Arsenal top the Mini League

The final Premier League ‘big six’ head-to-head table of 2023-24: Arsenal miles clear of Man City…

While Arsenal can be disappointed they finished runners-up in the Premier League title race, they can be immensely proud of their record against the best sides, remaining unbeaten with comfortably the best record in the head-to-head mini-league against fellow ‘big six’ sides Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.

There’s some debate over whether the concept of the ‘big six’ is relevant in the Premier League in 2024 following Newcastle United’s takeover, while Aston Villa finished in the top four at the expense of some of the traditional powerhouses this season.

Still, the fact remains that the same six clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea – have tended to be the only clubs that have finished in the top four, while being responsible for six of the top seven wage bills and comfortably the most-expensively assembled squads in terms of transfer fees.

And it’s often the much-hyped meetings between these top clubs that can make or break their seasons, although it hasn’t quite proven so this season, with Manchester City’s superior record against sides lower down the table proving decisive in them retaining their Premier League crown

Last season Man City had the best record in ‘big six’ clashes. They did the double over runners-up Arsenal, which proved important in ending the season five points clear at the top of the table.

But while City have won an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title, their record against fellow Big Six rivals this year has been mixed mixed, with just four wins – two of them over underperforming city rivals Manchester United – from those 10 outings. Elsewhere they’ve registered score draws against Liverpool and Chelsea (home and away) as well as Tottenham at home.

Arsenal’s title charge faltered with defeats to Fulham, West Ham and Aston Villa (home and away) but they’ve tended to show up on the big occasion and have completed a sensational unbeaten record ‘big six’ clashes in 2023-24, with victories over all of them.

Mikel Arteta’s men did the double over Manchester United, having ground out a 1-0 away win – their first in front of fans at Old Trafford since 2006.

The Gunners’ 5-0 mauling over Chelsea last month is their best-ever result against their London rivals. Days later they followed that up with victory away in the North London Derby, racing to a three-goal lead before withstanding a late Spurs fightback to win 3-2.

Mauricio Pochettino has taken time to turn Chelsea’s form around. The Blues are ended up in the European places, while there was encouragement to be found in some of their performances in the big games – particularly with their madcap victories over Tottenham and Manchester United, spirited displays in draws against Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City (twice).

Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham have also been impressive in the big games this season, having taken more points against big six opposition than they mustered last season.

Liverpool were also poor in the big matches this season, with their only two wins against ‘big six’ opposition coming against out-of-form Chelsea and Tottenham sides.

Manchester United endured woes throughout the season. They produced a confident and solid display to beat Chelsea earlier in the season, but went on to lose 4-3 at Stamford Bridge in farcical fashion, and have otherwise been unconvincing as they’ve gone winless against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City and Arsenal (all home and away).

Here’s how the ‘big six’ head-to-head table stacked up in 2023-24. We’ve ordered them in terms of points per game, with goal difference used if they’re level.

1. Arsenal

Played: 10
Won: 6
Drawn: 4
Lost: 0

Goals for: 21
Goals against: 9
Goal difference: +12

Points: 22

Points per game: 2.2

Arteta has transformed Arsenal into title contenders.

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2. Manchester City

Played: 10
Won: 3
Drawn: 6
Lost: 1

Goals for: 18
Goals against: 12
Goal difference: +6

Points: 15

Points per game: 1.5

3. Chelsea

Played: 10
Won: 3
Drawn: 4
Lost: 3

Goals for: 19
Goals against: 22
Goal difference: -3

Points: 13

Points per game: 1.3

Chelsea's latest three-goal hero celebrates after beating Manchester United in April 2024.

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4. Liverpool

Played: 10
Won: 2
Drawn: 6
Lost: 2

Goals for: 16
Goals against: 14
Goal difference: +2

Points: 12

Points per game: 1.2

5. Tottenham

Played: 10
Won: 2
Drawn: 3
Lost: 5

Goals for: 16
Goals against: 23
Goal difference: -7

Points: 9

Points per game: 0.9

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6. Manchester United

Played: 10
Won: 1
Drawn: 3
Lost: 6

Goals for: 11
Goals against: 21
Goal difference: -10

Points: 6

Points per game: 0.6