In recent years the Premiership table has had the same four clubs challenging for the top four places. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are the familiar faces at the top of the tree whilst the rest of the Premiership have squabbled amongst themselves for the remaining places.
A few years ago Everton broke the mould, at Liverpool's expense, and it was a breath of fresh air to see. Aston Villa are trying to do the same this season, seemingly at Arsenal's expense, and Everton cannot be ruled out of the running for Champions League qualification either.
It seems as though Manchester United have wrapped up the title this season so the excitement for the Premiership maybe in the hunt for Champions League places instead. Of course people will insist that Arsenal are the most vulnerable of the so-called top four and Aston Villa or Everton will take their place but the truth is Chelsea and Liverpool are vulnerable too.
Obviously Arsenal's position in the league table for us Gooners is painful to see but you have to praise Aston Villa really. They have taken advantage of us having a poor season and they have had a great one. At present they deserve to be in the top four but the question is can they remain there?
I think this campaign is too early for them and Arsenal will finish in the top four as usual but this will be good for Aston Villa in the future. This will make it harder for Arsenal of course but it will be great for the Premiership to have another side challenging at the top.
Everton can also make the step up in my view. I see no reason why they cannot challenge for the Champions League places on a more regular basis. They are hard to beat and if they spend wisely then they have every chance.
I have to admit that Manchester United have raised the bar this season. I think it is safe to say they have the title wrapped up. It's up to the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton to match the level they have set. Obviously that won't happen this campaign but it can in the future.
Since 2004, the title race has been very difficult for us Gooners to swallow. What is certain for Arsenal is it will be far more difficult to win the league whilst the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton strengthen their squads.
I believe Arsenal will finish in the top four this season because I feel Aston Villa will stumble and Everton will miss Arteta too much. What I hope though is that this season is a wake up call for Arsene Wenger regardless.
The sides around us will strengthen their squads and we need to do the same or we will fall behind. The margins are closer than ever and while it is exciting for the Premiership it is heart attack material for Gooners.
The Premiership could turn from a big four into a big six and I don't include Spurs in that either!
Keep it Goonerish..........