It goes without saying that the so-called 'Top six' clubs in the Premier League have been isolating themselves from the remaining fourteen clubs, this feels especially true over the course of this season that has just passed. It feels like there are two divisions in the Premier League: The top six and the rest. When looking at those two 'divisions', the final table looks as if someone had picked random teams out of a hat before the season started.
My reason behind this is that positions in the table have thrown up several surprises. For the second consecutive occasion, Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League whilst defending their title. Ourselves, of course, achieving a top half finish - the first team since West Ham (2012/13) to achieve this immediately after gaining promotion. For the first time since the 2011/12 season, all three promoted clubs from the previous season managed to achieve survival. West Brom experiencing relegation following from their top half finish from the previous season - the first time since Birmingham (2010/11) to be relegated from the Premier League immediately after achieving a top half finish. But to save the best until last, the biggest surprise package (with no disrespect intended, of course), has to be Burnley achieving European football for the first time since 1966 and achieving their highest finish since 1974 especially after many had written them off for relegation before the season's start. A shock win at the home of the Champions, Chelsea on the opening day was the start of something special for Sean Dyche's team.
This article is looking at what the league table would look like if it was just between the 'Bottom fourteen' teams in their combined total of twelve matches against the 'Top six' sides. My inspiration for this article idea came following the grand finale of the season with the 3-0 win over Chelsea. The win signified that we had beaten three of the top six at home this season. Prior to playing Man United at home, we had only gained one point against the teams in the top half (dated 5th February). Over the course of the second half of the season, we managed to greatly recover that poor record and transformed it into a record that most teams around us would be envious of.
So without further ado, let's have a look at this alternate league table.
Won: 3, Drawn: 1, Lost: 8, GD: -10, Pts: 10
A fairly considerable 23% of our points over the course of the season came against the Top six - a percentage which only West Brom managed to exceed (details to come shortly). Despite losing on all six occasions when we were the visitors in these matches, we still managed to come top of the table thanks to the excellent home record with the season-high feeling wins over Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Another interesting stat is that we are the only team in this list to have a positive goal difference (+2) in the home matches against the top six. We were in a very unpleasant situation going into the new calendar year with having to rely on picking up points against the teams around us. Luckily those fortunes were turned around and we picked up a small handful of fantastic wins against big sides. In my view, my favourite of these has to be the win over Arsenal as that (barring a miracle) secured our safety with a handful of games to spare to lift the pressure going into the final chapter of the season.
2nd: West Brom
Won: 2, Drawn: 4, Lost: 6, GD: -13, Pts: 10
Do not worry, you are reading that correctly: West Brom are literally second in a table where the higher you are, the better. However it may come as little surprise when I mention that the two West Brom wins against the top six came in the closing stages of the season when Darren Moore took temporary charge and showed excellence during that time which has landed him in being deservedly given the West Brom job on a permanent basis as the Baggies will, no doubt, aim for an immediate return to the Premier League. A staggering 32% of West Brom's points came against the top six - the best percentage out of the teams on this list. It shows that the Baggies should have simply done better against the teams around them. Now that the season has concluded, West Brom fans are now left to ponder what might have been if Alan Pardew had been sacked sooner considering the upshot in form following his departure in April, but it proved to be too little too late. One good achievement from the season that We