Should we change the traditional “Big Six?”
For some time now, there has been an established sextet of the biggest Premier League clubs consisting of Manchester City and Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham. However, in recent times there has been a discussion quietly bubbling on whether we should be re-considering who are the ‘Big Six’.
A Solid Case
The main team in question, banging on the doors of the Premier League Big Six, is of course, Leicester City. There are several explanations for why Leicester now has a solid case of being integrated into the Premier League Big Six. For example, their incredible Premier League Title win in 2016, their Champions League campaign the following season, not to mention them narrowly missing the top four last season by four points has now put them into contention for being a Big Six team.
In recent years, they have shown they can really mix it with the big boys in the Premier League with home and away wins against Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United, just to name a few of their recent victories against the Big Six. All these examples are good illustrations of the Foxes, not only holding their own against top Premier League teams but also regularly coming on top and showing that they are now a team to be feared. A game against Leicester is always a tricky game and they are rewriting the underdog story that they rose to prominence with all those years ago. Slowly but surely, they are becoming a Premier League powerhouse.
However, it must be considered that they have only finished in the top five of the Premier League twice since 2015, finishing 9th twice and 12th once in that time. It must also be said that they have failed to win any trophies since their title win 5 years ago, a record that is a notable difference when compared to a North London team currently in the Big Six. Despite the solid foundation they have been building over the years, they have failed to recoup any silverware to show for their impressive seasons following their historic title win.
This argument can also be applied to the two teams probably most at risk of being dropped out of the Big Six, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur.
The trophy debate cannot be forgotten when it comes to Tottenham who, as we all know, have not won a major trophy since their League Cup win in 2008, thirteen years ago. Despite this, Tottenham have impressively only finished outside of the top 4 once since Leicester’s title win, finishing above Leicester in every season apart from one in this time. In addition to this, they managed to reach the Champions League final in 2019, losing to Liverpool. This can be coupled with their record to their bitter rivals Arsenal, where they have finished above the Gunners four consecutive years in a row now.
Status in Jeopardy
Finally, there is the team whose status in the prestigious Big Six is clearly in the most jeopardy, Arsenal. They have been a club who in recent years have been in, what must be said, a steady but significant decline. They have not finished in the top four since the 2015/16 season when they finished runners up to Leicester. They have teetered around the 5th and 6th positions since then even dropping to 8th last season and until this season’s victory against Manchester United, had failed to beat a Big Six team away in 25 consecutive games, a record dating back to 2015.
Despite this, Arsenal does have one thing over these two teams that puts them above them both. History.
They have won the Premier League thirteen times, a record only bettered by Liverpool and Manchester United. Leicester have won the title once, and Spurs have never tasted Premier League glory. They also boast a Premier League trophy that was won without suffering a single defeat in the 2003/2004 season, a feat that no other Premier League team can boast.
Even in recent history, they have won 3 FA Cups since the 2015/16 season and reached a Europa League final in 2019. Also, their record against their enemies Tottenham might not be the greatest currently, however, prior to their recent slump they did successfully finish above their North London rivals eighteen years in a row, dubbing the feat “Saint Totteringhams Day.”
So, should we change the Big Six?
No. Despite Leicester having a strong and fair claim to be in the esteemed Big Six, personally I do not believe Leicester have shown the consistency to make a significant appeal to replace one of the London clubs. If they add a few more trophies and top four finishes to their repertoire, then we can no longer ignore the noisy Foxes from the Midlands. Until that happens, they cannot in my eyes claim to be in the esteemed Big Six.
Tottenham, despite their terrible trophy drought, does boast one of the world’s best players in Harry Kane, and they must aim to successfully retain their star striker and supplement his quality with some player of a similar ilk to him. If they successfully do so, trophies will eventually come to the North London club and this alongside a continuation of their regular top 4 finishes, will result in their Big Six status remaining secure.
Decisively, in the case of Arsenal, to put it simply, they need to end this Premier League slump that they have been on in recent years. They are a club that always used to be in the fight for a top-four finish and in the last four/five years they simply have not been doing so anymore. If they finish out of the top four or fail to win the Europa League again this season, the upcoming 2021/22 season will be their 5th consecutive season out of the Champions League, a feat that would have been unheard of in the Arsene Wenger era. As a club, they need to rapidly start re-establishing themselves as a regular and consistent Champions League team, and if they successfully do this alongside continuing to reach numerous finals in cup competitions as they have done in recent times, they will silence all the frequent calls for them to be replaced by Leicester City in the Big Six.