Kyle Goldsmith examines the teams engulfed in the battle to survive the drop from the Premier League this season, with it set to go right down to the wire…
As we reach the ‘business end’ of the season, the Premier League’s bottom half are all looking over their shoulders nervously at the Championship. In this article we look at each team and assess their chances of staying up.
Stoke City – 11th
The Potters currently sit in mid table and it would take a catastrophe for them to get sucked into it. As always though, a few bad results and Stoke could be well amongst it.
Everton – 12th
At the start of the season many tipped Everton to be at the very least in the running for the Europa League. However, the Toffees have just not caught fire yet this year and have won just two league games since the end of October. So far Roberto Martinez seems to be relying on last season’s success to keep him in the job but if it carries on like this for much longer his position must surely be in danger. Everton perfectly fit the ‘too good to go down’ term though and it will be remarkable if they did so.
Aston Villa – 13th
The Villains started the season well but then tailed off into an unbelievably bad run of form that meant they only picked up 2 points out of a possible 27. At the start of December Paul Lambert’s side won two games in a row but not won since. It’s this inconsistency that has kept Villa fans annoyed and this has told, with attendances falling every week. The truth is that Aston Villa have just not scored enough goals (11). 18 is by far the worst in the league with the second worst being Sunderland on 18 goals scored. They have played most of the top teams though so should be able to pick up a few more victories in the second half of the season to keep them up. The inconsistency is a big worry though.
West Brom – 14th
The Baggies’ problem this year has been partly results but mostly performances. Fans feel that they have struggled to compete against the bigger sides and have failed to beat the slightly easier ones. Signings such as Brown Ideye and Giorgios Samaras have not worked out and they had a manager (Alan Irvine) who with all due respect looked a little out of his depth. Eventually he lost the fan’s backing, the support of the players and most importantly the board and was sacked. At this point, people saw it as a foregone conclusion that West Brom were on their way down but when people saw who they brought in, they began to change their minds. Tony Pulis got a new reputation with Palace for being able to keep teams up, and with this appointment they should probably stay up.
Crystal Palace – 15th
After their escape last season, Palace were expected to kick on this season but that plan was scuppered when Tony Pulis left couple of days before the season started. This obviously affected them and his replacement Neil Warnock didn’t last long and was soon sacked. He has been replaced by Alan Pardew. Could this change keep them up?
Sunderland – 16th
The Black Cats have had an odd season. They’ve gone from draws with top teams to an 8-0 crushing at Southampton. They have been extremely inconsistent, yet it doesn’t feel like they’ve had that bad of a season. Wrong. Sunderland sit 5th bottom and have won 2 in 11 games. They will stay up but they need to improve next year.
Burnley – 17th
So far this season Burnley have been a breath of fresh air. They have given everything this season, yet the Clarets are still only 17th. The players need to make sure they don’t get disheartened at the fact they’ve given so much yet are still in trouble. If Burnley had the quality of other teams, and you mixed it with their effort, they would be one hell of a team. With all this effort, the small squad will surely tire. Burnley will give it a go, but might ultimately end up just short.
Hull City – 18th
Many thought Hull bought well on deadline day, bringing in Gaston Ramirez, Hatem Ben Arfa and Abel Hernandez. These all seem good purchases but they have struggled to make an impact. Nikica Jelavic is the top scorer with only six and it’s this lack of goals that has been the main problem. Their defence has actually been pretty resolute. They have been battered by injuries as well, including to key players such as Mo Diame, Andrew Robertson and Gaston Ramirez. If they can get their front line to start firing, Hull should stay up.
QPR – 19th
The reason for QPR’s struggle is there for all to see – their away form. The Hoops haven’t won on the road all season! Their home form is a positive however and they must add to this with a few wins away. They must also add a striker to their squad because Charlie Austin can’t do it all on his own. The former bricklayer has scored 14 of QPR’s 23 goals and must surely be nearing an England call up. If he gets injured though QPR could be in massive trouble.
Leicester – 20th
Leicester are in deep trouble at the bottom of the league but have at least improved in recent weeks. The now famous stat about the wait for a win after their 5-3 win against Manchester United is finally over and the Foxes have now picked up 3 great Premier League results in a row, where they picked up a point at Liverpool and wins at Hull and at home to Aston Villa. It’s the wins against the likes of Villa and the Tigers that will really help and any ‘bonus points’ they can get against top teams is an additional hand. The cracks are still showing however and Leicester are in for a tough final half of the season. Can they make it a season of two halves and kick on and save themselves?