A Look at the EPL Table heading into 2015

Published Saturday, January 3, 2015 12:07 PM by Shane Barrow

It's been a great opening half of the 2014-15 English Premier League season.  Nice surprises such as Southampton, West Ham and Charlie Austin.  The wonderful talents of Fabregas, David Silva and Eden Hazard.  The huge disappointments of Everton and Liverpool.  Luckily we still have plenty of time for more fun............... and heartbreak!

The Title Race
What looked like a Chelsea runaway early on has turned into a two team race.  Manchester City have worked their way into the conversation despite having all their strikers out with injury.  Chelsea's lead is gone after the destruction at White Hart Lane.  The two teams are exactly tied with 18 games to play, but momentum lies with Man City.  I still think Chelsea wins it in the end though.

The Other Two Champions League Spots
Another storyline of the second half will be who grabs the other two positions for the Champions League.  Louis Van Gaal has the Manchester United ship righted and they look solid for me in the third position as they are unbeaten in ten.  Fourth is completely up for grabs though.  Who will have the quality to earn it?  Southampton? Arsenal? West Ham? Tottenham?  Harry Kane's emergence has lifted Spurs and I love seeing Southampton and West Ham in the mix, but Arsenal has much quality.  Alexis Sanchez is clearly a top candidate for player of the year.  It will be fun to see who nips it in the end.

The Europa Spots (5-7)
This is where another big fight will be.  Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Southampton look to be solid players here if they can keep good form.   One of these four will earn a Champions League berth while the others battle for 5-7.  Can Liverpool get in the mix?  If they don't there will be massive problems at Anfield and Brendan Rodgers could very well be out.  Swansea should also be considered a dark horses here and might work their way in with a good run of form.

Teams in the Twilight Zone
Going nowhere except to earning another year in the EPL.  Stoke City, Everton, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Sunderland.  I think these boys are all safe barring a prolonged bad run of play.  Everton have to be one of the major disappointments of the entire season though.

The Relegation Battle
Leicester look buried to me.  Fun to watch.  Score some goals, but the worst defense in the league will keep them last unless the splash some money in the transfer window.  Burnley look in big trouble as well, but for opposite reasons than Leicester.  An above average defense here with an inept offense (despite last week's craziness) 18th or  19th they'll stay.  So one more team to be relegated from West Brom, Hull City, Crystal Palace and QPR.  Three will live on and one sinks back to the Championship.  All four are very tight so whoever has the guts to spend some money in the transfer window (without losing any key players) could make big gains.  This grouping is so tight it will definitely go down to the final couple of weeks.