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Tuesday 28 January 2014

Competition intensifying in bottom half of division

Only five points separate the 11 clubs from ninth downwards in the Barclays Premier League

THe bottom 10 teams have fluctuated positions regularly this season

Much talk has been made of the closeness of the race for the Barclays Premier League title this season with three teams at the top, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea separated by two points after 22 matchweeks.

At the other end things are even tighter with only six points covering the 11 teams from 10th down to the bottom. Aston Villa are in the top half of the table but are only separated by two wins from Cardiff City in the final relegation spot.

 Since Matchweek 10 only one team, Crystal Palace, have won two matches in the Barclays Premier League in a row

This is not the closest that the bottom half of the table has been in the Barclay's Premier League. In the 2010/11 season the bottom 10 clubs were separated by five points after each had played 21 matches. Later on that same campaign, after 30 matches, six points still divided the bottom 10 teams.

The tight margins have meant a lot of fluctuations in the positions of teams over the course of the season so far as can be seen in figure 1. The small points differences mean wins, especially against rivals, can have a big impact on a club's position. Stoke City, for example, have gone from fifth to 17th to 10th and now lie in 14th place.

The midweek fixtures followed by those at the weekend offer an opportunity to teams to enjoy a big rise with two sets of positive results.

Swansea City are one of teams to have been caught up in the battle to avoid entering the relegation zone. Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, knows the importance of piecing together a good run of results. His side have picked up only three points from a winless run of eight matches to drop them to 15th place and is eyeing a win to turn their fortunes around, starting with the visit of Fulham on Wednesday.

"We can go out now and win one or two games in the coming fixtures and things will change," Laudrup said after the 3-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on 19 January. "Of course it will change the number of points and the position in the table, but it will give the whole team confidence because that is the only medicine and the next four games are important."

However, when looking at the teams in the bottom half the one consistency of their results has been their inability to string victories together. Since Matchweek 10 only one team, Crystal Palace, have won two matches in the Barclays Premier League in a row.  All have managed to suffer at least two consecutive defeats in the same period.

With two matches within at least four days for many of the sides in the lower half, now is maybe the time for them to make a surge for distance from the dreaded relegation zone.

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Key Points

  • Only five points separate the 11 clubs from ninth downwards in the Barclays Premier League
  • Tight margins have meant a lot of fluctuations in positions during the season so far
  • Clubs in bottom half are struggling for consistently good results