With the Premier League season more than well and truly underway, it is time to have a look at each club and how they're doing and where they're on (or off!) course to finish.
Newcastle have had a disastrous first half of their season so far. At the time of writing, they are languishing down in 15th place, a mere 2 points above the relegation zone. This season has been so different from their last campaign it's almost laughable as they have plummeted from Champions League contenders to relegation candidates if they don't sort it out! In my opinion, apart from Demba Ba, none of their best players from last season have shone anywhere near as much as they did last season. This was evident in the fact that Ba got an offer from Chelsea which he took with open arms as he probably felt Newcastle were sinking and wanted to abandon ship.
Newcastle have very recently been rocked by the request of their captain Fabriccio Collocini who said he would like to return to his native Argentina. It just gets worse for the tyneside club as they get dumped out the FA Cup by a championship team and lose their captain. It is difficult to sum up why Newcastle have been so much worse than they were last season, it just hasn't happened for them. With Alan Pardrew being on an 8 year contract at the club they would do best if they stuck with him through this sticky patch as they really are in a bit of trouble at the moment.
In conclusion, I feel that Newcastle desperately need to hang on to captain Collocini. Don't forget this is the man likened to the great Bobby Moore by Alan Pardrew and he is about the only person who can hold them together at the moment. They should use the Ba money to either replace him if needs be or to buy a partner for him at the back.
Norwich have had an even more astonishing 2nd season back than last season so far, in my opinion. You see these clubs do really well in one season but sometimes 'second season syndrome' can set in. This is supposedly where a team fails to emulate its new found success of the previous season. Some suggest that this is down to teams cracking their game plan, I would tend to agree with this to some extent. Norwich have stayed clear of this though and went on an incredible unbeaten run earlier on before losing respectively to Man City in a 7 goal thriller.
Norwich sit in 12th at the time of writing and I'm quite sure they would be happy if that was where they ended up finishing at the end of the season, consolidation would surely be a priority. Chris Hughton has come in and made them a difficult team to beat and they have claimed a few famous scalps at Carrow Road. They have been doing well with relatively little assistance from their once talisman Grant Holt who has only contributed 4 goals so far, if they can get him firing then they could certainly look upwards in terms of the table. John Ruddy has been injured for a large part of this season and considering he was on the verge of the England squad, he is definitely a big miss for them and they will be looking forward to his return.
Wes Hoolahan has been particularly influential for them this season. The crafty playmaker was the only positive in a loss to West Ham recently and he provided their only threat at times. He played inbetween the lines, finding pockets of space. He also ran at players, taking advantage of the space he found and carried the ball well up the pitch for the team. Strangely he was taken off by Hughton in that game and he understandably didn't looked too please, implying there was no injury. I think he is a great little player and they should use him to his full potential if they want to finish higher than 12.
In conclusion, I think Norwich have had a great season so far and if they continue to do this well then they can easily climb the table. They are definitely not relegation candidates and should be looking up rather than over their collective shoulders at the deathly drop zone.
Well it is quite obvious that QPR's season has been disastrous as they sit rock bottom of the Premier League with a mere 13 points and a -19 goal difference. Many tipped them for easy safety this season after they bought in many new faces and some relatively big names. Nearly all of them have been extremely disappointing to say the least. In my opinion, their best player is one who has been there a while now and that is Moroccan Adel Taraabt. He has the ability to carry the ball, beat 2 or 3 players and stick it in the back of the net. All good attacking play seem to come through him and I think he is a real talent. Sometimes he lacks the right attitude however he makes up for it in ability. I'm surprised no other clubs have come in for him personally.
It took them until the 15th of December to get their first win and this sums up how bad their season has been. I think a particular low point was their loss to Liverpool at home where they looked leagues behind the Merseysiders. Their high point so far has undoubtedly been the win at Stamford Bridge against European Champions Chelsea. Although it will definitely raise morale and confidence, I do get the feeling that the result was slightly more down to Chelsea's faults rather than QPR's strengths.
In conclusion, I think QPR are destined for the drop, even 'Arry can't save them this time. A challenge too difficult. They lack discipline in their play and need to maintain quality of performance for longer periods in games in order to get results. It is not a good time to be a QPR fan with the wages likely to be a huge problem if they go down. However, if there is anyone who can get them out of it then you'd put your money on it being Harry Redknapp.
Reading have also had a terrible season so far, however their situation doesn't seem to be as bad as QPR in many people's opinions. Although they are only above the London club on goal difference, I think they have more to be positive about. Recent results have reflected quite well on them. A decent 0-0 draw with Swansea, a solid result in my opinion, a much needed win against West Ham and a respectable and expected loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
Reading have an important period coming up before the end of February. In their next 6 games, they face, West Brom, Newcastle, Chelsea, Sunderland, Stoke and Wigan respectively. The latter of those are especially winnable and they should look to pick up as many point as possible in February. They need to get 4 out of a possible 9 in their remaining January fixtures at least in my opinion.
Reading may not have the most spectacular squad however I feel they have what QPR have a distinct lack of and that is team spirit. They all know how to work for each other and grind out a result. A perfect example of this was in their home win against West Ham recently and they also showed spirit in the thriller at home to Manchester United and a narrow loss at the Etihad against the champions earlier on in this season.
In conclusion, I think Reading will struggle to beat the drop. They are by no means down yet though, if they can add intelligently in January and stick together I think escape is possible, just unlikely.
How do you think these teams have done so far? Tell us in the comments section below!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!