Thursday, 6 January 2011

It's tight at the top

It's getting interesting at the top of League One as favourites, Southampton (37pts), are closing in on league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion (43pts). Saints are now only six points behind their south coast rivals and have plenty of momentum following three straight wins and 11 goals in those matches. There is also the return fixture between the two sides to come in April which could be the most important game for either side this season.

Also, not counting Brighton, there are only four points between 2nd place and 7th place. Coming up behind Southampton in third place are Bournemouth (36pts), making it a south coast 1-2-3 at the top of League One. Behind Bournemouth sit Huddersfield (36pts), Charlton (34pts), Sheffield Wednesday (33pts) and Peterborough (33pts). The race for those all important playoff spots is going to be one to watch for sure as many of the teams below even Peterborough still feature. Plymouth (30pts), who are currently 12th in the league are only three points away from the playoffs which shows you just how tight things are.

As we move towards the business end of the season, those teams chasing automatic promotion and the playoffs will need to find consistency. Two or three points dropped here or there could be so very costly and just a couple of bad games could cause any team to fall by the wayside.

Personally, if Saints keep up their winning streak, I can see them taking Brighton all the way and possibly winning the league. They will need Albion to slip up at some point which is a big ask considering how good they have been all season, but as long as Southampton keep winning, the pressure on Brighton will mount and they could crack.

As for the playoffs, I can see Bournemouth sticking around, possibly finishing third. They have been scoring plenty of goals this season and that always helps. I can also see Hartlepool, who are currently 8th and in fantastic form, getting into the playoffs as well. They had, until their loss to Notts County, won five games in a row and look like a dangerous team to face right now. Joining those two sides could be any of the other teams in the top half of the table, which makes it far too difficult to predict.

Whatever happens this will be a league to keep an eye on for sure.

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