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Rags and Riches

It has become very apparent that since the start of the 2013/2014 Barclays Premier League season, there would be two main battles. A battle for Europe, either the Champions League or the less auspicious distraction of the Europa League, and a fight to avoid the drop into the Football League.
Southampton currently lie in 9th position with a comfortable seven point cushion on those that languish behind them, with Aston Villa currently heading the group. Below them are a group of teams that realistically, have the potential to be relegated. Teams like Swansea and Norwich are greatly underachieving given their spending last summer, and there is no wonder their respective managers futures have been called into question. The Premier League has shown no mercy, by once again dragging teams towards the foundation of arguably the best and most competitive league in the world. Poor runs of form combined with often poor quality football have hauled as many as 11 teams into the battle for survival.
Not to say that it is all negative. Crystal Palace appear to be maintaining a good push for safety along with Hull who have shocked many by their ambitious signings and consistent performances, however they still face the possibility of relegation.
One or two teams will inevitably push on in the second half of the season and bridge the gap between themselves and those who occupy 9th position. But what is usually a group of five or six teams teetering at the bottom, has doubled to more than half of the teams that make up the Barclays Premier League.
The top half of the table is another story. The 7 teams that realistically have a chance of Champions League football are all in with a shout, but the title race appears to be a battle between London’s top dogs and Manchester’s noisy neighbours. Manchester United are massively underachieving, but with the promise of signings and the arrival of Juan Mata the future doesn’t look too bleak. However, in the present, and the race for fourth spot, the elusive Champions League place has evaded Manchester United this season. A weak backbone to the team and with all their hopes up until now being placed on a young man who very few had heard of before the start of the season, spending, is too little too late.
After some big defeats and the departure of AVB, Tottenham, along with Liverpool are making good progress in their quest for Champions League football, but one of them will just fall short. Most likely Tottenham, as the defensive AVB didn’t fair too well in the big games, points lost that may inevitably cost them. As long as Suarez stays in the red of Liverpool, they have a chance, but without him, they will slowly drift back to the non-existent Liverpool we saw under Roy Hodgson.
Long term though Liverpool and Tottenham look promising, with young talent being mixed with experience and a few top class players, but unfortunately, for both teams to reach the heights of yesteryear, they must act quickly and pounce on that 4th place finish, which looks to be the only Champions League spot up for grabs.
Although Everton are looking good in Sixth, and could push for a higher finish, Europa League action next season would not be too bad an outcome for a young manager trying to bounce back from the highs but ultimate lows of relegation with Wigan last season. They are already punching above their weight, and with two of their best players on loan from other clubs, the sustainability of the Everton team is in question.
As for Newcastle and Southampton, they appear to be the teams that rely heavily on form, with Southampton having a recent setback in their hunt for stability and security not only based on results, but also the resignation of Nicola Cortese and the uncertainty surrounding the manager and some of the players. Newcastle are playing well and winning, but will just fall short of Europe, simply down to a lack of quality in depth, and with the departure of star man Yohan Cabaye looking more and more likely.
Survival is crucial for a lot of teams, yet Europe is a must for a handful. The Premier League still may boast some of the best clubs and players in the world, but the gap between the big clubs and those perceived as smaller, still shows an alarming disparity in fortunes and capabilities, and it does not look like it is about to change.

About Charlie Clark

I am currently in the final year of a Media Studies degree at the University of Derby. I would love one day to venture into sports media, but for now I am excited to write for FootyBlog.net, and share my views and opinions on the beautiful game. I am a huge football fan and I have the pleasure of supporting Tottenham Hotspur, which constantly keeps me on my toes!

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