Too good to go down?

by Michael Wade

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
 

With the Premier League tighter than ever before there are a number of decent sides fighting it out at the wrong end of the division and desperately trying to avoid the dreaded drop. Let’s have a look at some of the candidates who at the beginning of the season looked too good to go down…

Fulham

After finishing 12th last season and going all the way to the inaugural Europa League final the Cottagers have come back to earth with an almighty bump this time around winning just three games all season and currently sitting outside the drop zone only on goal difference. Things are not half as bad as they look though, and if Mark Hughes is able to bring in a decent striker in January and mould the squad in his own character they will climb away from trouble in no time at all.

Verdict: Too good to go down

Aston Villa

Right now Villa are in freefall and a side in real trouble. They lack leadership, experience and direction with Houllier offering very little in the way of solutions. Five defeats in the last seven games show they are displaying relegation form and what makes it worse is that Houllier doesn’t seem to be motivating his side to get out of trouble. With a batch of players potentially coming and going in January things may continue to slide. With fixtures against Chelsea and Sunderland next a slump into the bottom three beckons. A change of manager is the best option before it is too late.

Verdict: In direct danger of going down

Everton

The Toffees are traditional slow starters but this year has been worse than usual with David Moyes’ side sitting just three points above Wigan in the bottom three as we go into the New Year with only four league wins to their name all season. With Tim Cahill soon to depart for extended international duty and a lack of top class goalscorers to pick from Everton may not climb the table as easily as they have in previous terms. The tightness of this season’s Premier League table is in their favour however and they will have easily enough to stay in the division and even push for a top ten finish.

Verdict: Too good to go down

West Ham

Sleepwalking into relegation seems an absurd thing to do but it is exactly what West Ham have done all season so far. The appointment of Avram Grant on a four-year contract was a mad decision in the first place but to stick with him when results have been so consistently poor is purely bad judgement on the board’s part. The best thing to do is to make a clean break but it looks like Grant will be backed in the transfer window. The club can go two ways from here – make new signings which add to the team and slowly pull away from trouble or sell as much talent as they buy and remain struggling in the quicksand. Once a team is in a relegation battle it is not easy to get out and inconsistency looks to have the Hammers in for the long haul.

Verdict: Relegation beckons

Birmingham

Another side that has crashed back to earth after last year’s heroics. Birmingham could be feeling that dreaded second season syndrome which has done for so many before them. Although they look to have the strength to remain in the division they are only clear of danger on goal difference and haven’t managed an away win yet this season. An inspired addition or two in January could see them pull well clear and leave the others scrapping behind them but they need to act fast or face a proper scrap.

Verdict: Act now before it is too late

Chelsea

Defeat against Bolton and Chelsea will be sinking faster than you can say Titanic. But really, I’m only kidding…Carlo Ancelotti’s side have enough to stay up…don’t they?

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