Teams battling to survive relegation put in more efforts than the teams who are challenging for the title and to be honest the relegation battle is much more exciting than the title race. Every season teams go down on the final day, on the final seconds of the league making it more fascinating for the neutrals. The current season is well past the half way mark and the dust have settled well to give a clear picture of who is going down and who will be the likely survivors. The table above shows QPR are in deep deep trouble. In my opinion all of these six teams are in this year’s battle for survival.
Looking at the team, Newcastle United on paper have have too much quality to get relegated. A team which was fighting for European places last season are at the very wrong end of the table with pretty much the same team. Though Demba Ba moved to Chelsea in the January window, they still have quality players in their armory. With players like Ben Arfa and Cisse and the newly recruited Sissoko in their ranks it would be a real shame for Alan Pardew if they go down.
Southampton are a place above Newcastle by goal difference. The Saints also have the quality to stay up and their recent triumph over league Champions Manchester City is an example to that. They have shown that they have the dogged determination required to stay up.
So the real dog fight is between QPR, Wigan, Reading and Villa.
When Harry Redknapp was appointed as QPR’s manager there was a huge belief that Harry would turn it around and QPR will stay up and it was not a bad start from the former Spurs boss as well. QPR managed to convert their loses into draws and there was a sure belief in the camp. However, fast forward to February Rangers are still at the very bottom, 17 points after 26 games and 4 points behind Wigan.
QPR are actually in a worse position than when they were before Redknapp took over. Players brought in during the January window are all but average players who were at their best a couple of seasons ago, Chris Samba and Jermaine Jenas are well past their glory years and to believe that they will help QPR to survive is just a fantasy. The players will rather show off their individual talents to secure a move to another Premier league club at the end of the season.
Reading are another team who are most likely to go down. I cannot see them beating the drop, they have earned a reputation of being “comeback kings” scoring some vital late goals in recent games, but personally I don’t think they have the quality to stay up.
So then it’s between Wigan and Villa, this will be a real delight to watch. Though Wigan are at 19th place 2 points behind Reading, Wigan clearly have the experience in surviving relegation battles and despite being tipped for the drop every season they always manage to survive! Aston Villa have players of undoubted quality, Benteke has been a revelation this season, however Wigan’s experience of relegation fights may be vital, and I see Wigan staying up once again with Villa filling the dreaded 18th spot in the premier league. The final three to end up in the drop zone should be QPR, Reading and Aston Villa.
However, it’s football and it’s unpredictable. No one has the intuition to judge what will happen in the 90 minutes until the final whistle has gone. Every team is going to drop points, it’s just the matter of who is going to drop the least. The final day of the season will see QPR travelling to Liverpool, Reading to West Ham and Villa to Wigan.