(Image via https://twitter.com/UtdResurgent)
One of the appealing aspects of watching the Premier League over the years has been due to its competitive nature from top to bottom. This season, though, there appears to be a mini-league developing in England’s top flight between sides in the upper echelons of the division and those at the bottom, especially when assessing the clubs involved in a relegation scrap.
With Manchester City in pole position at the top of the table, many fans of arguably the best division on the planet are turning their attention to those battling it out at the lower end of the table. With so much at stake for the clubs in and around the danger zone, pressure is certainly mounting.
Some sides are evidently in a worse position than others, but the campaign is far from over. Although its competitive nature makes betting on the Championship intriguing and watching it hugely unpredictable at times, many of the sides fighting for survival in the Premier League will be desperate to avoid dropping down into it and surrendering their top-flight status in the process.
With the campaign entering a crucial period, below is a look at how some of the Premier League’s relegation candidates are shaping up.
Despite winning plenty of admirers due to Marcelo Bielsa’s attacking style last season, Leeds United have failed to build on it. Injuries to key players such as Patrick Bamford have been detrimental, but the side has also shown naivety at times, particularly in a defensive sense. Leeds have missed Bamford’s goals which, coupled with a leaky defence, has resulted in a forgettable season overall.
Everton is now a toxic football club. Rafa Benitez’s departure was inevitable as and when a bad patch of form materialised, especially given his past links to Liverpool. The fact that the clubs’ hierarchy appointed the Liverpool legend perhaps highlights just how out of touch they are. Apart from Demarai Gray being the standout performer for the Blues this season, there is little else for Evertonians to get enthused about. Relegation would be disastrous for the club, but with fans venting their frustrations and players low on confidence, Everton have a serious battle on their hands.
Under Dean Smith, Norwich City are experiencing somewhat of a revival. The Canaries have been boosted with the return of some key players in particular, but the introduction of Irishman Adam Idah alongside Teemu Pukki has improved the clubs’ fortunes dramatically. Should Norwich tighten up at the back, then survival is a genuine possibility. So far, 2022 is proving to be a year of growth for the side.
Newcastle United have the money to buy their way out of danger but whether or not the club can acquire the right players in time is the big question. Even then, once they’re all in through the door, it could take new acquisitions time to adapt to Eddie Howe’s demands. So far, though, the players currently in the building appear to be thriving under the former Bournemouth boss. Arguably under more pressure than their rivals, Newcastle United’s big-spending owners will be desperate to stay up.
With two managers sacked already this season, Watford is a club that can be hard to back at times. Despite their trigger-happy approach, the Hornets have generally thrived under the ownership of the Pozzo family. The return of Ismaïla Sarr will certainly improve the side’s attacking fortunes but Watford’s defending needs work.
Despite defying the odds on numerous occasions under Sean Dyche, Burnley’s time in the Premier League finally appears to be coming to an end. That’s the general view outside of the club anyway, but if there’s a team that is capable of turning around its fortunes and pulling off what would be a great escape, then it’s the Clarets under Dyche.