The stats that say it’s the most exciting Premier League season yet

Liverpool lead the Premier League but Arsenal and Manchester City are hot on their heels

It is the closest three-horse title race for a decade and the highest scoring ever, so is this the most exciting Premier League season yet?

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp-farewell-fuelled bandwagon shows no sign of slowing, Arsenal have returned from the winter break in free-scoring form and Manchester City have demonstrated that they can, in fact, be stopped.

It is all adding up to one of the most keenly contested Premier League title races of recent seasons. In fact, as the campaign enters its final third, it is already by some metrics the most exciting in modern history. 

At the top it is delicately poised. When City host Brentford in their game in hand on Tuesday they can move back above Arsenal into second. It would put them a single point behind Liverpool, with just two points separating the whole of the top three.

The last time that was the case after 25 rounds of the Premier League was 10 years ago. Even if champions City were to falter against Brentford, the gap between the top three would still be smaller than at this stage in any season since 2013-14.

A few weeks ago it looked like Liverpool’s to lose – and like the twin impacts of Mohamed Salah’s absence and Klopp’s departure announcement could derail them. Losing their 15-game unbeaten run at Arsenal only confirmed that impression. 

That proved a tonic for the Gunners, who fell off the pace over Christmas but have won five in a row by an aggregate 21-2 since their winter break. Champions City then let their rivals off the hook – and the title race wide open – by failing to beat Chelsea on Saturday night.

But it’s not just the top three providing entertainment. Across the Premier League, goals have been flying in at an unprecedented rate.

So far this season, the 247 games have seen 799 goals, or an average of 3.235 per game – by some distance higher than in any season since the competition launched in 1992, and better than any English top-flight campaign since 1964-65.

To put that in perspective, last season set a new record for the Premier League, of 2.853 goals per game. It was only the third year that the average had topped 2.8, yet so far this term there has been almost half a goal per game more.

All this action appears to be going down a treat with viewers, both at home and in developing major overseas markets such as North America.

Sky Sports kicked off with record figures for the opening weekend of the season, up 40 per cent on the previous year, when Chelsea’s match with Liverpool set a new benchmark for a game streamed in the US. 

Arsenal’s visit to Anfield in December, meanwhile, was the most watched Premier League game ever in the States, with 2.28m viewers tuning in live on NBC or streaming via official platforms.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester CIty are locked in a close battle for the Premier League title
Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester CIty are locked in a close battle for the Premier League title

It would be no surprise if those figures were eclipsed in some of the remaining showdowns between the top three this term. Liverpool host City on 10 March, while Arsenal are due to go to the Etihad Stadium three weeks later. 

If history is anything to go by, we should be in for a close fight to the finish. In two of the three previous Premier League seasons in the last decade when five points or fewer separated the top three, the title was won by one or two points.

Most recently, in 2018-19 City held on to pip Liverpool by a solitary point as Tottenham Hotspur, third after 25 rounds, fell away. Five years previously, City came from the back of the three-horse pack to edge Liverpool and Chelsea. 

The exception? Leicester City’s 5000-1 triumph in 2015-16. But, for a multitude of reasons, that looks likely to be a one-off.