Saturday, December 29, 2007

A look to the second-half of the season

The 2-2 draw against Blackburn saw us hit the half-way mark of the season, and despite draws in the past two games we sit with an impressive record of 10-5-4 from the first half of the season yielding 35 points - a mark we have hit in the past couple of seasons around Easter as opposed to Christmas.

While performances of late have been a little inconsistent, we are still getting results and have mantained our challenge on the top four all season, and with potential recruits arriving over the next couple of weeks we are in strong position going into 2008.

But, exactly what position are win, and more importantly, what do we need to achieve to guarantee European football come the end of the season?

Due to the increased amounts teams such as ourselves, Portsmouth, West Ham and Aston Villa have spent, in addition to the strides Everton and Blackburn have made, it has seen a congested top half of the table - not to mention in and around the top four, meaning it likely that a high points haul will be needed to guarantee a top six spot.

Looking back in time over the past five seasons, a projected points haul of 70 points (based on what we have achieved so far this season) would guarantee a Champions League spot, not to mention a UEFA Cup place, as shown below:

02/03 - 67 points CL, 60 points UEFA
03/04 - 60 points CL, 56 points UEFA
04/05 - 61 points CL, 58 points UEFA
05/06 - 67 points CL, 63 points UEFA
06/07 - 68 points CL, 58 points UEFA

Whilst on this basis a UEFA Cup place is a near certainty even allowing for a poor run of form over the second half of the season, and a Champions League spot definitely attainable, I think that this season will set a new high in terms of achieving a UEFA Cup position, and almost certainly the 70 point mark will be hit by the fourth placed team.

As well as we have played this season, is it realistic to think we can repeat the 35 points haul and hit the mark? In all probability it is doubtful given that our points haul has dropped of late when you look over each of the third point marks - 12 from games 1-6, 13 from 7-12 and 10 from 13-19.

I also doubt that there will be quite as much inconsistency from the sides playing for European places as in past seasons, as there has been such a noticeable difference in quality between the top and bottom half of the Premier League this season.

For me, looking ahead towards 2008, I do feel that a Champions League place is beyond us, but see ourselves and Everton as the two sides in pole position for the UEFA places, and definitely the two strongest and most consistent of the chasing pack.

Looking back to when the new owners and management took over, they talked of an initial three year plan and suggested a top ten place this season would be an acceptable finish for their debut campaign.

Well, we are well ahead of schedule so far and have achieved well over what I expected (I predicted a ninth place finish) and I do see us comfortably taking the 5th or 6th spot come mid May, but with the one caveat that we cannot afford to drop the levels of performance that we have displayed so far this season.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

35 points from 18 games with the current paper thin squad. Add Castillo and hopefully Bresciano & Modric to that squad and I cannot see why we shouldn't at least match the 35 point total from the next 18 games.