We’re beginning to enter the home stretch of the EPL season: If the 38 week campaign were a football game, we’d be in the 67th minute. So with just a quarter of the season left to play, let’s take the opportunity to consider 10 questions for the final 10 weeks. And if you’re brave enough, go ahead and share your answers to them in the comments section.
1. Will Manchester City break the Premier League record for most points in a season?
After 27 games, City sit on 72 points. The record for total points in a season is 95. That means City need 24 points from their remaining 11 games in order to shatter the high-water mark set by Chelsea in 2004/2005. That’s an average of at least 2.18 points per game for the rest of the season—no small feat. But let’s not kid ourselves. The Sky Blues have averaged 2.66 points per game so far, so in reality, the question here probably is not as much about whether City will break the record as it is about when.
2. What will it take for the other top teams to even have a chance of dethroning Manchester City next year?
City’s dominance of the league this year has been historic. Let’s assume that over the summer they hold on to all of their key players and purchase no new ones. What moves will the others in the Top 6 need to make over the summer to contend with them? Pick the team you know best and tell us where they need to make changes. Who knows, maybe the owner or manager will read your comments.
3. Which EPL teams will qualify for the Champions League?
Manchester City have pretty much sewn up first place already. And 6th-place Arsenal are so far behind that they will probably have to win the Europa League in order to play Champions League football next year. So realistically, the race for second, third, and fourth comes down to four contenders: Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Chelsea. Which one will come up short?
4. Will this be Arsene Wenger’s last season?
Earlier in the week Arsenal were crushed by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final. Last month they were eliminated from the FA Cup by a managerless Championship side. And as I mentioned above, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Arsenal will qualify through table position for next year’s Champions League.
Over the last several years the pressure on the club to sack Wenger has reached the boiling point due to his failure to produce enough silverware, his often-inscrutable football tactics, his apparent blind spot to his side’s glaring weaknesses, and his stubborn transfer policies. Will it finally be “Wenger out” when this season ends?
5. Who will win the EPL’s Golden Boot?
Harry Kane’s strike on Sunday took him to 24 goals this season. Mohamed Salah has 23, and Sergio Aguero has registered 21. Assuming they stay healthy, any of these three men has the talent to come out on top. But only Kane seems immune from rest, rotation, and/or managed minutes, which would seem to give him the inside track to three-peat in the race for that shiny shoe. Who do you think will win the scoring crown?
6. Who will win the EPL’s Player of the Season?
In American football, MVP awards seem to always go to the glamor boys: In the history of the NFL, the honor has been given only three times to someone who wasn’t a quarterback or running back. English football is different. Harry Kane—the Tom Brady of the EPL—won back-to-back Golden Boots, but has never been named Player of the Season. Defender Nemanja Vidic has won it as many times as Thierry Henry and Christiano Ronaldo have, and last year it was awarded to midfield trench-grunt N’golo Kante. Will the award go to a humble workaday hero again this year? Or will the winner be a glitzy superstar like King Kane, The Egyptian Magician, Kevin de Bruyne, or David De Gea? Tell us what you think.
7. Which teams will be relegated?
With 10 weeks remaining, the lower half of the table is a flat-out scrum. Only 6 points separate 10th-place Watford from the relegation zone, and 13th-place West Ham are only three points above the drop. With so many teams still at risk, who do you think goes down this year?
8. Is it time to ditch your discounts?
Carrying discounts on players is a strategy that can pay off handsomely over time. But time is beginning to run short, and there comes a point in the season when keeping discounts no longer makes sense. Do you think we’re there yet?
9. Will you start to over-weight teams that have something to play for?
Manchester City have all but locked up first place, so it’s conceivable that Pep Guardiola may take his foot off the gas in the EPL and instead concentrate his efforts on City’s Champions League campaign. Similarly, Arsenal’s best chance for Champions League qualification is through the Europa League, so Wenger may decide to preserve his best lineups for that competition.
At the top of the table, then, it may become increasingly prudent to focus your investment on the teams that will have to run hard all the way to the finish in order to get their Champions League tickets punched : Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Chelsea.
Similarly, the teams at the bottom of the table will be fighting desperately to avoid the drop. Since those teams often are no longer involved in parallel tournaments towards the end of the season, and since they generally lack the depth to rotate very much anyway, there is tremendous fantasy potential to be mined here. Down the home stretch these at-risk teams can be counted on to consistently field their best players. And many of those players are capable of handsome fantasy returns, especially when the very real specter of relegation provides them with an extra bit of motivation.
10. Which player will be fantasy MVP?
Salah and Kane are neck-and-neck for overall points in Fantrax, with KDB in third, Sergio Aguero in fourth, and DDG in fifth. Who do you predict will end the season with the most overall fantasy points? And who has been your squad’s MVP this year?
Do you have the courage to put your answers to these questions on record? Are there other questions on your mind as we enter the home stretch? Go ahead and sound off below.