IT is 30 years since we were first told that “anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League“.
Now, finally, that old cliche might finally be about to become reality.
Champions League qualification was also regarded as a foregone conclusion solely reserved for the remaining members of the self-appointed ‘Big Six’ to sort out between themselves.
But three games into the new campaign we are being forced to think again by a clutch of ambitious clubs no longer prepared to accept their designated role of mid-table cannon fodder.
Even the newly-promoted teams are aiming to disprove the notion that relegation is inevitable.
Not since the opening day of the 1992-93 season has a top-flight campaign kicked-off with such an unexpected series of results.
Fast forward three decades and we’ve already seen Brentford hammering United, Liverpool drawing with Fulham and Crystal Palace and Chelsea losing heavily at Leeds.
Even Manchester City were forced to pull out all the stops to salvage a 3-3 draw at upwardly-mobile Newcastle.
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And while it is highly unlikely that Leeds, Brighton and Fulham will finish in their current lofty positions, at least they are giving the established elite serious food for thought.
The table is meaningless after three games and it’s probably only a matter of time before Liverpool, Chelsea and United get their acts together.
But they have already been served notice that they will need to be at it for every minute of every game from now on.
So managers will rotate at their peril and even the slightest drop off in effort or attitude is going to be punished with the loss of points.
That’s what happened back in 2016, when the big boys all took their foot off the gas and Leicester sneaked in from nowhere to pinch the title.
REPEAT OF 2016?
It was a real shock to the system for the complacent confederacy who had come to take their place at the pinnacle of the English game for granted.
And, to their credit, City, Liverpool and Chelsea have really upped their game since then to put themselves beyond the reach of their rivals.
But this season is going to be different for the simple reason that midway through the campaign everything shuts down for the World Cup.
So not only do the big clubs have to cope with the demands of European football, the majority of their international stars will also be flogging themselves for a month in Qatar.
Meanwhile the rest of the Premier League will play one game a week and have a nice mid–season break.
And these are well-organised clubs with a real sense of purpose who are going to take full advantage of that opportunity.
Savvy young managers such as Graham Potter, Eddie Howe, Patrick Vieira, Thomas Frank and Steve Cooper are ripping up the script.
And they’re refusing to accept the notion that all Prem teams are equal but some are more equal than others.