08 January 2014

Power Rankings: Match 20

It was a wild and woolly December with clubs playing a flurry of matches in such quick succession that trying to juggle the power rankings between each one was all but impossible. By the time we had digested one match, it seemed another one had arrived, and so we arrive in January, 20 matches gone and 18 to play, and we have what looks more and more like a three-team competition for the Prem title. Competition for the remaining European spots might become a squabble involving as many as six other teams, assuming Southampton can halt its slide in order to close the six-point gap between them and Newcastle. Arsenal, for what it's worth, have a bit of a softer January schedule, at least compared to Chelsea and Man City, each of whom have tough fixtures against other top-of-the-table competitors. This could provide us a chance to create a bit of space between us, Man City, and Chelsea on the official table. For now, though, let's look at each team's momentum ahead of the weekend. Remember, this only reflects Prem results, and FA Cup or League Cup results are not included.

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(W-D-L)
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1.     Man City (1)
(LWWDW)


Swansea 2-3
14-2-4
2nd: 44
A couple of road-wins might show that City is starting to solve its away-form. Then again, they’ll be without Aguero for a few weeks, including a tough trip to play Newcastle this weekend
@ Newcastle 1/12
2.     Arsenal (2)
(LDWWW)
2-0 Cardiff
14-3-3
1st: 45
We emerged from that 6-3 drubbing at the Etihad in fine form, reeling off three wins in a row to stay atop the Prem. The talk of the moment is reinforcements, especially at center-forward where we have no one healthy.
@ Aston Villa 1/13
3.     Chelsea (4)
(WDWWW)
Soton 0-3
13-4-3
3rd: 43
Chelsea look to be picking up momentum. After struggling to score, they’ve gone seven in three matches (including three at stubborn if fading Southampton). Like City, though, they have a stiffer schedule than we do.
@ Hull 1/11
4.     Liverpool (3)
(WWLLW)
2-0 Hull
12-3-5
4th: 39
Still looking a bit like flat-track bullies, happy to crush inferior opponents but unable to take a point from those near, at, or above them in quality (yes, I’m aware of their win over Man U).
@ Stoke 1/12
5.     Everton (5)
(WWLWD)

Stoke 1-1
10-8-2
5th: 38
They had a golden opportunity to overtake Liverpool but couldn’t manage to make the post of some easier fixtures. They’ll have to show more of a killer’s instinct to finish of inferior opponents, but their will to avoid losses could provide stability.
Norwich 1/11

Nibbling around the edges, just off the pace and on the outside looking in are Spurs (37 points), Man U (34), Newcastle (33), and Southampton (27). The Saints are going to have to right their ship and soon if they hope to close the gap; Spurs look to be energized if only temporarily under Sherwood, and Man U are at risk of becoming a running-joke with three consecutive losses (two at home). Newcastle seem to have faded in similar fashion, with three consecutive losses of their own.

Of course, with the transfer-window open, things could change. Rumors are already flying, and player-movement, in and out, can have just as much impact on a team's momentum as a string of results. I daresay, however, that few teams look as interesting to play for, and even fewer can offer the chance for silverware, as Arsenal can. Top of the table. Still contending in the FA Cup and Champions League A transfer-kitty that might be as high as £75 million. The coming weeks could be interesting ones, indeed.