive and after cancelling each other out in a stalemate, dropped points do neither club any favours.
Add the fact that Aston Villa, Leicester, and Leeds lockout the top five and although they all won’t be competing at the top of the table in a few months, there is no reason why one of these three cannot upset the apple cart either.
There’s seemingly no home advantage, no idea when fans will be allowed to return to stadia, and this must be having some effect on the results we have currently seen. It’s a mad world out there at present and arguably, the Premier League title race is the most perfect example of that.
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