We’re eight matchdays into the 2023-24 season of the English Premier League, and while we still have the better part of eight months to go before the year reaches its thrilling conclusion — the season is a marathon, not a sprint after all — we’re starting to see the standings take shape.
Whether it’s Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur leaping out to pace the league, Manchester City lagging behind as they look to become the first club in Premier League history to win four consecutive championships or other stalwarts like Chelsea falling off a cliff in comparison to their typical lofty play, this season has been full of surprises.
Here is a look at the best and brightest moments of this season to date, and what to keep an eye on as the year continues.
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Arsenal Knocks Off Man City
I’ll start with one of the most recent games to take place… and no, you can’t chalk this selection up to recency bias. Playing in front of a packed and raucous home crowd at Emirates Stadium, the Gunners knocked off the reigning champs in a thrilling 1-0 match.
It’s one thing to earn a win against one of the best teams in recent memory — if not league history — and yet another to do so in extremely dramatic fashion. That’s what happened on Sunday, October 8, with the two heavyweights playing to a 0-0 deadlock into the 85th minute.
Kicking from just outside the penalty area, Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli booted a shot that deflected off the face of Man City defender Nathan Aké, ricocheting past Ederson, the goalkeeper, in one of the strangest (and most painful) bounces we’ve seen all year.
The Gunners held on for the Full-Time win, snapping a painfully long streak of futility in doing so as they hadn’t defeated Man City since the 2015-16 season. City, on the other hand, lost back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since December of 2018, a testament to the run of consistent success they’ve enjoyed.
To make matters worse for the Sky Blues, the win also vaulted Arsenal past them in the standings to the No. 2 spot.
The two teams have the best and second-best odds of winning it all this season, with Manchester City listed at or around -140 and Arsenal listed at or around +350, depending on what sportsbook you place your bets at. Odds can vary quite a bit between them, and some even have excellent promotions like Free Bets for users in the UK, so be sure to shop around first if you think you have a winning bet so that you know you’re locking in the best possible odds of winning big.
If you weren’t able to catch the opening salvo in a rivalry that looks like it could come down to the wire, fear not: Man City is set to host the other half of the home-and-home series on March 30, a match that is sure to come with high stakes if both clubs are able to continue their hot streaks.
The Best of the Rest
With all due respect to Tottenham — who is enjoying an excellent start, pacing the Premier League with 20 points in eight matches after sputtering down the stretch last year following the resignation of head coach Antonio Conte with two months to go in the season — that’s enough talk about the top teams in the league.
Everybody loves to root for a good underdog story, so let’s take a look at the best of the rest. One club that I think everyone should be keeping an eye on right now is Brighton and Hove Albion. They’re currently amidst their best run in the history of their club, having been in the Premier League since the 2017-2018 campaign: just their second time in the top flight of English football in team history.
They finished a surprising sixth last season, and that’s where they are again this year, sporting a 5-1-2 record eight matches in. While not everyone can have a Cinderella season along the lines of Leicester City’s 2016 championship after facing 5000-to-1 odds to begin the campaign, it’s always fun to see perennial underdogs stick around when they aren’t supposed to.
While they may not be able to throw around the blank checks like a bigger club can, there’s always a possibility of a miracle run happening, and that’s the beautiful thing about sports. No matter who enters the season as a favorite, or who has the best roster on paper, you still have to play the games on your schedule.
At the end of the day, a ten-month-long season can come down to a lucky bounce or two… like the one we saw Martinelli benefit from earlier this month.