Sportsmail looks at where England’s so-called ‘Big Six’ clubs have been going wrong so far this season and what they need to do to get their title race spot back…
LIVERPOOL – LIGHT AT THE BACK
Out of all the ‘Big Six’ sides, Jurgen Klopp’s champions have started the better and sit joint-top of the table. But it has still been a far-from-convincing start by the Reds, particularly from a defensive standpoint.
No club in the league has conceded more goals than Liverpool so far this season, who have shipped 14 goals which is the same as bottom club Fulham.
Klopp’s side have kept just one clean sheet in the league so far, as they continue to feel the impact of losing Virgil van Dijk to a potentially season-ending ankle ligament injury.
Joel Matip’s additional injury woes mean Liverpool are incredibly light at the back, as Klopp’s decision not to sign a new centre-back over the summer comes into question.
CHELSEA – DODGY DEFENCE
It was a summer of great promise at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard overhauled his squad with £253million-worth of new blood – but the Blues’ campaign has not gone to plan so far. Chelsea’s dodgy defence continues to let down their new all-star attack.
After a year in the job, Lampard still can’t work out his best back line combination. One area that Lampard appears to have fixed, however, is the goalkeeping dilemma as new £20million man Edouard Mendy was the difference between a draw and a defeat in the goalless showing at Manchester United this weekend.
Both Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have shown glimpses of potential but have gone missing in the big games.
There is plenty to come from Chelsea – the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are coming back from injury – but time is running out for Lampard to justify his summer spree.
MANCHESTER CITY – INJURY STRUGGLES
While many will point at Manchester City and say ‘they’ve only lost one game’, it’s bizarre to think that Pep Guardiola has won just two out of his opening five matches. It is also City’s worst start to a league season under their iconic manager.
Though the club have been let down by a considerably long injury list so far this campaign, which is why bookmakers are still placing them as Premier League title favourites.
Defensive midfielder Rodri is still failing to live up to the hype as Fernandinho’s long-term successor.
With Garcia refusing to extend his contract at the club, Nathan Ake still getting used to life at the Etihad and Mendy being frequently injured, there’s no real long-term defensive plan at City.
MANCHESTER UNITED – CLUB CULTURE CHAOS
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has dropped points three times in their first five games – all of them at home.
The Red Devils’ transfer window business was rather sporadic. The club splashed out £40million on Donny van de Beek and signed Edinson Cavani and left-back Alex Telles from Porto.
In and amongst all that questionable spending came the off-field dramas which have raised concerns about the squad’s current culture.
Captain Harry Maguire’s has had a sloppy start to the season. If the Norwegian boss can get goals from new man Cavani or even reignite Greenwood, Martial and Marcus Rashford front three from last season, then United may have a chance to pull themselves back into the fold.
ARSENAL – CREATIVE ISSUES
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners started the season brightly with three wins from their first four games and looked to be heading in the right direction.
But back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Leicester in which the north Londoners failed to find the net have raised concerns about Arsenal’s ability to create chances from open play scenarios.
Bukayo Saka is a bright spark in midfield and Thomas Partey can create some chances from deep, but one option is still raw while the other is still finding his feet following his £45million move.
And as always with Arsenal, there are major question marks about their defensive performances.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR – STILL MENTALLY WEAK
Spurs’ 3-3 draw with West Ham summed up the last 15 years for the north London side. No matter how impressive Tottenham look going forward, there will always be that mentally weak side to their game to creep up on them.
Manager Jose Mourinho has tried to fixed that problem by signing players who have lifted titles at their former clubs.
Figures such as Joe Hart, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Gareth Bale and even Gedson Fernandes all won league trophies before arriving at White Hart Lane as Mourinho looks to add experience to the largely trophyless group consisting of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min.
But Spurs have still shown a tendency to fall at the final hurdle this season. There are some reasons to be positive for Mourinho’s men. Son and Kane are forming a dynamic partnership at the top end of the pitch, while the arrival of Bale has created a feel-good atmosphere at the club.
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