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EPL Power Rankings 2014 Week 26

COBHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho speaks to the press during a Chelsea Press Conference at Chelsea Training Ground on February 14, 2014 in Cobham, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Michael WadeAnalyst IIIOctober 9, 2016

Twenty six games into the Premier League season, we are reaching the time when every mistake can be magnified to have a huge bearing on the title race or relegation run-in.

Clubs are running out of games at the foot of the table, while at the top, the title race looks more open than ever.

The league table can be deceiving, especially when it is so tight and one win can lift you from the bottom three to mid-table obscurity.

With that in mind, here's a more accurate look at the EPL standings.

Note: Each club's position in the table and points total are in parentheses.

 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea celebrates scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 3, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Lau
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

1. Chelsea (1st, 57 pts.)

Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City, Jose Mourinho will now focus his side on the Premier League and the Champions League.

As good as they are, Chelsea are not ready to properly challenge for the Champions League and are likely to come unstuck over two legs against one of the big boys such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Barcelona.

As such, the Premier League is their most attainable target, and Mourinho will do everything in his powers to secure it. Right now, they're favourites due to this single-minded focus.

 

2. Man City (3rd, 54 pts.)

City are better equipped than Chelsea to win the Premier League this season, but their four-way challenge could see them derailed.

Manuel Pellegrini's side remains in the FA Cup, has hopes of continuing in the Champions League and also has the small matter of the Capital One Cup final to contend with.

Trying to spread themselves so thin and challenge on all fronts may see City come up short on one or two, and the presence of Chelsea manager Mourinho is likely to play a factor in that.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring their third goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

3. Liverpool (4th, 53 pts.)

Having been knocked out of the FA Cup against Arsenal, Liverpool are left with only the Premier League to play for.

Due to this, Brendan Rodgers doesn't have to rotate his side and has the luxury of just one game a week. Expect his players to turn up fit, hungry and determined to clinch the top-four spot they covet.

If Arsenal really lose form, there is even a chance of Liverpool climbing into the top three further down the line.

 

4. Tottenham (5th, 50 pts.)

Manager Tim Sherwood has already admitted he could be fired if they don't finish in the top four.

Spurs have lost only once in the league since Sherwood's appointment, and the way he has the players pulling behind him is impressive. They have thrashed Newcastle and beaten Everton and Manchester United. If he can match that consistency against other sides around them, there is a chance of Champions League football.

The resurgence of Emmanuel Adebayor has been key, as shown below, but the return of the Europa League could be a thorn in Spurs' side:

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shouts instructions  during the FA Cup fifth round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

5. Arsenal (2nd, 56 pts.)

Having slipped slightly in recent weeks, Arsenal find themselves still in contention at the top of the Premier League.

However, they are no longer leading the way, and it will take some doing for Arsene Wenger to overthrow Mourinho.

The added distractions of the FA Cup and Champions League will count against Arsenal, and they could struggle to keep pace with Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

6. Everton (6th, 45 pts.)

Roberto Martinez's Everton continue to impress, but with so much competition above them, it is hard to see them finishing higher than sixth.

The FA Cup might be the competition for Everton to concentrate on, as they are unlikely to break into the elite group above following defeats against rivals Liverpool and Tottenham.

In Martinez's first season at the helm, the Toffees are still in transition and will get stronger in the coming seasons.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Rio Ferdinand (L) and Wayne Rooney (R) and Manchester United team mates warm up before the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on February 12, 2014 in London, England.
Michael Regan/Getty Images

7. Manchester United (7th, 42 pts.)

Unless Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata hit form—and quickly—it is hard to see where United go in the Premier League.

Rooney is absolutely crucial to United's hopes, as this tweet from OptaJoe illustrates:

Two points from a possible nine against Arsenal, Fulham and Stoke is extremely poor, and although United have been unlucky, it looks like there is serious unrest behind the scenes.

It is likely their only chance of playing in the Champions League next season is by winning it, and qualifying for the Europa League may even be a push unless something changes fast.

 

8. Southampton (8th, 39 pts.)

Mauricio Pochettino has been criticised for the slovenly manner of Southampton's FA Cup exit at the hands of a Sunderland side that made nine changes.

With only the Premier League left for the Saints to focus on, they must finish in the top 10, but that won't be hard given the impressive manner of some of their form this season.

 

Sang Tan/Associated Press/Associated Press

9. West Ham (11th, 28 pts.)

Three wins in a row has lifted the Hammers to mid-table, and they look like a new side.

