The idea of a European Super League may have been almost universally unpopular with fans but it did indicate the Premier League’s ‘Big 6’ viewed themselves as the division’s major players both on and off the pitch.
Leicester City, Everton, West Ham United and Newcastle United amongst others would have won the league in recent years without the Big Six. These clubs would all claim with good reason that they have and could again break into the top positions in the league but it has been relatively rare for teams outside of the ‘Big 6’ to qualify regularly for the European competitions.
The term, ‘leagues within the league’ is often bandied about by football pundits when talking about the top, middle and bottom of the division but how would a mini league between just these big six clubs look, and would it vary from the original final league positions?
Premier League ‘Big 6’ Only League Winners
|2018/19||Man City||25||Man City|
|2017/18||Man City||24||Man City|
|2012/13||Man United||17||Man United|
|2011/12||Man City||22||Man City|
|2010/11||Man United||17||Man United|
* Points are based on 10 matches per team. Only games involving teams two big six players have been included, all other matches have been excluded.
This table shows that in the ten season between 2010/11 and 2019/20, the Premier League winner was also the most successful team when playing their Big Six rivals. However, during the 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, the best team in the Big Six mini league were not the League Champions.
Manchester United would have doubled their titles from two to four if only the Big Six were competing. Manchester City would have won the Big Six league three times ahead of Liverpool with two and Chelsea with just one. Neither Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur have finished top of the Big Six league between 2010/11 and 2019/20.
More detail can be found on all ten of season of these Big Six only league seasons below.
Liverpool won their first Premier League trophy and their first league title in 30 years, amassing 99 points over this campaign.
If Liverpool had played only the Big Six, they were also the clear winners by four points over their nearest rival. That rival would have been Manchester United and not Manchester City who were the runner-up this season.
Liverpool lost to both Arsenal and Manchester City away and drew away to Manchester United, they won all of the remaining seven games against the other Big Six clubs including wins both home and away against Chelsea and Tottenham.
Despite finishing 33 points adrift of their north-west rivals, Manchester United were only 4 points worse off in the Big Six mini league, including home and away victories against Manchester City.
Tottenham and Arsenal were bottom of the Big Six league this year, picking up just 9 points each.
2019/20 Big Six Table
2018/19: Manchester City
Manchester City pipped Liverpool to the title by just 1 point in this record breaking title race and it seems that their performances against fellow Big Six clubs proved to be crucial.
City netted 25 points against the other five big clubs, winning eight of their ten matches losing only to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and drawing with Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool lost only once this season, but it was to Manchester City at the Etihad. Of the Reds’ seven draws this campaign, four were against the other Big Six teams.
Manchester United were bottom of the Big Six pile with just 7 points, winning just once, at home to Tottenham. Spurs also had just 7 points in the Big Six league but had a better goal difference than the Red Devils. They beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and Chelsea at Wembley but lost seven of their ten Big Six fixtures.
2018/19 Big Six Table
2017/18: Manchester City
Manchester City won the Premier League with a record 100 points this term and they were also the clear winners of the Big Six league. The won 24 out if 30 points against their rivals, only losing to Liverpool away and Manchester United at home. They also scored more goals than any other team in the Big Six with 27 goals, almost 3 per game.
Runners-up Manchester United were also next best in the Big Six league and Tottenham in third made an identical top 3 in both.
Chelsea would have reversed their fifth place, leapfrogging Liverpool into fourth based on their performances against the other five. Liverpool won only twice against their competitors drawing four and losing four.
Arsenal propped up the Big Six mini league with just 6 points against the other major teams. This included just one victory, a 2-0 home win over north London rivals Tottenham.
2017/18 Big Six Table
Chelsea were the Premier League Champions this year, collecting 93 points under Antonio Conte in his first season in charge of the west London side. They finished ahead of second placed Tottenham and third placed Manchester City but it was actually Liverpool in fourth who would have won the league if only the Big Six were taking part.
Liverpool were unbeaten against the other five clubs this season but drew five of those matches. Chelsea picked up just over half of the 30 points on offer with 16, but this was still enough to be the second best. This means that in the Premier League, Chelsea won 77/84 points available against the other 14 teams in the division.
The two Manchester clubs had an identical record of won two, drew four, lost four with Arsenal bottom of the Big Six with two wins and three draws, conceding 18 times across all ten games.
