The first half of the 2012-13 EPL season has finished and we are left with 17 more matches to be played. This includes getting through the January transfer window and whatever that may bring. To start the New Year Manchester United sits at the top of the league while Queens Park Rangers are dead last (on goal difference). Manchester City, Tottenham, and Chelsea round out the top four while Reading (tied on points with QPR) and Wigan sit at the bottom.
The middle of the table has its fair share of over-achievers, under-achievers and mediocre teams. I would say that Swansea, West Brom, Norwich and Everton are certainly doing more this season than many expected. Fulham, Sunderland, and Newcastle United are certainly doing worse than previously thought. Arsenal could be included in this along with Liverpool, but Arsenal did just lose their leading goal scorer and Liverpool are in a rebuilding year.
The rest of the teams are all in positions that could be considered proper for them, with perhaps the exception of West Ham who could fall into the category of over-achiever considering they are currently in eleventh place having just been promoted.
Before January comes to a close I’m going to make my predictions for the end of the season positions in the Premier League table. January could very well change how well several of these teams do, particularly those at the bottom and in the middle of the table. The transfer window is something that can always do wonders to change the fortunes of teams for the second half of the season.
Here are my predictions for the end of the season EPL table:
1. Manchester United
2. Manchester City
18. Queens Park Rangers
At the top Manchester United will come through as title winners this year with Manchester City close second. Manchester United has been winning even when not convincing and tend to finish seasons strong. They also have Robin van Persie who has been the difference in this year’s team, especially at a time when their wingers just don’t seem to have it together and their defense is quite poor.
Manchester City has not been convincing at all and worse still, they haven’t had the ability to win games that they should have been winning. Chelsea is coming on much stronger since Rafa Benitez took over and they should be able to hold off Tottenham for third. Tottenham will be able to take the fourth and final Champions League place. They have started to play better lately and the players seem to be buying into Andre Villa Boas’ system (something Chelsea couldn’t do).
I think this is the season that Everton holds off Arsenal to get into Europe, but the teams above them have been better and will keep them from being able to claim a Champions League spot. Arsenal still haven’t shown any real motivation to challenge for the top four this year and they have been continually inconsistent. Which leads into the inconsistency of the teams just below: Swansea, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, and Liverpool will all miss out on European places in the table. They should all manage top ten finishes with Norwich and West Ham United just missing out.
The bottom of the table will be a scrappy fight with teams like Sunderland, Fulham and Newcastle United all drawn into the fight along with Wigan Athletic, Southampton, Aston Villa, Reading, and QPR. In the end I see Queens Park Rangers, Southampton and Reading going down. It will certainly be close and I see Newcastle getting very close along with the likes of Wigan and Sunderland.
It is entirely possibly that any of these other teams could go down, but I think Newcastle will strengthen enough in January to stay up. Fulham has a decent team and will probably do enough to pull clear. Sunderland will most likely struggle unless Martin O’Neill is willing to make the changes tactically to get his team playing better. Wigan tends to pick up steam for the second half of the season and will just barely scrape themselves clear. Aston Villa has a decent squad that has shown signs that they can get results and this will be their way clear.
Those are my predictions for the end of the 2012-13 season and we will wait and see what will actually happen. Let me know what your thoughts are. Will QPR do enough to stay in the EPL? How about Southampton, Wigan and Aston Villa? Do you think a team other than Manchester United can win the title?