Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Relegation Battle [Guest Article]

QPR seem to be cut adrift at the bottom of the table; whilst Saints’ fans will argue that they are safe already. But it truly is anyone’s guess as to who will survive as the battle to stay up reaches breaking point with 3 spots to be avoided.

West Ham

They looked like certain survivors at the end of November but since then they have really struggled. The highlight so far has been a 3-1 win against London rivals Chelsea however they suffered a devastating loss to Spurs on Monday, conceding the winner in the 90th minute via Gareth Bale. Although most say their squad is too good to go down, they aren't safe just yet. Their remaining fixtures are very difficult with Stoke (A), Chelsea (A), West Brom (H), Liverpool (A), Southampton (A), Wigan (H), Manchester City (A) being just a few of them, they've also got a re-arranged game at home to Manchester United to play too. Whilst their home form has been generally very good, their away form has been dreadful and is definitely a cause for concern. 

Key to survival: Fixing away form
Chances of survival: 85%


3 points clear of the bottom 3, but with a vastly superior goal difference, but there’s no way that they are safe yet. New manager Mauricio Pochettino seems to be bringing out an improvement in the team yet they will need to maintain it if they want to stand a chance of survival. The Reading-Southampton clash at the Madejski on April 6th could prove vital, as could the continued form of Southampton’s midfield group – Lallana, Ramirez, Puncheon and co need to maintain their splendid form for the next 11 games.

Key to survival: Continued midfield performance              
Chances of survival: 70%


I don’t really know why I am writing about Wigan – they always look as if they’re destined for the drop, yet they always survive. But surely their luck will run out eventually? Who knows. They have a very manageable run-in – with only 2 of the top 6 left to play – and so will fancy their chances of survival. A lot will depend on if they can recreate their end-of-season form of previous seasons, as will the result when they face Aston Villa on the last day of the season.

Key to survival: Recreating traditional end-of-season form          
Chances of survival: 55%

Aston Villa

Looking at Villa's squad, they should have enough to survive. Lambert seems to be conducting a mini-revival – they played very well for no reward against Arsenal on Saturday – and I think they could survive. Their youthful squad seems to be finding their feet in the Premier League (at last!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they can ride a wave of form into safety as they do have some good players in the squad, it just hasn't been consistently going well for them.

Key to survival: Youth continuing to gain experience and perform             
Chances of survival: 60%


They seem to be reliant on late goals recently – via one man, Adam Le Fondre - and whilst it’s good that they are going in, that can’t last forever and they need to find more early goals to secure a foothold in each match. McDermott will definitely believe in his players to survive; the key will be for the players themselves to believe that they can get out of their current predicament and head towards safety and another season in the Premier League.

Key to survival: Scoring early in games                                    
Chances of survival: 25%


When a team in the relegation zone has Messrs Redknapp, Bond and Jordan at the helm you can never write them off. But you’d have thought that the ‘Arry Effect’ would have worked by now, yet QPR are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. Granted, they look more defensively solid; but they have only scored once at Loftus Road in their last 5 games and they need Loic Remy to find goalscoring form, or it could prove fatal.

Key to survival: Scoring more goals                                          
Chances of survival: 15%

Southampton seem safe; QPR seem doomed. Wigan, Reading and Aston Villa are facing an unholy battle to secure those 16th and 17th positions. But in the Premier League, you can never write anyone off, and predictions often turn out to be futile. We’ll just have to see what happens.

By Alex Beck (@becktheyidcoys)

Who do you think will survive? Tell us in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!


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