Just one week after saying I didn't see many more wins coming from Middlesbrough, they defeat Liverpool 2-0 at the Riverside on Saturday. On top of that, after being denied a crucial additional two points against Portsmouth last week, Stoke were able to steal a point from Villa in the final minutes on Sunday, leaving the West Midlands club three points behind Chelsea for second position.
While some results were surprising, others were as predicted. Arsenal was again unable to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net, drawing 0-0 with Fulham at home. Chelsea was able to outlast Wigan at Stamford Bridge and Everton made clean work of West Brom to keep them at the bottom.
Knowing all of that, some adjustments have been made to the predicted final table. Round 27's predictions can be seen below. Don't forget to check back each Monday for an update.
1. Manchester United (92 Points)
Current Position—1 (62 Points—one game in hand)
United took a week off from Premier League action to add another trophy to their case. The Red Devils defeated Tottenham on penalties in the Carling Cup final on Sunday, even with first team keeper Edwin van der Sar and striker Wayne Rooney not in the squad. Same as last week, it's hard to see them ever losing again. With Liverpool's defeat to Boro, I think it's almost safe to say they have the title locked up.
2. Liverpool (77 Points)
Current Position—3 (55 Points)
Liverpool has severly crippled their title chances by falling to Boro on Saturday. They remain seven points behind United and have lost a game on them as well. It appears that we will be closely following a three-team race for second, rather than a title race come April and May.
3. Chelsea (76 Points)
Current Position—2 (55 Points)
My statement from last week holds. The theme with Chelsea this season has been that they beat the bad teams and struggle against the good teams. Fortunately for the Blues and new manager Guus Hiddink, they only team from the current top five they face again is Arsenal. It took a late winner from Frank Lampard, but Chelsea dispatched of Wigan 2-1 to take three crucial points.
4. Aston Villa (70 Points)
Current Position—4 (52 Points)
Villa looked to have three points in hand on Sunday before Stoke City struck twice in the final three minutes to steal a point away. Villa missed a golden opportunity to stretch their lead over fifth-placed Arsenal, who were held at home by Fulham on Saturday. Villa still has to face top half teams Man United, Liverpool, Fulham, and Man City away, while hosting Everton and West Ham at Villa Park. Luckily for them, Arsenal's current form does not look to put them in a position to be challenged for the final Champions League spot.
5. Arsenal (66 Points)
Current Position—5 (46 Points)
Here is the quote from last week regarding the Gunners: "The story of Arsenal's season has been too many draws. Saturday's match against Sunderland was the perfect example." Now add Fulham to that list. Even if Arsenal were to win the rest of their home matches (six), it still isn't enough to vault them past Villa into the fourth and final Champions League spot.
6. Everton (61 Points)
Current Position—6 (44 Points)
Everton did as they were supposed to on Saturday, beating cellar-dwellers West Brom by a score of 2-0. They would have to play nearly flawless football to overtake Arsenal (or Villa), as Everton faces four of the bottom six teams over the next month, but then must play six of their final eight against the current top half.
7. West Ham United (53 Points)
Current Position—7 (36 Points)
The Hammers took all three points at home on Sunday against Man City, thanks to a 71st minute strike by Jack Collison. This win was big for the Hammers, as it ends a streak of five consecutive matches without a win—including a loss in the FA Cup. West Ham have only five matches left versus the current top half, and should be able to keep themselves there.
8. Wigan (52 Points)
Current Position—8 (35 Points)
Wigan played admirably at Chelsea, but conceded at the last and gave up a point. Wigan is still yet to score more than one goal in a game since Boxing Day, and will need to do better than that to stay in the top half of the table.
9. Manchester City (49 Points)
Current Position—11 (32 Points)
City lost out on a point at Upton Park on Sunday, but is still in good form as of late. They have a tough go of it with their remaining matches, as they still must travel to Man United, Everton, Arsenal, and Chelsea. I think they are able to draw enough of those matches to pull out a top half finish.
10. Fulham (49 Points)
Current Position—9 (34 Points—one game in hand)
Fulham did very well to earn a point at Emirates on Saturday. The Cottagers have not taken many points on the road, but have been very difficult to beat at home, taking at least a point from 11 of their 12 matches there. In order to stay in the top half, this trend will have to continue to some degree, as Man United, Aston Villa, Everton, and Liverpool all pay a visit to Southeast London in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
11. Bolton (49 Points)
Current Position—10 (33 Points)
Bolton has been on a good run of form as of late, winning their last two matches and taking a point from four out of their last five. While they still have six away matches remaining, three of them are against the current bottom five, so if the Wanderers can play well at the Reebok Stadium they will be in good shape.
12. Tottenham (44 Points)
Current Position—14 (28 Points—one game in hand)
The Spurs were disappointed to lose out to Manchester United in the Carling Cup final, but their ability to hold the champions scoreless for 120 minutes shows promise for their remaining games. Without the UEFA Cup to focus on either, they should be able to concentrate on winning enough games for survival.
13. Sunderland (41 Points)
Current Position—12 (31 Points—one game in hand)
Looking at the schedule for the club, I don't see many more wins. But their recent form has been decent to the point that they could steal points from the likes of Wigan or even Everton and should be able to position themselves well enough to stay afloat.
14. Blackburn (38 Points)
Current Position—17 (26 Points—one game in hand)
Our biggest mover positively was Blackburn, as their 2-1 win over Hull City has moved them out of the drop zone for the time being. Even though they lost to Manchester United, the goal scored by Roque Santa Cruz has instilled confidence in the Rovers. I think that with the Rovers' remaining schedule, if they can take at least a point from a good portion of their matches, they will be assured of survival.
15. Newcastle (37 Points)
Current Position—15 (28 Points)
After battling it out for a half with 10 men against Everton at home last week, Newcastle will be disappointed to not take anything from their match against Bolton. Their remaining schedule is difficult, with matches against Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Villa still to play. But if the Magpies take the points they are supposed to, I think they survive.
16. Hull City (37 Points)
Current Position—13 (29 Points)
Hull City is the biggest drop from last week, moving to page four of the article into 16th position. I don't see Hull winning too many more of their games, especially losing their record signing Jimmy Bullard for the season. However, if they can take a point from enough games, I think the Tigers have a good chance of survival.
And the final survivor is:
17. Portsmouth (37 Points)
Current Position—16 (28 Points—one game in hand)
Portsmouth gains predicted points but drops in the standings thanks to Blackburn. This is another club who have had a disappointing season, but their well-deserved point against Stoke last weekend might be crucial in their survival. This club still has one match remaining with each team currently in the bottom three, which will be the most important left on their schedule.
18. Stoke City (34 Points)
Current Position—19 (26 Points)
Stoke took a crucial point against a top four club with their stunning come from behind draw with Aston Villa on Sunday. The club will fight hard, but in the end, it is hard to see many more matches like this coming around. I do not see them taking enough points from here on out to stay alive.
19. Middlesbrough (34 Points)
Current Position—18 (26 Points)
One week after I went about bashing their current form, Boro take on Liverpool and beat them 2-0. Coming off a win in the FA Cup to progress to the quarterfinals, I definitely see an improvement in their future results. However, due to their awful stretch in the prior months, it just isn't enough.
20. West Bromwich Albion (25 Points)
Current Position—20 (22 Points)
The Baggies' fight for survival will be difficult, and ultimately they will not have enough to stay afloat. Perhaps they will be able to surprise a team or two, but this late in the season, the fixture against WBA becomes a must win for all their opponents, and I think it is enough to keep them from staying up.