Usually, I wait till nearer the end of the season to voice my opinions on who I think will be embroiled in a relegation battle. However, this season, I can make my judgements earlier on, because there are many less teams involved this time round. QPR, Wigan, Reading and Aston Villa are the clubs I think will be involved this time round. I know a lot of people would throw Southampton into the mix aswell, but I’m confident that they are strong enough to survive, and they already have a few points head start.
Of all of the clubs in the mix, I think QPR are most likely to go down. This is surprising when you look at the players they have on hand, including Loic Remy, Adel Taraabt and Bobby Zamora. They also have other good players, and sometimes I think that if all of these players were grouped together at a different club, they would be able to do very well. The manager isn’t the problem either, as Harry Redknapp has been in this situation before at Tottenham and Portsmouth and kept them up, so he shouldn’t be struggling as much as he is with QPR. So, if none of these are the problems, what is it? Personally (although I would be glad to hear opinions in comments below) I think it is the whole ethos of the team, the way they go about their business. For we are always hearing of stories of infighting between team-mates in the camp, something which needs to be sorted out, as a team struggling at the bottom need to pull together as a team. Twitter has also caused problems, as Tony Fernandes’ claims that he would quit the club if he couldn’t sort problems out would not be very good news for the team, and it would undoubtedly knock their confidence.
Aston Villa have also been on a steady decline this season. Their policy in recent years has been to sell their top players to other clubs, (Milner, Barry, Young) and then invest in the future. This can work sometimes, but at Aston Villa it hasn’t due to their lack of experience. They are the second youngest squad in the premiership, and although they have promising youngsters like Christian Benteke and Andre Weimman, they don’t have much experience and have struggled because of this. This is in no way Paul Lambert’s fault, as he hasn’t been given the money from Randy Lerner to get some more experienced players in. He has come in to this side and told to do a job with very young guys. As well as this they have the problem with Darren Bent. Now I am not suggesting in any way that it is a one man team, but he is their most expensive player and I think he deserves more chances. He has had injuries, but they seem to have gone away now, so he should be getting more minutes.
Another team that have struggled this season are Reading. They came into the premier league at the start of the season with a very weak side compared to others in the league, and although they have made some significant signings, one of which being Pavel Pobgrebnyak, they still lack some class. Brian McDermott is a very good manager, though, and recent performances have given them hope, but I do worry that their lack of top flight quality will keep them from staying up, as this becomes important towards the end of the season. Nethertheless, they have been on better form recently than some of their other relegation opponents, and if they keep this up, they have every chance of staying up.
Wigan are also in trouble. They seem to be always in the mix, but usually stay up on the last day of the season. However, this time round, I have the feeling it is going to be different due to their inconsistency. This is a major problem for Wigan, who have less opponents this time, and I do feel that they will continue to struggle. They do have some hope though, as Roberto Martinez is a very good manager and has brought in some decent players with very little money, and Wigan do play good football which can cause problems for teams around the premier league. Out of all the teams I have written about here, I think Wigan have the best chance of staying up because of this.
We shall see at the end of the season whether I am right or wrong, and if you have any suggestions or other ideas, please leave a comment below.