There’s no doubt the final Premier League table of 2014 makes intriguing viewing in the battle for the European spots, with some unfamiliar faces taking up residence in the mix.
Perhaps it all boils down to money in the end, but the established ‘big seven’ of Chelsea, Manchester City (since the takeover), Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton seldom allow intruders into the top six slots.
Only two teams in the past five seasons have perpetrated the first half-dozen berths ahead of one of the aforementioned clubs.
Aston Villa crashed the party to finish sixth in 2009/10, while soon-to-be named Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew guided Newcastle to fifth in 2011/12.
Although the Saints and the Hammers will have designs on following suit and securing Europa League football, in reality it’s perhaps a tougher ask than even the last two seasons.
With Chelsea and City untouchable in first and second, while United do their best to keep a respectable gap in third, perennial top-four occupants Arsenal are certain to leave the pretenders vying for two spots against Tottenham and Liverpool.
Ominously, Spurs have not been kept outside the top six in five consecutive seasons and Mauricio Pochettino is now starting to get a tune out of the Lilywhites.
The Londoners have snatched 10 of the last 12 available points, and only sit a place lower than West Ham by goal difference in seventh.
Eighth-placed Liverpool’s top-six attendance is not as impeccable, though the Reds did finish runners-up last season and have also begun to click into gear with Daniel Sturridge still to return.
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