Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
In The Mixer is FST’s weekly column where we catch up with our team of football betting experts and get their opinion on the hot topic of the week.
The Premier League returns at the weekend after the international break and it is tight at the top, with just four points separating pacesetters Tottenham and Brighton in sixth spot.
Holders Manchester City sit third, two points behind Spurs and Arsenal, but remain the clear favourites to lift the trophy at 8/11 and this week we asked our team of experts who they think will push City the hardest for domestic glory.
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Arsenal still best of the rest
It is hard to look beyond Arsenal as Manchester City’s closest challengers after their win against the reigning champions last weekend.
Mikel Arteta has improved the team with his summer signings and has made an almost flawless start to the season, beating old mentor Pep Guardiola twice and maintaining one of only two unbeaten records in the Premier League.
Spurs have made an impressive start but don’t have the strength in depth to maintain a challenge, while Liverpool have shown some worrying defensive frailties.
I thought Liverpool were the value at the start of the season, but I think Arsenal will pose the biggest challenge to the champions.
The Gunners completely nullified a fantastic Man City side before the international break and there is a feeling that there is more to come from Mikel Arteta’s young and improving squad.
Liverpool have a fantastic forward line, but I don’t see the midfield and defence maintaining a title challenge without additions in January.
Tottenham have started well but I think their away form may hold them back as the season progresses.
I think it will be Arsenal again after they very nearly produced an upset last season. The Gunners look a stronger unit this year after bringing in Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, who has more to offer than he has shown so far.
That said, I’m cautiously optimistic we could have a four-way fight on our hands this year. Liverpool have been re-energised after adding Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister to their midfield and Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs look a threat, but I still think Arsenal can finish second or potentially even lift the trophy.
Revitalised Liverpool ready to rival Man City
Liverpool may have clear issues in defence but they’ve come through an incredibly tricky run of fixtures to put themselves back in the title race after last season’s underwhelming campaign.
In addition to visits to Chelsea and Tottenham, the Reds have already faced three of their fellow top seven sides from last term. To come through that with their only defeat coming in bizarre circumstances at Spurs suggests this side have what it takes to stick close to City until late in the campaign.
The Reds have the added advantage of Jurgen Klopp’s experience of chasing down City. On top of that, they can easily switch focus away from Europe if they get in reach of the title, unlike rivals Arsenal.
I said Liverpool would be Manchester City’s biggest challengers this season at the start of the campaign and I’ll stick with the Reds.
Despite Arsenal’s win at home to Manchester City I think that their attacking issues are concerning.
Their over reliance on Bukayo Saka has seen him run into injury issues and the Gunners may struggle to live up to last season’s efforts.
Liverpool’s midfield is much improved with the addition of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai and they have Mo Salah and Allison, the league’s best players in their respective positions.
Postecoglou has Spurs purring
Life couldn’t have gone much better for Ange Postecoglou since taking charge at Tottenham, with the club unbeaten in eight league games and sitting top of the table, and I think they will push Manchester City the hardest.
Spurs have already flexed their muscles against the bigger teams in the division, defeating Manchester United and Liverpool and also drawing with Arsenal at the Emirates.
With no European football and an early exit from the Carabao Cup, Tottenham will have their eyes on Premier League glory and this is arguably one of their best opportunities to land the title.
Arsenal recruited well in the summer, with the arrival of Declan Rice a huge boost to their titles chances, but so did their North London rivals Tottenham and it may just be Ange Postecoglou’s side who are up there with City come crunch-time in the Spring.
No player has provided more assists in the league than Spurs’ new talisman James Maddison and, providing he, skipper Heung-min Son and midfield dynamo Yves Bissouma can avoid lengthy spells on the sidelines, Spurs will go close.
With no European commitments to worry about, Postecoglou can make the league his priority and I think they may just have the best chance of disrupting the City Dynasty.
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