March is one of those months where fans start to speculate who will win the Premier League and, equally importantly, who will fall through the relegation trap door in to the Championship.
The bottom six are separated by just nine points, but with nine games to go of this year’s highly entertaining season still to play, the table could change quite considerably. But if the bottom teams maintain the form they have displayed for the last seven months then the following three teams might find themselves preparing for life in England’s second tier come the end of May.
Leicester City look set to yo-yo back into the Championship next season after gaining promotion just last year. The Foxes last won a Premier League game in January – beating Aston Villa 1-0 – and have lost three of their last five.
Sitting in bottom place, the players continue struggling to pull themselves out of this desperate situation and with Leicester only scoring 24 goals all season, they may have to rely on other teams to slip up if they are to have any chance of staying up. Argentine forward Leonardo Ulloa has only managed seven goals so far – and is still their top scorer this season – so it’s difficult to see where they can turn to in order to get those crucial table climbing points.
Winning four matches and losing 17 proves that the Foxes just aren’t ready for the high tempo and quality of the Premier League and there is little manager Nigel Pearson can do about that now.
Queens Park Rangers are another team who made a return to the Premier League this season but they’ve been looking like a side ready for a swift return back to the Championship for some time now. Rangers have suffered the most defeats, 18, with 12 of those coming away from Loftus Road.
Since Harry Redknapp took the highly unusual step of resigning back in February, QPR have tried to see it as a new chapter and an opportunity to rescue their season. To think that the appointment of Chris Ramsey could get them out of the hole they had dug themselves in all season in just four months has proven fans to be too optimistic.
Don’t get me wrong, Ramsey is a nice man and a capable coach, but even Jose Mourinho would find it difficult to get this group of players to finally click with so little time available. No other team has had more goals scored against them (49), and with matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City to come, that number is only going to increase.
I was tempted to include either Aston Villa or Sunderland in my list until I saw Burnley’s fixtures. All three clubs have had a disappointing season, but Burnley still have to face Southampton, Tottenham, Arsenal and Stoke. The Clarets have a huge task on their hands with it looking seriously likely that they will be back playing in the Championship come August.
The Clarets’, yet well deserved, victory over champions Manchester City at the weekend will have given them the belief that they can do the unthinkable, but it remains a pretty steep mountain to climb for Sean Dyche’s men.
Top scorer Danny Ings has done his best – finding the net nine times – but it won’t be enough and I can’t see Burnley finding a mass of goals from anywhere between now and the end of the campaign.
The race to beat the drop is always an intense affair for all involved – and the aforementioned clubs all have a bit of a job on their hands if they are hold on to their top flight status.
But with Tim Sherwood seemingly working miracles at Aston Villa and Sunderland today sacking Gus Poyet, the current three in the relegation zone may find their ‘Great Escape’ efforts even more difficult to achieve.