All the signs are that we are in for one of the most exciting Premier League seasons ever – at both ends of the table.
While Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United look certain to battle it out for top dog status, no fewer than 14 teams are seperated by just six points with more than a quarter of the season gone.
Tottenham, Bolton and Newcastle all climbed off the foot of the table over the weekend before the Magpies’ impressive 2-0 victory over Aston Villa dumped Harry Redknapp’s Spurs back to the bottom of the pile.
But even the most ardent Arsenal fan cannot expect Redknapp’s men to finish the season in the relegation places come May. Harry’s men are football odds of 10.0 to get relegated and it’s a price to stay well clear of after wins over Bolton and Liverpool and a draw against Arsenal – all masterminded by magic-man Redknapp.
The men from White Hart Lane have been rejuvenated, while Newcastle have also been given the kiss of life by interim boss Joe Kinnear. The Magpies are now 14th after Monday’s gutsy win over Villa and they have also proved what a boost a new manager can have.
Both those giants looked doomed weeks ago, while Bolton also chalked up a weekend victory over Manchester City to make sure they weren’t bottom of the pile for long.
Stoke, who were football odds of 1.2 for the drop two weeks ago, have eased to 1.55 after back-to-back victories over Sunderland and Arsenal, while 17th-placed Wigan ended a poor run of form with an eye-catching 2-1 success at Portsmouth.
West Brom are another side who are near the bottom and it’s safe to say they have not yet found a goalscorer to replace Kevin Phillips, but if they do then they could easily manage to finish out of the relegation places.
Sunderland and Fulham are the other sides struggling and considering Fulham’s dramatic escape from relegation last season they have the experience to deal with a relegation battle, while Sunderland will pick up plenty of points on home soil.
It all points to what could be a nail-biting climax in May and it’s a brave man who tries to pick the three condemned men at this stage of the season.
By Phil Tomlinson