Premier League 2019/20: Manchester City and Liverpool are still leagues ahead of the rest of the big six
Three weeks into the new season of the Premier League is all it took for Manchester United, Arsenal, and Tottenham to succumb to their weaknesses. Manchester United and Tottenham were subjected to shocking defeats at home to bottom-half teams Crystal Palace and Newcastle United respectively, while Arsenal had an evening to forget at Anfield, after suffering a 3-1 hammering at the hands of Liverpool.
Fans know that the competition in the league is so tough, that every point is crucial to stay in the title race. Hence, they will be extremely disappointed to see their teams drop points at such an early stage of the season.
Chelsea fans, on the other hand, will be pleased to see all their rivals for the top-four race lose. However, they must note that their side only barely managed to edge past Norwich City.
The problem is that investing in players isn't the only factor that plays a role in rebuilding a team. Managers need time, to plan tactically, and improve the chemistry in the camp. However, the pressure to deliver is a killer in the league.
Manchester United, for example, cruised past Chelsea, beating them 4-0, but dropped points in their next two games. Fans should note that one positive result is not enough to conclude that their team is ready to challenge City and Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola is into his 4th season as Manchester City boss, while Jurgen Klopp has been Liverpool's manager since 2015. They had plenty of time in their hands to build their sides into the immovable forces they are today. Unai Emery, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Frank Lampard still need more time to complete the rebuilding process.
Only Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have shown signs of promise, but tend to fall out of the title race due to inconsistency. The Argentine tactician has admitted that it is time to transform his side into trophy-winners, and should look to take the necessary steps in that direction.
Let us compare two parameters that put City and Liverpool leagues ahead of the rest.
#1. Center-back partnerships
Every successful side has a pair of rock-solid center-backs who provide stability at the back. City's Aymeric Laporte has been extraordinary, while Nicolas Otamendi covers for John Stones whenever the Englishman is injured. Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk doesn't need any introduction. The Dutchman is currently amongst the best defenders in the world and has stepped up for the Reds throughout last season alongside Joel Matip.
The other big clubs still don't have the quality that Liverpool and Man City possess at the back, and as a result, have suffered due to defensive frailties. Manchester United signed Harry Maguire for a world record fee and he has displayed early signs of promise. Arsenal's David Luiz may be a handy signing, but cannot be relied upon as the main man at the back.
Chelsea need to make the most of what is available because of their transfer ban, and Spurs chose to stick with Belgian duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. The latter is yet to make his first start of the season with Davinson Sanchez playing all three games.
Manchester City and Liverpool have some of the best forwards in the world. Pep Guardiola has transformed Raheem Sterling into a goalscorer, and thereby reduced the dependency on Sergio Aguero alone, while Liverpool's illustrious trio, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, are a force to be reckoned with.
Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille to increase the firepower upfront. It will be interesting to see how Emery finds a system where Pepe, Aubameyang, and Lacazette can thrive, but it's still a work in progress. Frank Lampard has chosen to keep faith in his young attack comprising Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount. Tottenham fans will be hoping to see more from Champions League hero Lucas Moura, with Harry Kane leading the attack.
Manchester United have let go of Romelu Lukaku and now rely on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial for goals. They are still feeling their way into a partnership.
These players are world class but seem to let their teams down on big occasions. They must be more clinical and should show their fans that they can win against the toughest opponents.
It is safe to say that the rest of the big six still require a season or two to challenge Man City and Liverpool. The lack of bench-strength and heavy schedule may weigh the rest of the teams down. We could potentially see Klopp and Guardiola having a private battle at the top of the table by the end of Christmas like last season.