Predicting The Final 2014 EPL Standings
Predicting How the 2013-14 Premier League Season Will End
It has been a strange year in the Premier League, mostly because of Manchester United's absence from the title race. The defending champions started slowly under new manager David Moyes and outside of a few spurts of form here and there, have never been a factor. With the Red Devils' 15 points off the lead and only 14 matches left, it's pretty safe to assume that there's going to be a new champion come the season's end in May.
Who that champion is going to be figures to come down to three teams -- Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, who currently sit in the top three positions in the league, respectively. Arsenal and Chelsea have the league's best defensive records, with the Blues having allowed only 20 goals and the Gunners 21. Manchester City, meanwhile, has been bludgeoning teams with offense. The Sky Blues have scored a whopping 68 goals in 24 matches, 10 more than second-best and fourth-place Liverpool.
If you believe that defense wins championships, then you are probably looking at either Arsenal or Chelsea to take the crown. If you believe more in offensive flair than stout defense (and to be fair, City has only allowed 27 goals this season), then Manchester City is the likely pick, with Liverpool the lone live longshot. Everton (45 points, 5th) is in a keen battle with its fiercest rival for the final qualifying spot to the UEFA Champions League. Tottenham sits 6th on 44 points, four clear of Manchester United and just one off Everton. Manchester United has managed to keep itself three points clear of Newcastle United for some time now, but when the Red Devils win, they don't seem to get any help in front of them, and then there's the matter of United not winning, which has happened in exactly half of Moyes' club's matches this season (12-8-4).
At the bottom, there are 10 teams within six points of each other, from Stoke City in 11th on 25 points to last place Fulham on 19. As is usually the case, the relegation race is much more wide open than the title race, but it's a crazier competition in 2013-14 than it has been most seasons. Even Aston Villa in 10th is only five points clear of the relegation zone. No team below 9th place Southampton (35 points) should feel safe.
How will it all play out? Here are predictions for the entire Premier League table at season's end.
20. Crystal Palace
Currently out of the relegation zone in 17th, Crystal Palace has the fewest goals in the Premier League with 15 and that will come back to bite Palace by season's end.
19. West Ham United
West Ham is 18th on 22 points, but away form may finish off the Hammers. West Ham has 10 points from 12 away matches, but has only scored nine goals.
In last place on 19 points, Fulham has been a massive disappointment. Fulham's issue is an inability to even scratch out draws, as the club has lost 17 of its 24 matches.
17. Cardiff City
It's Cardiff City that will narrowly avoid being relegated to the League Championship, provided it can do anything away from home. Cardiff has but one road win, but has earned 15 points at home.
16. Hull City
The most notable thing about Hull City this season has been ownership's attempts to change the team's name to Hull Tigers. On the pitch, Hull is 13th but has a winning home record (5-3-4).
15. West Bromwich Albion
West Brom is another side that struggles away, with just one win and six draws. But Albion has 11 draws total, and those extra points should help save the Baggies from relegation.
The Swansea is 12th with 24 points right now, and have already sacked a manager this season. Swansea is one of four clubs at 6-12-6, but has shown talent and a level of play in the past that shouldn't be that of a relegation side.
13. Norwich City
Norwich City, also won of the quartet at 6-12-6, needs to clean up at home on the run-in. Norwich is 4-4-4 at Carrow Road and needs to improve that to jump from its current spot (15th).
Sunderland has gained 13 road points in 12 tries -- a stat that if it holds, should keep the Black Cats well out of the relegation zone.
11. Aston Villa
Normally this time of the season, the 10th place team should be safe. However, Aston Villa is just five points clear of the relegation zone. Villa is 4-4-4 away and has an away goal differential of zero. That's a promising stat for a mid-table club, and Villa should stay there.
10. Stoke City
Home form, including a recent 2-1 win over Manchester United, should be enough for Stoke City to sneak into the top 10 of the Premier League. Stoke has only dropped two of 12 home matches this season, gaining 20 points.
9. Newcastle United
Currently eighth, Newcastle seems to struggle when given chances to move up the table. Newcastle will need an upset of either Chelsea or Tottenham in its next two league matches if it hopes to outperform this prediction.
A 2-2 draw with Arsenal followed by a 3-0 pasting of Fulham has Southampton in 9th, and the Saints have a favorable schedule coming up. While 8th place is probably their ceiling, but it's definitely possible.
7. Tottenham Hotspur
Having fired a manager (not Ted Lasso, the real one, André Villas-Boas), the Tottenham Hotspurs had won four straight before a 5-1 hammering by Manchester City. The Spurs are 6th right now, despite a -1 goal differential.
"The People's Club" had a moment in the sun, winning over Manchester United and Moyes, its former manager. Everton has conceded only 25 goals, but needs better away form to land one of the European places (top five).
5. Manchester United
Moyes is vastly becoming more popular for "Moyes Face," usually seen late when United have thrown away points, than any managing ability. United has failed to dominate at home and has been dreadful against the top teams in the league. Hopes for being in the 2014-15 Champions League are fading quickly.
The lethal scoring duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (37 goals combined; Suarez has 23) have the Reds in fine form for a Champions League spot. But it's hard to see Liverpool being consistent enough to finish in the top three or challenge for the title.
3. Manchester City
Manchester City is running rampant offensively, having scored four or more goals in eight matches this season. But a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea Monday raises questions about whether City has the ability to win tight matches against top competition that will be necessary to win the title.
It's not meant to insult the Gunners by picking them second. Arsenal has every chance to win the title this year, which few would have believed after a 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa in the season opener. But Arsenal is 17-2-4 since then and lead the league with 55 points. Chelsea is second (two points back), and the clubs played to a scoreless draw at Arsenal earlier this season. Chelsea may hold the key to the league if it can beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will win the Premier League this season, because it is the most complete club, and also, it has the best manager. Jose Mourinho never loses at home in the league, and additions such as Eden Hazard, Oscar and even Samuel Eto'o have proven strokes of brilliance for the Blues. And Chelsea still has the old guard of John Terry and Frank Lampard when needed. The lone concern for Chelsea is if the title race becomes a two-way battle with Manchester City, in which Chelsea (+24) would be demolished by City (+41) on the first tiebreaker, goal difference.