Gutted! As a Reading fan forgive me for kicking off this round-up by shaking my fist at Brighton and Hove Albion. Before this season they were a slim total of 23 points behind us, but their good first season in the top flight and our woeful escape from relegation in the Championship means they make that up and sneak past us by a couple of points. We are now only the 56th best all time league team.
Sunderland should be looking over their shoulders. They’re currently in 8th place thanks to some title wins back in the day, and some 140 points above Chelsea and Spurs. However, their drop into the third tier means that this lead will probably be cut by 40 points next season alone. If they’re not quick crawling back up the ladder they’ll find themselves pushed back into 10th.
Notts County continue to slide. Barnsley can take some consolation from leapfrogging this fine old club, despite being relegated. Hull should do the same in the next season or two.
2016-17 and 2017-18 follow up.
In my round up of top rivalries a couple of seasons back I noted some close struggles. So how did those play out this term?
1 – Chelsea vs Tottenham (9th vs 10th)
It’s a tight, tight race between Chelsea and Tottenham, and getting tighter! Spurs were just three points behind Chelsea, and now they trail by a single point. If they finish above them in 2019 they move level or even ahead.
2 – Bolton Wanderers vs Sheffield Wednesday (15th vs 16th)
Wednesday did indeed jump over Bolton, despite the Lancashire team dodging relegation in May 2018 with two dramatic late goals. Bolton now have a 16 point gap to make up.
3 – Nottingham Forest vs Leicester City (20th vs 21st)
Can you take the excitement? I the last two seasons Leicester have now drawn level with Forest, and as they play a league above them will definitely climb int the top twenty at the expense of their east midlands rivals. Gripping stuff!
4 – Fulham vs Southampton (27th vs 28th)
Oooh! Close! Fulham trading place with the Saints has allowed the south coast team to creep up to within four places of the Londoners! With the Cottagers now promoted via the play-offs, however, it’ll be eyes down to see if Southampton can still overtake in 2019!
5 – Plymouth Argyle vs Leyton Orient (53rd vs 54th)
…and breathe! After all of the tightening races here’s one going the other way. The noble Os dropped out of the league this season, letting the Pilgrims widen the gap to safety, and opening the door for Reading and high-flying Brighton to gain ground. The Seagulls and the Royals will definitely pass them for 2019, two seasons ahead of my prediction.