Newcastle boss Alan Pardew believes life for the Barclays Premier League big guns has become tougher this season with no-one yet having taking a grip of the title race.
The Magpies entertain big-spending Manchester City on Boxing Day hoping to further dent their credentials by condemning them to a second successive defeat.
City rivals Manchester United are currently two points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, but Pardew is of the opinion that the gap between the top sides and those at the bottom has closed this season.
He told talkSPORT: "There isn't a dominant force in the Premier League - and I include Man United in that.
"The level of performance from mid teams and lower teams has probably improved, and that's where you are having difficult results for the top teams.
"Chelsea, Man United, Man City, Arsenal are all juggling to reach that top spot and it's constantly changing at the moment.
"As the season evolves, one will emerge and that's what they all trying for at the moment.
"I think generally looking through the Premiership, all the games are particularly tough.
"We are hoping to emerge from where we are in that middle table pack to become a better team."