After six rounds of fixtures, just three points separate Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. Neutrals will be hoping a similarly slender margin is still the only thing between them once March and April come around.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who are currently adrift of City and United having won one game fewer, finished seven points clear of runners-up Tottenham Hotspur last term. The season before that, Leicester City claimed the championship crown by a margin of 10 points, while in 2014/15 champions Chelsea amassed eight more points than second-placed Manchester City.
There has, to summarise, not been a Premier League title race that has gone the distance since the 2013/14 campaign, when City pipped Liverpool to the post on the final day. The English top division likes to model itself on its unpredictability and excitement, but a sustained battle for the prize would be welcome this term after three consecutive processions.
Liverpool, Tottenham and even Arsenal may still retain hopes of finishing on top of the pile, but even at this early stage Chelsea, City and United look to be the leading contenders. Conte’s men got their title defence off to the worst possible start with a 3-2 defeat by Burnley at Stamford Bridge on the opening day, but they have won four and drawn one of their subsequent five outings. A 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City at the weekend was a particularly good result, with summer signing Alvaro Morata netting his first hat-trick in English football.
United, meanwhile, have dropped only two points so far in 2017/18 and were also victorious in their most recent encounter, grinding out a 1-0 win at Southampton. There looks to a fine balance to Jose Mourinho’s side, who possess plenty of quality going forward but have also conceded just two goals up to now.
City’s backline has also been breached on just two occasions, while their return of 21 goals scored in six matches is truly sensational. Pep Guardiola fielded criticism as his side finished third last time out, but they already look to be a far stronger proposition in the Catalan’s second season at the Etihad Stadium.
There is still time for one or more of the challengers to fall away, while another could easily insert themselves into the title picture in the weeks and months to come. Unless you have an affiliation with one of the teams involved, though, a three-way title race that goes down to the wire would be a brilliant thing for the Premier League.