Take a look at the Premier League table back on match day 20, right before the calendar turned to 2018, and AFC Bournemouth was languishing in the relegation zone.
Saturday, after the Cherries comeback 2-1 victory, the future looks much brighter for Eddie Howe’s squad. Bournemouth sit all the way up in ninth place, and are now just five points out of a potential Europa League spot, with its next two matches against teams currently in or just on the outside of the bottom three.
So what happened in a month to change the Cherries from relegation fodder to European hopefuls, in the span of just six matches?
An unbeaten run of seven games.
That is all it takes in the 2017-18 Premier League season to make a jump up the table. One look at the form of the 20 teams over the last five games shows a lot of green W’s at the top, and just as many red L’s near the bottom.
Bournemouth, with three wins and two draws (good for 11 points) over its last five matches, has jumped over teams struggling to find some form. The same happened to Crystal Palace last month, and Everton before that. From ninth to 19th place is separated by just seven points, and it gets even closer towards the bottom
Just this weekend, Brighton & Hove Albion’s 3-1 win over West Ham United, and Southampton’s 3-2 victory over West Bromwich Albion (on the day the Baggies honoured pioneer Cyrille Regis), showed how much movement can come with three points.
While the title race has not materialized, the rest of the table has proved to be the most interesting season in recent memory.
The massive amounts of money flowing into the league has allowed almost every team to be able to spend with some established European powers, and has brought a level of parity that has not been seen in years.
The new television and streaming rights deals that will be signed in the coming months and years will bring even more riches to the coffers of Premier League clubs, which makes the race to stay up even more important for the clubs battling it out each week.
Prepare for weekly chaos over the next three-plus months.
PREMIER LEAGUE RESULTS
Burnley 1-1 Man. City
Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke
Brighton 3-1 West Ham
Leicester 1-1 Swansea
Man. United 2-0 Huddersfield
West Brom 2-3 Southampton
Arsenal 5-1 Everton
Crystal Palace 1-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
Watford 4-1 Chelsea
SWANSEA CITY SUFFERS DOUBLE INJURY BLOW
One of the teams that has battled out of the relegation zone (right now on goal difference) is Swansea.
But Sunday, the Swans got some bad news on two players that were crucial to their hopes of beating the drop.
Midfielder Leroy Fer and forward Wilfried Bony were ruled out for the rest of the season with serious injuries. Fer ruptured his achilles, and Bony torn his ACl, in the Swans 1-1 draw with Leicester City Saturday. Bony actually continued to play with the injury.
Can Swansea overcome the devastating injuries? With Carlos Carvahal at the helm, it just might be possible. The new manager has changed the fortunes of the club, and brought an air of positivity to what looked like a bleak situation just one month ago.
Still, the Swans need to keep racking up the points to stave off the drop.
Written by Sean Miller: @TheProdigalSean