The embarrassing manner of their cup defeats has been forgotten, and the league is so tight this season that they could pull further away from the scrap at the bottom and contend for a place in the top half.

Kevin Nolan's goalscoring form and the defensive solidity that Sam Allardyce is famous for have lifted the club out of the mire.

 

10. Swansea (10th, 28 pts.)

The decision to sack Michael Laudrup came out of the blue, but the inexperienced Garry Monk has steadied the ship and shown that he has learnt a thing or two from the impressive managers he has played under.

The aim must be to maintain some semblance of consistent form and ensure survival before re-evaluating in the summer.

 

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

11. Newcastle (9th, 37 pts.)

Since the sale of Yohan Cabaye, the club has taken one point from four games. Even worse than that, the last three games have a combined score of 10-0 against.

Alan Pardew must arrest this halt quickly to stop Newcastle undoing all of their good work, but he has the players to do that, and there will be a lot of responsibility on the likes of Loic Remy, Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini to turn it around.

Aston Villa and Hull are next up, and at least one win is a must for the Magpies.

 

12. Crystal Palace (15th, 26 pts.)

Crystal Palace have been a different club since the appointment of Tony Pulis.

The former Stoke manager has tightened up a leaky defence and gotten the team playing a compact and direct style which is serving it well in its battle for survival.

The commitment to change manager so early looks like it could pay dividends while sides around Palace shoot themselves in the feet with their indecision.

The Eagles face Manchester United next, and the fact that game is not the foregone conclusion that it once might have been is a testament to the spirit Pulis has ingrained.

 

13. Hull (13th, 27 pts.)

Much like with Palace, the stability at Hull is likely to keep them afloat despite ongoing issues over the name of the club long term.

The signings of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long in January will see the Tigers stay in the Premier League, and if they build on the solid core of players they have, then there is no reason they cannot exceed expectations again next season.

In the shorter term, Cardiff are next up and Hull look a good bet to add to their woes.

 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01:Christian Benteke of Aston Villa  duringthe Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at  Goodison Park on February 1, 2014 in Liverpool England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

14. Aston Villa (12th, 28 pts.)

Working with a young team on a tight budget, Paul Lambert is slowly turning Aston Villa's fortunes around.

They have enough to easily be safe this season, and with the league so tight, hopes will be high that they could even sneak a top-10 finish, but they will have to put some consistency together to achieve that.

Newcastle and Norwich are the next two games. Both are winnable, but with Villa, it is just not that simple.

 

15. West Brom (17th, 24 pts.)

A lot has changed in a short space of time since the Baggies finished eighth last season.

Pepe Mel is yet to taste victory as West Brom manager, and they must concentrate on staying in the Premier League above all else, but they are good enough to do it.

Draws against Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea underline that, and with bottom-of-the-table Fulham next to play, Mel will be hopeful of finally achieving three points.

 

16th. Stoke (14th, 27 pts.)

It has been an up-and-down season for Stoke, and there are likely to be some more downs on the horizon with Man City and Arsenal next up.

Both are in the middle of tough Champions League ties and could rotate and be caught by surprise. Stoke have the ability to do it, having beaten Manchester United recently, but it is unlikely.

 

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Manager Gus Poyet of Sunderland smiles before the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Sunderland and Southampton at The Stadium of Light on February 15, 2014 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

17. Sunderland (18th, 24 pts.)

Sunderland's progress in the cups, they are quarter-finalists in the FA Cup and finalists in the Capital One Cup, may hinder their progress in the league.

Despite that, they are good enough to stay in the division, but an intense run of fixtures, including Arsenal next, will test that resolve to the limit.

 

18. Norwich (16th, 25 pts.)

Norwich look like a team on a downward spiral, having failed to win in four, and one win in 11.

It may take a change of manager to arrest the slump, and defeat is likely against Tottenham in their next game.

Beyond that, fixtures against Aston Villa and Stoke are winnable, but lose them, and they might not recover.

 

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 15:  Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks on before the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic at Cardiff City Stadium on February 15, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

19. Cardiff (19th, 22 pts.)

Cardiff are still not over the decision to sack Malky Mackay despite the side's relative stability.

A change of manager was not advisable in this situation, and the newly promoted side look destined for relegation.

Three points are desperately needed against Hull in order to have a fighting chance of survival.

 

20. Fulham (20th, 22 pts.)

On their third manager of the season, it is hard to predict if Felix Magath will have any success at Fulham, his first job in England.

He will have little breathing space to make mistakes, and with the Cottagers rock bottom, they must start winning immediately, starting with the visit to West Brom.

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