With the first international break of the year over, focus now returns to the Premier League as the run-in gets underway.
Liverpool lead the way at the top of the top, two points clear of defending champions Manchester City, but have played a game more than their rivals. At the bottom, Huddersfield Town could get relegated this weekend if results go against them while Fulham are also teetering on the edge.
Things were so different at this stage last season for some of the Premier League challengers, with Man City having pretty much wrapped up the title after 30 games.
But how were the rest of the current Premier League sides doing last season in the same division? Have they improved, or is regression the story of the campaign? Read on to find out and compare.
Arsenal after 30 games 2017/18 vs. 2018/19
A year ago, Arsenal were seeing out their final campaign under Arsene Wenger with another whimper. And while Unai Emery has come under some criticism in his debut season, the Spaniard has Arsenal in a better position.
The Gunners have won four more games and lost four fewer than they had at this time last season, while also having scored more goals and conceded fewer. But the most important improvement so far is that Arsenal are now fourth and in control of their Champions League destiny, rather than chasing.
With the doubts surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was among the names mentioned to take over at Arsenal. But given the Cherries’ difference across the two seasons, Arsenal may have dodged a bullet.
While Bournemouth started the campaign well and have won two more games than at this stage last season, scoring six goals more, Howe’s men are slightly worse off. The Cherries have lost two more games and have seen their defence regress, also dropping two places in the table.
Like Bournemouth, Brighton have won more games than they had at this stage last season, but find themselves in a worse position.
However, the Seagulls have played at least one game fewer than any other team in the Premier League and could yet move further away from the relegation zone.
There may not be more contrasting performances than Burnley over the past two seasons. This time last year, Burnley were seventh in the Premier League and en route to a Europa League place – courtesy of their 11 wins and 10 draws, as well as their sturdy defence.
But this season Burnley’s defence has been key to their current position, with only Fulham conceding more than their 59 so far. As a result, Sean Dyche’s men are 10 places worse off and dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Chelsea fans aren’t happy with their club’s current position in the Premier League, but the Blues are only in sixth due to the improvements of the teams around them.
Maurizio Sarri has Chelsea one point better off than they were under Antonio Conte at this stage last season, with a slightly better defence – while only scoring two fewer goals than his predecessor.
Despite having played one fewer game this season, due to their run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, Crystal Palace are performing slightly better in Roy Hodgson’s first full campaign.
The former England manager has the Eagles in 14th with two more wins, in part down to scoring more goals and conceding fewer. However, Crystal Palace have matched their defeats for last season this season.
Marco Silva has had to endure a lot of criticism for his first year at Everton, and it’s clear to see why when you compare where the Toffees are.
Meant to be a manager to steer the Toffees into the future, Silva has Everton with an almost identical record to the one they had under Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce this time last season.
The Toffees have won, drawn and lost the same amount of games, despite having better records in attack and defence. But, most importantly, Everton are also two places worse off under Silva.
If Huddersfield lose to Crystal Palace this weekend and Southampton and Burnley beat Brighton and Wolves respectively, the Terriers’ Championship status for next season will be confirmed.
While they were in a relegation fight until the final weeks of the campaign last year, Huddersfield had a remarkably better record in their debut campaign – winning an impressive eight of their opening 31 games.
In the same amount of matches this year, they have managed just three, only one of which has come in 2019.
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Leicester may have won two more games than they did at this stage last season, playing one more match, but the Foxes are overall in a worse position.
Now under Brendan Rodgers, Leicester have recorded 14 defeats and scored five fewer goals – resulting in dropping two places to 10th.
Everything’s looking up Liverpool who have improved in practically every way from this time last season. Jurgen Klopp’s men have won five more matches and lost three fewer while recording an impressive 70 goals scored.
But Liverpool’s biggest difference has been their defence, conceded 16 fewer goals, contributing to them jumping two places and recording 13 more points.
It was always going to be tough for Manchester City to replicate their form from this stage last season, as they were en route to a record-breaking Premier League title win.
But Pep Guardiola’s side have regressed in every possible way, winning fewer games, recording fewer points from draws, losing more, scoring fewer and conceding one more goal.
However, they are only second by two points and have a game in hand on the league leaders Liverpool – meaning the title is still very much in their hands.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done a remarkable job in turning Manchester United’s fortune around, but the Red Devils are still some way off their performance last season.
Under Jose Mourinho, United were second having won 20 of their 30 games, drawing five and losing five. Whereas this season, only 17 wins have come with two more draws and one more defeat. But their drop to fifth comes from a variety of factors including the improvement of the Big Six.
This might just be Mike Ashley’s dream. Aside from one more win and scoring a goal more, Newcastle have an identical record in the Premier League – key to their owner’s maximum requirement of staying safe.
Things haven’t quite been going Southampton’s way this season, but they are in a slightly better position than they were this time last year. Then, Saints were fighting an uphill battle to survive in the Premier League, sitting 18th with just five wins.
At the same stage this season, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have managed two more wins and – despite also losing two more games – these have proved vital, with Southampton 16th. However, they are by no means guaranteed safety.
Tottenham are a strange case to look back on as they have overall performed slightly worse, but stand in a better position. At this stage last season, Spurs were fourth having won 18 of their 30 games, losing five and drawing seven.
But this season, Spurs have lost four more games and drawn six fewer – though those points have been recouped in two extra wins. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have also scored fewer and conceded more goals but sit a place higher in third, currently the best of the rest outside the title race.
Watford after 30 games 2017/18 vs. 2018/19
Watford have been really impressive this season, so it’s completely expected to see them improve in every department from this time last year.
Now eighth, up from 11th at this stage last season, Watford have more wins, fewer defeats, scored more and conceded fewer goals – all while playing one fewer game. The Hornets have also gained one more point from draws. Javi Gracia is doing a brilliant job at Vicarage Road.
West Ham United
West Ham are in a remarkably better position this season under Manuel Pellegrini than they were while David Moyes was in charge last year. The Hammers have won five more games than they had at this stage last season, while also scoring more and conceding fewer goals.
All of this has contributed to West Ham’s rise to ninth, up from the relegation-battling 17th they were last year.