Home > Football, The Straight Bat > EPL Relegation Round-up: Six to go

EPL Relegation Round-up: Six to go

To say this season is of enormous financial significance would be an understatement. With a new television deal set to kick in next season, the Premier League is the place to be. Six rounds remain in the 2012-13 season, and I thought it was time to take a look at those battling for survival in England’s top flight, and rate each side’s chances of survival.

Let’s start from the bottom up. Current in 20th position on 23 points are Reading. I don’t think this will surprise anyone – they’re headed right back to the Championship. Whether you think they’ve experience their fair share of bad luck or otherwise, there’s no arguing they’ve been outclassed this season. Perhaps another stint in the Championship won’t be so bad, and with Nigel Adkins at the helm, you can bet they’ll be in with a chance of returning to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

In last place for the majority of the season, QPR now sit just one point above Reading in 19th position. There’s enough to discuss here that would quite easily fill several articles, so it’s hard to pinpoint quite just what has gone wrong. However, one factor that was intended to boost the side has instead been to their detriment: the huge turnover of players. The core group that got the side to the Premier League were quickly brushed aside in favour for costly signings with (generally) very little resale value. Yes, the squad needed to be strengthened, but the influx of these highly-paid new players seemingly never sat well with the rest of the squad. With a player exodus on the cards, the likes of Granero, Julio Cesar, Samba, Remy and even Taarabt will more than likely find new clubs. The positive news is that chairman Tony Fernandes has expressed his long-term commitment to the club. They should learn from their mistakes, and given the Championship looms large, should start afresh in the second tier.

Just when you thought they were destined for relegation, Wigan have seemingly done it again. Say what you will about Roberto Martinez, but his unwavering commitment to his coaching philosophy is something to be admired. Where it would be much easier to play with the usual four defenders, he has continued to roll with three at the back. Their usual late season run is well under-way, but they’re not out of the woods quite just yet. Tricky fixtures against Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal lay ahead, but their season is more likely to be defined by an away trip against West Ham, and of course the last day of the season, where the Latics welcome Aston Villa to the DW Stadium.

Sitting just outside of the relegation zone are Sunderland. Their demise has been unfortunate this season, with Martin O’Neill shown the door in favour for the controversial Paolo Di Canio. The outspoken Italian manager has claimed the side he has inherited is “unfit”, not exactly what you want in a squad fighting for their Premier League survival. The Sunderland board have certainly rolled the dice with this appointment, but with a number of key fixtures to come (Newcastle, Aston Villa and Stoke), they could fight to see another day. That being said, it’s not looking great at this stage.

Aston Villa are one of seven sides never to have been relegated during the Premier League era, but that record certainly looked under threat earlier this season. A recent run of good results has done wonderful things for this young side’s confidence, and their situation is looking less dire by the week. On 33 points, they’re not out of trouble yet, but I’ve got a feeling Paul Lambert will guide his young charges to safety. Oh and, Christian Benteke. What a player!

The last team I’ll look at are Stoke. Their move towards the drop zone has taken a lot of people by surprise, myself included. Once defensively sound, they’ve conceded 22 goals in the league in 2013, and have scored just seven of their own. We know what we’re going to get from this side, but it seems as though they’re without a Plan B. If they are relegated, I’ll be incredibly disappointed. Where am I going to get my long throw set piece fix?! I don’t think they will be, but they’re certainly out of form in a big way.

To summarise – who do I think are going down? Reading and QPR are a given, and I feel Sunderland will be joining them.

Agree or disagree? Who do you think are going down? Sound off in the comments below, or find me on Twitter – @adrmcm.

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