SportMuse Best of 2018

With the New Year upon us, we felt like it would be appropriate to share the top articles read by you, our readers, during 2018.

We started this little enterprise back in July to write about the Premier League, and have since expanded our coverage over the past few months to include the EFL Championship, UEFA Champions League, NCAA football, some MLS coverage, and some writing about the NFL and NBA (which nobody seems to read).

As we enter 2019, we intend to keep focus on European football, but will also be offering in-depth coverage of the Asian Champions League, Women’s World Cup 2019, March Madness, and a bunch of other things that we can find time for. We appreciate every reader and social media interaction that we’ve had over the past 5+ months and look forward to more of the same in 2019 and beyond.

Without further ado, here, in reverse chronological order, are our most read articles from 2018:

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Champions & Relegation Watch – Premier League – Midpoint

Note: This is the final piece looking at the title/relegation races across English football. Click on the links to see the Championship, League One, and League Two.

With the completion of the midweek “Boxing Day” matches, all the clubs in the Premier League have now played 19 matches, and begin the second half of their schedules with matches beginning on Saturday.

As a reminder, the top four clubs in the Premier League qualify for the Group Stage of Champions League, while the fifth place team does the same in Europa League. These competitions are great for worldwide exposure – not to mention the prize money – but it’s also for bragging rights across Europe. No English club has won the Champions League since Chelsea did so back in 2012, though we are only two seasons removed from Manchester City claiming the last English Europa League title.

League placement is important for clubs beyond the top five as well. Last season, due to cup winners qualifying for continental competition based on league position, England’s final two Europa League spots went to the next highest finishers in the league, with Arsenal (6th place) and Burnley (7th) making it into the tournament.

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Promotion & Relegation Watch – League Two – Midpoint

Note: It’s the midpoint across the English Football League, with matches on Boxing Day marking the start of the second half of the season for the Championship, League One, and League Two.

Between international call-ups postponing matches – League One and League Two clubs don’t generally get international breaks but can request postponement of matches if they lose first-team players to international clubs – and trouble with weather or fields, some clubs have not yet played 23 matches. Nevertheless, with three quarters of the clubs done with the first time through the league, we wanted to look at the standings to see where the clubs currently stand.

As a reminder, in League Two, the top three teams are automatically promoted to League One, with the fourth- through seventh-place teams competing for promotion via a playoff. After the 2017-2018 season, Accrington Stanley (1st), Luton Town (2nd), Wycombe Wanderers (3rd) and Coventry City (playoff winner) earned promotion.

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Promotion & Relegation Watch – League One – Midpoint

Ahead of a full Boxing Day slate, we’ve reached the midpoint of the English Football League season across the various levels in the system. This is true of League One, where the majority of clubs have reached the halfway point, though there are some clubs that had matches postponed or abandoned for various reasons.

Similar to the Championship, the top two clubs in League One automatically qualify for promotion, with the next four clubs vying for promotion via a playoff. Last season, Wigan Athletic (currently 19th in the Championship) and Blackburn Rovers (14th) earned automatic promotion, while Rotherham United (21st) defeated Shrewsbury Town for the third promotion spot.

The Top of the Table

Prior to the first matches of the second half on Wednesday, the top of the league table looked like this:

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Promotion & Relegation Watch – Championship – Midpoint

Championship Promotion & Relegation Watch

We have officially reached the midpoint of the season in the Championship, so I figured it was as good a time as any to update our look at the top and bottom of the league table.

As a reminder, the top two teams automatically qualify for promotion to next year’s Premier League, while the next four clubs compete for one spot in a two-round playoff. Last season, Wolverhampton Wanderers won the Championship, Cardiff City finished second, and Fulham earned promotion through the playoff (after finishing third during the season).

Since the last time we looked at the Championship, not much has changed. The top six clubs remain the same, though the order has been shuffled around a bit. Expanding the look a bit beyond those six clubs, eight of the top ten clubs are the same as well, with Birmingham City and Stoke City finding themselves just outside that last playoff spot.

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Promotion & Relegation Watch – League Two – Version 3

Note: With yet another international break at the top of English football, we have decided to take a look at the promotion and relegation picture in the top four leagues in England. You can find the Premier League version here, the Championship version here, and the League One version here.

Like League One, League Two is not participating in the international break this week, with most of the teams in action this weekend (Yeovil Town and Lincoln City has been postponed until later in the season due to international call-ups). Only two clubs have yet to play 17 matches on the season, and all the clubs have played at least five matches since the last time we looked at these standings.

As a reminder, in League Two, the top three teams are automatically promoted to League One, with the fourth- through seventh-place teams competing for promotion via a playoff. After the 2017-2018 season, Accrington Stanley (1st), Luton Town (2nd), Wycombe Wanderers (3rd) and Coventry City (playoff winner) earned promotion.

Read morePromotion & Relegation Watch – League Two – Version 3