For some years now, fans and teams in the Premier League will have looked at games against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and more recently Manchester City as games that they would most likely loose. The sort of games you would go into thinking that you would be lucky to get a point. This mindset, however, has changed of late.
Alan Pardew made the point going into Newcastle's game against Manchester United that the fear factor had gone from the Premier League. Teams now go into these games looking to have a go and come away with all three points.
But why has the mindset changed and why have teams not opted to park the bus at
Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge? Managerial changes might be the answer.
Looking at the previously mentioned top four's record this season, you can begin to see why teams approach the games with no fear.
This season, Chelsea have dropped points at Stamford Bridge and on the road, most recently against Stoke City, who themselves had only won two league games at the Britannia before beating Chelsea.
Manchester United have struggled on all fronts this season, as have Tottenham, with Man City's away form holding them back so far.
But why are these teams struggling? United, Chelsea and Man City all changed managers in the summer and there were questions as to how quickly they could adapt to life in the Premier League with their new clubs.
It's worth remembering that it is Roberto Martinez's first season at Everton and he has made an impact after an indifferent start.
The opposite of this is David Moyes, who has had the toughest time with last year's champions languishing in 9th, 13 points behind Arsenal and seven off of Man City in fourth.
The lack of form from these teams has benefited some who sit outside the top four, mainly on Merseyside, where both Liverpool and Everton are thriving.
The lack of fear was epitomised by Martinez's plan going into their game against Arsenal, where the former Wigan manager aimed to win against a side who were top of the table.
In the end, they came away with a draw to make it four points from two difficult games. Their upcoming fixtures all look to be winnable, with no games against a top six team until 28th January when they play Liverpool.
So, come January they could be sitting near the top of the table, beside their Merseyside rivals, although others may have found their form or have strengthened during the transfer window. Surely this season, more than any other, is a fantastic opportunity for a less fancied club to make an impact. For example, Everton making it into the Champions League.
It also points to how important consistency is for a club. Though few people would have tipped Arsenal to be top going into the Christmas period, there they are.
The obvious counter argument is Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs, but replacing Gareth Bale with some of Europe's top talent isn't the same as having the man himself. It's also worth remembering how long it took Bale to settle in at Spurs.
So, with the Premier League looking more like the Championship in terms of who is beating who, what effect will it have on the league? So far it's shown the weakness of some, in particular Manchester United's midfield and dependence on Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
The reality of the situation is that they are closer to 18th than they are to 1st. Maybe it simply comes down to other teams like Southampton, Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton
improving whilst others have failed to do so, thus closing the gap.
How long this no fear approach will last is anybody's guess, but I feel it will last for as long the bigger teams fail to win. Simple, really.
For the neutral, it makes the Premier League that bit more captivating. For fans of the faltering clubs it makes for frustrating watching. But that's football.
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