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Could this be the most open title race ever?

15 Oct 2021
PL_2122_TOPSIX

With the top six more tightly bunched at this stage than ever we look at who can break away

With so little to choose between the six teams at the top so far this season, could the title race prove to be the most exciting in Premier League history?

The top six teams are separated by just two points, the smallest gap ever after seven rounds of Premier League matches.

The top six

Pos Team Pl GD Pts
1 CHE 9 +20 22
2 LIV 9 +21 21
3 MCI 9 +16 20
4 WHU 9 +6 17
5 BHA 9 0 15
6 TOT 9 -4 15
View Full Table

Chelsea look well placed to build on their one-point lead in the table, given they face the bottom three clubs over the next four Matchweeks. 

Below them Liverpool are the only unbeaten side remaining in the competition, but face a tougher schedule after the international break.

Three of their next four matches are against top-half teams in Manchester United, Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United.

Manchester City are lurking ominously in third, a point further back, having already had arguably the toughest set of matches so far. The champions' away matches have been at Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool, winning four of their 14 points in those contests.

Three of their next five matches are at the Etihad Stadium, against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Everton.

The upcoming fixtures for Man Utd are sure to provide a stern examination of their title credentials.

They host Liverpool and Man City over the next six Matchweeks, while there are also trips to Leicester City, Spurs and Chelsea.

CC

The remaining places in the top six are taken up by two of the surprise packages so far this season.

Everton boast a 100 per cent record at Goodison Park, where three of their next four matches take place, versus West Ham, Watford and Spurs.

As for Brighton, they face Man City and Liverpool over the next month, but also play in that period the current bottom two sides, Norwich City and Newcastle United.

This could allow the Seagulls to build on their best start to a Premier League season.

Top six's next four matches
Club MW8 MW9 MW10 MW11
CHE BRE (A) NOR (H) NEW (A) BUR (H)
LIV WAT (A) MUN (A) BHA (H) WHU (A)
MCI BUR (H) BHA (A) CRY (H) MUN (A)
MUN LEI (A) LIV (H) TOT (A) MCI (H)
EVE WHU (H) WAT (H) WOL (A) TOT (H)
BHA NOR (A) MCI (H) LIV (A) NEW (H)
History to be made?

History suggests that it is unlikely the gap between the top six will remain this close. 

The fewest points covering the top six at the end of a Premier League season was in 1996/97, when they were separated by 16 points.

But with so many teams in contention, it raises the chances that the title race will go into the final day of the season on 22 May. This has happened on eight occasions in the past.

But there has never been an instance of three teams being able to be crowned champions heading into the final Matchweek, although the three-way fight has lasted until the penultimate round of matches on three occasions.

The most recent came in 2013/14, when Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea could have won it with two matches remaining, before City clinched it.

In 2007/08, Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal were vying for the Premier League Trophy in Matchweek 37, while the same three teams were in contention in 1998/99.

Each time Man Utd emerged triumphant and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that history will repeat itself in 2021/22.

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