This has been an exciting year to a be a football supporter. In previous seasons Manchester United won the league in dominant and, sadly, forgettable circumstances. Though the memory of sitting in the rafters at the Stadium of Light experiencing the effects of Sergio Aguero’s title-winning goal in 2012 on the United team and supporters still lives large, I personally cannot remember a season as close as the 2013/14 season.
Simply, anyone can win it this season. 24 games in and we still have no idea how the league will look 14 games later. This somewhat excludes United (of all teams), Newcastle and Southampton who sit adrift from the rest of the league in their own little mid-table bubble and because their form seems so up-and-down they’ve managed to slip away from the top yet remain clear of the bottom. That leaves Manchester City through to Tottenham as potential title candidates, 6 teams that (by points at least) are in contention for the title.
As for the bottom of the table, that creates a more interesting picture. Aston Villa may be 5 points clear of trouble but probably not clear enough. Two wins from any of the bottom sides could place Villa right in the heart of a relegation battle. As such, Villa through to Fulham at the bottom presents 11 teams that could go down (not Sunderland, though, they’re too good). Apart from Crystal Palace and Sunderland, whose forms have seen a resurgence of late, the other 9 teams have had dismal results in previous games. Even intricate, flowing and pass-perfect Swansea have fallen down the table into the relegation scrap. Southampton may be 7 points clear of Villa but if the bottom clubs start picking up wins and Southampton falter, they might be drawn in as Swansea were. Even with their core of England hopefuls.
Throw in the plethora of controversy surrounding refereeing decisions and the return of one of the greatest footballing heroes of our time to English football, Nicklas Bendtner, and we have ourselves a highly entertaining league this year. Let’s hope it factors into the World Cup this time around in some way.