It’s early days; as they say, but so far there is one thing in common the three teams that sit top of the Premier League table have in common…
Liverpool have had an exceptional start to the campaign under Brendan Rodgers – the Reds remain uneaten in four games, taking ten points in total following their 2-2 draw with Rodgers’ former club Swansea at the Liberty on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are enjoying their own three-game unbeaten run under the league’s longest serving manager Arsene Wenger, since their unsettling opening day defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Across North London and Tottenham have recovered well from their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the North London derby. Andre Villas-Boas’ new-look Spurs have taken 9 points from four games, winning three so far this term.
What do they have in common? They are the three teams of the potential six top clubs competing for the title that have kept stability in terms of their management personnel. Rodgers and Villas-Boas are both embarking on their sophomoric seasons with Liverpool and Tottenham, respectively and Wenger has upheld his position at Arsenal for 16 years.
Elsewhere, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have so far struggled to find consistency under new bosses David Moyes, Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho, respectively. Yes, it’s early days and, yes, these things take time but that is where Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs can capitalize on their title rivals this term.
Consistency is the key to any title – consistently winning games and consistently performing well. Manchester United didn’t always outplay their opponents last term but they took the title in dramatic fashion because they consistently took points off everyone. Tottenham were one of only five teams to beat the eventual English champions last term and no team beat them home and away.
They won 28 games from 38, taking 89 points in total – that’s consistency. They went on three unbeaten runs of four games, two unbeaten runs of five games, and one unbeaten run of seven games.
That’s consistency and a major factor in consistency is continuity – Sir Alex Ferguson had been at Old Trafford for 26 years and of the squad that took the title last term, no less than 14 players had been at the club for 5 years or more. Keeping continuity is a major part of success.
Chelsea, for example, have had 10 managers in the same number of years since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003 and in that period they’ve won three league title but, crucially, they haven’t won the Premier League since 200/10.
Manchester City have won the title once since 1968 and they opted to sack Robert Mancini after his four years in charge at Etihad, despite the club’s title in 2011/12 under him.
Liverpool have seen a similar fate in recent years – their most successful period of late was under Rafael Benitez with whom they won the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup the following year.
Under new leadership from Rodgers, the owner John W Henry is keen to allow the (relatively) young boss the faith, patience and time to bring the club back to their glory days and, looking at his astute work in the transfer market this summer and in January, you’d have to conclude that he is on his way to doing just that – Liverpool couldn’t have asked for a better start to the campaign.
Villas-Boas is attempted a similar feat at White Hart Lane – he wasn’t afforded the luxury of time at Stamford Bridge but it’s Spurs’ gain and Chelsea’s loss as he is another young manager who wants to prove himself and build for the future at Tottenham – the Portuguese coach also made a number of fantastic signings this summer.
Meanwhile, Arsenal haven’t had much to celebrate in the last 8 years but the signing of Mesut Ozil has completely lifted the mood at the club and, having kept their key players this summer (in direct contrast to the previous eight summers, incidentally) the Gunners are looking to return to their former glory days.
So far so good, you might say – Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham sit pretty at the top of the table after four games played and looking at the fixture lists, you’d have to expect them to continue to pick up points at home and on the road.
Liverpool face Southampton, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Brom in the next month or so. Arsenal play Stoke, Swansea, West Brom, Norwich and Crystal Palace before they meet Liverpool in November. Tottenham play Cardiff, Chelsea, West Ham, Aston Villa and Hull.
There are no easy games in this league and there are upsets week in week out but the consistency and continuity that has been fostered by keeping their top managers at the clubs have undoubtedly given them a head start over their rivals – whether they keep the pace and the faith over the course of 38 games if down to them.
image: © edwin11