At this point, the Premier League should be at its halfway point. Whilst snow has ravaged the schedule, it's a bit mix and match currently. Some teams have played 18 games, whilst others have only managed 16 or 17. But this is the closest to halfway we can get.
It would be fair to say it has not been a classic season so far, the biggest talking points being Chelsea's poor run of form and Blackpool's sensational shockers. But tomorrow is a new day, or more appropriately, 2011 is a new year.
Every team will know where they want to be at the end of the season. Many will be hoping for the same as they were in August, some will be aiming higher and some will have had to compromise and accept a much lower finish.
Regardless of what they are aiming for, this is what they should be aiming for.
These are not predictions.
The Hammers have suffered for a while in the Premier League now. Once considered one of the great sides in England, recent years have seen more and more disappointment for West Ham fans. It can be lonely at the bottom, and West Ham faces a struggle but absolutely must avoid relegation. They survived a similar, albeit less drastic situation last year, and there will be no excuse to fail this year.
The London club still face away trips to Tottenham, Man City and Chelsea, so they do not have an easy run to the end of the season. But they have shown what they can do already this season, with the 4-0 win over Man United in the Carling Cup. A few more performances like that will do them no harm.
Love or hate, the Premier League would miss a team of this stature, but only the club themselves can pull them out of relegation. Survive this season, and dream of a happier 2011/12.
It would be a shame for the Premier League to lose Mick McCarthy, who has to go down as one of the most entertaining managers in English football, but I just can't see Wolves surviving this season. Somebody has to be relegated, and considering the other teams battling relegation, and the positions of many of the early favourites for relegation, I think it will be Wolves.
The club has a responsibility to keep its fans happy, and Wolves should hold their heads high. Few predicted them surviving last season, so they can be proud of defying the odds once.
Although a long way from anybody's list of the best teams in the league, Wigan has nonetheless enjoyed a fairly lengthy stay in the Premier League, gaining promotion in 2004/05. Whilst that may not seem very long, they were never expected to survive their first season, more or less five seasons.
They have to be considered one of the favourites to go down, but are certainly not helpless. They are capable of surviving and will surely fight to achieve just that. Never a team to lie down and take it, expect Wigan to be battling away until the end of the season.
Fulham is not a club that should be battling against relegation. They owe it to their fans to improve their current position, particularly after last season's run in the Europa League. They have a wealth of potential in their squad and it's about time they began to use it the way they did last season.
Fulham's attacking philosophy means that it would be a great loss to the league if they were to be relegated, but I can't see it. They are a decent side, and I think they will only climb the table from this point.
Perhaps it could be considered negative to think that beating out their rivals is more important than focusing on getting a decent league position, it would mean so much to their fans. After last season's performance, and the summer signings they brought in, I had expected Birmingham to have a much better season than they have so far. They are fortunate, however, that Villa has struggled so far as well.
Villa have overshadowed Birmingham for many years. The last time Birmingham finished the season ahead of Villa was in the 2002/03 season. It's been a long time coming, but Birmingham has the opportunity to gain the upper hand in their fierce rivalry.
Aston Villa is facing possibly the worst situation they could right now. After finishing sixth for three consecutive seasons and not making much progress, they now appear to be heading backwards. This can be a slippery slope, and if they allow the trend to continue they could easily be playing in the Championship within four years.
Aston Villa has to buck the trend. There is little standing between Villa and relegation, but there is also not much between Villa and Europe. For the sake of their future, they cannot afford to go backwards for much longer, and their fans will expect a much better finishing position than their current position. Just putting up a good fight for European qualification should satisfy Villa fans at this point, whether they actually qualify or not.
Everton is another side that seem to be travelling backwards, although they were already heading that way last season. A side with a rich wealth of talent, there will be no excuse if Everton finishes the season behind the likes of Blackpool and West Brom.
The only saving grace for Everton is the fact that Liverpool has struggled so far as well, but with Liverpool beginning to find their feet and rise up the table, Everton must do the same. It is unlikely they can finish ahead of Liverpool or gain any real prize from the season e.g. European qualification, but they absolutely must keep up appearances and improve their position. Their fans expect no less, and given the talent in their squad, they should achieve no less.
This isn't a bad position for a side like Stoke. Though formidable at home, they are a mid-table team, and as such are having a much better season than a lot of other teams in the league. This is only their third season in the Premiership, but in that time they have never really looked like being relegated.
Stoke could do with gaining a few places in the league. In 2008/09 they finished 12th and 11th in 2009/10, so a 10th placed finish would continue their steady progression, and that would probably be enough for the club and fans to take pride in the season.
Blackburn has never been known as one of the most consistent sides in the Premier League. The last side to nick the title from Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal, it has all gone downhill since. They have finished all over the board in recent seasons, and haven't looked like title contenders since their last win.
Given that Blackburn is such an unpredictable, inconsistent side, anywhere between 9th and 14th place would probably satisfy them enough. They do not need to worry too much about moving backwards, as it is unlikely they will compete in Europe or the Championship any time soon. They will continue to be an inconsistent, mid-table side, and whilst progression should be aimed for, I just don't think Blackburn could ever possess their own spot in the Premier League in the way Aston Villa and Arsenal have in recent years.
Whilst it may seem odd that a team in 11th place at the halfway point should only aim to avoid relegation, this is West Brom. They have a terrible habit of being promoted, then relegated and then promoted again. They survived relegation in the Premiership in the 2004/05 season, but were unable to do so the next season.
West Brom has a fantastic chance to survive relegation this season, and should be aiming to build a base to work on and perhaps enjoy a lengthy stay in the Premiership. If the cycle can be broken, West Brom may be able to achieve steady progression as Stoke has been able to.
