The 2011-2012 Premier League is turning into the most open campaign in the history of the competition after the Champions were beaten 6-1 at home by rivals Manchester City and title hopefuls Chelsea lost 1-0 away at newly promoted QPR.
With the title race still only between two or three teams; no matter what the scores are when they play each other; the race for both European football and the fight to avoid relegation will always be contested a whole host of clubs. One year a club can be in the top half and looking comfortable and the following season they can be relegated, that’s how the Premier League works. The teams that find that year on year consistency are the teams that many may forget about.
Before this dramatic weekend of Premier League action two clubs in particular were starting to be viewed as possible dark horses for relegation. Both Sunderland and Everton had pre season expectations of at least a top half finish, with the money spent by the Black Cats and the usual consistency of David Moyes’ Toffee’s it was understandable why.
Poor starts to the campaign left them both worryingly close to the drop zone and they both faced tricky away games at Bolton and Fulham respectively.
Late winning goals from both sides ensured that the pressure was; for a while at least; lifted on both managers and they can start to look up the table instead of over their shoulders.
With previous examples of Birmingham City and Leeds United to look at, not many teams can rule out a drop down a division before the season begins. You can go from a comfortable top ten finish to a depressing relegation in the space of 12 months and most sides in the division have now woken up to that fact.
If Sunderland had been beaten at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday afternoon they would have been in the relegation zone and things would have gone from bad to worse for Steve Bruce, but as it is they got two late goals and now sit just four points behind 7th place Arsenal which could be enough for a European spot this season.
It’s a similar story at Goodison Park and Everton are just a win away from being on the tail of their city rivals Liverpool after a last gasp victory away at Fulham. So even though a quarter of the season has already flown by, it is still far too early to be studying the league table and predicting the outcome as week by week and day by day it could dramatically change.
Two or three good results in a row could take you from bottom of the league and stone wall on for the drop to being in the top half and looking up towards a trip abroad next year.
No team is safe in the Premier League but no team are certainties for the drop which once again shows what a fantastic, open seven months of football we have to enjoy.
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