We are coming to the backend of the 2012/2013 Premier Leauge Season, what commentators call ‘Squeaky bum time’, but with pretty much nothing to play for in the remaining weeks for all but four teams, this has to go down as one of the worst Premier Leauge season’s ever.
It all started off so promisingly with Chelsea, Man United and Man City all within a couple of points of each other after the opening 10 rounds of fixtures. The final Champions League spot was held by Everton but was only 3 points away from West Brom in ninth. At the other end of the table QPR were cut adrift (just as they are now) though both Southampton and Reading had games in hand to close the gap to 17th place.
Fast forward another 10 games and the picture changes dramatically. United raced into a 7 point lead at the top of the table, whilst Arsenal had a game in hand to take them to 4th, level on points with Tottenham. At the wrong end, both QPR and Reading had seemingly made the bottom two places their home, with a number of teams just 3 points from that final relegation place.
And so we move to the present. 34 games into the season for most teams and there is almost nothing to play for. The Manchester Clubs have monopolised the top two spots again, with United holding a 13 point lead over City. The final Champions League spot is duly reserved for either Arsenal or Tottenham, the same boring battle that rages every season. 6th until 16th place are a range of teams who has little and less to play for; Liverpool, consigned to the dolldrums for another year, Fulham seemingly just happy to make up the numbers, with Martin Jol grumbling something about consistency and lack of ‘spending money.
Lets be realisitic here, both QPR and Reading are relegated. That out the way, there is only one place left in the Championship next season, step forward Wigan and Aston Villa. The continual ‘survival kings’ Wigan enjoy nothing more than a good ‘Survival Sunday’, whilst Villa will just be looking to steer clear of the drop at all costs. With a 6 point gap from the Latics in 18th to Newcastle in 16th, you can’t see the Magpies getting drawn into the fray again, so the ominous chalice falls to either of the two teams.
So there you have it, a Premier League season, in which really there is only one matter to be settled. So much for the ‘most exciting and glamorous league in the world’. If you looked down into the Championship you would see a whole clutch of teams struggling for survival, anyone from 23rd to 15th could still go down with just two games left. The playoffs are big business with any one of three teams trying to snatch 6th place, and a shot at the Premier League and all the riches that come with it.
With the new financial packages coming into play, coupled with the new financial ‘fair play’ regulations, this gap from the rich can only get richer, and you have to hope that for teams near the bottom of the leauge that they can survive and compete, or face turning our national pastime into something of a non event.
When Man United inevitably wrap up the title on Monday against Villa, and 4th place is decided within the few weeks to go, you will have to hope that both Wigan and Aston Villa are still within touching distance come the final game of the season, where they inevitably face off. If there is something at stake, that may just be the best match you see all season.