The arrival of spring means many things to people. The days get longer, snow melts as the sun shines again after it’s wintery absence, flowers begin to bloom, and the English Premier League enters the business end of the season. It is in this final stretch where legends are made and unforgettable moments occur. The season of success and calamity, where the sum of a campaigns effort pays dividends. Aptly known as “squeaky bum time,” it is a pressure cooker where sides discover what boils within. As Freddie Mercury and Queen once said “pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you.” No man asks for the pressure of the moment, yet it is the response to such adversity that makes one achieve hero status.
Which teams will flourish and which will wilt under the pressure of spring? We are only seven weekends away from the finale on May 11th and there is a lot of soccer to come.
Here are the Premier League Power Rankings after gameweek 31:
“Don’t Stop Me Now”
1. Chelsea – The league leaders demolished Arsenal 6-0 over the weekend. Eden Hazard is in top form and Jose Mourinho’s men have won four out of their last five.
2. Liverpool - One point back and full of optimism, this might be the Liverpool team that finally erases decades of Premier League futility at Anfield. The Reds are on an 7 game winning streak and show no signs of stopping.
3. Manchester City - The blue half of Manchester are on Chelsea’s coat tails with two games in hand and will travel to Arsenal on a four game winning streak. Yaya Toure will need to continue his heroics if the Citizens are to sustain their title chase.
“You’re My Best Friend”
(Champions League Contention)
4. Everton - Everton continued it’s good run of form compiling it’s fourth consecutive win with a convincing 0-3 handling of Newcastle United. Roberto Martinez has a history of making late pushes out of the relegation zone with Wigan Athletic. This time his late push may be rewarded with the Champions League at Goodison Park next season.
5. Arsenal - Arsene Wenger’s best friend in recent years has been his prized “fourth place trophy.” Getting there this year will be a challenge as the wheels seem to be coming off on Arsenals season. If the death knell of their title chase hasn’t rung after their 6-0 demolition at the hands of Chelsea or their 2-2 draw midweek to Swansea City, Manchester City will surely do the honors as they storm into the Emirates this Saturday.
6. Manchester United - The Red Devils looked to be turning their season around with consecutive wins against Olympiakos and West Ham. Tuesdays 0-3 defeat to Manchester City halted the wave of positivity in the red half of Manchester. On the bright side, the remaining Premier League schedule presents United with winnable fixtures and the potential to gain points on those ahead of them.
7. Tottenham Hotspur - Consistency is key in the pursuit for the final Champions League spot. Last minute heroics were needed to defeat Southampton at home over the weekend. A similar performance this weekend at Anfield will almost surely result in a drubbing to Liverpool.
“The Show Must Go On”
8. Stoke City – Mark Hughes’ men are on a roll of late winning three of their last four, including an impressive 1-4 win at Villa Park and a 1-0 win against Arsenal.
9. Newcastle United - The defining factor between Newcastle and the teams above them is the ability to get results against the top of the Premier League table. Disappointing displays against teams above them continued on Wednesday with Everton thrashing them 0-3 at St. James Park.
10. Southampton - After an impressive start to the season, The Saints have slightly tailed off. The loss at Spurs last weekend may have just killed off any chance of them sneaking into a Europa League spot.
11. Aston Villa - The home loss to Stoke was shocking for many Villa supporters, especially after they had defeated league leaders Chelsea a week prior. Christian Benteke is still on fire at Villa Park scoring five in his last six home matches.
“I Want To Break Free”
(Not Quite Safe)
12. West Ham United - Hull City was just the pick me up the Hammers needed. The win ended a 3 game losing streak and brought them up to 34 points. A win against Sunderland this weekend will almost assure safety.
13. Norwich City - Alexander Tettey had one of the goals of the season during Norwich’s 2-0 win versus Sunderland. The Canaries need to build a cushion from the relegation zone with upcoming fixtures against Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, and Fulham.
14. Hull City - Joy from the weekend quickly turned to despair midweek with a 2-1 defeat at West Ham. The Tigers might slip further down if they fail to get points from upcoming fixtures against Stoke and Swansea.
“It’s A Hard Life”
15. Swansea City - Although unlucky to have the final whistle blown on a breakaway against Arsenal, Swansea finally received good fortune with a 2-2 draw at the Emirates. The Swans, who are on 30 points, have an opportunity to give themselves breathing room with upcoming fixtures against Norwich City and Hull City.
16. West Bromwich Albion – The upcoming fixture against Cardiff City might be the game of the season for West Brom. Pepe Mel will need to inspire his side to a home victory or else things may get turbulent at The Hawthorns.
17. Sunderland - The Black Cats have only gotten 1 point from their last five fixtures. Points are desperately needed in order to mount a campaign for survival. A great start would be to pick up all 3 this weekend at home against West Ham.
18. Crystal Palace – Times are tough for Palace as they have only picked up two points in their last five fixtures. What is even more troubling is the fact they have only scored once in that period of time. Goals must start flowing in order to have a chance of staying in the Premier League next season.
“Another One Bites The Dust”
19. Cardiff City - Bluebirds playing in red isn’t the only catastrophe for Cardiff. Their defense has been porous and have a goal difference of -32. Their only points in the past five fixtures came against fellow dead and buried Fulham.
20. Fulham – The Cottagers look to be nearly a lock for relegation. Nearly everything has gone wrong this season, including a Premier League worst -40 goal difference. Sporting ventures have gone from bad to worse for Fulham owner Shahid Khan. He is also the owner of the bottom feeding Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. Khan now can carry the distinction of owning the arguably worst teams in both the English Premier League and the National Football League.