Manchester City may be five points behind Liverpool early in the Premier League season, but in one area they still reign supreme.
Pep Guardiola’s side have featured in the lead game on Match of the Day every time they have played on Saturday this season.
In the opening seven instalments of the BBC’s flagship highlights show, City’s six appearances have all come in the top slot – with Norwich the only other team to make more than one headline appearance.
The reigning champions opened with a 5-0 win over West Ham, followed by a dramatic 2-2 draw with Tottenham which also earned top billing and sparked extensive discussion of VAR after Gabriel Jesus had a late winner disallowed.
After playing on Sunday the following week they were back in their habitual spot with a 4-0 win over Brighton.
The Canaries’ headline-grabbing win over City in week five was never going to be beaten to the limelight, and neither was City’s 8-0 win over Watford as they rebounded in style.
A 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday was enough to keep the run going and – with a Sunday game on the schedule this week – City fans will go into the international break without once having to stay up late to catch their team in action.
Canaries in the spotlight
City’s Saturday opponents, of course, each have one appearance in top spot – with the exception of Norwich, whose eye-catching start to their Premier League return has seen them twice given top billing.
A thrilling 3-2 loss to Chelsea in week three may well have led the show even if City had played on the Saturday, with the Canaries twice coming from behind to level before Tammy Abraham’s second goal settled the match.
Their win over Newcastle the previous week was second behind City-Tottenham, while Saturday’s loss to Crystal Palace saw Norwich last on the highlights for the first time since week one of the season, when their defeat to Liverpool took place on the Friday night.
Reds and Spurs often the bridesmaids
The seven second spots include two Liverpool matches and three featuring Tottenham as the pair establish themselves as City’s main support acts.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were on second when they beat Arsenal and Burnley in weeks three and four respectively, and have also appeared third on three occasions – with only that Friday-night clash with Norwich featuring down the running order.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 28, 2019
Spurs were given second billing against Aston Villa on the opening day before joining City in week two’s headline spot. They have been second in the last two weeks, against Leicester and Southampton.
Match of the Day host and Leicester fan Gary Lineker cannot be accused of bias – the Foxes are third in the league table at this early stage but have only once appeared in the first three games.
The same is true of Manchester United, whose three appearances to date – limited by Sunday games against Chelsea and West Ham and Mondays against Europa League fellow travellers Wolves and Arsenal – have come third, fifth and seventh.