Blackpool has provided the league with the biggest success story in a long time. Few predicted their promotion last season, and nobody gave them a hope of survival in the Premier League. Yet they sit tidily in 10th place halfway through the season, with fewer games played than any other side other than Man United.
Blackpool has a great chance to finish in this sort of position. It is unlikely they will scalp so many big sides in the second half of the season, but if they can build consistency and take on the smaller sides, they should finish in the middle of the table.
Ian Holloway truly makes the Premier League better than it would ever be without him. He is a fine tactician, a real character and a real good guy. Blackpool deserves a long stay in the Premiership for their achievements, but Holloway should never be allowed out of the league.
Liverpool suffered an absolutely dreadful start to their campaign, with many calling for Hodgson's head early on, but I think Liverpool will be glad they stuck with him. They have been revitalized of late and are rapidly climbing the table. The NESV takeover has certainly helped them along the way, and the Kop can probably look towards a brighter future.
Liverpool owes it to their loyal supporters to make the Champions League this year. After missing out last season, their supporters could rightly feel hard done by if their team fails to qualify again. It won't be easy for them by any means, with Tottenham and Man City both enjoying good seasons, but if Liverpool can find some consistency, they might just be able to achieve it.
Three or four years ago, this would be no surprise whatsoever, but few expected Newcastle to reintroduce themselves to the Premier League in such emphatic fashion. After their disastrous relegation, jumping back to the top-flight was almost certain, but their first season back has been a great one.
Newcastle should look to finish in a similar position to the one they already hold and could even qualify for the Europa League, though it would probably add unnecessary pressure to try and force the players into the highly competitive fight for European qualification.
Another success story of the season. Bolton has finished in the bottom half in the last three consecutive seasons, and have a fantastic opportunity to buck the trend this season. The Trotters are certainly capable of holding a similar position to the one they currently possess, though I think the Europa League might be a little unrealistic.
Wanderers fans can be proud of their side so far this season, and it looks likely they will be happy come the end of the season as well.
Sunderland has been in fantastic form up to this point. Real overachievers, Sunderland has gone beyond all expectations, and if they can snap up more quality players like Asamoah Gyan in the future, they could be looking towards an illustrious future.
Sunderland's fans will be hoping for progression, and European competition should more than satisfy their taste. Sunderland is a good enough side to remain competitive in the Europa League, so qualification this season would allow them to showcase their talents to a wider audience, undoubtedly gaining fans along the way.
Tottenham's Premier League season has been pretty much exactly what was expected from them, but they have performed way above their expected level in the Champions League. Gareth Bales is the second biggest success story of the Premier League thus far, second only to Blackpool. The young Welshman has been one of the best players in the league to this point.
Tottenham must continue to compete with Man City to retain the Champions League spot they so duly earned last season. Liverpool is also likely to mount a challenge in the second half of the season, so it won't be easy for Tottenham, but it would seem a shame to work so hard for 4th place only to lose the spot a year later.
Chelsea enjoyed a good start to the season, but has hit positively disastrous form recently. They got away with the game against United being called off. They were provided an extra week for their injury ravaged squad to recover slightly, and of course, avoided having to play one of the hardest games of the season when in poor form. Despite their poor form, and slightly good luck, Chelsea will almost certainly be challenging for the title come the end of the season.
Recently, since the drastic investment made by Roman Abramovic, success has become ingrained in Chelsea. Their fans will expect the Premier League title this year, but United and Arsenal are both already ahead in the table and will put up a strong challenge.
Man City's vast riches are finally starting to show their worth. City has been in fine form this season, and their summer acquisitions have certainly helped them along the way.
City will face stiff opposition from Liverpool and Tottenham to try and qualify for next season's Champions League, but City is definitely in with a shout. Should they fail again, questions will be asked of their legitimacy. They have built one of the finest squads in the world and have a great manager, but it is often said that money cannot buy success. Failure to qualify for the Champions League would only boost such claims.
Arsenal's trophy drought has gone on too long, and if Arsenal can't win something this year, one would imagine drastic changes next year. Though it is common for Arsenal to be in a great position early on and drop it in the second half of the season, it has been a very long time since we witnessed an Arsenal side perform as well as they have this season.
With Manchester United and Chelsea gaining significantly easier Champions League draws, if Arsenal was to lose to Barcelona it could prove to be a blessing in disguise, as it would allow Arsenal to put more focus into the league. Have no doubts, Arsenal is a genuine contender for the title this year, and if they don't win they are sure to mount a stronger challenge than they have in recent years.
A tall order without a doubt, but this is definitely what United should be pushing for. United is a side that has very little to prove. There is always pride in winning a trophy, particularly one as prestigious as the Premier League, but everybody knows Man United is capable of winning the Premier League. They have won countless titles, they've won several doubles and even a treble. Finishing a league season undefeated is about all that is left for United.
The Red Devils are certainly good enough to manage it as well. There is a level of luck involved, and United just might not have that on their side, but if Arsenal could do it then, there is no good reason that United can't do it now.
Unfortunately, they probably won't. Only two sides have ever managed it, with the first one coming in the 19th century. United is already considered one of the most illustrious clubs in world football, but this feat would silence anybody asking questions of their current ability compared to some of their past sides. One thing's for sure, and that is that Wayne Rooney will have to step up his game. Though defense is more important, you need players who can score important goals when things look bad, and that is usually Wayne Rooney.
The United squad owes this to Sir Alex. He is truly a fantastic manager, and will surely retire soon. With this under his belt, along with everything else he has done, Sir Alex can take a bow on what is almost certainly the finest managerial career the world has ever seen. And he can do it in style.