Crowded holiday fixture list could help settle Champions League slots in EPL

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

By Andrew Ryan
BETCRIS english premier league soccer odds

We're at the point that it doesn't even pay to discuss the top of the English Premier League any longer, save for Manchester City's march on history. The Citizens have won 17 straight matches, and it's hard to pick out the fixture that they won't win for the rest of the season. Surely, Manchester City will take a step backwards at some point, but it's at the halfway point of the campaign at 18-1-0 with a +48 goal differential.

The real question in England is how the rest of the teams are going to survive the crowded holiday schedule.

Boxing Day is a big one in the Premier League with 16 of the 20 teams in action. Surprises aren't expected at the top of the table with all of the big boys who are in action getting to play at home.

Still, if Tottenham (vs. Southampton), Chelsea (vs. Brighton & Hove Albion), Manchester United (vs. Burnley) or Liverpool (vs. Swansea City) don't finish the job at home, it will be a huge blow with the others all expected to take the maximum three points.

Heading into the second half of the season, United is in the best shape with 42 points. It's one of the best first halves of the season we've ever seen out of a great Manchester United team, and there's little reason to believe that it will fall out of the top-four this season. The Red Devils have an eight-point cushion to fifth-place Tottenham with 19 fixtures left to play.

The middle of the English top-flight table isn't anything to be all that surprised about. Burnley is still hanging in there with 32 points in 19 matches, but the Clarets only have 16 goals scored in the first half of the season. They simply don't have staying power at the top, and if they drop all three points at Old Trafford on Boxing Day as is expected to be the case, their path to getting a European spot will effectively be broken. The same could be said for Leicester City and Everton, sitting on 27 and 26 points respectively.

Aside from that, though, there are nothing but teams that could slip into the relegation fray. The separation from Watford in 10th place back to Swansea City at the foot of the table is just nine points, and anything could happen the rest of the way.

With the big boys playing at home against some of the minnows, there will be plenty of opportunities for a few teams to make some noise on Boxing Day.

Huddersfield Town figures to be racing to get to 18 points in the second half of the season. Huddersfield looks largely overmatched in the top-flight, but the team has 22 points in 19 matches to start its first season in the EPL. Huddersfield Town gets to play at home against Stoke City in a huge battle on Boxing Day. Three points would make the hometown faithful feel much more secure.

The same could be said for West Brom. The Baggies only snared 14 points in the first half of the season, and better will have to be had in the second half to avoid the drop. They've got a winnable match against Everton at home, and three points would surely claw them close to the edge of the red.

Both WBA and Swansea City are in some trouble right now with three and four points to make up respectively to get to safety. There's a lot of soccer left to be played, though, and teams like Newcastle and Crystal Palace are far from safe with 18 points apiece.

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