Lovers of the beautiful game have been treated to three months of unadulterated Premier League action in all its glory and grandeur.
In stark contrast to last season, the 2016/17 campaign has had no outright runaway winner. In fact of all the teams in the top five, three of them are level on points while the last two aren’t far apart either.
As such, here are five things we’ve learnt from the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season.
Toughest campaign yet
Champions Leicester City may be crestfallen with no hopes of retaining the title this season, but whoever is to clinch it won’t have it easy either.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are drawn level on 23 points apiece, albeit with Pep Guardiola’s charges at the helm due to a superior goal difference.
Chelsea are a point adrift of Liverpool, as Tottenham compete the top five with 20 points.
The most telling part however is that all the five teams currently in the title chase have been terribly exposed, falling perilously at the hands of rival sides.
This season might quite rightly be as close as the 2011/12 campaign, stretching up to the very last second of Match Day 38.
Sunderland the next Villa
For a club that has won the European cup, Aston Villa registered one of the poorest runs since the inception of the Premier League.
It’s hard to imagine that a team would endeavor to shatter that record, even if they tried.
Well, if Sunderland’s recent results are anything to go by, then David Moyes seems to be walking a highwire without a safety net.
Twelve months to the day Aston Villa had 4 points after ten games, two points more than what Sunderland have today.
Although the Black Cats survived by a whisker last season largely due to Big Sam’s ability to grind out results, David Moyes just doesn’t have the skin to put up with a relegation struggle.
And just like Villa, Sunderland are on a downward spiral right back to the second tier of English football.
End of banter era?
Arsenal and Liverpool- among the most successful teams in the English game- have been everyone’s laughing stock for the vast majority of the second millennium- the former for failing to win the Premier League in 12 years while the latter for failing to win it at all.
Their recent form however speaks volumes about their title aspirations, which could just bring an end to the banter era.
United a complete mess
As Arsenal and Liverpool look to bring an end to their banter era, Manchester United might just be on fine course to beginning theirs.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, United have twice missed out on Champions League qualification despite spending a staggering £500 million in transfers.
Currently eighth on the log even after making macabre signings, the dark clouds hovering at Old Trafford won’t be clearing any time soon.
Poor run by defending Champions continues
When Manchester United last won the Premier League three years ago, they registered the worst title defense in history.
When Chelsea won the title under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship in 2015, they shattered United’s record to register the worst title defense in the modern era, finishing tenth on the standings.
Leicester City- eleventh on the table- look to be going down the same path, but it is more about the competitiveness of other teams rather than their own impuissance.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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