Even this early on into the current EPL season viewers have witnessed nearly every team have at least one or two surprise if not shock results. Often these so called ‘blips’ have been accompanied by a dip in form, or at the very least results that have meant the table from top to bottom is as intriguing and open as perhaps it has ever been before.
At the top you have United and Chelsea, who play each other at the Bridge (at least that’s what it’s called for now) this weekend. United are a different side this term after losing Ronaldo and Tevez, and my general opinion is that no team, no matter how good or how big the squad may be, can improve as a result of selling its best player. In this particular instance arguably the best player in the world to boot.
Chelsea on the other hand remain largely unchanged from last season apart from in the board room and the coaching staff and I feel represent the stiffest challenge to United’s bid for a 4th consecutive league trophy. Behind them lie Arsenal, City, Spurs, Liverpool and Villa all looking for that coveted top four finish.
Below them the remaining sides are left scrambling for Europa League finishes or the ambiguity of mid table league position, but for the first time in many years I don’t feel many of them really fear relegation. My rational behind this is quite simple, although results have shown that anyone can take points from most everyone in the Premiership this season, some teams stand out as being particularly below par.
For example, Hull have to be everyone’s favourites to go down, short of a miracle – which at the current rate is also what Phil Brown will need to keep his job until the end of the season. Then you have to look at Portsmouth, whom despite a recent upturn in fortune, cannot realistically view themselves as anything other than relegation fodder unless some drastic changes happen behind the scenes.
The recent financial issues at Portsmouth are well documented so I won’t go into detail, but if they fail to add quality to the playing staff in January they are as good as relegated in my eyes. At the moment they can barely pay the bills let alone anything above that.
Then I turn my attention to the three promoted sides. They have all acquitted themselves very well so far, but realistically what are the chances of none of them going back down again.. very improbable.. which means all of the relegation places are taken up. Sorry to ruin the suspense for everyone but if you support any other team the season is pretty much over unless you want to finish in a European place.
And so the sense of irony that the world of football always seems to have a commendable mastery of comes around again. In making the Premiership the most competitive it has ever been, it has actually made it the easiest to survive, but the most difficult to succeed in. Unfortunately that means the bottom of the league which normally provides more excitement than the top come the end of the season, is a good as decided already.