Saturday 16 November 2013

'You cannot predict any result'

Pundits take a look at the intriguing Barclays Premier League campaign so far

Sunderland stunned Manchester City at the Stadium of Light last weekend

The first 11 matchweeks of the 2013/14 campaign have had plenty of thrills and spills and it is turning out to be one of the most competitive season openings in Barclays Premier League history.

Before the start of the season there was much talk among the managers that up to six teams could be crowned champions and the predictions of high levels of competition at the top of the table appeared to have borne fruit.

As things stand, only six points separate the top eight teams, which is the closest gap at this stage of a campaign since the 2001/02 season, and Clive Allen, the Premier League TV pundit, is struggling to say for sure who are going to be crowned champions.

Top eight points difference
SEASON POINTS DIFF (after 11 matches)
2013/14 6
2012/13 11
2011/12 16
2010/11 10
2009/10
10
2008/09
12
2007/08
8
2006/07
11
2005/06
13
2004/05
10
2003/04
10
2002/03
10
2001/02
4


"It's almost impossible to pick the title winners at the moment," Allen, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker and assistant first-team coach, tells premierleague.com. "It is the most competitive Barclays Premier League I have seen in a while.

"There's going to be a lot of surprises between now and the end of the season. You can't predict any result and that's brilliant. It's why the Premier League is the product it is."

Already this season last year’s runners-up Manchester City have lost to promoted Cardiff City and struggling Sunderland, Southampton have drawn at Manchester United but lost to Norwich City, while Chelsea have dropped points at home to West Bromwich Albion and were beaten away at Newcastle United.

The capricious nature of results is proving a nightmare for TV pundits when they look to predict matches and former Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic manager Iain Dowie believes we could be in for another nail-biting climax like that of 2011/12, when Manchester City won the title in the last minute of injury-time on the final day.

"There will be five teams in it and it could go down to the last game of the season," Dowie says. "It's going to be close and surely it can't get as exciting as a couple of years ago. But I wouldn't put it past this league at the moment.

  Anyone can beat anyone
Aston Villa beat
Arsenal who beat
Spurs who beat
Swansea City who beat
West Brom who beat
Man Utd who beat
Fulham who beat
Stoke City who beat
West Ham Utd who beat
Cardiff City who beat
Man City who beat
Everton who beat
Hull City who beat
Norwich City who beat
Southampton who beat
Liverpool who beat
C Palace who beat
Sunderland who beat
Newcastle Utd who beat
Chelsea who beat
Aston Villa

"I would not be able to select the top six or seven at the end of the season and I do get the feeling that someone major will miss out on the top four. There's been good investment at a few clubs and a number of sides have stepped up a gear.

Liverpool are challenging, Everton have made some good loan signings, Newcastle United could force their way in there, Southampton are going to stay there or thereabouts. It's going to be interesting."

For John Scales the ability of any Barclays Premier League club to take points off another has captivated the football public.

"The other day I saw a chart showing everybody had beaten someone else and that sums up what an amazing Premier League season we are having," Scales, the former Wimbledon, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur defender, says. "It's been fascinating and it hasn't settled down yet.

"What's refreshing is that there are so many debates going on at the moment about how teams are set up, who is challenging, and who is going to win this weekend. So much of it is about the football."

Another set of mouthwatering fixtures will come along when the Barclays Premier League resumes on 23 November with the small matter of the Merseyside derby kicking off the weekend.  There are also leaders Arsenal taking on third-placed Southampton, Manchester United travelling to Cardiff City, West Ham United hosting London rivals Chelsea, while Manchester City and Spurs meet in the battle between seventh and eighth.

Scales believes the Barclays Premier League is so intriguing is because no victory is ever taken for granted.

"That the Premier League is so unpredictable is the beauty of the competition and is why it is the greatest league in the world," he says. "The bar has been raised across the board and there’s real quality throughout the league, every club is competitive."

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Key Points

  • Premier League pundits look at the Barclays Premier League season so far
  • Iain Dowie, John Scales and Clive Allen give their views on the competitive nature of the League
  • Only six points separate the top eight in the division