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Can Spurs beat bogey team Liverpool?

50-50 Challenge
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Manchester United improve from last season, champs Chelsea suffer a dip

The FC panel debate if Arsenal will make a legitimate push for the Premier League's top four this season.
The FC crew assess whether Manchester United have actually improved or are benefiting from a favourable run of fixtures.

Manchester United have enjoyed a superb start to the season, but Jose Mourinho's men have yet to face a title rival so far.

While Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have all faced at least one side generally tipped to challenge for the Premier League, the highest-placed opponent United have taken on is Stoke, in 13th. 

However, Mourinho's men are scoring a hatful of goals -- they've recorded four 4-0 wins in the league so far -- and have improved upon their results in the corresponding fixtures last season.

How well has each side fared this season, in relation to the matches last term? Here's a look at each club's results.

MAN CITY: Brighton*, Everton, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Watford, Crystal Palace, Chelsea

2016-17 form: P6 W3 D2 L1 F15 A4 PTS 11

2017-18 form: P6 W5 D1 L0 F20 A2 PTS 16

*Sample taken from the opening six games of the season, as Brighton were in the Championship in 2016-17.

There's a remarkable symmetry between Manchester City's results from last season and this, with the exception of their games against title rivals Liverpool and Chelsea. Watford and Crystal Palace were both thrashed, Bournemouth were narrowly beaten away, and Everton pinched a point at the Etihad. But City are five points better off this season from their equivalent fixtures because of a vast improvement in performance and result in their biggest fixtures, which, just as significantly, has helped them open up a sizeable gap over two potential rivals. -- Jonathan Smith

MAN UNITED: West Ham, Swansea, Leicester, Stoke, Everton, Southampton, Crystal Palace

2016-17 form: P7 W3 D4 L0 F12 A5 PTS 13

2017-18 form: P7 W6 D1 L0 F21 A2 PTS 19

The biggest change for United so far this season is being able to turn home draws into wins. West Ham and Everton both got a point at Old Trafford last season, two of 10 home draws in the league that killed any hope of challenging for the title.

It is significant that United scored four against West Ham and Everton. Jose Mourinho's team struggled for goals in the league last season (they got only 54), but that hasn't been a problem this time. They already have 21 this season -- nearly 40 percent of their total from last season -- and nine more than in the corresponding fixtures from 2016-17. -- Rob Dawson

CHELSEA: Burnley, Tottenham, Everton, Leicester, Arsenal, Stoke, Manchester City

2016-17 form: P7 W6 D0 L1 F18 A5 PTS 18

2017-18 form: P7 W4 D1 L2 F12 A6 PTS 13

Chelsea have picked up two fewer wins and five fewer points from their opening seven Premier League matches than they did in last season's corresponding fixtures. That 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley on the opening day remains the ugliest stain on their record, while Arsenal's first positive result at Stamford Bridge since 2011 doesn't look brilliant for Antonio Conte's men, either.

Emerging victorious from Wembley against bitter rivals Tottenham was an exceptional result but also one cancelled out by being comprehensively outplayed by Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Indiscipline has undoubtedly been a factor in the diminished points haul -- three red cards in seven matches compared to none last season -- and the absence of Eden Hazard has been huge. The Belgian started six of last season's seven corresponding fixtures and scored six goals. -- Liam Twomey

TOTTENHAM: Newcastle, Chelsea, Burnley, Everton, Swansea, West Ham, Huddersfield*

2016-17 form: P5 W3 D1 L1 F10 A3 PTS 10

2017-18 form: P5 W2 D2 L1 F8 A4 PTS 8

*Sample taken from five matches as Newcastle and Huddersfield were in the Championship in 2016-17

If there was any doubt about how difficult the move to Wembley has been for Tottenham, just look at the contrast in their home form. Last season, Spurs were nearly perfect at White Hart Lane, dropping just four points at home in the entire campaign. This year, they dropped five points in two matches at the national stadium, and the hugely frustrating 0-0 draw with Swansea made it seven from three. The match against the Swans, who were swatted aside 5-0 in December, offers the biggest contrast, after Spurs once again lacked any cutting edge in last month's 0-0 draw.

The flip side is that Spurs are now imperious on the road. Ignoring the victories over newly promoted Newcastle and Huddersfield (as they were not in the league last year), they won comfortably at Everton, having failed to do so on their last two visits to Goodison Park. Similarly, they have suffered damaging 1-0 defeats at West Ham in each of the past two campaigns, but they raced into a 3-0 lead last month before the Hammers made it interesting.

ARSENAL: Leicester, Stoke, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Chelsea, West Brom, Brighton

2016-17 form: P6 W4 D0 L2 F11 A8 PTS 12

2017-18 form: P6 W3 D1 L2 F9 A7 PTS 10

*Sample taken from six matches as Brighton were in the Championship in 2016-17

Arsenal are following a fairly similar pattern to last season but are two points worse off, despite finally getting a point at Stamford Bridge. That's thanks to the loss at Stoke, which is the only major reversal for the Gunners this campaign. They've beaten Leicester, Bournemouth and West Brom at home again, and there's no need to remind anyone of the 4-0 drubbing at Anfield. Hopefully for the Gunners, the 0-0 draw at Chelsea is a better indication of the team's progress than the slip-up at Stoke, a game in which they dominated but couldn't find a way to score.

LIVERPOOL: Watford, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Manchester City, Burnley, Leicester, Newcastle*

2016-17 form: P6 W3 D1 L2 F9 A8 PTS 10

2017-18 form: P6 W2 D2 L2 F12 A11 PTS 8

*Sample taken from six matches as Newcastle were in the Championship in 2016-17

Liverpool's poor start to the season has seen them fail to keep pace with the standard they set last campaign, which earned them a top-four finish. They are still managing to score goals, but keeping them out at the other end continues to be a deep-rooted issue and is costing them points.

Jurgen Klopp's side held an unbeaten record against the Premier League's top six, but the 5-0 thrashing to Manchester City last month might suggest that this season will be different in that regard. The habit of dropping points to teams lower down the table appears to remain, in stark contrast to Manchester United's results against those sides so far this season.

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