After just 11 games of the season the 'big six' clubs have found their way to the top of the table, and the attention is now already turning to who will make the top four and which two will miss out. Ben McAleer takes a closer look...
"Only Watford (21) have conceded more goals than Liverpool (17) of all teams in the top half of the table this season, but when their attack is on song, they're capable of blowing away any team. "
The final international break of the year is drawing to a close and with it comes arguably the most important period of the Premier League season. The four months between mid-November and the next international break in March sets the standard for the coming matches, which includes the hectic festive period.
After 11 games, the Premier League table is starting to take shape and some feel the current top-4 will finish as it is come May.
Impossible to back City but United look more attractive
Manchester City lead the way and sit a whopping 12 points above Liverpool in fifth and are favourites to lift the title next year at [1.22], let alone secure a Champions League spot.
City are unbackable at [1.01] on the Exchange to secure a Top 4 Finish, so there is better value elsewhere, even if it is by crossing the Manchester divide, with United looking strong contenders to secure a Champions League berth.
Manchester United were one of the favourites for the title last year, only to labour to a sixth-placed finish as Jose Mourinho focused his attention on the Europa League rather than strive to secure a place in Europe's elite club competition via the league. Following a summer of heavy investment, spending big to secure the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, United are primed to make an assault on the Champions League places.
They've conceded fewer goals (5) than any other Premier League team this season and have picked up 23 points of 33 points available. They are available to back at [1.3], which while not the most profitable of odds, is certainly more appealing than City. The only downside is the lingering doubts of Mourinho's future at Old Trafford. The Portuguese boss has been heavily linked with a United exit, with PSG supposedly keeping tabs on the 54-year-old and that could impact the club's form in the pursuit of a Champions League finish.
Solid Spurs can concentrate on Premier League in coming weeks
Tottenham are level on points with United in the Premier League but can be backed at slightly better odds, with a top-4 finish available at [1.34]. Spurs look to be finding their feet at Wembley after an indifferent start to the season at the national stadium. Their away form has also been strong, with a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford the only blip on the record.
Following a 3-1 win over Real Madrid, Mauricio Pochettino's side have secured a spot in the next round of the Champions League and they can instead focus their attention of maintaining their good league form.
The north London side have also performed well in a testing run of fixtures that culminates with a trip to Arsenal on Saturday. After that, they have a relatively easy set of matches before their visit to Manchester City in mid-December. If you wish to back Spurs for a top-4 finish, then the advice is to do it now as those odds will shorten if they win at Arsenal on Saturday before that 'easier' looking stretch of fixtures.
Kind upcoming fixtures for Blues offset by big European games
On the back of a 1-0 win over United before the international break, Chelsea make up the current top-4. They fell to defeat before and after the previous domestic hiatus, but have returned to winning ways in the Premier League, winning their last three.
What's more is between now and January, they face just one of last season's top-6, that coming in a trip to Liverpool later this month. Such a favourable run of games means odds of [1.54] could be tempting for punters.
That being said, they have struggled in the Champions League this season and the added pressure in their quest to navigate their group may see their league form suffer. Antonio Conte's side have, however, picked up seven points of a possible 12 in their four league games following a Champions League, including victory in their last two, suggesting they are adjusting accordingly to the additional matches that came with their return to European action.
Liverpool look a better bet than the Gunners
Chelsea sit just three points above Liverpool and Arsenal, with the Blues' meeting with the former expected to provide another twist in the race for a top-4 finish.
The Reds were boosted by the return of Sadio Mane, with the Senegalese forward influential in the 4-1 win at West Ham, though news of another hamstring injury picked up on international duty won't be music to Jurgen Klopp's ears.
The Reds' defence still requires improvement to ensure a second successive top-4 finish, however. Only Watford (21) have conceded more goals than Liverpool (17) of all teams in the top half of the table this season, but when their attack is on song, they're capable of blowing away any team. At [2.1] to back, they may attract some interest.
Rounding off the top-6 is Arsenal, who are level on points with Liverpool. The Gunners, though, face Spurs, Manchester United and Klopp's men before the year is out. Even if they welcome the trio to the Emirates, where they have won all five league matches this season, all three teams will pose a credible threat to their chances of a return to the Champions League.
With lingering doubts of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil's futures at the club and the team struggling, it's for this reason they are the outside favourites of the current top-6 to secure a Champions League finish, being available to back at [3.2].