What a hotly contested top four this Premier League season is going to see.
The 27th edition of the most competitive football league on the planet has thrown itself into contention of being the best yet.
While we wait and see if this season will have its own spine-tingling “Aguerooo” moment from 2011-12, and though it lacks a fairy-tale story that Leicester delivered in 2015-16, this season may be the most captivating the Premier League has ever seen.
Full of twists and turns, with sub-plots scattered throughout, the 2018-19 Premier League has left fans wanting more every week.
It’s only fitting to begin this argument by discussing the epic title race between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Never before have we seen a contest of such quality as the world-class players of each side withstand the pressure to take three points week in, week out.
In the beginning, Chelsea looked as though they were contenders, as they went undefeated during the first 12 rounds, while Tottenham waited to pounce but eventually dropped off.
With 91 points after 36 matches, Liverpool already have their highest ever Premier League tally, yet they might not even win the title if they win their final two games, propelling them to a whopping 97 points – a total that would see them become champions in all bar City’s 100-point season last time around.
Even if City slip and Liverpool go onto to claim the premiership, they will have still achieved one of the highest point tallies ever seen. It almost seems unfair that only one of these sides will be champions. Up until the end, it will a matter of fine margins.
It’s a season that could be completely different if Riyad Mahrez slotted home his penalty at Anfield or if Mohamed Salah’s strike at the Etihad travelled an extra 11 millimetres before John Stones cleared it off the line.
This week, Liverpool could be on top if it wasn’t for Sergio Aguero’s goal crossing the line by 29.3 millimetres at Burnley.
Some may argue that City winning the title in the final minutes of the 2011-12 season on goal difference tops this season’s race, but the literal millimetres that separate these two sides that have swapped holding the lead 30 times already, make this race all that more intriguing.
However, it isn’t just the title race that makes this season the best ever – the battle for Champions League spots has been just as close and topsy-turvy.
Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United may lack the quality of City and Liverpool, yet they have all produced memorable stories that have contributed to the saga.
Tottenham became the first Premier League side ever to not sign a single player during the summer. It is remarkable they managed to stay in the title race for so long and achieve a Champions League semi-final berth with so little squad depth.
As mentioned earlier, Chelsea began the season in scintillating form but by Christmas, Maurizio Sarri had lost the trust of the Stanford Bridge faithful.
Booed by his own fans, Sarri has been criticised throughout the campaign, none more so than for continually playing N’golo Kante, the best defensive midfielder in the world, out of position.
August 13 2018 marked the first time Arsenal entered the Premier League arena without Arsene Wenger at the helm in 22 years, and although it was a rocky first couple of weeks, the Gunners improved under Unai Emery, going on a 22-unbeaten streak across all competitions from late August to mid-December.
However, as the season wore on, the Arsenal of yesteryear reappeared, losing to lower opposition on a consistent basis. Having lost four of their last five games, Arsenal’s Champions League hopes have seemingly faded away.
For the first half of the season, the Theatre of Dreams became the Theatre of Nightmares, as Manchester United reeled in sixth place, 11 points behind fourth.
However, after defeat to Liverpool on December 16, Jose Mourinho was sent packing and United’s 1999 Champions League final hero, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, was appointed caretaker manager.
A feel-good factor suddenly appeared at Old Trafford, along with the tagline ‘Ole’s at the wheel’. Solskjær picked up 25 points in his first nine games in charge, a record for a new manager, thrusting United back into the top four – an achievement Mourinho stated in December would require a “miracle”.
With just two weeks to go, Mourinho could be proved correct, as a dip in form and the re-emergence of a poor attitude among a number of players leaves United in sixth once again.
The unpredictable nature of Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and United sets up a tantalising last couple weeks.
Yet it would be rude not to reflect on the deaths of Emiliano Sala and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, which led to outpourings of grief and despair, but also brought the English football community together.
As streams of flowers grew outside both the King Power and Cardiff City stadium served as a memorial created by fans, the players paid their own tributes on the pitch.
Leicester’s Demarai Grey scored one of the most emotional goals in the competition’s history a week after Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s death, while Cardiff’s 2-0 win against Bournemouth – the club’s first match at home after Sala’s disappearance – was a day manager Neil Warnock said he would “never forget”.
These two moments of intense passion in times of pain added to the richness and uniqueness of this season.
The 2018-19 Premier League season will be forged in people’s memories for decades to come but with two weeks to go there is so much to be decided.
Will Mat Ryan deny City between the sticks and allow Liverpool to win the league?
Will Wolves continue their giant-killing run against Liverpool on the final day to secure seventh and gift Pep Guardiola his second consecutive title?
We will have to wait and see but until then here’s to the greatest Premier League season ever.