We’re reaching the stage of the Premier League season where gaps are starting to open up and the top and bottom of the table. Now we can categorically say that the Premiership race this season is a three horse race with Arsenal and Man United both tied on 57 points, and Chelsea in third with 53 points.
I still wouldn’t count Chelsea out from winning the trophy this season. All they have to hope for is that Arsenal and Man United both lose on one weekend while Chelsea wins, which will close the gap to just one point.
Looking ahead, both Man United and Arsenal face tricky away ties this weekend. Arsenal away at Manchester City, and Man United away at the cauldron known as White Hart Lane. Chelsea, meanwhile, should pick up three easy points with their away match against Portsmouth.
The gap between third and fourth place is a massive 10 points, but there are seven different clubs who all have a shot of claiming fourth place. Those clubs are Everton, Aston Villa, Man City, Liverpool, Portsmouth and West Ham.
Liverpool, this season, has been a shambles. The last time the club has won a Premier League match was when Gerrard scored a last minute winner against Derby on Boxing Day. Sure, Liverpool has a game in hand over the other clubs, but that game in hand won’t be played until March 5th against the team they just lost to last night, West Ham United.
On February 10th, Liverpool faces an away trip to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, which looks like it should be an easier win for the Blues than usual.
My prediction for fourth place is Everton. This may change over the next 48 hours, though, if some of the competing clubs are able to pick up some great transfers before the January transfer window closes.
The race at the bottom, meanwhile, is wide open. Derby, of course, looks doomed unless they can perform a miracle. Elsewhere, there are 10 clubs still with a chance of getting relegated: Fulham, Wigan, Birmingham City, Bolton, Reading, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Tottenham.
Out of those clubs, Spurs look like they’re pushing for a slim hope of a UEFA Cup position rather than relegation, so they’ll be safe unless they return to the form of the early part of the season.
If Middlesbrough can hold on to Stewart Downing, they should be safe to stay in the Premier League despite how inconsistent their performances are.
Reading, based on their spiriting performance last night against Chelsea, should be safe. They still have huge gaps in the defense, but they’re playing with a heart and desire that was missing earlier in the season.
So, to me, it looks more like a battle between seven clubs of surviving the drop: Derby, Fulham, Wigan, Birmingham, Bolton, Sunderland and Newcastle.
My prediction for the drop are Derby, Fulham and Bolton.