Premier League Standings Reveal a Huge Traffic Jam: Everyone Still Breathing

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIJanuary 14, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Raul Meireles of Liverpool tackles Phil Neville of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on October 17, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

So your club is Wolves and you're in 17th place in the standings of the English Premier League, eh? Or maybe your team is West Ham and you are sitting bottom of the table? Sounds like a lost season. Sounds pretty bleak. Sounds like a fight for your life to avoid relegation.

Well, not so fast.

Consider this. If you are a fan of, let's say, West Ham, and sitting on the very bottom of the 20 team table, it isn't quite as bad as that would sound. West Ham, although in the 20th spot with only 20 points, is only 10 points out of seventh place, currently held by Bolton. That's right, just 10 points from a spot in Europa next season.

Now, I'm not as foolish to think West Ham is going to climb all the way from 20th to seventh by season's end (there are just too many teams ahead of them, despite the only 10-point difference), but the point is nothing is as bad as it seems for the teams at the bottom of the table this January.

In fact, only two points separate the bottom seven teams in the standings from Fulham in 14th with 22 points to West Ham in 20th with their 20 points.

Most clubs have played 21 games, leaving a huge chunk of the season and about 17 games for most teams on the schedule still to be played. The season is barely half over.

I can not remember a season where the bottom of the table was so close to that much sought after seventh spot.

As good as all this sounds for the teams sitting in the relegation spots or just above, it is just as bad for the teams that think they are doing well by sitting in the seventh or eighth place spots.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Take Newcastle, Blackpool and Blackburn, for instance. They are sitting in the eight, nine and 10 spots on the table respectively, all with 28 points. For all three of these clubs, this is considered doing well: Top 10 in the league just past the halfway point of the season.

They would all have taken this position on the table if offered to them before the season.

But also consider they are all just seven points from relegation. Only seven points with a huge portion of the season remaining. If any one of them slips up, a swan dive to the bottom of the table is a distinct possibility.

What this all means is more clubs than ever at this point of the season have to aware of relegation. Huge clubs like Aston Villa (18th place), Liverpool (13th place) and Everton (12th place) have to be aware of how important a strong finish to the season is.

Every game on the schedule becomes huge for these teams. This, as stressful as it can be for players and fans, is ultimately good for the game. A little dose of parity can energize a league every so often.

One of these huge games coming up this weekend is the Liverpool derby between Everton and Liverpool. Both clubs sit with 25 points and are hovering only four points above relegation, but also only five points out of a top-seven finish.

Tim Cahill, the Everton midfielder who will miss the derby because of his commitment to Australia in the Asian Cup, knows the importance of the game.

"This is a big chance to get a big result," he told "We know it's a game that could turn their season around again, but it's one which could kick ours on too."

Funny to think how many different players in all the games this weekend could say the exact same thing.