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.

Read moreChampions & Relegation Watch – Premier League – Midpoint

(UPDATED) Premier League – Week 18 Slate

As I covered in my weekly Power Rankings, there hasn’t been much change to the overall stratification of the Premier League, just some changes within the three groups that make up the league. But with the clubs playing twice this week due to Boxing Day, there will either be some more separation between the groups or reinforcement of the already established groups.

The Boxing Day matches also mark the conclusion of the first half of the season, so starting on Saturday, we will be seeing rematches from earlier matches with the locations switched. Liverpool has a Boxing Day match against Newcastle United, so it is expected that they will enter the back half undefeated (16-3-0), and they have surrendered only 7 goals so far this season, the best result in that regard ever.

As always, the number in parenthesis before each club reflects their spot on our Power Rankings, and we’ll try to keep this list updated as the week progresses. Home teams are listed first, and winners will be indicated in bold. In the event of a draw, both teams will be placed in italics.

Read more(UPDATED) Premier League – Week 18 Slate

(UPDATED) Premier League – Week 17 Slate

It was Arsenal‘s turn to lose to a much lower club last week, though the loss didn’t cause them to drop from their Top Five position in the league table. They remain in the tier above everyone else in the league (as we outlined in our Power Rankings this week), and should stay there again this week with a match against a club towards the bottom of the table.

Next week, Premier League clubs will be playing twice as we reach the midpoint of the season. Until then, we have a solid slate of matches book-ended by perhaps the best two of the weekend, including the one that kicks it all off tonight. As always, the number in parenthesis before each club reflects their spot on our Power Rankings, and we’ll try to keep this list updated as the week progresses. Home teams are listed first, and winners will be indicated in bold. In the event of a draw, both teams will be placed in italics.

Read more(UPDATED) Premier League – Week 17 Slate

Premier League – Week 17 Power Rankings

After a Week 16 that went mostly as expected, we are one match away from the midpoint of the Premier League season. The league – along with our Power Rankings – have stratified into three distinct tiers (more on this below the table) and any move in our rankings only occurs within those tiers.

As always, these rankings reflect performance in Premier League matches only, and are more about the week-to-week trends instead of the whole season picture. A club is rewarded more for victories against teams there weren’t expected to defeat and vice versa, with draws treated fairly neutral unless there is a massive ranking disparity.

Note: Records presented as W-D-L
Results as of matches played through 16 December 2018

Read morePremier League – Week 17 Power Rankings

Europa League – Round of 32 Draw

Europa League is taking a break until February now that the group stage is complete. But before it does, they needed to determine the pairings for the next round of matches.

The draw took place on 17 December at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The knockout phase in Europa features 16 more clubs than Champions League, and another round, so they’ll be playing (nearly) weekly matches once play resumes on 14 February.

As a reminder, here’s how the twelve groups were settled during group play:

GroupWinners (seeded in draw)Runners-up (unseeded in draw)
ABayer Leverkusen (GER)Zürich (SUI)
BRed Bull Salzburg (AUT)Celtic (SCO)
CZenit Saint Petersburg (RUS)Slavia Prague (CZE)
DDinamo Zagreb (CRO)Fenerbahçe (TUR)
EArsenal (ENG)Sporting CP (POR)
FReal Betis (ESP)Olympiacos (GRE)
GVillarreal (ESP)Rapid Wien (AUT)
HEintracht Frankfurt (GER)Lazio (ITA)
IGenk (BEL)Malmö FF (SWE)
JSevilla (ESP)Krasnodar (RUS)
KDynamo Kyiv (UKR)Rennes (FRA)
LChelsea (ENG)BATE Borisov (BLR)

Read moreEuropa League – Round of 32 Draw

Europa League – Matchday 6 Scenarios (Part 1)

The final day of the Europa League group stage is here, and we have five of the 12 groups unsettled at the top, with three groups that are still looking for both participants in the knockout phase. 23 clubs enter Matchday 6 playing for 11 remaining spots, attempting to join the 13 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Dynamo Kyiv, Red Bull Salzburg, Lazio, Sporting CP, Fenerbahce, Real Betis, Dinamo Zagreb, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Zurich – that have already clinched advancement.

Why Winning the Group Matters

For the groups still left to be completely decided, it is in the clubs’ best interest to finish in first place if possible. As a refresher, the knockout phase of Europa League features the first and second place clubs from each of the 12 groups – plus the eight third-place teams from Champions League. Clubs are drawn against each other for two legs (with clubs from the same association unable to face each other), with the group winners and the top four third-place teams seeded for the draw.

Read moreEuropa League – Matchday 6 Scenarios (Part 1)