2016/17 Big Six Table
2015/16: Manchester United
Leicester City were champions this season and it’s perhaps not a surprise to find quite a tightly bunched Big Six. What might be a surprise is that it is actually fifth placed Manchester United who won the Big Six league with 18 points. They won five or their matches including home and away against Liverpool. This means that in both his season’s in charge Louis Van Gaal had the best record against the other Big Six clubs.
Liverpool, who were eighth, had a solid record against the other five major clubs with three wins and five draws. Manchester City won just twice and leaked 18 goals against the Big Six. Their six losses in these key encounters may well have led contributed largely to the dismissal of city manager Manuel Pellegrini despite his side qualifying for the Champions League.
2015/16 Big Six Table
2014/15: Manchester United
Chelsea and Jose Mourinho were the Premier League Champions in 2014/15 though they would only be second in a division made up of just the Big Six. Chelsea lost only one match against the other major teams, a 5-3 New Year’s Day loss to Tottenham Hotspur, but they drew five matches and gained only 17 points.
The winners of the Big Six league was Manchester United, meaning Louis Van Gaal would’ve won this elite league in both his first and second seasons in charge. They had five wins over their rivals, scoring 16 times and conceding just 8 times. Despite this the Red Devils finished in fourth place in the Premier League.
Premier League runners-up Manchester City gained only 15 points against the other Big Six sides, with four wins, three defeats and three draws. Liverpool and Arsenal were fourth and fifth with 11 points with Tottenham sixth with just 8 points.
As mentioned earlier, Spurs beat London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal at home but suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and away to Chelsea, ending with a -11 goal difference.
2014/15 Big Six Table
Manchester City overtook Liverpool in the Premier League run-in, with the Merseysiders dropping four points in the last three matches having put together a run of 11 straight wins.
Chelsea would’ve won the Big Six league however, with Jose Mourinho’s men earning 24 of the 30 points on offer against their rivals, without losing a match. Their most notable victory was the 2-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield, with Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip contributing to a faltering title charge. Liverpool themselves were third on 18 points, 1 behind Manchester City. The Reds won six games but lost four in total.
In their first season since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester United gained just six points against the other five rival sides. They won just once, against Arsenal, who themselves picked up three wins and three draws.
Despite Manchester United’s woes, it was Tottenham who finished bottom with just five points in the Big Six league. They won against David Moyes’ United at Old Trafford but picked up just two draws out of the other nine matches, losing seven.
2013/14 Big Six Table
2012/13: Manchester United
Manchester United won the Premier League by 11 points in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge but the Big Six league was much closer, with the highest goal difference at just +3.
United would have finished on top with 18 points with five wins but that was only two ahead of Manchester City and Chelsea on 16 points. City, Chelsea and Tottenham all had four wins with Arsenal back in fifth with 9 points and Liverpool in sixth with 8 points. Despite this, Arsenal were still above Tottenham in the Premier League table.
Liverpool finished back in seventh in the Premier and only picked up one win against the big clubs, a home victory against Tottenham. They drew five matches and lost four but only had a goal difference of -4, showing how tightly matched the Big Six teams were against each other this campaign.
2012/13 Big Six Table
2011/12: Manchester City
Manchester City won their first Premier League title in dramatic fashion with two injury time goals against QPR but they crucially compiled the most points in the Big Six mini league with 22.
The won seven out of the ten matches against the other five teams with a goal difference of +14. This included a 6-1 demolition of title rivals United at Old Trafford, and a vital 1-0 home win against the Red Devils with just two games to be played.
Manchester United themselves fared well against their other rivals, with six wins and 20 points. They beat Arsenal 8-2 at home and 2-1 in the reverse fixture. They also defeated Tottenham both home and away.
Behind the Manchester Clubs were Arsenal with 13 points, Liverpool with 12 points and Tottenham with 9 points. The wooden spoon went to Chelsea who picked up just one win and four draws but they were victorious in the Champions League and overcame Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.
2011/12 Big Six Table
2010/11: Manchester United
Manchester United were Champions of the Premier League in 2010/11 and were top of the Big Six with 18 points league however just five points separated United in first and Manchester City in sixth.
The Red Devils won five of their matches and drew two but lost away to Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in the second half of the season.
Liverpool were second with 14 points against their rivals with, four wins and two draws. Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all then followed with 13 points.
As for Manchester City, they still secured three wins against the other five Big Six clubs, beating Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham at the City of Manchester Stadium.
2010/11 Big Six Table