Premier League at the Quarter Pole

Discussion in 'Prem talk, Those Other Leagues, and International' started by AggieMatt, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    We're ten matches in and I thought it would be interesting to see if our views have changed any from the start of the season.

    The top 4 are Arsenal (25), Chelsea (20), Liverpool (20) & Tottenham (20).

    City (19), Southampton (19) and Everton (19) occupy the Europa slots.

    United (17) have rebounded to 8th after a slow start under Moyes. Newcastle (14) and Hull (14) round out the top 10.

    In the 11th-17th places, we have WBA (13), Cardiff (12), Swans (11), Villa (11), WHam (10), our beloved FFC (10) & Stoke (9).

    Norwich (8), Sunderland (4) & Palace (3) are in the relegation places.

    Goal differential has always been a decent barometer for where a team will finish. Based on that, City (+17) should get back into the top 4. Arsenal are 2nd at +13, Chelsea are +8, Soton & Liverpool are +7. At the other end of the spectrum, Palace and Sunderland are on -15 & Norwich are -14. Then there's a big gap until you find Fulham on -5 and Stoke and Cardiff with -4.

    THE TOP 4: Arsenal's next 9 matches are quite a bit more difficult than the opening 10, so I expect them to lose that 5 pt lead at the top of the table. Chelsea are strong defensively but Murinho has struggled finding the right combination of players in the front 7. Liverpool have been fun to watch and started their first 5 matches w/o Suarez. They've loosened up defensively of late, but their offense has taken off with his return. Tottenham have been sensational defensively but have struggled mightily for goals. I think City gets back in the hunt and we're likely looking at a 3 team fight at the top between City, Chelsea & Arsenal. I have more belief in Liverpool than Spurs b/c they don't play on such tight margins, so I think they're probably in that 4 spot trying to fend off the Europa League contenders.

    EUROPA SLOTS: I think Spurs fall into this group, joining United and either Soton or Everton. Last year, Spurs missed out on Champions League b/c they conceded too many goals. This year, they have the opposite problem. They've brought in a lot of younger players but for me, they lack too much grit and guile up front. I love what they're building long-term, but for this year, I think they're going to fall short again. Saints have gotten off to an incredible start with a remarkable goals against of just 4 from their first 10. I believe in their approach, but I have a hard time seeing them sustain this insane level. Roberto Martinez has picked up from Moyes at Everton and not missed a beat. They look like they should be more vulnerable at the back, and yet they haven't been. ManU have looked shaky in midfield and at the back as they attempt to integrate younger players into the side. I think RVP & Rooney up top are enough to put them into that 5-7 range despite their slow start. So I think we'll see Spurs, Utd & Soton at 5-7.

    8-10: With Southampton at 7, I think we'll see Everton at 8. If Lukaku can go on another goal scoring run though, that may change. Swansea had a really tough opening schedule and they still have a nil goal diff and are 3 pts out of the top 10. I think they're a good bet to get there. The last spot should be wide open. Goal diff would suggest WestHam or WBA should battle it out for 10th. WBA are odd though. Their approach to matches seems rather erratic (high pressure one match, low the next) and imo they've been worse with Anelka than without him. Spam are a perfect fit of talent and style for Big Sam and while many don't like it, it is effective. Newcastle and Hull are currently 9th & 10th. Newcastle certainly has the talent for a top ten finish, but after last year, they remain a bit of an enigma. I fully expect Hull to drop into the 11-15 range, possibly further. How they've amassed 14 pts to date is something of a mystery. I'll go with Everton, Swans & the Toon for 8-10.

    THE NOT TOP TEN (11-14): With Newcastle at 10, this is where we should find WestHam. Villa sit on 11 pts despite having lost Benteke to injury for a stretch. He's back and they should be too. WBA probably finishes in this block as well, especially if they'll play a little more adventurously against weaker opposition. For 14th, I like Cardiff or Hull, but wouldn't be surprised if Stoke jump up to this spot. Hughes has struggled trying to change Stoke's approach, but despite recent form, they should improve as the season wears on. They've already played the majority of the top 8 sides (6 of them) to date and have only conceded 11 goals in 10 matches. I'll go with Spam, Villa, WBA and Stoke in 11-14.

