“You say the hill’s too steep to climb,
You say you’d like to see me try,
Fearless by Pink Floyd is a track off their album “Meddle”. The track samples Liverpool’s Kop and describes the story of someone aspiring to climb a metaphorical hill. In the opening and closing, you can hear “You’ll Never Walk Alone” being sung by The Kop. The reason for the Kop’s inclusion is a bit of a mystery today, as Roger Waters and David Glimour are both Arsenal supporters.
We have new clubs on the top and bottom, as another fixture date in the English Premier League season has come and gone. Liverpool are the new league leaders after pushing their winning streak to 9 games. It has been a remarkable run by Brendan Rodgers’ side and one that has Liverpool fans dreaming of capturing their first Premier League title. Liverpool aren’t the only story in Merseyside as Everton are on a 6 game winning streak of their own. Near the bottom of the table, we have the race to avoid relegation. Fulham are hoping the hill is not too steep to climb as they make a late push for survival. As the calendar changes to April, which clubs will be fearless as they chase their aspirations?
1. Liverpool – At the start of the year, very few believed that Liverpool would be top of the league and have firm control of their own destiny in April. The 9 game winning streak will meet it’s stiffest challenge this weekend against Manchester City. If the Reds prevail, they will surely have one hand on the trophy.
2. Manchester City - The Citizens hope to have Sergio Aguero back for the massive fixture this weekend at Anfield. If City can come away with at least a draw, it would do wonders for their title aspirations.
3. Chelsea – Chelsea dispatched a surging Stoke on Saturday, but their slip up at the hands of Crystal Palace, may prove to be costly. Mourinho’s men who are still involved in the UEFA Champions League, may not have the depth for a proper title push.
“Wish You Were Here”
(Champions League Contention)
4. Everton - If it weren’t for their red neighbors, Everton would be the talk of Liverpool. The Toffees trounced Arsenal at the weekend and now can be considered favorites for the final Champions League spot. Expect the winning streak to continue in the next two fixtures against Sunderland and Crystal Palace.
5. Arsenal - What was once looking like a season where Arsenal turned the corner has now been shrouded with doom and gloom. Arsene Wenger seems to be running out of answers just as their title aspirations have come to a screeching halt. The Gunners are still alive in the FA Cup, but will silverware alone quench the fans at the Emirates?
6. Manchester United - The goals have been flying in for Manchester United in their last two Premier League fixtures. The 8 goals against Aston Villa and Newcastle United have offered supporters a glimmer of hope prior to their midweek duel at Bayern.
7. Tottenham Hotspur - I debated putting Spurs at 6th after they defeated Sunderland 5-1 on Monday night. Unfortunately the 4-0 drubbing they received against Liverpool was more than enough to keep them at 7th. On a positive note Tottenham have winnable fixtures on the horizon and should see them make a late season push.
8. Stoke City – The five game points streak came to an end for Stoke at the weekend against Chelsea. I believe it is safe to say that Mark Hughes has delivered in his first year at helm for the Potters.
9. Southampton - The Saints were impressive against Newcastle in their 4-0 victory last weekend. Although they lost on Saturday to Manchester City by a harsh scoreline of 4-1. You could not fault them for officiating blunders that gave Manchester City 2 goals.
10. West Ham United - The win over Sunderland last weekend got them to 37 points and what should be safety. The Hammers also put up a fight against free scoring Liverpool, only losing 1-2 at Upton Park.
11. Hull City - The Tigers look to be safe in the Premier League with 36 points after defeating Swansea. A good year can turn into a great year with a victory in the FA Cup semi final this weekend.
12. Newcastle United – In the past 270 minutes, Newcastle has been outscored 11-0. I considered putting them at the bottom of the table, but the Toon have 46 reasons to stay in the Premier League next season. They have nothing left to play for and it seems like the players are taking the message to heart.
“Another Brick In The Wall”
13. Crystal Palace – “We don’t need no relegation” must be the tune being sung from Palace’s locker room after two consecutive victories against Chelsea and Cardiff City. Palace continues to defy expectations and I’m inclined to show Palace some love in the power rankings. In their next fixture they play host to a struggling Villa side and safety will almost be assured with a victory.
14. Swansea City - It’s been a disappointing campaign for Swansea this season. The Welsh outfit just can’t get any consistency going. After defeating Norwich last weekend, they follow it with a tough loss to Hull. Things are about to get a bit more difficult with Chelsea coming to Wales this weekend. Fortunately for the Swans, the remaining matches after that are winnable.
15. Aston Villa – I wonder if the Villains actually believe they are safe from the drop. They currently sit on 34 points and have remained there for the past three weeks. The loss of Christian Benteke will make the remaining fixtures exceedingly difficult. If points are not won at Palace, Villa may be dragged into the relegation fray.
16. West Bromwich Albion – Drawing with Cardiff and a win against Norwich were points desperately needed by the Baggies. If they can muster any points against Tottenham or Manchester City in the coming two fixtures, it would do wonders for their fight for survival.
17. Fulham – The Cottagers got a big away win this weekend at Villa and it seems as they won’t go quietly into the night. If Fulham have any chance of reprising their 2008 heroics, they must win against Norwich in front of the Craven Cottage faithful this weekend.
18. Norwich City – Chris Hughton is out and Neil Adams is in at Norwich. A manager change this late in the campaign wreaks of desperation. Unfortunately desperation is all they may have at Carrow Road. This weekend’s game against Fulham is practically a must-win for the Canaries, because after this weekend its Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal to close the campaign.
“Us and Them”
19. Sunderland - The Black Cats sit at the bottom of the Premier League table, yet have two games in hand. Unfortunately those games in hand come against some of the stiffest competition in England. After being beaten 5-1 at the hands of Tottenham on Monday, Sunderland plays host to the unstoppable train that is Everton on Saturday and then travels to the Etihad midweek to play Manchester City. On the bright side, they won’t be seeing those teams next year in the Championship.
20. Cardiff City – There was a certain lack of fight on Saturday against Crystal Palace. Despite dominating possession, Cardiff couldn’t make anything of it and plunge deeper into the depths of the Premier League.