Newcastle And Brighton Aim To Turn The 'Big Six' Into The 'Magnificent Seven'

Last season, the Magpies and the Seagulls flew in the face of expectations
13:00, 02 Sep 2023

The Premier League ‘big six’. Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. So-called because they’re supposedly the biggest, best and most successful clubs in the country. The elite. The best of the best.

Well that elite finished in the following places last season. First, second, third, fifth, eighth and twelfth. The big six? Don’t make me laugh.


The concept has long felt a little flawed. The last time this heroic half-dozen actually finished in the top six places in consecutive seasons was in the period between 2016 and 2018. The season before that, Leicester City won the Premier League. They were never given entry to this closed shop despite the fact that their triumph is more recent than United’s last league title (2013) as well as Arsenal’s (2004) and Tottenham’s (1961).

It is against this already flimsy backdrop that the vaunted ‘big six’ was shattered against last season. While Spurs languished down in eighth and Chelsea dropped all the way into the bottom half of the league, new challengers took their old places. Newcastle United snagged a Champions League place, finishing ahead of Liverpool in fourth. Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove Albion’s sixth-place spot secured Europa League football, their first continental competition of any kind.

Newcastle and Brighton play each other on Saturday afternoon. While each have gone about their recent resurgences in different ways, there is common ground they share. Unlike Leicester, whose glorious title win felt very much like an aberration, the Magpies and the Seagulls are looking for something a little more permanent. To paraphrase a notorious MMA star, they’re not here to take part. They’re here to take over.


Each of these upcoming opponents have ambitions of hijacking the previously-closed top six shop on a consistent basis. Newcastle are aiming to get there by flexing the wealth of their owners, the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Brighton are aiming to do so by their sharp and sustainable recruitment, developing young gems and selling them for huge profits. 

The two strategies couldn’t be more different but the end goal is the same. Whether it’s Newcastle’s lavish rebuild of a squad that stagnated under Mike Ashley or Brighton’s constant quest to unearth future record signings, each club is going in the right direction.

Of course a strategy is only as good as its on-pitch results, which makes this clash between the sides fascinating. Obviously nothing will be settled when Howe and Roberto De Zerbi lead their teams onto the Amex pitch on Saturday. European qualification isn’t decided in September. But this is a chance for these two diametrically-opposed ideologies to lay down a marker. 

The Premier League has long needed clubs able to maintain a challenge to its established elite. Last season shown that the ‘big six’ for want of a better term had grown complacent. Chelsea are operating far more like a billionaire’s plaything than they ever did under Abramovich. Spurs were an administrative mess as their manager openly questioned the very foundations of the club. United were feeling their way under a new coach and look even less organised this term. Liverpool endured a sharp drop-off from their recent levels and this season they have lost several key players. The time is ripe for teams like Brighton and Newcastle to shatter the idea of the ‘big six’ once and for all.

For these sides that journey starts on Saturday in a true battle to find the ‘best of the rest’. The ‘big six’ could be about to get bigger. Whoever wins on Saturday, Brighton or Newcastle could soon become responsible for the advent of the ‘magnificent seven’.

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