The most unpredictable league in the world?
The Premier League can be a funny competition. One minute you can be on top of the table, many points clear of rivals and claiming to have already won the title and the next, languishing mid-table or even relegation zone, staring directly at the Championship. Yet year after year, one thing remains certain.
The opening few months of the season is never a finished article. After just seven games into the campaign, many supporters have already declared their club as winners or relegation strugglers. Yet with 31 matches left to play and a staggering ninety-three points available for each club, the 2011/12 season is far from decided.
Last season, at this stage, Chelsea had stormed into the lead with 18 points from a maximum of 21. Their goal difference told the same story, 15 goals ahead of second-placed Manchester City. It was the Sky Blues who had made a good start last season too; one point ahead of arch rivals Manchester United, who were on 13 points. Fourth placed Arsenal were tied with Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion, all on 11 points.
What was more startling about last season’s opening games was the fact that there was only twelve points between 18th-placed Liverpool and league leaders Chelsea. This season fourteen points separate the top from third bottom, only a two point difference.
With many pundits claiming Chelsea already had one hand on the title didn’t see Ancelotti’s side’s self-implosion, mysteriously beginning after Ray Wilkin’s sudden departure. This ‘behind-closed-doors’ affair resulted in Chelsea slipping up points and eventually allowing Manchester United and Arsenal to overtake them.
By the end of last season, in comparison with the first seven games, Chelsea had fallen to second place with Manchester United taking first. Manchester City had also dropped a place from second to third and Arsenal remained fourth. Tottenham had also continued to be in fifth place, clinching the Europa League spot. However, the real achievers in the remaining thirty-one games were Liverpool. The Reds had a torrid start to last season, losing to newcomers Blackpool at home and drawing with Sunderland when a defeat looked more likely. However a change of manager and a change of heart led to a vast ascent up the table, where they took sixth place. Many had doubted Liverpool’s credentials and had already predicted a relegation brawl after just seven games.
Yet by the end of the season, with wins over both sides of Manchester under their belt, they looked more and more impressive and the doubters were made to eat their own words. The opposite situation came about Blackpool, who had started the season with a real burst of excitement and thrills, stocking up an extraordinary ten points, just one fewer than Arsenal. Nevertheless, luck can come with two sides of a coin, and the enthusiasm Blackpool possessed began to deteriorate, ending the football year with only thirty-nine points. This wasn’t enough for The Seasiders to remain afloat and a blistering start ended with a whimper.
With the 2011/12 season barely kicking off into a jam-packed campaign, many will predict but none will know where the teams will finish by May 2012. Manchester sides City and United may have already shifted out of sight but injuries, refereeing errors and just a complete lack of motivation may be the key to winning the title or letting it all go. Supporters of Arsenal may be looking on in dismay but what can ease the pain is the thought that the Gunners are only four points behind last season’s tally at this stage. The same can be said about Bolton, who may be the bottom of the pack but they are only five points away from last year and six points away this season from ninth place.
It is however, Manchester United who are the significant improvers, going from 13 points to 19 this season after the same number of games. Manchester City are advantageous by only five points, whereas Chelsea are two points adrift from 2010/11’s stats. Liverpool fans will be delighted to learn they have doubled the points from last season at this phase.
With more than three quarters of the season remaining, any team can end up anywhere and no amount of predictions will determine the outcome. Will one of the Manchester sides slip up? Will Arsenal stage a comeback and contend for the title? Will Chelsea maintain their run or will last season’s antics catch up with them again? This season is far from over so hold onto the ‘Wenger out’ and ‘Manchester City/United for the title’ banners for now. Let the talking begin when the season really starts.
Latest posts by Hiten Patel (see all)
- Why Morgan Schneiderlin is the Missing Ingredient for Arsenal - January 10, 2015
- Transfer of RVP only serves to spike Arsenal, Manchester United rivalry - August 17, 2012
- How To Make It Rich In FIFA 12 Ultimate Team - July 31, 2012