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Premier League Mid Season Review & Predictions

Title Race
I wrote before the season started that I expected Chelsea to win the title, and I still stand by that. It is turning out to be a really interesting title race this year as none of the top teams are as dominant as in previous years, which means everyone drops points.

Manchester United are just not as good as the team that has won the last three titles. The defence has bene hurt by injuries all year and they seem to lack that bit of creative magic (Ronaldo) in front of goal.

Arsenal are another team in the title race, but they are still really young and are probably a year away form being able to compete over a whole season.
That leaves Chelsea, who have question marks just like everyone else, but they have less so they win by default.

Final places: Chelsea (1), Man United (2), Arsenal (3)

Champions League Places
With three of the four Champions League places decided, who will get the fourth one? The competition appears to be between Spurs, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool for that 4th spot.

Liverpool fans have had to endure a terrible first half of the season, but they must be heartened to see themselves only four points out of the last Champions League spot. Unfortunately they need to jump over three other teams to get there and I cannot see them doing that.

Aston Villa for the second season in a row have teased that they are ready to bring into the “Big Four” but when it comes down to winning the big games they find a way to lose. Villa fans will have to settle for another Europa League spot as a reward for a top seven position.

Harry Redknapp has done a terrific job at Spurs and they will be around the top four all season. The only reason I don’t see Spurs getting the 4th Champions League spot is because of the financial power of Manchester City.

Man City are just outside the top four, but Mancini’s influence can already been seen as City have failed to concede a goal in the three games he has been in charge. City have the ability to spend 100m pounds this month on the one to two stars that will be the difference between finishing fourth and playing in the Champions League next year and 5th and playing in the Europa League.

Champions League Qualifiers: Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Manchester City

Europa League
With Man City qualifying for the Champions League, that leaves Spurs, Aston Villa and Liverpool to play in the Europa League.

Europa League Qualifiers: Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa

Mid-Table Safety
I expect Birmingham, Sunderland and Fulham to all continue their fine first half form and to all end up in the top 10 at the end of the season.

Birmingham has been the surprise team of the season, but unlike Hull who were in a similar position last year at this point, I do not expect Birmingham to implode in the new year.

The fourth team I will add to the mid-table safety group is Everton. Everton have been really hit hard by injuries this season and as a result they are closer to the bottom three than the top three. As David Moyes gets players back from injury I expect Everton to be much harder to beat in the second half of the season and as a result, they will move further up the table.

Relegation Survivalists
There are a group of teams, Burnley, Stoke and Blackburn, who I expect will be around the relegation zone all season, but when the season is over they will have avoided the drop.

Relegation Contenders
That leaves Hull, Wolves, Wigan, Portsmouth, Bolton and West Ham to battle it out at the bottom of the table.

Before the season started the consensus was that the three promoted sides, Wolves, Birmingham and Burnley would be the three teams that would get relegated.

The first half performances by Burnley and Birmingham have been impressive and I expect them to stay up. So who replaces them as relegation candidates?

I really like Arvam Grant as a manager, but the financial situation at Pompey is atrocious and I expect them to sell even more of their stars this month. Unless Pompey get a massive cash injection this month that can be used on new players, I cannot see any way that they stay up.

Wolves have played as well as expected, but they are just not good enough for the Premier League and I as points get harder to pick up in the second half of the season, I expect them to fall into the bottom three and get relegated.

West Ham is another team that is having some financial problems, but if Gianfranco Zola is not forced to sell his top players this month, I expect West Ham to stay up. But that is a big if, and all indications are that the Hammers will be forced into holding a January fire sale like Portsmouth. If Zola is forced to sell the likes of Green and Parker I expect West Ham to get relegated

Wigan has been really up and down this season, but at the end of the season I expect them to avoid relegation, but only by a couple of points.

That leaves Hull and Bolton. If Owen Coyle goes to Bolton then I fully expect Bolton to avoid relegated. Depending on who Burnley get to replace Coyle, they might become more serious relegation candidates depending on who they hire as their new manager.

Hull is just a poor Premier League team, with a poor manager. But they might get lucky again this season if other teams financial situation makes them relegation candidates. When the season end I expect Phil Brown to be once again be serenading the crown at the KC Stadium as Hull survive again.

Relegated Teams: Wolves, Portsmouth, West Ham; unless Peter Reid takes over at Burley and then it will be Wolves, Portsmouth and Burnley.