Premier League’s great divide

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Premier League’s great divide

They used to call it mid‑table obscurity but that term is almost obsolete in the Premier League these days. Watford, in 10th place, are only five points away from the relegation zone, anxiously looking over their shoulder and at risk of getting caught up in a survival battle that threatens to reel in more clubs than even before. Men's Nike Seattle Seahawks #68 Justin Britt Elite Grey Alternate NFL Jersey Maybe that will serve as a marketing line for the TV companies in the months to Sean Taylor Jersey come, especially as the title race is about as interesting as a cabinet reshuffle. Life lower down is rather less predictable or, to Rogie Vachon Jersey put it another way, competitive for all the wrong reasons. Eight clubs have failed to pick up Danny Duffy Authentic Jersey more than a point per game (only three were in that position at the end of last season and they were all relegated) and every team in the bottom half has a double‑digit negative goal difference already. Youth Jordan Martinook Premier Green Adidas Jersey: NHL Arizona Coyotes #48 Salute to Service The concept of leagues within leagues is nothing new, especially with the top six operating on a totally different level financially to everyone else for many years now, yet this season and last, when only six points separated Southampton in eighth from Watford in 17th, there has been a shift towards a two-tier division. As things stand, Champions League ambitions burn and relegation fears grow either side of the thin line that separates Burnley and Leicester City, who are involved in a two-way fight for seventh spot and potential Europa League qualification, from the rest of the division. Everton, in ninth, are seven points behind Burnley in seventh and the same distance from the relegation zone, which rather sums up what the Premier League has become with its “squeezed middle”. The top six are pulling away while the playing field has levelled among the rest – albeit not in a good way. Although there are individual cases where clubs are clearly making progress and punching above their weight – Sean Dyche’s Burnley spring to mind – it is hard to escape the feeling when watching Premier League football Bryant Reeves Jersey these days that, collectively, the standard has fallen among those clubs in the bottom half of the table. That argument would probably jar with top-flight managers, whose stock response in press conferences is to describe the Premier League as unforgiving and say it gets better and better every year. But does “the best league in the world” really keep improving right across the board? Speak to Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke fans, or Southampton and West Ham supporters – all clubs in the bottom six – and the chances are many will pine for days gone by and, rather than say the majority of their opponents are playing football at another level, instead tell you how their own team are a shadow of the one they watched a few years ago. As well as Huddersfield and Brighton have done to give themselves an excellent chance of extending their stay in the Premier League beyond their first season, there is no getting away from the fact so many established clubs are underperforming and have badly lost their way. Bournemouth make up the bottom six along with Swansea, West Brom, Stoke, Southampton and West Ham, all of whom have spent a total of 40 consecutive seasons between them in the Premier League and are presently between four and nine positions lower than where they finished last year. There is no single reason why things have unravelled at those clubs. In some cases flawed decisions at boardroom level will be the root cause, for others it will be poor management, while disappointing recruitment in the transfer market and underachievement on the pitch will have played a part to varying degrees, too.

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