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Arsenal top the Mini League

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

Arsenal comfortably won the Big Six mini-league in 2023-24, finishing seven points ahead of Manchester City.

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 are on the cusp of finishing 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. We’re now approaching the finish line and all but one of this season’s ‘big six’ matches – Tottenham vs Manchester City on Tuesday – have now been played.

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

But while City are in pole position to win an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title, their record against fellow Big Six rivals this year is mixed, with just three wins – two of them over 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 have now done 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 finally up in the European places, while there has been 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).

No other side in the league has taken points from all three title challengers. There are question marks over exactly how much they’ve improved, though, with Chelsea being battered 4-1 away to Liverpool and now 5-0 at Arsenal in the latter half of the season.

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 in the entirety of last season. Spurs have taken four points from Manchester United. They also inflicted Liverpool’s first Premier League defeat of the season and drew with Arsenal and Man City earlier in the campaign.

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. Half of their four league defeats this season have come in North London – away to Tottenham and Arsenal.

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.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to appear for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta?

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: 1.3Chelsea's latest three-goal hero celebrates after beating Manchester United in April 2024.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to score a Premier League hat-trick for Chelsea?

 

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