We’re back with our monthly Premier League Power Rankings, and we missed December because, well, there was just a bit too much action happening – and no international break during the month – for us to take a break and look at where things stand in the top league in England.
Since our November Power Rankings, not much has changed in the Premier League, at least at the top. Liverpool has managed to widen their gap at the top of the league table, and it doesn’t look like they are planning on losing anytime soon. A look at their upcoming schedule points to a trip to Manchester City to open April as the next real chance for even a draw to blemish their record. In the meantime, they will turn their focus to Europe and defending their Champions League title of last year.
Most clubs have played 12 times since those November Power Rankings, with only the aforementioned Liverpool and West Ham United playing 11 due to a rescheduling of their earlier match because of Liverpool’s participation (and victory) in the FIFA Club World Cup. They will be playing that make-up match next Wednesday.
Only four clubs remain in the same position they were in November, and only six clubs find themselves matching their place in the league table. Just over 40% of the season remains, and while it seems like Liverpool is well on its way to its first Premier League title, there is still a lot to be settled on the field.
Here’s where we have the clubs about 60% of the way through the season, with action through 23 January 2020:
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
|16||Brighton & Hove Albion||6-7-11||13||3↓||15|
|19||West Ham United||6-5-12||14||5↓||17|
The Battle for Europe
Last season, the “Big Six” – plus recently promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers – finished in the top seven and qualified for Europe. Those seven clubs are still alive in Champions League and Europa League, though it’s hard to say how long seven clubs remain through the upcoming knockout rounds.
This season, a couple of members of the Premier League royalty have struggled, opening the door for some new participants in next season’s UEFA competitions. Leicester City, a surprise Premier League champion a few years ago, is back near the top of the table and 14 points clear of fifth-place Manchester United in third place. If they can continue their blistering pace down the back half of the season, they could find themselves back in Champions League for the first time since the season following that title.
Another surprise competitor for a UEFA spot is attempting to match the Wolves performance of last season in reaching Europe in their first season after promotion. Sheffield United doesn’t score a lot; they have the fewest goals (25) of any club in the top half of the table. But the Blades have surrendered the second-fewest goals (23), allowing the club we thought was going to head right back to the Championship in the preseason to being one point behind Manchester United. Regardless how the season ends for the Blades, they have definitely exceeded a lot of expectations this season.
The Fight to Avoid Relegation
Six clubs have yet to break the 30 points barrier, and as such, each have at least a 1-in-5 chance of facing relegation to the Championship per FiveThirtyEight. Leading the way is last season’s Championship winner Norwich City with over a 90% chance of finishing in the bottom three. With only 17 points through 24 matches, and nearly twice as many goals conceded (47) as scored (24), it’s easy to see why they are likely heading back to the Championship after a one season stop in the Premier League.
Though they have an easier time scoring, Aston Villa has surrendered the second-most goals in the league (45) behind their former Championship compatriots, and they could be heading back to rekindle that rivalry in tier two next season. The Lions have failed to find a rhythm this season, and have won back-to-back matches only once this season. They could, however, duplicate that feat in their next match, with a match looming with fellow cellar dweller AFC Bournemouth up next. But will it be too little too late for Villa?
Finally, we need to talk about those Cherries, my preferred team from the Premier League. At the moment, they have nearly a 60% chance of finishing in the bottom three and returning to the Championship for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Playing in the smallest Premier League stadium, and the lack of funds that comes with that, may have finally caught up to the Cherries after mid-table “success” over the past few seasons. There is still time for all the bottom table clubs to turn things around, but it really needs to be sooner rather than later.
Until next time…