As we head into the Christmas period and the end of the year, what have we learned from the 2020/21 Premier League season to date?
Liverpool feel like they are clicking into gear nicely, following their relentless 7-0 victory away to Crystal Palace.
The Reds lead the way by four points currently, with just over a third of the matches played, boding well for the rest of the campaign.
Elsewhere, Sheffield United, West Brom and Burnley make up the relegation zone, while Leicester, Man United and Everton occupy the other three Champions League spots.
Here are five things we have learned from the Premier League season so far.
Liverpool are still the team to beat
How does any rival supporter have the nerve to talk about ‘lucky Liverpool’?
This season has seen so much go against the Reds, especially countless injuries to key men – not least Virgil van Dijk, whose cruciate ligament damage was particularly avoidable.
On top of that, Jurgen Klopp and his players have had to stomach two controversial last-gasp VAR decisions going against them, at Everton and Brighton, with other iffy calls made along the way.
Rather than feel sorry for themselves, Liverpool have responded with the elite mentality they possess, grinding out wins and opening up a four-point lead.
The performances against Tottenham and Palace have been exemplary, and the same applies to the home wins over Arsenal, Leicester and Wolves.
With a winnable run of fixtures on the horizon, Klopp may feel this is the chance to really seize the initiative and pull away.
Despite a host of setbacks and desperation for the Reds to fail in the defence of their title, they are still comfortably the team to beat.
Man City remain a serious threat, despite not being the force they were, but United, Spurs and Chelsea all lack the consistency to mount genuine challenges.
One thing’s for sure: we won’t be seeing close to 100 points winning the title this time around – the last three seasons have been freakish – with somewhere in the 80s looking more likely, given the fixture schedule and number of injuries.
Salah is among the Player of the Year front-runners
What a footballer Mohamed Salah is.
While much of the focus has been on other in-form attacking players, from Harry Kane to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Liverpool’s No. 11 still leads the scoring charts by two goals.
His double off the bench at Palace took his league tally to 13 goals in as many appearances, with three assists thrown in for good measure.
Salah bizarrely never earns the level of praise he deserves, though – this is one of the all-time great Premier League players we are watching.
His blistering start to the campaign means he is a definite front-runner for the PFA Player of the Year award, with Kane and Son Heung-min also in the running.
The Spurs duo have been sensational to watch, with the former bagging 11 goals and the latter finding the net on nine occasions, as well as registering 10 assists.
Kane may be the media’s golden boy, and he may not be the most likeable figure in football, but it is impossible to play down his brilliance in 2020/21, especially in a creative sense.
The likes of Calvert-Lewin, Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes and Jamie Vardy also deserve honourable mentions, as do ever-present Liverpool pair Andy Robertson and Gini Wijnaldum, but Salah, Son and Kane have been the standout players so far.
Sheffield United are doomed, and it was a bad move for Brewster
When Liverpool decided to sell Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United during the summer, there was a mixed response.
Considering the potential the young striker has, some felt it was a big risk, although a buy-back option did eradicate that issue.
While Brewster was hoping for regular football in an exciting Blades team, the early signs suggest it was a disastrous move.
Chris Wilder’s team are propping up the rest of the table, having accumulated just two points from their opening 14 matches.
This is a far cry from the side who proved to be such a breath of fresh air last season, finishing ninth and threatening to qualify for Europe at one point.
Not only that, but Brewster has been limited to only four starts – 10 appearances overall – and is still waiting for his first goal.
Playing in a team with little to no goal threat, this has been a brutal baptism of fire for the 20-year-old, who looks nailed-on to be playing Championship football next season.
Michael Edwards managed to get £23.5 million for Brewster – it appears to be yet another masterstoke from him in the transfer market, even though there is a tinge of sadness about that.
Arsenal are floundering under Arteta
In this dreadful year that we have all battled our way through, Arsenal have still managed to bring us plenty of joy.
When Mikel Arteta took over a year ago, there was excitement in the air, with the Spaniard a vibrant young coach working with Pep Guardiola at City.
Some good results last season and an FA Cup win only added to the feeling that the good times were returning to the Emirates, but that couldn’t be further from the truth now.
Having won their first two matches, Arsenal have lost eight of their league games, including four in a row at home – none of which were against ‘big six’ teams.
The quality of football has been dire – they are 14th when it comes to big chances created – and too many experienced heads have been woefully short of fight, whether it be Willian, Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Saturday’s loss at Everton leaves the Gunners 15th in the table, and while relegation does still feel almost impossible, there doesn’t look to be any change in fortune coming their way soon.
Arteta looks every bit a young manager in his first job, and while sacking him wouldn’t solve all of Arsenal‘s problems, it is reaching the point where he is hanging by a thread.
The north Londoners remain the gift that keeps on giving.
Fans remain everything to football
If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that football without fans really is nothing.
The surreal nature of behind-closed-doors matches is still tough to adjust to, with supporters the true heart of the game, bringing raw emotion and allowing players to bounce off their energy.
You only have to look at the two recent performances from Liverpool in front of fans to see how priceless they are, with the Reds having an extra spring in their step against Wolves and Spurs.
The hope is that these worldwide problems ease enough in the coming months to have more fans inside grounds, not least if Liverpool are on the verge of completing another title win.
Whenever Anfield is at full capacity again, it is going to be one of the most emotional days in the club’s history.
Supporters have been doing their a bit away from stadiums, though, boycotting pay-per-view games priced at £15, leading to the idea being rightly scrapped.
This all proves that fans hold the key, both in and out of grounds, and they should never be treated with such disdain, or be taken lightly, ever again.