Spurs favourites to be best of the rest in 2008/09
North Londoners can be confident of fifth place glory
What’s the best thing to do if you’re stuck inside a league where only four teams stand a chance of winning? Start your own league, of course. Everton won the ‘best of the rest’ league last season, but it’s two-time champions Tottenham who are the bookies overwhelming favourites this time. of course, with only six worthy contenders, even this mini-league is becoming a bit predictable, so stay tuned for a ‘best of the rest of the rest’ league next season.
Reason for: Tottenham have been ‘best of the rest’ in two of the last three seasons.
Reason against: Since the Premier League became a 20-team league, Tottenham have never gained more than five places over the course of a season – last year they came 11th.
Reason for: Losing Gareth Barry may not be the end of the world. In 2004-05, Everton lost Wayne Rooney but shrugged it off and finished fourth.
Reason against: Aston Villa are always in the mix but haven’t finished in the top five since 1996-97. In the eleven seasons since they have finished between sixth and eighth seven times but despite a great start in 1998-99, Villa have never managed to get the job done.
Reason for: Everton were the last club to finish above one of the ‘Big Four’ when they finished fourth ahead of Liverpool in 2004-05.
Reason against: The Toffees’ league performance has improved for two straight seasons (from 11th to 6th to 5th). The last time Everton improved twice (2000-03 – from 16th to 15th to 7th) they battled relegation and finished 17th the next season.
Reason for: Last season Man City were the best outside the top four at the halfway point, two clear points above Everton. Mark Hughes’ Blackburn scored just one point less than Everton in the second half of the season. So if Man City get off to a flying start again and Mark Hughes’ maintains his record of finishing seasons strongly, Man City are capable.
Reason against: Man City have spent ten years in the Premier League without ever finishing higher than eighth.
Reason for: The last seven FA Cup winners have finished in the top four the next season. The last team to fail to do so was Chelsea in 2000-01.
Reason against: You have to go back to 1955 to find the last time Pompey finished in the top five and the team who finished eighth in 2006-07 (Reading) were relegated the next year.
Reason for: In two of Kevin Keegan’s three full top-flight seasons as Newcastle manager, the Toon Army finished in the top three.
Reason against: The last time Newcastle were stuck in the bottom half for two straight years (1997-98 and 1998-99) they stayed outside the top ten for two more seasons.