We're often told that what separates the Premier League from the rest of Europe's leading divisions is the sheer number of teams that can win it at any time.
Since Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola arrived in England within a few months of each other, however, that unpredictability has gone out the window.
Manchester City and Liverpool, over the past three seasons, have been lightyears ahead of everyone else. Chelsea's Premier League record of 95 points stood once stood for 13 years, but it's been smashed to pieces four times since 2018; twice by City, twice by Liverpool, and once, it wasn't even enough to win the league.
Their duopoly has been so strong that we all seem to have forgotten that a season should be judged on its own merit, and not what's come before. In 2019/20, for instance, it was pretty clear by the eight-game mark that Liverpool, with maximum points, were favourites. In 2018/19, it was around now that England's New Firm began to pull away.
This season, however, it really looks like it's up for grabs. And that's why Jurgen Klopp is saying as much.
Prior to Sunday's draw with City, it was champions Liverpool who were among the early pace setters - yet they have dropped as many already points this season in eight games as in their first 30 in 2019/20.
In City's case, despite a grand post-lockdown crescendo, they were off the pace last term, and have fallen further still since the summer. They are 0.3 goals per game worse off now than they were at the end of a 2019/20 campaign, which was billed as a disaster.
As the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and even Leicester galvanise themselves for a genuine shot at the status quo, then, you're left wondering why so many in England are reluctant to accept that their league is regaining the X-factor that once made it the most diverse and entertaining in Europe.
Someone might pull away yet, sure. We can't say for sure what will happen. But that's just it; for the first time in a while, we can't say for sure what will happen. If it isn't going to be another 95-100-point season for the Big Two, then who's to say one of the chasing pack can't stay in the hunt?
Take Spurs, for instance, where vice captain Harry Kane is taking flak for claiming they can go the distance. Yet they have one of the most successful managers in the world, an attacking lineup that can rival anyone, a functional midfield, and the joint-third best defensive record in the league. Why should they be written off? Because Liverpool and City used to be better?
It's a narrative that is going to shift more and more towards reason as the season progresses. With every passing week, it becomes more apparent that the Liverpool-City pincer grip is weakening, and that the chasing pack are taking advantage of the most absurd Premier League season in living memory to close the gap. The idea of someone else winning the division is going to keep growing in realism until comments like Klopp's and Kane's no longer raise an eyebrow.
Last season's top two are still the clear favourites, and rightly so. They have title-winning pedigree on their side, but this year, it will not be a foregone conclusion by the turn of the year. The question will keep being asked well into 2021; thereafter, all we can do is get the popcorn out, bite our nails, and see what happens.
But whatever happens, don't scoff whenever someone mentions the possibility of a new player entering the game. You're undermining what makes the Premier League so fun, and you might just be left feeling very daft come spring-time.
Source : 90min