Més Que Un Column

If you haven’t taken some time over the weekend to look at the Premier League and La Liga tables, I’d advise you to do so now. Strap yourself in, a fair few numbers coming your way.

Bournemouth are in sixth and are on course for 76 points if they keep their current form up, a total that would’ve gotten them into the Champions League last season. It also would’ve gotten them into the Champions League the season before last, and the season before that one, and the season before that, and the seas…

In fact, a total of 76 points would’ve seen little old Bournemouth in the top four 25 out of the last 26 seasons.

Yet no one’s talking about them. Ask the average Premier League fan who’s the best of the rest with regards to the table at the moment, and they’ll probably hazard a guess at Wolves, Watford or Everton.

I’m not here to have a go at the lack of media coverage behind Bournemouth’s flying start, I couldn’t care less, to be honest. They’re a bit smarmy anyway, aren’t they? Regardless, there’s a justified reason behind it all. There’s a new standard in this league. 20 points after 10 games just doesn’t mean that much in the current climate.

It will get you sixth place, but that’s about it.

Arsenal. It was meant to be the dreaded ‘transition season,’ filled with Thursday evening trips to Moldova. They were meant to have a poor start, replicate last season’s form in the league before one or two big wins in April to send a statement out that they won’t be messing around next campaign. Yet, they’re just coming off an eleven-game winning streak, and are on course to get 83 points, despite losing both their opening games.

Chelsea. It was meant to be all a bit messy, all a bit ‘typical Chelsea.’ A squad that wasn’t used to playing Thursday-Sunday in Europe’s most far-flung locations east of Kazakhstan, and a manager who had never experienced the almost unexplainable difficulty of Watford away, or Sean Dyche’s men being allowed to kick lumps out of you at Turf Moor on a Monday night.

On Thursday it’ll be November. Yet Chelsea will still be unbeaten in the league and will still have a 100% record in Europe.

Manchester City. There was meant to be a small drop-off at least. Surely they couldn’t go at the same pace as last year. No. Almost perfect, again.

Liverpool. It was meant to be like this, the media thought pre-season, but they’ve only played well about once. And yet they sit joint top of the league. If they had actually clicked from game one, they might well be on 30 points from 30.

Even Tottenham, without a ground and without any signings, are still going at better than two points a game.

If every side in the current top five got the same points per game throughout the season as they have done so far, the table would look like this come May.

Man City – 99 points

Liverpool – 99 points

Chelsea – 91 points

Arsenal – 83 points

Tottenham – 80 points

Just look at that, take it in. In 2005, Everton got into the top four on 61 points. You can fuck that off right now, can’t you?

Leicester won the league on 81 points. Imagine. Just imagine.

Let’s not act like none of the big sides haven’t played each other either. Liverpool have gone to Wembley and Stamford Bridge. Arsenal faced City and Chelsea back in August. Last night saw Spurs and Guardiola’s men clash, last week, Chelsea hosted United and earlier this month, Man City and the Reds took points off one another.

Let’s also not act like it’s the first of September. On Thursday it will be November. November I say.

Yet the pace is unbearable, impossible to live with if you’re someone like Man United, just trying to get back into the top four conversation, never mind challenge for the title.

It does pose the question: Should we be concerned about the two-tier league that this is turning into?

Ok, the likes of Bournemouth and Watford are flying as already mentioned, but the ease to which the big boys are putting away the bottom half of the table surely has to become a worry at some stage.

Neil Warnock said Liverpool were ‘impossible to beat’ prior to his side’s Anfield clash last Saturday. The Reds looked dire for large periods, and still won 4-1.

Man City host Southampton next weekend. The Saints are 25/1 to win in a two-horse race, and 9/1 to even knick a draw. If you offered Mark Hughes a two-nil loss right now, he’d take it.

It is taking the fun out of it, and not just for the neutral. If Leroy Sane nets one inside three minutes on Sunday, why would you bother watching the rest? You know the outcome already, it’s simply a question of whether it finishes 4-0 or 5-0.

In 2013/14, Man City won the league. By mid November, they had already lost four matches. City might well win the league again this season, but there’s about the same chance of them losing four games all season as there is an Everton fan making a valid argument on Twitter.

One of those losses was against Chelsea, fair enough, but the other three? Away trips to Sunderland, Villa and Cardiff. Just imagine. Imagine the crisis we’d have on our hands if City had already lost three games this season, and then slipped up against Southampton next weekend to make it four. Imagine the flames, the meltdowns, the ensuing apocalypse that would engulf Manchester. Guardiola would never get a job again. If only.

For years, defiant believers who rightfully thought that the Premier League was the most entertaining division in the world, accused La Liga of being boring, predictable, and full of six-one drubbings to Barcelona and Real Madrid. How ironic that in the season when the Spanish league has become everything that England’s top division once was, the Premier League has become everything it once mocked it’s Mediterranean counterpart for being.

With ten games played in Spain, Barcelona have an identical record to Tottenham, and yet they sit top. Only three points separate them from fifth. The all-conquering Real Madrid are 9th, Valencia 14th and Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone.

Gone are the days when teams are going to the Nou Camp or the Bernabeu already beaten. Here are the days when teams are going to the Etihad and Anfield already beaten.

It all comes in phases, a bit like different countries’ clubs looking good in Europe, everything levels itself out in the end. Every countries’ time comes eventually, whether it be the time to sail a peak or survive a trough. But for the next few years, it’s hard not to see 90% of the big boys’ games becoming more and more predicatable.

Yes, it does give more credibility to the quality at the top end of the league, a league where we could even see two teams hit 95 points, for instance. But what are we really in it for?

On a weekend of tragedy in Leicester, we should be reminded of their story. Football is as much about David as it is Goliath.

All the best.