A lot has happened this season in the Barclays Premier League.
Going into game week 30, Manchester United holds an 11-point lead at the top of the premiership and seem to be running away with the title. At the bottom of the league table, it’s a struggle between five teams in the drop zone to see which three will be relegated.
So far, 286 games have been played this season, 815 goals have been scored, eight hat tricks have been achieved, 883 yellow cards have been handed out, and four coaches have been fired.
Coaches get fired every season for various reasons, including failing to meet club expectations or getting off to a bad start. This wasn’t the case for Chelsea’s coach, Roberto Di Matteo. After winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the team’s history last season, Di Matteo received just over two months of work before he was fired on the 21st of last November.
Di Matteo was a fan favourite, and he was loved and respected by the players. But he wasn’t really a big-name coach, something Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has always looked for. Di Matteo was replaced by former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Rafael Benítez.
Chelsea has failed to improve much under Benítez. They currently sit in fourth place, 19 points away from first place, and were recently eliminated from the UEFA Champions League.
“I’ve been a Chelsea fan for a long time, and honestly this season has been by far our worst for a long time,” said Anthony Kraveck, a second-year member of the soccer club. “Abramovich is taking power to a whole new level, and if he doesn’t chill on his power trip, we won’t win anything this season.”
Mark Hughes was also fired as the coach of the Queens Park Rangers, replaced by former Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp. Meanwhile, Southampton fired Nigel Adkins and replaced him with Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino, and Reading recently fired coach Brian McDermott but have yet to find a replacement.
Major transfers happen all the time in the Barclays Premiership, where teams spend big money to bring in players. For the past three years, Arsenal has been sellings off some of their biggest players: Cesc Fàbregas, Gael Clichy, and Samir Nasri all left in 2011, and Alexandre Song left in 2012.
All these high-profile players left Arsenal for other teams with whom they have won titles. But no transfer hurt Arsenal fans more than the sale of Talisman striker Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United.
Van Persie spent eight years at Arsenal, making 278 appearances and scoring 132 goals. Once loved by Arsenal fans, he is now one of the most hated players in the team’s history.
“I still can’t believe we sold van Persie to Man U. Every time I see him score a goal, it upsets me,” said Eddy Dabire, a first-year political science student and longtime Arsenal fan.
Arsenal replaced van Persie with German striker Lukas Podolski and French striker Olivier Giroud. Chelsea splurged big in the transfer window; they also spent $40 million on Eden Hazard and $32 million on Oscar Cardozo, and added Victor Moses and Demba Ba.
Tottenham spent over $40 million to bring in Clint Dempsey, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Moussa Dembélé.
Manchester City also spent big on Matija Nastasić, Javi García, Maicon Sisenando, Scott Sinclair, and Jack Rodwell.
Manchester United added Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell, and Wilfried Zaha along with van Persie.
Other notable transfers include Dimitar Berbatov going to Fulham from Manchester United, Andy Carroll going to West Ham from Liverpool, Adam Johnson going from Manchester City to Sunderland, and Joe Allen going from Swansea to Liverpool.
Every season the fight to stay in the premiership is always an interesting one. The rewards for being in the premiership far outweigh the disadvantages, from a financial standpoint. For one thing, it brings lucrative TV deals and compensation from the FA.
Each season three Barclays Premier teams get relegated to the Coca Cola Championship, English football’s second-tier league, and three teams move up from there. This season Reading, Southampton, and West Ham were promoted to the premiership.
At this point, only Reading is left in the relegation zone with the Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic. The difference in value between being in the premiership and the championship is estimated at over £20 million. Aston Villa are currently three points out of the relegation zone, with Southampton right above them. Going into the final eight games of the season, the bottom of the premiership can be much more interesting to watch than the top.
This season, there have been a lot of goals in the premiership: 815 goals have been scored, and Manchester United leads the way with 68.
Luis Suárez of Liverpool leads the league in scoring, netting 22 goals in 29 premier league games this season. Suárez is not known for his scoring alone, but also for diving (and also occasionally saying the wrong thing). “Suárez is a very good player—he scores goals—but I just don’t understand him as a person,” said Funmilade Taiwo, a second-year biology student and Arsenal fan.
Along with the goals, there have also been 145 clean sheets, with Manchester United’s David de Gea leading the pack.
In total, 286 games have been played of the season’s 380. The season as we know it is almost over. Manchester United are on top and don’t seem to be looking back at all. It will be an interesting race for the coveted third and fourth spots between Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham.
But it is on the bottom that eyes will be focused come the last day of the season. One things is certain: this season of the Barclays Premiership has been interesting to watch, as it always is, and there’s still much to look forward to as it comes to a close.