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Arsenal return to the top of the Premier League after Sunday's hard-fought win at Chelsea
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Premier League Review: Gunners starring in surprising season

Original article published 13 November 2022

The curtain has come down on the first part of the Premier League season with clubs set for a six-week break due to the Qatar World Cup. 

It has been a fascinating season thus far with plenty of key talking points.

The surprise table-toppers are Arsenal who have lost only one of their 14 matches so far and are five points clear of defending champions Manchester City, with the Citizens going down 2-1 at home to Brentford on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta has turned the Gunners into a side that is very hard to break down and City will face a tough task to retain their crown in the second half of the season.

Newcastle are the best of the rest in third after a brilliant campaign so far with Tottenham fourth. 

Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool are currently languishing outside of the Champions League places.

At the bottom, Wolves, Southampton, and Nottingham Forest occupy the relegation spots with the battle to avoid relegation already looking intense.

Arsenal gunning for an unexpected title

Even though it was widely accepted that Arsenal looked stronger this season thanks to their summer signings, not many would have predicted them to be five points clear at this stage.

The Gunners, who are 9/4 to win the title this season, have been outstanding in every department and appear to have shaken off the defensive frailties that have plagued them over the past decade and a half.

Going forward has never been an issue but a tightening of the defence - aided by new arrival Oleksandr Zinchenko and the return of French centre-back William Saliba - appears to have had a huge impact.

The likes of Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard have been in great form while Gabriel Jesus has been a savvy addition up front from Manchester City.

A two-horse title race looks an inevitability with 4/9 favourites City still in a good position despite Saturday's shock home defeat to Brentford.

Erling Haaland has been by far the signing of the season with the Norwegian forward exploding into life after his £51million transfer from Borussia Dortmund.

He has scored 23 goals in 18 games and he could be the difference between winning the title and not.

Newcastle leading top-four race

Newcastle's 1-0 win over fellow top-four chasers Chelsea could be a hugely significant result as Eddie Howe's men seek a very unlikely Champions League spot.

The Magpies have been completely transformed from Premier League strugglers to dreamers in the space of a year and a mix of some excellent recruitment and coaching has helped them rise to third.

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Sven Botman, Nick Pope, and Matt Targett have been excellent signings but the transformation of Joelinton, Sean Longstaff, and Fabian Schar has been a great example of Howe's coaching ability.

Tottenham are fourth after their 4-3 bonanza against Leeds, with Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool all sat outside the Champions League places.

Erik ten Hag's spell at United has been mixed thus far but there have been promising moments and Alejandro Garnacho looks like a player with a big future after his winner against Fulham on Sunday.

Clearly, Ten Hag needs to find a solution for Cristiano Ronaldo, while maintaining the right defensive mix is also key with Harry Maguire out of form, but the Dutch tactician has displayed signs of being a good coach for the future.

Graham Potter started well at Chelsea but has embarked upon a run of five league games without a win, while Liverpool's season has offered a mix of the brilliant and the bad - beating Manchester City at Anfield but losing to the likes of Nottingham Forest and Leeds.

With Arsenal and City looking like bankers for the top two, and Newcastle joining the party, the most dramatic top-four battle in many years could ensue in 2023. 

Newcastle are 11/8 to get a top-four finish, with Spurs 11/10, Manchester United 5/4, Chelsea 7/2, and Liverpool still 4/7.

Anyone's guess who goes down

Speaking of drama, there is a growing sense that this year's relegation battle will, like last season, go down to the wire as well.

Wolves will have a new manager when they next play after the World Cup as Julen Lopetegui takes over, and his primary task will be to help the team score more goals with the Molineux side having netted just eight times in the season so far as they sit bottom.

Southampton also have a new manager with Nathan Jones in the hotseat after Ralph Hasenhuttl's departure, and they are in big trouble following a 3-1 loss at Liverpool. The Welshman will have his work cut out to steer the young Saints away from trouble.

Nottingham Forest occupy the last relegation spot, though their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace was their second win in four games and the signs are there that the near-two dozen signings are starting to gel.

Everton, West Ham, Leeds, and Bournemouth are all just above the bottom three, and none have shown the consistency needed to suggest they won't be in the mix at the end of the season.

Forest are the current favourites to go down at 4/7, with Bournemouth 4/6, but predictions could change by the week if the second half of the season replicates the first.

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