It’s been a little while since we could look at the English Premier League and say that it was being led by the city of Manchester. Despite being home to two of the most storied franchises in the country – and despite Manchester City in particular having boasted one of the more talented rosters in Europe for five years ago – Manchester has mostly been kept away from the top of the standings of late.
Last season, it was London at the top. Chelsea rebounded spectacularly from a disastrous 2015-16 campaign and, following the sacking of José Mourinho, won the league with relative ease. Fellow London club Tottenham Hotspur came in second.
In 2015-16, we saw Leicester City triumph in what some speculated in advance would be the biggest shock in sporting history. That time, it was another London club, Arsenal, that came closest to challenging Leicester City and wound up in second place.
And in 2014-15 Chelsea won the league, though the Manchester teams acquitted themselves rather well, with City placing second and United coming in fourth (a finish it hasn’t improved upon since).
So far this season, however, things look a little bit different. While it’s still very early, we’re seeing some of the teams that have been competitive in recent seasons falling behind a little bit already. Chelsea, for instance, has played quite well for the most part, but has hit some speed bumps. The team opened the year with a surprising loss to Burnley, lost a very crucial match to Man City, and even met defeat at the hands of lowly Crystal Palace. Liverpool, too, has been somewhat hot and cold, drawing with Watford in its opening match and losing by a resounding score of 5-0 to Man City.
Arsenal looked poised to make a move this season, having added a world-class talent in Alexandre Lacazette and without a dominant favorite apparent in the preseason. But the Gunners have once again struggled to find consistency, losing to Watford and taking beatings from Liverpool and Man City. Leicester City, meanwhile, has dropped back to the middle of the league and no longer seems to be a threat to the contenders.
Tottenham Hotspur has stayed in the mix, with 23 points through 11 matches played thus far, and remains – perhaps – in range of a league title. But as we take a look at the 2017-18 Premier League, it’s the two Manchester clubs that are at the top of the table.
United is still behind, and actually tied with the Spurs with a 23-point total. A recent loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge slowed down the club’s attempt to keep pace with its cross-town rival, and it’s beginning to look as if United will once again come up close. But even a second place finish would represent excellent progress under José Mourinho. And at the top of the tables, Man City is starting to look almost unassailable.
Through 11 matches, City is 10-1-0 for a near-perfect 31 points, and has already beaten some of its top rivals. Star striker Sergio Aguero leads the league in goals scored, and the best team City will play in its next four matches is 10th place Huddersfield. This is a team that’s in excellent form and has a real chance to get through December undefeated.
City’s dominance doesn’t paint a pretty picture for United, but progress looks different for different teams. City has been capable of reaching the top of the league again for a few years and has come up short; United, by contrast, has merely been trying to claw its way back into the general contention picture (not to mention regular Champions League berths). Both clubs appear to be on pace to reach these goals, which means that for the time being, English football belongs to Manchester once more.