Let's take a look at some of the developing stories heading into the final 10 matches of the season:
1. Who is to blame for Everton's failures this season?
After 61 consecutive seasons in the top flight of English football, Everton are in the type of form that could see them relegated. The Toffees currently sit in 14th place in the Premier League with just 28 points through their first 28 matches. If they keep on their current point-per-game trajectory, they'd finish on 38 points, which may just be enough to see them beat the drop.Still, a relegation battle never seemed a possibility given the club's 5th place finish in the 2013/2014 season.
This begs the question of where the blame lies - is it the owners for not investing heavily enough in the transfer market to achieve the depth to compete domestically and in the Europa League? Can the failures be attributed to Roberto Martinez, who inherited a very cohesive unit from David Moyes (perhaps enough so to take them to their high finish last season)? Or are the players at fault for not playing to the level expected of them in a Premier League campaign?
2. Is the title race out of Manchester City's reach?
With 10 matches remaining in the 2014/2015 Premier League season, Chelsea have a five point lead and a game in hand over their closest challenger in City. Since Chelsea's loss to Tottenham Hotspur to begin 2015, the Blues haven't recorded a loss in the league, while the defending champions have lost twice in the same period. Both teams have relatively kind upcoming schedules, with a match against Manchester United looking like the most difficult match for each over the next five matches. Even if the Citizens win each of their remaining matches, they would need Chelsea to drop 8 points in 10 games, something Jose Mourinho's men haven't done all season. So, is it time to concede the title to the Blues, or can Manuel Pellegrini's men find a way to win another last-second Premier League title?
3. Is a 6-match ban appropriate for spitting?
Jonny Evans was charged with spitting on Papiss Cisse (and vice-versa) in the week 28 match between Manchester United and Newcastle. Evans received a 6-match ban, while Cisse earned an extra match due to a previous charge for violent conduct earlier in the season when he elbowed Seamus Coleman. We've seen bans of varying lengths given for other offenses this season and in seasons past, to the point where it's not really clear what offense will be seen as worse than another. Obviously spitting is a disgusting habit that needs to be curbed as quickly as possible, but is it worse than some of the potentially career-ending challenges we've seen this season? Is this a situation similar to Luis Suarez's biting incidents, where the offense is something that wouldn't normally occur during the run of play and thus merits a longer suspension?
4. Have the mid-table clubs gone on holiday already?
We saw it first with Manchester City's 5-0 demolition of Newcastle in Week 26, and we could start seeing it a lot more often as the season draws to a close: With safety virtually established but not much else to play for, players from teams like Newcastle, West Ham United, Swansea City and Stoke City may be daydreaming about a summer without international commitments. Has the time come that we should look to the opposition for these teams as good investments for our fantasy squads, or will they have a part to play in the battle for the top 4 and/or relegation?