When talking about the Premier League, the debate still rages as to whether it's the strongest division in the world, or the most entertaining. There's certainly a case for both, and this season so far is evidence of that.
Many regard a strong league as one where no side runs away with the title, where it's kept very competitive between the teams in the top-half, where sides of any position can take points off each other and this Premier League campaign looks to be fitting such a description.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool are all considered title-contenders early on this season, which is a stark change from seasons of old where it would just be two teams considered the favourites to win the domestic league by the bookmakers.
All of the aforementioned have already lost a game to a lesser opponent this season too - Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa, Man United 1-2 West Brom, Man City 2-3 Aston Villa, Everton 1-0 Chelsea, Tottenham 0-3 West Ham, Liverpool 0-1 Southampton.
While this season's final top-six is anyone's guess, predicting the teams who will finish directly below is even more of a difficult task.
Everton, Southampton and Swansea City are the sides greatly expected to be occupying the top-half spot, and one look at their respective spending highlights how hard it's getting for sides just to stay where they'd finished the previous season - Everton £26M, Southampton £33M, Swansea £21M and not to mention newly-promoted Cardiff spending a club-record £34M.
Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, and Newcastle United will be knocking on the door for a top-10 finish, while West Ham United and Fulham consider themselves on the periphery.
It's now a great challenge to finish in the top-half and merely consolidating is no longer seen as a negative seasonal objective - such is the quality of competition occupying the mid-table places.
Due to the growing difficulty of merely remaining in the Premier League, mid-table outfits have been spending record amounts to ensure they don't lose any ground to other teams.
Premier League sides have spent a total of around £670M this summer - the highest figure since 2008/09 (£750M). However, the January transfer window could well see that figure toppled.
This season looks to be the most competitive for places that there's ever been and the order of the top-10 will be one of the most difficult to predict - a testament to the growing strength of the English Premier League.
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