All too often in the Premier League, the title race gets wrapped up in the early spring. We saw it in the 2020/21 season, when Man City had looked nailed on to win the title from February onwards. And the year before, when Liverpool looked like certain champions from the onset of the New Year.
It’s not as if crowning champions early diminishes the Premier League’s popularity. It is marketed as the world’s most competitive league, where anything can happen in a game. That’s one of the reasons live betting on matches is so popular – things can change in an instant. And the mantra that anyone can beat anyone is largely true.
Liverpool back in the hunt
However, it should be said that a proper title race is a boon for the Premier League product. And we seem to be getting that this year, with Liverpool and Man City fighting it out for the crown that the pair have not let anyone else wear since 2017. It has become all the more interesting because many thought City were going to stroll to the title, but Liverpool quietly went about their business – and capitalised on City’s surprise defeat at the hands of Tottenham. Game on.
We won’t make a prediction about who will get the upper hand between City and Liverpool. It’s enough to say that this is great news for the neutral, with the Reds within touching distance of the Citizens with around a dozen games to go. Perhaps the key will be the clash between City and Liverpool at the Etihad on 10th April? Individual games don’t usually decide titles, but this one could prove pivotal.
Race for 4th looks nail-biting
And yet, it’s not just the title battle that should be compelling to fans this year. The race for 4th spot – and a place in next year’s Champions League – is perhaps even more interesting than the title race. There are so many narratives among the half a dozen clubs with a serious chance of securing those final two places behind City and Liverpool.
Chelsea (currently third) are in pole position, of course, and some fans will still believe that they can muscle their way back into the title race (although the gap between City and the Blues looks insurmountable in our book). Manchester United (4th at the time of writing) might look like they are in with a good shout, but there are so many problems at the club right now.
Others like Arsenal and Tottenham will be in a good position if they can win their games in hand over United. Arsenal, in particular, look like the form team coming into the business end of the season. But we should also mention Wolves and West Ham. The former has been quietly excellent all season. And while it would be a shock to see Wolves in the Champions League next season, you really can’t rule it out.
Newcastle might avoid the drop
As for the bottom end, it looks like a seven-way battle to avoid finishing in the three relegation spots. Just eight points separate Newcastle in 14th spot and Norwich at the bottom, and every team in between could face relegation to the Championship. Newcastle, buoyed by their new-found riches after a takeover, seem to have the best momentum, whereas Everton and Leeds are dropping like a stone. It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out.
In the end, this is all great for marketing the Premier League. After the huge fallout over the creation of the European Super League, the organisation can now point to its product as a hotbed of intense competition and drama. For us fans, particularly those of us who support the teams in with a shot of glory, it’s going to be quite the ride in the coming months.