How will the Premier League look in 10 games’ time?

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Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (left) and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

With the FA Cup third round out the way, the Premier League enters a defining period of the season with the ultimate outcome of the Top 4 and relegation shake-up likely to be far clearer after the next 10 games.

Which teams will be in the best shape just before the clocks go forward in March?

Scroll down for our projected table after 31 games

ARSENAL
Fixtures: West Ham (a), Chelsea (h), Cardiff (h), Man City (a), Huddersfield (a), Southampton (h), Bournemouth (h), Spurs (a), Man Utd (h), Wolves (a)
Projected points: 20
Verdict: Unai Emery’s side stuttered over the Christmas period and could slip further away from a genuine Champions League challenge with tricky upcoming trips to West Ham, Man City and Wolves along with a daunting North London derby. Their strong home form should keep them just tucked in behind the pacesetters.

Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game with team-mate Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left)

 

 

BOURNEMOUTH
Fixtures: Everton (a), West Ham (h), Chelsea (h), Cardiff City (a), Liverpool (a), Wolves (h), Arsenal (a), Man City (h), Huddersfield (a), Newcastle (h)
Projected points: 11
Verdict: It’s not been a good month for Eddie Howe with Bournemouth’s form tailing off badly in the Premier League and the Cherries falling at the first hurdle in the FA Cup. Nevertheless this side is capable of suddenly hitting form, so expect them to continue to be streaky as they look to consolidate.

 

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Fixtures: Liverpool (h), Man Utd (a), Fulham (a), Watford (h), Burnley (h), Chelsea (a), Leicester City (a), Huddersfield (h), Crystal Palace (a), Cardiff City (h)
Projected points: 12
Verdict: The next two fixtures are something of a free hit for Chris Hughton’s resilient Seagulls, but favourable home games will surely present them with a golden opportunity to put any lingering relegation fears to bed. A rare away win against rivals Palace at Selhurst Park would be the cherry on the cake as Brighton look to edge their way towards the 40-point mark.

Florin Andone (right) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game with team-mate Shane Duffy during the Emirates FA Cup, third round match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth.

 

BURNLEY
Fixtures: Fulham (h), Watford (h), Man Utd (a), Southampton (h), Brighton (a), Spurs (h), Newcastle (a), Crystal Palace (h), Liverpool (a), Leicester City (h)
Projected points: 13
Verdict: Sean Dyche finally seems to have rediscovered the winning formula that led the Clarets to an impressive top half finish in 2017/18 and they have enough winnable fixtures at Turf Moor over the next few months to start moving towards safer ground after losing their way in the first half of the season. If he can continue to tighten up the defence, a fourth straight season of Premier League football could be effectively confirmed come late March.

 

CARDIFF CITY
Fixtures: Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (h), Southampton (a), Watford (h), Everton (h), Wolves (a), West Ham (h), Brighton (a)
Projected points: 9
Verdict: Expect Neil Warnock’s side to continue to keep chipping their way towards the points that just might hand them a surprise second season at this level. The Bluebirds have shown a stoic ability to bounce back from the occasional punishment-beatings handed out at this level, but Arsenal aside, there are opportunities here for Warnock to put another few wins on the board to give them a fighting chance come May.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock (left) and Sol Bamba (right) after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester.

 

CHELSEA
Fixtures: Newcastle (h), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (a), Huddersfield (h), Man City (a), Brighton (h), Spurs (h), Fulham (a), Wolves (h), Everton (a)
Projected points: 20
Verdict: If Sarri can finally land his dream striker this January, Chelsea look best placed to push on and seal that all-important fourth Champions League spot – but will be tested with difficult trips to Arsenal and Man City. Spurs and Wolves will also fancy their chances of snatching some points at Stamford Bridge.

 

CRYSTAL PALACE
Fixtures: Watford (h), Liverpool (a), Southampton (a), Fulham (h), West Ham (h), Leicester City (a), Man Utd (h), Burnley (a), Brighton (h), Spurs (a)
Projected points: 12
Verdict: Palace are fast becoming the most unpredictable side in the Premier League – equally capable of bagging all three points against a big hitter or slipping up at home against a perennial struggler. Still, this set of games offers them the chance to finally put a decent string of wins together at Selhurst Park which should see them move further clear of the relegation picture.

Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend celebrates after Luka Milivojevic scored their second goal during the Premier League match at Molineux, Wolverhampton.

 

EVERTON
Fixtures: Bournemouth (h), Southampton (a), Huddersfield (a), Wolves (h), Watford (a), Man City (h), Cardiff City (a), Liverpool (h), Newcastle (a), Chelsea (h)
Projected points: 11
Verdict: The pressure is on for Marco Silva, with Toffees fans starting to question whether the Portuguese is the real deal with little sign of upward momentum from last season. An unconvincing 2-1 victory over League Two leaders Lincoln City has hardly helped his cause. Some tricky fixtures await an Everton side that currently looks incapable of putting back-to-back wins together.

 

FULHAM
Fixtures: Burnley (a), Spurs (h), Brighton (h), Crystal Palace (a), Man Utd (h), West Ham (a), Southampton (a), Chelsea (h), Leicester City (a), Liverpool (h)
Projected points: 5
Verdict: It would be foolish to write off Claudio Ranieri given his previous Premier League exploits, but this slate of games looks extremely tough on a Cottagers side that still looks short of the discipline required to scrap their way to survival. With three winnable fixtures in their next four, any failure to pick up a significant chunk of points could be terminal.

Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara (centre right) and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (centre left) disagree over who will take the penalty during the Premier League match at Craven Cottage, London.

 

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Fixtures: Cardiff City (a), Man City (h), Everton (h), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h), Brighton (a), Bournemouth (h), West Ham (a)
Projected points: 4
Verdict: The psychological battle might well be lost for David Wagner’s side with an eight-point gap to safely looking almost impossible to overcome. Given their current predicament, Huddersfield will struggle attract genuine Premier League-level signings in this window, and a continuing lack of goals mean the Terriers are unlikely to add significantly to their current tally.

 

LEICESTER CITY
Fixtures: Southampton (h), Wolves (a), Liverpool (a), Man Utd (h), Spurs (a), Crystal Palace (h), Brighton (h), Watford (a), Fulham (h), Burnley (a)
Projected points: 16
Verdict: Claude Puel has opted to prioritise a high league placing over cup glory – and now the Frenchman will be expected to deliver with the Foxes left with very little to play for this season. Leicester need to avoid the temptation to drift through the rest of the campaign in autopilot. Mid-January onwards could be tricky for the Foxes with four tough games in a row, but a kinder spring should lift them towards a respectable ‘Best of the Rest’ 7th-place finish.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in action.

 

LIVERPOOL
Fixtures: Brighton (a), Crystal Palace (h), Leicester City (h), West Ham (a), Bournemouth (h), Man Utd (a), Watford (h), Everton (a), Burnley (h), Fulham (a)
Projected points: 24
Verdict: Man United and Everton will be out to spoil the party, but otherwise there is little for Liverpool to fear here as they creep ever closer to a maiden Premier League title. Jürgen Klopp will also be hoping a gruelling two-leg tussle with Bayern Munich won’t see performance levels dip domestically. Still, even a few points dropped could open the door for Man City.

 

MAN CITY
Fixtures: Wolves (h), Huddersfield (a), Newcastle (a), Arsenal (h), Chelsea (h), Everton (a), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Watford (h), Man Utd (a)
Projected points: 26
Verdict: After last season’s heroics, Pep Guardiola’s side now know what it takes to maintain a title charge through a gruelling winter fixture list, but they will need to be at their best with some potential banana skins standing in their way over the most mentally-draining part of the season. If they come through unscathed, expect an epic title battle to go to the wire in the spring.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has a shot saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker (left) during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

 

MAN UTD
Fixtures: Spurs (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (h), Leicester City (a), Fulham (a), Liverpool (h), Crystal Palace (a), Southampton (h), Arsenal (a), Man City (h)
Projected points: 15
Verdict: It’s been a serene start to life for Ole Gunnar-Solksjaer at Old Trafford, although the likeable Norwegian could hardly have asked for a better fixture list. His managerial credentials will be examined during a much harder set of fixtures throughout January and February – but will their current momentum help carry them through?

