Can Arteta and his men go all the way?
For many reasons, the 2022/23 EPL season has been one like no other. It is also gearing up to be one of the best, with shocks, drama and unanswered questions from top to bottom. There is still a long way to go in the season, and the favourites for the title and the drop are changing week by week, game by game, reflecting just how open this season is. Many of the betting offers available from bookmakers such as Unibet can give fans an additional element to experience their favourite games.
Here we look at five of the biggest questions still to be resolved.
Arsenal or Manchester City
This season could see the start of a brand new rivalry in English football. Last August, only the most optimistic of Arsenal fans could have foreseen how good their team would come to be. They have matched City in almost every department and look like genuine title contenders. And this is a Manchester City side with perhaps the most potent striker not just in world football at the moment, but in premiership history.
A few short weeks ago it looked like Arteta’s title for the taking. Then his team’s first real rough patch took its toll, and when City breezed past them in their own back yard the writing looked like it was on the wall. Then Arsenal overcame a mini-crisis at Villa Park, on the same day Haaland and co were guilty of spurning chance after chance at Trent Bridge, throwing two points away to boot. Suddenly the title race was back on.
Who lifts the trophy in May will depend largely on whether or not Arsenal can hold their nerve. We all know Pep’s Manchester City will be strong all the way to the wire. The distraction of the Champions League aside – Guardiola and the owner’s number one target – the Citizens have been there before and almost without exception have triumphed. If Arsenal can keep their core side fit, playing and in form, then this will go down to the wire and the title may be returning to North London for the first time since Wenger’s reign.
Which Big Side Will Go Down?
In recent years the fight to avoid the drop has been every bit as fascinating as the race for the title and this year it is no different. There are two factors this time out that makes it even more intriguing. The first of those is that there is no one side cast adrift. Normally, by now, one or two sides are already planning for life in England’s second tier. That is not the case this season. At the time of writing, just eight points separate the bottom nine teams, with no one more than two points clear of the side below them.
The second factor is that whereas in August, the likes of Nottingham Forest, Fulham and Bournemouth – the three newly promoted teams – had all but been written off, they have all shown a fight and resilience no one outside the hardcore of their fanbase expected, especially Fulham and Forest.
What that means is that teams such as Leeds, Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Wolves and Leicester are all in very real danger of the drop.
Can Manchester United Continue Improvement
On the second of October, when Manchester City beat United 6 – 3 in a game where the scoreline flattered ten Hag’s men, few would have thought a few months later there is even talk of whether United had an outside chance of winning the league. Title talk is still premature, but that shows what a remarkable turnaround has occurred at Old Trafford. Humbled by Brentford and then hit for six by their closest rivals, it was hard to see what the Dutchman had instilled in the Red Devils.
Since then, they have been remarkable and have shown title form, albeit, a form that has come too late. United are playing like a team for the first time in years. Rashford is suddenly the player we all hoped he would be when he first burst onto the scene. The Ronaldo saga has been put to bed. A top-four place looks like it is very much on the cards but, in truth, what is happening in the red half of Manchester is way more than what position they finish this season.
Suddenly, the fans feel they are some way to get their club back. They can once more have pride in what happens on the pitch, while off it there are movements which continue to intrigue. This could very well be the most important year in this massive club’s history for a long, long time.
Can Fulham, Brentford and Brighton continue to Surprise?
A top ten at this stage of the season that features Fulham, Brentford and Brighton gives the deception that the upper reaches of the EPL are a closed shop. It should not be too much of a surprise that Brighton is there, but with the departure of Graham Potter, there were predictions that the Seagull’s bubble was about to burst. If anything, they have got even better under the stewardship of Roberto De Zerbi.
Likewise, it was hard to read about Brentford in the summer without also seeing the phrase ‘second season syndrome.’ The West London outfit continues to cause upset after upset, to the extent that it is now not even an upset when they bloody the nose of one of the supposed big six.
Fulham is perhaps the biggest surprise, but from a neutral’s point of view, seeing a newly promoted side doing so well can only be a good thing.
Will Graham Potter Survive The Season?
For every winner, there is a loser. Potter would have known the risks associated with a move to Chelsea, but he must also have known he would probably not get another chance to manage one of the biggest sides in the world. Whichever stats you look at, they all tell the same story about the former Brighton man’s tenure at Stamford Bridge. He needs things to change and change quickly. We have seen that this can happen, as it did at Manchester United, but Chelsea is not known for their patience.
Potter’s biggest problem is finding someone to put the ball in the back of the net, something he did struggle with at Brighton for a while. The difference was that his Brighton side looked like they were playing to a plan and for the manager. That is not something you can say with a lot of confidence about this Chelsea side.