For as long as there has been a Premier League, there has seemingly been an apparent “Big Four.” This “Big Four” are responsible for winning 18 of the 19 Premier League campaigns.
The anomaly is Blackburn Rovers; having won the 94/95 title, only three teams have won the Premier League since: Chelsea, Arsenal and most frequently and recentlyManchester United. Liverpool are the fourth component of this alleged quartet and the name is arguably justified: until now.
Dominating the Champions League spots for 16 of the 19 years since the founding of the Premier League has justified the name and its grievance with the rest of the Premier League falls in the increased revenue the top four teams earn by their reward of Champions League entry. As the top four remained consistent year upon year, it became more of an issue that the gap would not close; the top four would get more money and therefore continuously improve and further the gap, pulling away from the rest of the pack for good.
But no; when Everton finished 4th in 2005 and thus qualified for the Champions League qualifiers, it looked to be a once-off and this was emphasized when, for the next 4 years, no other team managed to break the “Big Four.” However, the past two seasons have bucked the trend, held a finger up to tradition and started to throw punches back at the big boys and to great effect.
Harry Redknapp guided Tottenham to a Champions League spot of fourth in 09/10 and the following season Manchester City went one better and finished 3rd. It was, however, at the expense of Tottenham, who finished 5th.
The Big Four is dead.
Some may naturally agree with the above statement and nod to themselves thinking, yes it is no longer the Big Four, it is a Big Two who will dominate the Premier league for years to come. Well, not quite.
While you could make a case for the two teams of Manchester to possess the Premier League trophy for the next 5 or so years, it would tempt fate and most of all, it would be slightly premature. Last season was the first time the top three was broken since 03/04, when Ranieriguided Chelsea to a 2nd place finish having gone all season unbeaten and setting a club record for the least goals conceded and most points accumulated, let alone someone outside the Top Four winning the Premier League. If Manchester City go the distance, they’d be the first team outside of the Big Four to win it since Blackburn.
The Big Four is dead.
Seven teams could well finish in the Top Four this season, if you ask me. Looking at the current Premier League table a case could be made for all teams from Arsenal up. As it stands, 3 of the Big Four aren’t even in the Big Four.
Newcastle continue to impress; having started the Premier League in a rich vein of form, they’ve continued to last the pace to the third-way through mark. Last week’s lost to Manchester City was their first of the season and City now remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League.
Their stellar start has threatened to add another anomaly to the Big Four dominance and the more frequently these anomalies occur, the less valid calling them anomalies become. As it stands, after Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle have the best Premier League form; they are both on a run of 16 games that only includes one loss. Ironically, they’ve only dropped points to Manchester City and drew to each other.