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The Title Race: a Story of Two (or Three) Halves

So how will it all end? The chances are Arsenal and Man City will fight it out to the last game of the season. The two teams play each other at the Etihad

emirates stadium arsenal

Arsenal are in with a very real chance of winning their first title since 2003

The 2023 / 2023 season has quite literally been one of two halves, and the title race has followed suit accordingly. Both have been full of drama twists, disappointments (for some) and incredible and surprising highs (for others). Despite fears the World Cup would ruin the domestic scene for the season, the EPL has shown just how resilient it is. This season promises to be one of the best ever, with the battle for top spot looking like it could rival some or all from a glittering bunch.

The Beginning

Back in the first tentative weeks of the season the Premier League odds showed that Manchester City and Liverpool would again go head to head in a battle royale for EPL glory. Chelsea were hopeful of pushing on from their third place finish the season before, with Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United looking like they would be scrapping for that final Champions League place. The latter a slightly unknown quantity under the new ten Hag stewardship.

Of course, all that went out of the window very quickly. Liverpool made their worst start to a season for a decade. Chelsea likewise went backwards rapidly, a sequence of events which saw the end of Tuchel and the arrival of Graham Potter (which is of course an entirely different story on its own). Spurs, continued to do what Spurs have done for as long as anyone can remember.

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United start hardly went to plan. Schooled by Brentford, they looked like a side who had woken from a bad dream but had quickly realised that waking life was no better, worse even.

Manchester City still looked like title winners, though perhaps with one or two chinks in the armour where before there weren’t any. They did of course have a certain Norwegian who was threatening to smash every Premier League goalscoring record.

Eager to step into the vacuum these sides had left were Arsenal. They were fantastic for much of the season up until the World Cup break. If anything they were so good, many people were saying that there was no way they could continue in that form.

The Middle

The World Cup played out, and the domestic scene resumed. Arsenal, despite their fans’ fears carried on as if nothing had changed. Manchester City went through a sticky patch, and Arsenal fans, no matter how pessimistic or realistic, dared to dream about a first title since Wenger. Then they too went through a sticky patch.

Guardiola and City fans licked their lips. They dispatched their main title rivals on their own turf and suddenly it looked like normal service would be resumed. But then Arsenal regrouped, showed a grit many believed they didn’t possess and got themselves back in a position where it was in their own hands.

Elsewhere, Liverpool’s woes continued. Chelsea, if anything got worse, losing to relegation threatened teams almost on a weekly basis, and flailing around desperately for someone who would provide the goals they needed to reignite their season. Spurs continued to be Spurs, in and around fourth spot. Suddenly, there emerged another contender for the top four, even the top two, and whisper it, the title. Manchester United clicked. Marcus Rashford was suddenly the player that all United and England fans had hoped he would progress into three of four years ago.

The End

man city etihad stadium

Could both halves of Manchester have a say in the title race?

So how will it all end? The chances are Arsenal and Manchester City will fight it out to the last game of the season. The two teams play each other at the Etihad, with six games remaining. The title won’t be decided on that day, no matter how the TV companies market the match, but it will certainly put any winner firmly in the box seat.

Just as crucial is how the two teams position themselves going into that game. Arsenal have the smaller squad, and though Nketiah did step up, the imminent return of Jesus will be a huge boost for Arteta and co.

It is likely Manchester United that have left themselves too much to do to chase down two teams, but look like, with the right additions in the summer, they will be ready for a season long fight next time around.

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