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Champions vs challengers: Why away form matters in Premier League title race as Arsenal and Man Utd face off

Sky Sports takes an in-depth look at why away form matters in the Premier League title race and how it separates champions from challengers; watch Arsenal vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Super Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

Arsenal, Manchester United
Image: Arsenal and Manchester United face off at the Emirates on Sunday, live on Sky Sports

It is difficult to understand the significance of home 'advantage' attributed to a sports team. Contrary to popular belief, it is the team that performs the best on the road that is eventually crowned Premier League champions.

The top teams have a relatively similar record at home this season. The reason why Arsenal are top of the Premier League table is their away form. They have eight more points and three more away wins than any other side. Why is this crucial? Because every team who has finished top of the 'away' table in the past eight seasons has gone on to win the Premier League title.

Arsenal away form

Teams pick up a similar amount of points when playing at home, so the real competitive advantage comes from how you perform on your travels. The most recent example of this is from last season. Manchester City won the title by one point because they had picked up three more points on their travels than Liverpool, even though the Reds had two more points at home.

Similarly, away form decided the Premier League title in 2016/17. Tottenham were the best home side in the division but finished seven points behind champions Chelsea as four teams had picked up more away points.

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Arsenal have tougher tests to come

Mikel Arteta's side's excellent start cannot be understated. They have their highest away points tally after the first 10 games of a top-flight campaign. However, they are yet to visit Anfield and the Etihad - two grounds where they had their worst performances in recent seasons.

They are winless in their last nine Premier League trips to Anfield and seven to the Etihad, losing their last six league games at both these grounds.

Even though Everton are currently in the relegation zone, Arsenal have not won in their last four league trips to Goodison Park. The Toffees' only win in 15 Premier League games between October and February last season was against Arsenal.

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What would give the current league leaders confidence though is their recent away win at north London rivals Spurs, another team against whom they had not won away at for eight seasons.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Arsenal's win over Tottenham in the Premier League

Beware of the champions

The reigning Premier League champions have scored six goals in their last eight away games in all competitions with Erling Haaland scoring in just one of six away appearances since September. Further, they have won just one of their five away games against sides currently in the top 12.

Pep Guardiola is also yet to face a team against whom he has had not much away success. His City side have failed to win and score in any of their previous four visits to Tottenham (3 PL). This is already the longest winless or goalless away run for a Guardiola-managed side.

One should be wary of the City juggernaut, though. They are capable of putting together a string of results when necessary. The last time they had as few as 17 points from their opening nine away games, they won 10 of their next 11 away games to win the title in 2018/19.

Manchester United Manchester City

Man Utd on red-hot form

Similar to their neighbours, Manchester United have only won one away game in six against the current top 12, a last-gasp winner against Fulham. They have upcoming trips to the Emirates (winless in last four) and Anfield (winless in last six) to contend with.

However, they are one of the form teams. The Red Devils have won nine of their previous 10 games in all competitions. The only game they did not win was due to conceding an injury-time equaliser against Crystal Palace.

With teams dropping points on their travels, key away trips for the title challengers, and the importance of away points, it is imperative sides start finding a home away from home. This might again prove the difference between champions and challengers.

Watch Arsenal vs Manchester United live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Super Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of the 1-1 draw between Crystal Palace and Manchester United in the Premier League
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