After two managerial sackings in the space of a few days, and the teams in the bottom half of the Premier League all struggling for consistency, we are heading for another fascinating relegation battle this season.
As we enter the second half of the season, we are once again none the wiser as to who will be heading down to the Championship come May. Neil Warnock became the first managerial casualty of the season last week, as the 66-year-old was relieved of his duties at Selhurst Park. We didn’t have to wait too long until the next sacking either, as this time Alan Irvine was dismissed from the West Bromwich Albion hot seat after a poor run of results.
The sackings have really set the tone for what is set to be another enthralling battle for survival. Realistically, any of the clubs from 12th to 20th in the league table can go down. Surprisingly, it’s Roberto Martinez’s Everton who occupy 12th after a disastrous Premier League campaign so far – including five defeats in their last seven games – the Toffees well and truly find themselves in the mix. You will have to be a brave man to back Everton for the drop, but they will certainly be looking over their shoulders if things don’t drastically improve soon.
That leaves Aston Villa, Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Leicester City – all set for a dogged fight for survival. All these clubs have suffered torrid times in the Premier League thus far, and all need to put a mini run together to ease some of the pressure. Everton aside, all the teams mentioned are no strangers to a relegation battle, and they all know what it takes to get the job done.
Villa, Sunderland, Palace, West Brom and Hull were all involved in a scrap last season, with most notably Palace and Sunderland achieving an incredible run of results to keep their Premier League statuses intact. It was always going to be a struggle for the three promoted clubs, but QPR have a great home record this season, Burnley have picked up some good results – including coming from 2-0 down to earn a very respectable 2-2 draw at the home of the Champions on the weekend – and Leicester secured their first league win for over three months, with a 1-0 victory at Hull on Sunday.
We’ve seen some incredible great escapes in recent years. Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United did it in 2007, before that the Baggies, who were managed by Bryan Robson, survived on the last day of the season in 2005 – when they were bottom at Christmas, and last year Tony Pulis famously guided Crystal Palace to an incredible 11th place finish – after the Eagles looked doomed when he took the job.
This season is set to be no different, with each and every club doing everything in their power to keep their top-flight existence. Currently, only eight points separate bottom-placed Leicester City to 12th placed Everton, and six clubs are only separated by four points. It promises to be another nail-biting and heartbreaking fight for Premier League survival this season, but it’s anyone’s guess who the three relegated clubs are going to be.