April 7, 2015

What’s left to race for in the Premier League?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It’s early April, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot left to play for in the Premier League.

Chelsea leads the title race by seven points, have a game in hand and are playing on form.

Manchester City sits in fourth place, the final Champions League spot, and leads Spurs and Liverpool by seven points and has a far superior goal differential.

That leaves the race for the two Europa League spots, which is down to three teams – Spurs, Liverpool and Southampton.

And quite the “race” it is, with all three teams combining to pick up just a single point this weekend on Spurs’ draw with Burnley.

Tottenham is the team out of those three actually on the best form right now, while Southampton has by far the best goal differential. This could leave Liverpool on the outside looking in.

After starting this year on fire, the injuries and suspensions have piled up fast for the Reds and with them, the losses. Saturday’s demolition at the hands of Arsenal is just another drop in the bucket of a lost season and also saw promising defender Emre Can sent off.

The Reds’ best hope of making it into Europe next season may actually be in the FA Cup, with a quarterfinal replay against Blackburn on Wednesday.

But if Brendan Rodgers’ crew can’t lift that silverware, it will have to pick up its game and rediscover the amazing form it had to start 2015.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the current team in eighth place is Swansea, which is seven points behind.

WELL, THERE IS THE RELEGATION RACE

The bottom of the table might actually be the most interesting race left in England.

While Leicester – sitting at the bottom of the table and looking kind of hopeless despite beating West Ham – is six points from safety, there is a big cluster of five teams sitting five points apart from Sunderland at 15th to QPR at 19th place.

In between are Hull City, Aston Villa and Burnley. With a big matchup on Tuesday between the Villans and Rangers, we should be in for some battles at the bottom.

While it would be a shame to see the three promoted teams get sent right back down, right now that’s looking like the most likely scenario.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Seriously, Manchester City? The defending champs have now dropped to fourth in the table and look toothless in attack. What happened to the killer team that dominates on offence? Even with nearly 75% possession against Crystal Palace on Monday, the Sky Blues lost. I’m not sure what they’ll be, but there will certainly be changes at the Etihad this summer … There were no shortage of goals of the week candidates. Take your pick from Jason Puncheon’s free kick, Charlie Adams chipping Thibault Courtois from half or Jermain Defoe’s wonder-volley. My pick goes to Bobby Zamora’s wonderful chip while being defended in full stride … Raheem Sterling has rejected a new contract with Liverpool worth 100,000 pounds per week. While I’m not saying that he isn’t worth that – he is – why not just take it and then negotiate an exit in the transfer window. Either way he doesn’t seem happy to be at Liverpool and obviously wants out … We knew Diego Costa would pick up some knocks during the season and now he’s limping again. It’s a good thing the Blues have some other attacking options and a nice lead atop the table … When trailing on the road at halftime, Manchester City hasn’t won in the Premier League in 20 years.

THE LAST WORD

Why can’t Newcastle beat Sunderland?

Another instalment of the Tyneside derby and another three points for the Black Cats.

No matter where these teams are in the table, Sunderland always seems to get the better of its bitter rival.

Really, it has gotten to the point where it’s even questionable to call it a rivalry – that would infer that both sides are actually fighting.

When Newcastle gets around to hiring a real manager after Alan Pardew left earlier this year, they should find one that takes these games seriously.

There’s nothing worse than being beaten time and again by your neighbours and having them hold it over your head.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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