With the new TV money coming into the Premier league next season, no-one can afford to be relegated.
That’s one reason why Premier League clubs spent big last summer and the reasons why those without managers brought in the best that they could afford. On top of that, there’s the age old guess over how many points you need this time to stay up.
We all recall the West Ham team that was relegated in 2002/03 with 42 points, the highest any team has been relegated with, so what about this season and who will be falling through the inevitable trap door?
The fact there is still 16 games to go and 48 points to be won will give hope to the current bottom three. However, when you think Aston Villa only have 12 points by January, you start to think that getting even 25 points will be a struggle for them. The usual safety zone is between 35 and 40. Last season, Hull City were relegated with 35 points, the bottom club, QPR, went down with 30.
The worst ever was Derby County in 2007/08 with just 11 points and a season before that Sunderland won 15 points, and waived goodbye to elite status. As it stands Villa won’t be the worst ever, but if I was in charge at Villa, I think I’d be planning for the Championship.
[ffc-gal cat=”premier-league” no=”5″]
The Villa team look to be anything but a team. There are a couple of quality players within the squad, but they play like individuals and they can’t even claim to be unlucky. They just haven’t been a good side.
It’s a shame when a “name” like Aston Villa are threatened with relegation, but then why should it always be the Watford, Leicester, Norwich type teams that are always pre-season contenders to be relegated? It’s about who you bring in, it’s about moulding a team, consistency with the players and staying free of injuries.
Villa aside, we also have Sunderland, who second from bottom, four points behind 17th placed Swansea and then, just inside the relegation zone sit Newcastle, who are just a point from safety.
As things stand we have six clubs that are in clear danger of going down. Bournemouth, Norwich and Swansea are the three teams above the drop and alongside the bottom three, all six are looking over their shoulders. Although Chelsea are just above those six and only one point ahead of Bournemouth, I don’t think anyone can realistically see Chelsea going down.
Only two points separate third from bottom Newcastle with 15th placed Bournemouth, so it is very, very tight. Newcastle’s win against West Ham at the weekend will give them hope and some confidence and with some new faces in the team, very often that is enough to lift and inspire a team at this point of the season. I wouldn’t bet against Newcastle staying up, but along with their North East neighbours Sunderland, both sides are wildly inconsistent.
On Saturday, Sunderland had the chance to put three wins together in a row, but despite scoring first, they eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham. Amongst the remaining games for the Black Cats are both Manchester clubs at the Stadium Of Light and an away game at Anfield. Sunderland’s run-in looks grim, as they play the majority of the top six at some point. The big game is upon us as Sunderland take on Bournemouth at home, which is surely a key game for them before they face Manchester City.
Swansea City have done everso well to stay in the Premier League and I think the majority of fans thought that Garry Monk was a decent manager for The Swans. Their slide down the table has been alarming for the fans. Their final games don’t look as bad although of course they still have to go Arsenal and Tottenham, West Ham and Leicester. They do have games that could lead to winning points against those around them and they aren’t playing Manchester City until the last game at home. They have hope, particularly after their 1-0 win over Watford on Monday night
Newcastle have also only won of their last six and sit third bottom on the form guide. They also have talent and the acquisition of Shelvey last week gave them added steel in midfield. The Magpies’ remaining games show some hope, with the teams around them visiting St James’ Park. However, they could trip up at places like Norwich, Stoke and Southampton. Steve McClaren has had a tough time, but he knows the league and he should keep his job, at least until the summer.
Norwich City are under strength in this league, but their resilience in grinding out results, such as their draw with West Ham earlier in the campaign, is the kind of spirit their manager showed in his playing days. Losing 3-0 away to Bournemouth was a serious blow to the Canaries and their run-in looks daunting. Unless they buy some quality this month, they’ll be in danger of slipping straight back down to the Championship.
Bournemouth were a revelation last year after storming through the Championship. Everyone likes The Cherries and admires Eddie Howe, but their form over the last few games is erratic to say the least. Two wins, two draws and two losses makes them hard to work out. However, they’ve shown signs of having enough about them to survive. Two brilliant signings in this transfer window gives them real hope and I don’t think the door has shut on transfers just yet down on the South Coast.
Their remaining fixtures are in their favour, as any team of note have to go the Vitality Stadium. Their last game is at Old Trafford, but they may have already done enough by then. Benik Afobe has already scored for The Cherries and he will be a very useful player in the matches to come. All the signs are there to suggest that the Cherries will not drop off the Premier League tree.
So, looking back, Villa, Sunderland and Norwich look the most likely contenders for the drop, Big Sam getting a taste of relegation for the first time in his managerial career.