It is the middle of October in which the Premier League table begins to take shape and from what we have seen so far, things have not necessarily gone how it had been anticipated. Teams like West Ham and Swansea have had better than expected starts, while QPR and Aston Villa fans will be nervous about the season ahead after a worrying opening to the season. Only a handful of teams can be sure of another season in the top flight and I will assess the chances of the remaining sides remaining a Premier League by May 2013.
Paul Lambert’s side have had an extremely difficult start to the season. A worrying lack of goals, coupled with an inconsistent defensive unit has meant that The Villains are currently hovering above the relegation zone. With attacking options such as Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor and new Belgian signing Christian Benteke, one can only imagine that Villa are soon to find their shooting boots, even if their defence continues to leak goals. They should be fine, although the supporters would have been hoping for a lot more at the beginning of the season. Verdict: Lower mid-table finish.
Another team with a new manager, although expectations in Norfolk are realistic. The aim this season, and for every season, is avoiding relegation. This is looking like an extremely tough task, even at this early stage of the season. Shipping four goals away at Chelsea, five at home to Liverpool and another five on the opening day of the season at Fulham have meant a headache for Chris Houghton in the early stages of his Norwich career. If they can plug the gaping holes at the back, as they did in the impressive 1-0 home win over Arsenal, then they have a chance of a third season at England’s top table. But that is a big if and that’s why I believe it’s going to be a big struggle for the Canaries this season. Verdict: Relegation favourites.
Mark Hughes’ statement after the final day of last season that QPR would never be involved in another relegation scrap whilst he was in charge now looks to be a very rash one. Bottom of the league, no wins and a worryingly leaky defence have led to some Rangers’ fans calling for Hughes’ head. After heavy investment in the squad over the summer, an air of optimism swept across Loftus Road, optimism quickly extinguished after the 5-0 home mauling at the hands of Swansea. If the squad begins to gel, the top half is a genuine possibility, but in their current state, QPR will just be happy surviving for another year. Verdict: Dicing with the drop.
The pre-season favourites for the drop are currently justifying their tag. Also with no wins to their name, the squad looks extremely short in almost every position. Despite winning last season’s Championship, the Premier League is a big step up, one which they don’t look well equipped to make. Brian Mcdermott is a well-respected manager and with players like Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie, they have Premier League experience and they could follow in the footsteps of Hull and Swansea and survive against the odds. Heart and desire will help them pick up points, but it would be a big surprise if they managed to survive this season. Verdict: Relegation favourites.