This is, by common consent, a deeply weird Premier League season. It might even be too weird: some of the more low-key weirdness is being overshadowed by the twin oddities of Leicester being the best team in the country and Chelsea's ruinous title defence. Watford! Bournemouth! Sunderland! Newcastle! Aston Villa! Manchester United! Liverpool! Whole seasons have drifted past without even one story so strange; now we have to try to cope with them all at once.
Well, not here. In a weird season, the true weirdness comes down at the other end. When everybody else is strange, what's stranger than being normal? Welcome to the bottom four of the SB Nation Weirdness power rankings. These are the four teams who are — at this precise moment in time — in the right place, having the right season. This is where the real action is.
But of course! If you turn this table upside down, Arsenal are in fourth. If you look at the actual table, Arsenal are in fourth. We're not saying they can't clamber their way back to the top, of course; they're a very good football side with some very good players. But if, back at the beginning of the season, you'd asked yourself where Arsenal would be as February began, you'd have answered "about fourth, having been a bit higher, coming off the back of a quiet transfer window and a disappointing result at home, with tricky away games to come, and with the pendulum of public opinion just starting to make its way back from 'finest team the world has ever seen' to 'thank you, Arsène, but it's time to go.'"
And you'd have been spot on. Well done you.
Speaking of pendulums (or pendula, or whatever), it's getting a bit Edgar Allan Poe down on the south coast. Here is a brief summary of Southampton's form: They took six points from their first six league games, then 14 from their next six. Then they took four from their next eight, before taking 10 from their last four. Consistency is one of the great goals of any football side, but the Saints are having none of it.
Still, the season is unlikely to end with Ronald Koeman tied to a wooden board and bribing rats to set him free, and not just because that would be quite the overreaction. Southampton are neatly tucked away in seventh place, which is exactly where they should be. From day-to-day, game-to-game, they make almost no sense at all, but when we take a step back we see a side heading for the perfectly respectable upper mid-table finish that represents English football's glass ceiling. Or at least, it should do. With Leicester on top, perhaps we should be asking why Southampton aren't in the title race.
19. West Bromwich Albion
Aggressively tedious football? Check. Ongoing arguments with one or two members of the squad? Check. Reports of tension with the wider club hierarchy? Check. At least one expensive signing unable to get off the bench? Check. An ill-tempered but generally hilarious win over Arsenal? Check. Unspectacular safety the most likely outcome? Check checkity-check.
Pulis gonna Pulis.
20. Norwich City
For any promoted side coming into the Premier League, the challenge is always to be the one who doesn't have the typical promoted season. You know the one. It has moments of brightness and a few decent results here and there, and it's by no means a disaster along the lines of Derby 07-08 or Sunderland 05-06, but ultimately it all boils down to one simple question: are there three sides in the league having a worse time of it than us?
Watford, up in ninth thanks to the grace of the Pozzo family and the excellence of Odion Ighalo and Etienne Capoue, are well clear of any such concerns. Bournemouth, too, are doing better than common sense and their injury list suggests they should. So flying the flag for Promotion Done In The Proper Way are Norwich, who February finds sitting in 17th, just outside the relegation zone, two points above Newcastle. There's been rare moments of strangeness — beating Manchester United at Old Trafford, sharing nine goals at home with Liverpool — but ultimately, they're precisely where they should be.
This isn't intended as an insult; indeed, in some ways, Norwich and their counterparts down at this end of the power rankings are performing an important service to the country at large. Human beings can only tolerate so much strangeness, after all, and even the freest thinker out there likes to know that something, somewhere makes sense. Norwich are, effectively, the psychic anchoring point for the nation. The still spot in the chaos. Not that this will be much comfort if they go down, of course. Let's hope they don't. Alex Neil seems nice, in a terrifying sort of a way.