This season in the Premier League has perhaps been one of the most exciting ever. The title is closer than ever to being sown up by Manchester United, but the fight for Champions League places will wage until the end of the season, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Aston Villa all battling for the three remaining places.
But what is making this season so exciting is the race to avoid relegation at the bottom of the table. Teams from 11th place in the table all the way to the bottom are struggling to make sure that they have enough points to ensure playing top-flight football for another year.
The difference between the teams in the bottom half of the table is a paltry ten points, with teams scrapping every week for results. My team, Tottenham Hotspur, were tipped to challenge for a Champions League place at the beginning of the year, but we have been mired in the bottom of the table all year, and are still only in 14th place in the League.
Teams that have been in the top flight for a decade, such as Middlesborough, are currently in the relegation zone, and could see their run in the Premier League end this season, as well as Blackburn Rovers, another long-standing member of the Premier League.
Other teams that should have no danger in being relegated are in danger as well, namely Newcastle United, who have struggled mightily during the year.
Why is the difference so tight in the bottom of the table? There are two reasons. One, teams are more closely matched than ever before thanks to television revenues. In the past, teams that are promoted from the Championship have been quickly relegated, as they often did not have the players to compete with the Premier League and lacked the funding needed to buy players that could compete on this level. The teams that have been promoted this year have been better suited to compete in the Premier League — Hull City was even in 4th place as late as October in the League. Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion have also been highly competitive.
Another reason for the close nature in the bottom of the table is the distance that the big clubs are putting between them and everyone else in the Premier League. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have more resources than any other clubs and are able to buy the players that are needed to dominate in the League. Teams that would like to make it a “big five” — Tottenham, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton, and Manchester City — have not shown the form to compete consistently with the Premier League, leading to a gap in talent in times like is seen in Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Who will be relegated form the Premier League this year? I still am not sure, but I worry everyday that Tottenham could be one of those teams. I believe that West Brom, Stoke City and Middlesborough will be the three relegated, but until the end of the season arrives, I will be nervous. But I can say that this has been the most exciting season in the Premier League since its inception 17 years ago.