Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal’s pursuit of riches could usher in a new swashbuckling era of attacking football never seen before in the Premier League.
The team that runs together, wins together.
It is no surprise to learn that the sides that have covered the most distance in the Premier League this season are among the most alluring.
Jurgen Klopp’s league-leading, high-pressing Liverpool lot have covered 1282.4km, the most out of the 20 teams, while third-placed Manchester City are third on 1265.4km.
Collectively, the hard yards convert into prized real estate.
Chelsea in second spot are seventh with 1222.8km and fourth-placed Arsenal are ninth on 1219km.
Of course, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Covering distance does not always translate into desire when it comes to accumulating wins.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal perhaps need to run less because they are always so comfortable on the ball. Only City and Liverpool have enjoyed marginally more possession.
Take care of the ball, and you tend to take care of the opposition.
City and Liverpool are instructed to press high up the pitch as much as possible to regain possession at the earliest opportunity.
Pep Guardolia’s time-honoured devotion to ball retention at Barcelona and Bayern Munich has quickly seeped into his new project at City.
Likewise, Liverpool are benefiting handsomely from Klopp’s vision of “gegenpressing” parachuted in from Borussia Dortmund, where he honed his ideals surrounding quick transitions.
Getting the press right is such a difficult ask, but City and Liverpool have managed to combine winning the ball with wreaking havoc, and then hitting through sides like a wrecking ball.
A bit like Chelsea last weekend. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have been given a shiny new makeover buoyed by the Premier League’s premier midfielder N’Golo Kante, who boasts a pass accuracy of 90.53 per cent and 34 interceptions.
He has been an astonishing purchase from Leicester City at around £32m.
Chelsea’s 5-0 walloping of Everton was a joy to behold with the visiting coach Ronald Koeman claiming he has never seen a team playing 3-4-3 with such purpose. Chelsea are going places under Conte as the risible remnants of Mourinho’s second coming are purged.
If these teams are starting like they mean to go on, it seems that Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have sacrificed the art of defending to focus on scoring goals. But this should not be viewed as a lack of preparation.
They just prefer to do their defending as part of the press where the chances of scoring are higher because you are invariably squeezing the opposition as much as possible. High risk is also high enjoyment for fans.
Liverpool’s 6-1 gutting of Watford was fabulously bewitching, and increased their goal haul to 30 for the season. That’s double Tottenham (15) and nearly double what Manchester United (16) have managed from their first 11 games.
Chelsea have helped themselves to 26, Manchester City 25 and Arsenal 24 with only two points splitting the top four before the year’s final international break.
It is refreshing to witness. There is little doubt that the lead quartet are throwing up a brand of football that is exciting, attractive and is based on a voracious appetite to entertain.
In Guardiola, Klopp and Conte, the Premier League seems to have ushered in a new era where the game’s finest coaches work in the world’s richest league. And profess the need for width and directness in the pursuit of excellence.
If you’ve got it, why not flaunt it. While it is difficult to square the circle that signing off on an £10.4bn television contract for three years worth of broadcast rights will lead to the palace of wisdom, the league’s main protagonists and managers are giving value for money in an vastly overpriced product.
Since the inception of the Premier League back in 1992, it is difficult to remember a more exciting time when England’s most protruding teams were so cavalier.
Survival of the fitness also brings a flourishing finesse.
These are swashbuckling times for the national game when caution is thrown to the wind for the greater good.