    THE RELEGATION CANDIDATES (15-19): This is where we should find Hull & Cardiff, along with Fulham, Norwich & Sunderland. Cardiff still have the odd ownership situation but are a handful at home. That alone should keep them in the league. Steve Bruce's Hull keep grinding out results but the schedule is about to get more difficult for them. Are 4-5 points much of a cushion with the teams in this group? With a goal diff of -14 and the talent on hand, Norwich look a good bet for the drop. So that leaves Sunderland and Fulham. Sunderland have dug a hole and trail Fulham by 6 pts and are tied for the worst goal diff in the league. At first glance, they should go down. But they made a proactive change in leadership. While their first outing under Poyet was poor, they've played much better in their last 2. If they can get Stephen Fletcher back healthy and Jozy can find his footing in the Prem, they could starting digging out. For me, they have more talent than Cardiff, Hull & Norwich, so it's possible. Which leaves us with rudderless Fulham. We're terrible but we've had some luck. The longer Jol stays in charge, the more risk I think we are in to fall into the bottom 3. However at this stage, while I think Sunderland surpass Norwich, I think they'll fall short and finish 18th with Fulham surviving in 17th. Or maybe that's just what I hope.

    DONE & DUSTED: Palace. They didn't do anywhere near enough to upgrade their team and they are a lock for relegation. The only question is if they finish 19th or 20th.

    There are so many variables that can take place in the bottom half of the table that could muck this up and I expect over the next 9 matches we'll see some of them. I'll take a look at it again at the halfway point and see what's changed. What do you think?
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Good analysis. I'm hoping Heather will put this up on the front page. It needs to be seen by a wider audience.
  3. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Walnut, CA
    :clap: Great stuff Matt.
  4. timmyg

    timmyg Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2006

    And because I'm me, will just add my 2cents:

    Liverpool have one of the worst second-half forms in the league. I think we're past the point of flukiness for all teams, so their second-half results in all competitions this season (1-1, 0-1, 1-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-0, 0-2, 0-0, 0-0, 2-1, 0-1) is worrying if they want any shot at a Top 4 spot.

    Spurs are right where they should be and probably will be. To date their QualcompTSR is #1, meaning--unless I've totally misconstrued this--they've produced the best compared to their opposition strength (in contrast, we're the worst ie we've done awful against awful opposition)

    Norwich probably won't get relegated due to the dross and ineptitude below them, but their current good defense (until Saturday; OUCHIE MAMA) // horrible offense ratio won't save Houghton's skin. And if our board is stubbornly going to stick with Jol, we should all be praying to any and all deities that Norwich sack Houghton posthaste and we get his defensive acumen on board.
  5. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    Everyone's spare change is welcome. Good point on Norwich. I was out of town last weekend, so while I knew City had pounded them 7-nil, it didn't click when I was looking at their goal differential. That one result is half of their negative total which puts them frighteningly closer to on par with us to date.

    It's funny you mention Hughton for a couple of reasons. First, I've touted him a few times in the past as a potential good fit for manager at Fulham after he was unceremoniously dumped by Newcastle. I've questioned that a few times since he's been at Norwich, but with a Toon squad that was similar to what we had at the time, they were displaying the type of form/results we expect from Fulham, in just their first season after winning promotion back to the Premier League. Under Hughton, Newcastle reached a high of 5th place as late as Nov 10 and secured road victories over Arsenal in the league and Chelsea in the cup. Following some legal troubles for Carroll and a 3 match ban for Barton, they slipped down the table to 11th. Newcastle were 5-4-7, 19 pts, 24 GF/25 GA, 11th place when Hughton was fired after round 16. He took over at Birmingham the following summer and led them to 4th in the Championship, while making it to the 5th round of the FA Cup and qualifying for the group stages in the Europa League.

    The other reason is that there was a rumor going around (yeah, I know) that Norwich would have a strong interest in Mackay if he became available which subsequently would make Hughton available.

    All that said, I don't know that he'd be a good fit as manager with the current Fulham squad. However, Berbatov is in the last year of his contract and Bent and Taarabt are loanees, so there will be room to remake the attacking nature of the club this summer if we survive and, of course, depending on how much money is made available. I realize you're referring to him as an addition to Jol's staff rather than as a replacement as manager. I think both scenarios are interesting to consider.
  6. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    A City by a Bay
    Good analysis and thoughts all around. I could see Poyet taking Sunderland out of the relegation zone b/c of the amount of time he's been afforded by the quick trigger of Sunderland's board. If Fulham is to remain with Jol (which seems increasingly likely in my mind), then the club have to buy/loan a playmaker in the midfield in the winter window to replace Dembele/Murphy. Fulham could do well to consider going with 3 in the back as well, with 5 "midfielders." I mean, the 4 back there now aren't exactly lighting the world on fire, plus, it may result in Fulham being able to keep pressure in the middle further up the pitch. I don't know, just want to see something other than apparent apathy - I think Reither did as well.
  7. timmyg

    timmyg Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2006
    I meant add him as an assistant to Jol, assuming the board is going to keep Jol. I'd rather not have him as our manager to be perfectly honest.
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