25 matches down, 13 to go. It seems hard to believe that there are only 13 Premier League matches remaining, but such is the world of football with the F.A. Cup, Carling Cup, and Champions League populating a good portion of the remaining English Football schedules (for those worthy/lucky enough to still be a part of them anyway).
There are a number of questions that can be asked regarding the last few months. Can Everton play the role of spoiler and keep a Champion’s League regular from the promised land of the top 4? Can Liverpool make a late season push with its new acquisitions and sneak into the top 4? Can Tottenham avoid the late season collapse of a year ago? Can United hang on to “easily” win the title?
Position-wise, there has been a lot of shuffling from last season to this season among the usual top teams:
25 matches into last season, the top third of the table looks fairly similar team-wise to this season. The usual names: Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and the two Manchester clubs. There is one “newcomer” in the bunch and that is Everton. Playing the role of Newcastle of a year ago, both squads ironically had 42 points with 13 matches remaining. This season, United has a much better pole position than Man City did last season, 9 points clear versus only 2. Arsenal is only 2 points worse off than last season, but sits in 6th rather than 4th. Tottenham was sitting comfortably in 3rd, 10 points clear of Arsenal in 4th and only 5 back from 2nd place United. This season is a difference story. Tottenham are 8 points worse off and are hanging on to 4th place by only 3 points to Everton and 4 points to Arsenal. Liverpool is still sitting in 7th and is further behind in points than at the same time last season despite their recent improvements.
Now let’s take a look at how the 2011/2012 table finished and then peer into my crystal ball to see how the table may look at the end of this season.
In one of the most exciting Premier League finishes in recent memory, City hung on to claim the title spot that they held over United at the 25 match mark a year ago. Against the odds, Arsenal overcame a 10 point hole to Tottenham to finish 3rd while the Spurs finished 4th (but still out of the Champions League due to Chelsea’s improbable Champions League victory). Newcastle hung on to finish a respectable 5th, while Chelsea had a bad run of Premier League form to finish 6th. To round out the top 7, Everton actually creeps into the picture to steal a spot away from Liverpool.
With Newcastle out of the picture this season, it looks like a 6 team race for the top 4 spots, which leaves 2 clubs missing out on Champions League action in 2013/2014. Here is how I see the final table looking at seasons end:
- Manchester United – I don’t see a collapse here, they are way too strong of a squad and look to finish out the Premier League season rather comfortably to win the title yet again.
- Manchester City – They do not have the firepower and consistency this season to catch United, but I do not see them slipping below 2nd and I don’t envision another club going on an epic run to catch them.
- Chelsea – They had a great start to the season then faded the last couple of months. They should regain form and I believe they retain the 3rd spot.
- Arsenal – Arsenal’s summer signings (Giroud and Podolski) are now clicking on all cylinders. Injuries have plagued them in the past and they do not have a deep bench so if they can stay healthy, I think they squeak into the last Champion’s League spot.
- Tottenham – With shades of 2011/2012, the Spurs miss out on the Champion’s League to their North London rival. I think the 4th/5th spots will come down to Arsenal or Tottenham and based on how Tottenham finished last season, I don’t have much confidence in their ability to finish strong.
- Liverpool – Recent draws against Arsenal and Manchester City should be seen as positives even though they had a 2-0 lead in the 2nd half against the Gunners. They are starting to score goals with the help of a new signing in Daniel Sturridge. Coutinho also provides a burst of midfield youth so I see them improving on last season and taking the 6th spot.
- Everton – I think they finish at the same spot they finished last season. They had a good run of form but have to start turning those draws into 3 points if they want to contend for a Champion’s League spot. I think they pull a Tottenham and fade down the stretch.
Agree or disagree, I’d like to hear how you think the Premier League will stack up come season’s end. Leave a comment below to voice your opinion.
For further reading on this topic, take a look at what Forbes predicted back in August.