Seasons of the Premier League's Big Six so far: how they began and how they are progressing for Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham.

The Premier League title race is nearly a quarter of the way through, with Arsenal the unexpected early leaders in a season that will be disrupted by a six-week shutdown due to the staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November and December.

Mikel Arteta's team leads the table with eight wins in nine games, one point ahead of champions Manchester City, who are attempting to become only the second club, after Manchester United, to win three Premier League titles in a row.

Liverpool, on the other hand, are in 10th place, 14 points behind Arsenal, and are on the verge of a crisis if they lose for the third time this season, at home to City on Sunday.

Tottenham Hotspur are third, while Chelsea and Manchester United are in touch with the top four despite inconsistency under new managers and having played one fewer game than the teams above them due to postponements following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Pep Guardiola's City are still the favorites to win the league, but can Arsenal go all the way? Will Liverpool recover or fall out of the top four?

It's still early, but how will the Big Six fare in the coming months?


How it all began

After failing to qualify for the Champions League due to a late-season collapse that included a 3-0 loss at Tottenham, Arsenal spent nearly £120 million on new signings this summer, including Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko. The goal was to finish in the top four for the first time since 2015-16.

How is everything going?

Arsenal is flying under Arteta, with the only setback coming in a 3-1 loss to Manchester United in September. The additions of Zinchenko, Jesus, and Fabio Vieira to the squad have added proven quality and experience, while the form of William Saliba at center-back has drawn comparisons to Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, and Gabriel Martinelli have all elevated their game. Arsenal have a comfortable run of fixtures until they visit Chelsea on Nov. 6, so they could reach the pre-World Cup shutdown on Nov. 12 with top spot still in their grasp. With the home match against Man City on Oct. 19 postponed in order to play the rearranged Europa League clash with PSV Eindhoven a day later, Arsenal have a comfortable run of fixtures until they visit Chelsea on Nov. 6.

What will be the outcome?

Arsenal are currently riding a wave of confidence and momentum, so the World Cup will most likely be a major inconvenience for Arteta's squad. With such a long layoff, will the Gunners be able to pick up where they left off when the season resumes on Dec. 26?

While Arsenal's lack of experience in a title race may work against them, especially with City closing in, Leicester demonstrated in 2015-16 that an outsider can go all the way if they are fortunate with injuries and the top players maintain their form. An Arsenal title remains a long shot, but a top-four finish should be achieved, and if City falters, Arteta's team could benefit if the World Cup does not disrupt their collective focus.


How it all began

City beat Borussia Dortmund to sign Erling Haaland and also added Kalvin Phillips, Julian Alvarez, and Manuel Akanji to Pep Guardiola's squad. The departures of Raheem Sterling (to Chelsea), Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko (both Arsenal), and Fernandinho (Athletico Paranaense) reduced the club's experience levels, but City rebuilt their squad from a position of strength.

How is everything going?

Only Arsenal's incredible start has kept City from taking the lead, with the champions remaining unbeaten with seven wins and two draws from nine games. Haaland is on track to break a number of scoring records, having already scored 20 goals in 13 games for City. The Norwegian striker has unquestionably put an end to the club's search for a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero as the team's prolific center-forward.

Guardiola has incredible depth in his squad, and City appears to be miles ahead of the competition. Their recent 6-3 derby win over Manchester United served as a warning to the rest of the league that City can destroy any opponent if they are even close to their best. The next game will be a trip to Anfield to face struggling Liverpool, and the outcome of that game – a fixture that has defined the Premier League in recent years – will tell us how strong City are. They could do to Liverpool what they did to United, and if that happens, it will be difficult to stop City.

What will be the outcome?

City will lose many of their best players to World Cup duty, and Guardiola may see the majority of them making it all the way to the final four and spending more than a month in Qatar as a result, so his players will be mentally and physically exhausted after the tournament.

That could mean the difference between success and failure in the title race, but the bad news for the rest is that with Norway failing to qualify for Qatar, Haaland will have the opportunity to rest up and return refreshed. City have such depth that even if the squad is tired after the World Cup, they will still be able to win most games in second gear, keeping them as title favourites.


How it all began

Tottenham spent more than £150 million on new players this summer, including Richarlison (£52 million), Cristian Romero (£45 million), and the free-transfer arrival of Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan. Spurs have used their return to Europe's elite competition to take the team to a new level, having beaten Arsenal to Champions League qualification with a late-season surge, and Conte's team went into the season regarded by many as the most likely to challenge City and Liverpool at the top of the table.

How is everything going?

Arsenal's strong start, including a 3-1 victory over Conte's team in the North London derby earlier this month, has overshadowed Tottenham's progress this season, but Spurs are doing well and are only four points behind the Gunners in third place.

There is still an over-reliance on Harry Kane, who has scored eight of Tottenham's 20 league goals this season, and Conte should be concerned about his team's failure to win any of the most important tests his players have faced. Spurs drew away from Chelsea and West Ham United before losing at Arsenal – all tough games, but if Spurs are to challenge for the title, they must win when the pressure is on.

Spurs must pass tests against Manchester United and Liverpool before the World Cup, as well as a potentially difficult match against sixth-placed Newcastle United, if they are to avoid a battle for a top-four finish.

What will be the outcome?

