Premier League 2017/18: Analysing the Top-6 mini league
With just 8 games left to go in the PL, a clear division of zones has emerged in the league table.
Manchester City sit mighty comfortable at the top with 16 points separating them from their closest rival, while West Bromwich Albion have positioned themselves non-threateningly at the bottom of the heap and 7 points for the good.
Behind the leaders are Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea - entangled in a four-way battle for three spots into the CL. Only 5 points separate Tottenham at 3rd and Chelsea at 5th, essentially reducing the battle to three teams vying for two spots.
At a safe distance from the fight is Arsenal - ousted from the familiar fight for Top-4 and left to contend themselves for the Europa League position. Being 8 points behind Chelsea, it is hard to imagine them mounting an unlikely comeback into the Champions League next season (through the league, at least).
Burnley, Leicester, Everton and Watford bring up the rest of the top half - the mid-table teams if you will. The four teams are separated by only 7 points, and with the teams yet to play each other, this portion of the table will be subject to several changes come the end of the League.
Then comes the relegation battle - 9 teams with equally matched strengths and weaknesses separated only by 7 points. It has been a very long time since the PL has witnessed anything like this, and will make for an interesting watch as the season comes to an end.
All that in mind, how do the teams in the Top-6 size up against one another? Provided that there are no longer any small teams to bash their way through, what would the table look like?
Here's a look:
Surprisingly, the table doesn't change at all when the league is reduced to just the top teams. Manchester City reign supreme once more, breaking away from the pack with an 8 point advantage.
Manchester United, as expected of a Mourinho team, have a goal difference of zero - meaning that the team neither scores a lot nor concedes too many. Their biggest win came against Arsenal with a 3-1 scoreline, and their biggest loss came against Tottenham 0-2.
Tottenham and Liverpool remain tied on points, but Liverpool fall to fourth based on goal difference despite having played an extra game. It was the draws that have hurt Liverpool the most - against Tottenham (2-2), Chelsea (1-1), Arsenal (3-3) and Manchester United (0-0).
Last year's champions, Chelsea can leapfrog over to the third position if they beat Tottenham in the return leg, and have a respectable goal difference of just -1. Arsenal's fate is just as pitiful here - only 1 win in 9 games is surely not a respectable effort from the Gunners.
Liverpool, traditionally, have a knack for showing up in the big games, but this season they have failed to do so. Jose Mourinho's 'parking' may not be flashy, but its effectiveness against the bigger teams cannot be denied.
Manchester United have a game apiece against Manchester City and Arsenal. While they travel to the Etihad in hopes of exacting revenge for their home loss in the first half of the season, they will host Arsenal at Old Trafford. It will be interesting too how the mini league table will look at the end of the season.
Well, the top spot is already taken and it will stay that way for Manchester City have become an absolute juggernaut in the Premier League.