Sunday People

London calling but the title face-off will still be a City v Liverpool affair

Assesses the season so far and hands


THE PREMIER LEAGUE always throws up a few good tales.

But who among us expected Tottenham Hotspur – minus Harry Kane – to dominate the early-season headlines?

Most of us were surely looking to Treble-winning Manchester City. Or at last term’s title pretenders Arsenal.

The mess at Manchester United meant they were never likely to get off to a flier – and they haven’t – while Liverpool have been doing what Liverpool do – just a bit more quietly than usual – after their summer plans were wrecked by raiders from Saudi Arabia.


Ange Postecoglo­u has swept across our TV screens like a breath of fresh air and confounded the doomsayers who said life without England’s skipper had left him with an impossible job.

Clear instructio­ns allied to a levelheade­d and somewhat ambitious approach had – until the last couple of weeks – set the north Londoners apart at the top of the pile.

Of course, it may all fall apart after cracks appeared during a chaotic and controvers­ial derby with Chelsea that ended in defeat and the Aussie nursing an injury list that contained the enigmatic James Maddison. Elsewhere, it’s been business as usual at the Etihad.

Goals for Erling Haaland and victories for Pep Guardiola, whose appetite for success remains undiminish­ed.

Where that will lead us is anyone’s guess – Manchester

City remain the benchmark, the team to catch. But the signs are that they won’t have it all their own way.

Until the hiccup at

Kenilworth Road against

Luton Town, Liverpool were winning games in just as impressive a fashion.

While Mikel Arteta (below) and his Arsenal side – with £105million addition Declan

Rice (right) now proving his worth – are clocking up victories with metronomic ease.

Elsewhere, there has been more angst and anguish at

Old Trafford, where Sir

Jim Ratcliffe couldn’t quite complete a takeover – but handed over millions in order to have a say over sporting decisions.

All the best with that one.

The billionair­e only has to look at

Chelsea to see that throwing money at a problem doesn’t always work – although it is better than the alternativ­e of having none. Elsewhere, Newcastle United continue the narrative that the sleeping giant is finally waking as they push for honours on a variety of different fronts.

And Aston Villa’s rebirth under Unai Emery is not slowing down, either. Despite reservatio­ns of Gunners fans, it does seem as if the four-time Europa League winner does know what he’s doing.


At the bottom, it’s the usual suspects – heavily populated by the promoted sides – but also Everton now after their points deduction.

However, this is only an early-season report. It is still weeks before a busy festive period and new transfer window. But one thing is sure – there will be a few more unexpected twists before the silver pot is handed over.


MANAGER: Rob Edwards – lived the dream last season after a nightmare at Watford.

STORY SO FAR: Gutsy displays that have proved it was mad to suggest the Hatters would just be whipping boys. TOP PERFORMER: Carlton Morris – the much-travelled striker has three goals to his credit and he is providing a focal point for Edwards’ side up top.

HOPING FOR: That they keep improving and keep nicking points off those around them. You never know.


MANAGER: Pep Guardiola – still the manager that, barring Jurgen Klopp – everyone wants to be.

STORY SO FAR: Not rested on their laurels after the incredible achievemen­ts of last year.

TOP PERFORMER: Rodri – Erling Haaland might score the goals, but the system revolves around the Spaniard. HOPING FOR: To stay injury-free. If they can, they’ll be on course for lifting yet more pots.


MANAGER: Erik ten Hag – his second Premier League season is proving far more difficult than the first.

STORY SO FAR: Troubled. The potential sale of the club has dragged everyone down – and Ten Hag’s side haven’t been able to lift much of the gloom, either.

TOP PERFORMER: Harry Maguire. Vilified, but has come back and silenced a few critics.

HOPING FOR: Positive benefit from Sir Jim’sinvestmen­t.


Eddie Howe – achieved god-like status on Tyneside for returning the Magpies back to the top table. STORY SO FAR: Looking a handful at St James’ Park in the Premier League. Not so solid in the Champions League. TOP PERFORMER: Sean Longstaff – can be considered unlucky to miss out on an England call.

HOPING FOR: A trophy. Any trophy will do.


MANAGER: Steve Cooper – Welshman somehow making sense of the chaos of Forest’s mad recruitmen­t policy. STORY SO FAR: More change in the dressing room, more upheaval. But more competitiv­e than 12 months ago. TOP PERFORMER: Taiwo Awoniyi – big striker is getting better and is crucial to Forest’s progress.

HOPING FOR: Owner Evangelos Marinakis keeping faith with Cooper.


MANAGER: Paul Heckingbot­tom is experienci­ng a monster reality check.

STORY SO FAR: It has been difficult. But victory over Wolves and a draw at Brighton provide hope.

TOP PERFORMER: Gustavo Hamer – a £15m signing from Coventry City who has adapted well.

HOPING FOR: The steep learning curve to flatten out – and they start picking up points.


MANAGER: Ange Postecoglo­u has gone down a storm in this part of north London.

STORY SO FAR: Harry who?! Tottenham certainly surprised everyone by storming to the top of the earlyseaso­n table.

TOP PERFORMER: James Maddison – made for Spurs – clever and exciting on the ball.

HOPING FOR: Postecoglo­u’s tactics to pay off.


MANAGER: David Moyes – has got the Hammers into their best shape for years.

STORY SO FAR: The club have overcome the loss of Declan Rice and maintained the steady, if unspectacu­lar progress under their boss.

TOP PERFORMER: Jarrod Bowen – set a club record by scoring in the first six away games of the season. HOPING FOR: Never mind Dani Dyer, they need Bowen to stay on fire.


MANAGER: Surprise pick Gary O’neil is doing a good job. STORY SO FAR: Julen Lopetegui’s walkout left Wolves in limbo. O’neil has come up with a clear plan that’s working. TOP PERFORMER: Pedro Neto – Wolves don’t score a lot of goals. The little winger is their best and brightest source of them.

HOPING FOR: To improve their form away from Molineux. For all the plaudits that rained down after beating Manchester City, O’neil’s side then lost at Bramall Lane.

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