The ‘best league in the world’ is frequently a phrase we are associated with through Sky Sports surrounding their much cherished Premier League. While their brainwashing attempts don’t always stretch far for those with insight into life outside England’s top tier you can’t deny that shocks happen more or less on a weekly basis because that’s what football does and why for me there is absolutely no questioning that football is the greatest sport on the planet. Every single season most fans will predict where they think each club will finish, here were mine just to highlight just how difficult that often is: Championship :Premier League
So with the season starting to come to a close lets take a look at which league has spilled up the most upsets and which league has offered the most unpredictability.
The Top Six
Both top sixes have different meanings in different leagues. While no ‘top six’ Premier League club should be thrilled with finishing anywhere but as Champions, the play-offs in the second tier is a fantastic opportunity for most clubs to reach in their hope for promotion. The fact I have had to say ‘top six’ for the Premier League says it all, everyone would have predicted that band of clubs to finish in these positions and that’s exactly what is probably going to happen. The Premier League champions may not be too easy to call but the fixed nature of the top six is oh so predictable and if you lay outiside, oh so boring.
The Championship may well have been harder to call. What is telling though is that I have 5/6 clubs predicted in the current top six so there isn’t a massive element of surprise in that regard. Wolves seemed to be a hard club to call after a flat campaign last time and I’m sure many outside of Molinuex wouldn’t have foreseen their dominance despite investing heavily. Cardiff were the one team I didn’t anticipate being up there and sitting in second it shows spending power isn’t everything in the league. Neil Warnock has done a fantastic job and they are guranteed at least a play-off spot. Elsewhere the likes of Aston Villa and Middlesborough take up a top six spot, the heavy spenders have endured tough times in spells but ultimately have a place, this probably shows that there is once again a link between spending power and success, something that hasn’t always happened in the Championship and has to point to sad way it is going in my opinion.
The Premier League has thrown up a serious underdog in the shape of Burnley this season. I don’t think many would have envisaged a real opportunity of European football for the Clarets and it goes to show what can be achieved through a tight defensive unit despite selling a couple of key players before a ball was kicked. Elsewhere the league has been exceptionally tight this year with a whole host of teams at one point threatened to face the drop. Just 10 points seperate 10th and 18th and so we’ll have to wait until the end to see how teams shape up as I think league positons don’t always tell the full story in the Premier League.
With an extra 8 games in the Championship, it provides great opportunity to go on a run and that’s exactly what Millwall have done to put them as lead contenders outside the play-offs. Bristol City and Sheffield United in particular were looking as serious promotion contenders at one point and still are in with a chance of the play-0ffs. This goes to show that when setting up in pre-season anyone with the right setup can have a crack of making the top six although the flip side is sides like Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday have had suprisingly awful seasons with Leeds also falling way short of the play-offs places.
I’d struggle to find anyone who tipped West Brom, Stoke and Southampton to go down. West Brom and Stoke are both notorious for occupying or arguably wasting a spot in the Premier League, usually having uninspiring but safe seasons. This time their negativity has caught up with them with West Brom firmly heading to the Championship and the Potters in grave danger. Southampton should simply have been far too strong for the position they are in now but it shows what losing your star player can do and when management decisions just haven’t been right. It has to point to the fact that anyone can hit the drop and you simply can’t be too good to go down. Crystal Palace also posed a tremendous threat at the start of the season, without a doubt the battle for the drop has been the area of interest this season and it should be fascinating to see how it unfolds.
The drop to League One looms for three and one of those is looking like Burton Albion. Again the lack of resources are linked to league positions at the bottom despite many probably not anticipating just how horrific it has once again been for Sunderland. Play-off finalists Reading also remain in contention and relegated Hull have also flirted continously. This has to point to the fact that each season is crucial and fortunes can change in an instant if you get things wrong. The biggest example of this is Soutampton and both leagues should do down to the wire.
The Most Unpredictable
Based off the three areas it’s clear to see the Championship will always be the most unpredictable. ‘The top six’ will always impact on the fun nature of the Premier League and with Man City completely dominating that has been ever more the case this season with nothing to play for at the top. The same can be said of Wolves in the Championship however with three promotion spots it should be interesting to see who will join them. As ever football is heavily influenced by spending but this isn’t the decisive factor in the Championship when it comes to going a long way over a campaign. Both leagues have had success stories that would’ve been hard to call but the Championship can always pride the fact anything really can happen as is so often described in the Premier League.
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