Tottenham's hopes, as always, are dependent on Kane. The England captain has led the team to victory this season, and he has done so for more than five years. However, the 29-year-old will be the focal point of England's World Cup bid in Qatar, so Conte will want Gareth Southgate's team to exit the competition as soon as possible so that he can return his talisman to club duties. Spurs will finish in the top four if Kane stays fit and in form. But the Spurs aren't the same without him.


How it all began

A Todd Boehly-led consortium bought out previous owner Roman Abramovich during the summer, before a massive spending spree resulted in more than £250 million in new signings. The most high-profile new arrivals were Raheem Sterling, Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Romelu Lukaku (on loan to Inter Milan) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) following free agents Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Andreas Christensen, and Marcos Alonso (both Barcelona) out.

How is everything going?

Thomas Tuchel, the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain manager, was fired by Boehly after three defeats in seven games at the start of the season, and less than a week after he was allowed to sign Aubameyang. Graham Potter, who was hired from Brighton & Hove Albion, has since taken over as manager and has led the team to three victories in four games. Despite an inconsistent start under Tuchel, Chelsea have settled into fourth place under Potter, with last week's 3-0 win over AC Milan boosting the team's prospects in Champions League Group E.

However, goals could be an issue in the coming weeks, with Sterling (3) and Kai Havertz (2) the only players with more than one Premier League goal this season. Home games against Manchester United (Oct. 22) and Arsenal (Nov. 6) will provide a better indication of Potter's and Chelsea's progress in the coming season.

What will be the outcome?

Chelsea are a team in transition right now, with a slew of new signings attempting to fit in under a manager who didn't bring any of them in. Potter has avoided the negativity of a poor start and remains unbeaten, but he must maintain that form to keep the club from spiraling back into crisis. Chelsea appear to be a club and team still looking for its new identity, so Potter must bring stability and ensure it lasts.


How it all began

Manchester United does crisis and calamity better, or worse, than any other club, so it was perhaps unsurprising that the team began the new season under new coach Erik Ten Hag in the midst of a disastrous transfer window. Despite adding Casemiro and Antony to the squad after earlier deals for Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, and Christian Eriksen, United missed out on top target Frenkie de Jong and surprised fans by targeting former Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic.

All of this occurred against the backdrop of growing fan discontent with United's owners, the Glazer family, with protests taking place before and during most games.

How is everything going?

Two defeats in the first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at Brentford, left United bottom of the table and Ten Hag facing an even greater challenge than he anticipated when joining United from Ajax in the summer. But Ten Hag has made some bold decisions, such as benching captain Harry Maguire and starting games without Cristiano Ronaldo, and the results have been positive. Since the nightmare start, United has won five of six league games, with the lone defeat coming in a 6-3 thrashing at Manchester City.

Ten Hag's United are far from finished, but the new coach has instilled discipline, strengthened the squad with signings, and for the first time in years, the players appear to be energised by a manager with a clear plan.

All United need now is a world-class center-forward, a commanding midfielder, and a world-class goalkeeper; how long it takes to get them will determine when, or if, they can compete for major titles again.

What will be the outcome?

After finishing sixth in the Premier League last season, 13 points behind the top four, simply getting back into the Champions League was the goal at the start of the season, and Ten Hag is on track to do so.

United aren't there yet, as they remain outside the top four, but there is a sense of direction at Old Trafford, and victories over Liverpool and Arsenal this season highlighted the quality within the squad when used correctly and sent out with a clear tactical plan. Beyond Ten Hag's first XI, the team is still plagued by inconsistency and a lack of quality, so there will be bumps in the road ahead. However, United is capable of finishing in the top four.


How it all began

In June, Liverpool beat Manchester United to the club record £75 million signing of Darwin Nunez. The Benfica forward was thought to be the long-term replacement for Sadio Mane, who joined Bayern Munich in the summer. Despite an obvious need for a new midfielder, Liverpool failed to make a signing until a deadline-day loan move for Juventus and Brazil's Arthur Melo, who is now facing a lengthy injury layoff.

Liverpool let their guard down over the summer and, after coming close to the Quadruple last season, are now struggling to keep their season afloat.

How is everything going?

Rewind to July 30, when Jurgen Klopp's team defeated Manchester City 3-1 in the Community Shield. Liverpool dominated that game against the champions, and Nunez looked like a future star on his goal-scoring debut.

Since then, however, little has gone right for Liverpool – or Nunez. Liverpool's defeat at Arsenal on Sunday dropped them to midtable, with only two wins from their first eight games. After the loss at the Emirates, Klopp stated that his team is not a title contender. Injuries have been a major issue for Liverpool, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz the most recent to leave the field during the Arsenal defeat, but there has also been an alarming drop in form from the likes of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, and Diogo Jota.

While the World Cup may be a problem for their opponents, it may provide Liverpool with an important opportunity to reset and focus on a surge in the second half of the season.

What will be the outcome?

With the title already out of reach, Liverpool must refocus their goals, and the priority must now be a top-four finish to secure Champions League qualification. Liverpool are already six points behind fourth-place Chelsea and face an in-form Manchester City at Anfield this weekend, so they need to get back on track quickly.

There is a real risk that the top four will vanish before the World Cup, leaving Liverpool needing to win the Champions League in Istanbul at the end of the season to re-enter the competition. That happened in 2005, but betting on it happening again would be a high-risk strategy.