Friday, February 08, 2008

The Bottom Half of the EPL Table Is Quite Close

Heading into this weekend's games, Fulham Manager Roy Hodgson notes that Fulham have to treat every game as vitally important which it is. Fulham are just three points from escaping the drop zone. The bottom five teams have the following matches this weekend.

No. 16 Sunderland Hosts No. 15 Wigan--these two teams are tied on points and Wigan sits higher on goal differential. A draw will give each team 24 points for the season, a win by either tean will vault them in to a relatively more stable position. This is a critical game for both teams and probably worth the watch if you can get it.

No. 17 Reading will Travel to No. 4 Everton. Reading, quite simply have not been playing well at all of late. Everton is far behind the top three league leaders but just one point above Liverpool. Everton would like to win in order to remain in a qualifying spot for next year's UEFA Cup competition. Reading might be in for some trouble.

No. 18 Birmingham will travel to Boleyn Ground to face No. 10 West Ham United. Right now, Birmingham sit at the top of the drop zone. A win and a tie between Sunderland and Wigan would mean that Birmingham can leap into a three way tie with the Sunderland and Wigan, but would like be on top of the three way tie due to a much better goal differential. But West Ham have been solid, if not spectacular this year.

No. 19 Fulham will travel to Riverside Stadium to meet No. 13 Middlesbrough. Boro sit just seven points above Fulham and just five points above relegation zone. Getting a result for Fulham will get them on step close to escaping the drop zone. A win for Fulham and a Birmingham los and a Reading loss would would get the Cottagers out of the drop zone on goal differential over Reading.

No. 20 Derby County will host No. 11 Tottenham Hotspur at Pride Park. Right now, Derby would need a miracle and a very long list of injuries to opposing sides to claw their way out of relegation. Derby did earn a point last week against fellow drop zone dwellers Birmingham, but Hotspur have been playing, well hot recently, including a draw last week against then league leaders Manchester United.

With thirteen matches to go for all sides, the bottom 10 of the league table, between No. 11 Tottenham (29 points) and No. 19 Fulham (19 points), are separated by just 10 points. With the league championship being a three horse race between Arsenel, Manchester United and Chelsea (which Chelsea must win this weekend to stay in that hunt), and the spots 3-10 pretty well separated from teh bottom half of the table, the most intense action will be taking place at the bottom of the table.

Remaining schedules and at this point the luck of the scheduling draw will make a big difference in what happens to the teams fight to avoid the drop.

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