sport news Key issues the rest of the Big Six must fix NOW to stop Liverpool running away ...

Last season's Premier League title race was more of a procession than a competition - and there's a very real chance that this campaign could follow the same pattern.

Liverpool finished a whopping 18 points clear at the top of the table last term and, after starting the new season with two wins from two, including a comfortable victory against supposed challengers Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp's men already appear up for the fight of retaining their crown.

But as well as demonstrating the Reds' strengths, the opening weeks of the delayed campaign have also thrown up a number of weaknesses among their Big Six rivals, with Manchester City's shocking 5-2 home defeat by Leicester on Sunday an early blow to Pep Guardiola's title hopes.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Chelsea

Liverpool's Sadio Mane (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Chelsea

City's defence was a shambles at the Etihad, while 's back four looked extremely vulnerable during an opening loss to Crystal Palace and a narrow victory at Brighton.

Frank Lampard also has issues at the back to contend with on top of a number of fitness concerns, with north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham both having midfield conundrums to solve if they are to challenge at the very top.

Ahead of the Gunners' visit to Anfield tonight, Sportsmail takes a closer look at the issues the rest of the Big Six must fix if they are going to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool this season.

Manchester City's players appear dejected during their shock 5-2 defeat by Leicester City

Manchester City's players appear dejected during their shock 5-2 defeat by Leicester City

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MANCHESTER CITY

It's quite incredible that a team of Manchester City's quality, with so much money having been invested in new players since Pep Guardiola arrived in 2016, could be quite so bad at the back.

Their defensive issues were ruthlessly exposed by Leicester on Sunday, with new boy Nathan Ake and Co simply unable to deal with Jamie Vardy's pace and direct running.

Not only did Guardiola's men concede three penalties - all of which were dispatched past Ederson - they looked shaky as soon as the Foxes found their feet and started playing higher up the pitch in the second half.

Rodri doesn't sniff danger like the ageing Fernandinho in midfield, while wantaway defender Eric Garcia looked like his head was already back in Barcelona.

Luckily for Guardiola, there is plenty of room for improvement. Ake is still bedding in at City following his big-money move from Bournemouth, while their best centre-back, Aymeric Laporte, was only on the bench on Sunday.

Jamie Vardy scores the first of his three goals against City at the Etihad on Sunday evening

Jamie Vardy scores the first of his three goals against City at the Etihad on Sunday evening

They also have highly-rated Ruben Dias on his way from Benfica in a move which will see Nicolas Otamendi, so often a liability at the back, move the other way.

While deciding on a settled back four - and getting Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy to cut out their mistakes - is a priority for Guardiola, he will also be hoping to see some key faces back in the coming weeks.

The absence of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus through injury dented City's attacking threat on Sunday, while Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan are among the other first-team regulars currently ruled out.

City's bench was noticeably weak on Sunday and Guardiola will know that having everyone fit - with brilliant options to come on - will be key to getting back on track. 

Star striker Sergio Aguero is one of a number of key players currently unavailable for City

Star striker Sergio Aguero is one of a number of key players currently unavailable for City

Despite earning a first win of the season in the most dramatic of circumstances at Brighton on Saturday, United's start has left many fans concerned. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men conceded three goals at home to Crystal Palace during a surprise opening defeat and were fortunate not to lose heavily at the Amex.

Graham Potter's men struck the woodwork an incredible five times and scored twice, and on another day would've earned three points themselves, rather than losing to a late, late Bruno Fernandes penalty.

Harry Maguire (left) and Victor Lindelof (right) had another tough afternoon against Brighton

Harry Maguire (left) and Victor Lindelof (right) had another tough afternoon against Brighton

Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have looked shaky in the centre of defence, with Red Devils favourite Rio Ferdinand describing them as 'slow and cumbersome' and calling for his old club to invest in a new centre-back ahead of Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho.

But while defence is major issue for Solskjaer to fix, the make-up of his midfield is also a worry as he attempts to protect the back four and supply his front three.

Nemanja Matic, Fernandes and Paul Pogba started together on Saturday, but the latter put in another disappointing performance and was replaced by Fred after 65 minutes.

Paul Pogba struggled to make an impact against Brighton and was taken off in the second half

Paul Pogba struggled to make an impact against Brighton and was taken off in the second half

With summer signing Donny van de Beek waiting in the wings and desperate to make an impression, Solskjaer must figure out the right blend in midfield

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