 

NEWCASTLE UTD
Fixtures: Chelsea (a), Cardiff City (h), Man City (h), Spurs (a), Wolves (a), Huddersfield (h), Burnley (h), West Ham (a), Everton (h), Bournemouth (a)
Projected points: 8
Verdict: Rafa Benítez will be sweating on at least some positive developments unfolding in this January’s transfer window with Newcastle currently looking the side within easiest striking distance for the current bottom three. As always, he’ll make the Magpies a tough nut to crack, but a lack of creativity will surely make it a nervous final few weeks of the season on Tyneside.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (centre) battles for the ball with Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie (left) and Paul Dummett (right)

 

SOUTHAMPTON
Fixtures: Leicester City (a), Everton (h), Crystal Palace (h), Burnley (a), Cardiff City (h), Arsenal (a), Fulham (h), Man Utd (a), Spurs (h), Watford (a)
Projected points: 10
Verdict: Slowly but surely, Ralph Hasenhüttl is making the Saints more upwardly mobile, and he has a strong opportunity to prove his left-field appointment was an inspired one if he can turn around Southampton’s woeful home record. With the Saints up against several relegation rivals, a respectable haul of points from this tranche of games is vital for their survival hopes.

 

SPURS
Fixtures: Man Utd (h), Fulham (a), Watford (h), Newcastle (h), Leicester City (h), Burnley (a), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (h), Southampton (a), Crystal Palace (h)
Projected points: 24
Verdict: Are Spurs in the title race? Their chances have continually been written off – not helped by a ‘Spursy’ defeat to Wolves – but they remain firmly in the mix if Man City and Liverpool stumble over the next 10 games. Games against Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal would have looked daunting in years gone by, but not any more. Spurs should still be in with a fighting chance come the spring but will miss Son’s inspiration in midfield as he heads to the AFC Asia Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen (left) and Harry Kane after the Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff.

 

WATFORD
Fixtures: Crystal Palace (a), Burnley (h), Spurs (a), Brighton (a), Everton (h), Cardiff City (a), Liverpool (a), Leicester City (h), Man City (a), Southampton (h)
Projected points: 11
Verdict: January is traditionally the time for New Year resolutions, fresh starts, and the annual Watford collapse. Thankfully for Hornets fans, there is little sign that a repeat is on the cards in 2019. In Javi Gracia, Watford have finally found some stability even if they can frustrate and entertain in equal measure. Expect them to continue their ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ form as they bid to be the first team to start looking ahead to their summer holidays.

 

WEST HAM
Fixtures: Arsenal (h), Bournemouth (a), Wolves (a), Liverpool (h), Crystal Palace (a), Fulham (h), Man City (a), Newcastle (h), Cardiff City (a), Huddersfield (h)
Projected points: 13
Verdict: Another team vying with Watford to be first in line for the beach towels, the Hammers will face a mixed bag of fixtures that includes home bankers and a few testing away days. Arguably they don’t show it enough, but West Ham have enough quality within their ranks to push for a Top 10 finish and a potential European spot if they can maintain their consistency over the next two months.

West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic

 

WOLVES
Fixtures: Man City (a), Leicester City (h), West Ham (h), Everton (a), Newcastle (h), Bournemouth (a), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff City (h), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (h)
Projected points: 14
Verdict: With Wolves continuing to strike fear into the hearts of the ‘Big Six’, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Nuno’s side move up another gear now they look increasingly comfortable at Premier League level. Their biggest problem this season has been dropping costly points against relegation strugglers more than happy to sit in and frustrate. Will the fact only two of their next 10 are against those kinds of sides actually play in their favour?

 

Our projected Premier League table

(after 31 games played)

1) LIVERPOOL 78
2) MAN CITY 76
3) SPURS 72
4) CHELSEA 64
5) ARSENAL 61
6) MAN UTD 53
7) LEICESTER CITY 47
8) WOLVES 43
9) WEST HAM UTD 41
10) WATFORD 40
11) EVERTON 38
12) BRIGHTON 38
13) BOURNEMOUTH 38
14) CRYSTAL PALACE 34
15) BURNLEY 31
16) CARDIFF CITY 27
17) NEWCASTLE 26
——————————–
18) SOUTHAMPTON 26
19) FULHAM 19
20) HUDDERSFIELD 14

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All image sources from PA Images

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