Monday, 25 March 2013

Premier League Relegation - The Runners and Riders

With Manchester United cantering away with the Premier League title, it looks like football's final day drama is going to come at the other end of the table.

Ali-al HabsiTen teams still fear for their top flight futures and this year staying in the big league is vital as a new £3 billion television deal is due to begin next season.

Anyone missing out on the cash bonanza may never catch up with their mega rich rivals.

That is why teams like QPR have gambled by splashing out and others like Reading have axed their manager. No-one wants to miss out. 

But with eight games to go for most at the bottom there is heartbreak on the cards for three teams.

Here look at the candidates to suffer the cruellest cut football has ever delivered.

Team: Stoke
Current run: 1 win in 11
Key man: Peter Crouch - Stoke have scored just one goal in their last four games and need the big striker to start firing.
Chances of staying up: Plummeting towards the drop zone and fear being that one team everyone felt was safe but still go done. Beating Aston Villa and Norwich at home will save them.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Norwich
Current run: 1 win in 13
Key man: Robert Snodgrass - The inventive force in Chris Hughton's side. Can create chances out of nothing.
Chances of staying up: Games against Reading, Aston Villa and West Brom at home are crucial and I expect them to win all three.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Newcastle
Current run: 4 wins in 7
Key man: Cheikh Tiote - Hugely destructive player who denies opponents space and time in midfield.
Chances of staying up: Nailed on, even though the distraction of a Europa League run may mean they go to the wire.
Verdict: Safe

Team: West Ham
Current run: 2 wins in 9
Key man: James Collins - proving Villa's decision to let him go was crazy by holding together at the back for the Hammers.
Chances of staying up: They still have to play both Manchester clubs but expect home wins over Wigan and Reading to be enough.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Sunderland
Current run: 0 win in 7
Key man: Danny Graham - Heavy load on the striker's shoulders as he carries this team.
Chances of staying up: Even Martin O'Neill's motivation powers are not going to be enough. Next three games against Man United, Chelsea and derby rivals Newcastle. Could be in bottom three by then and will never get out.
Verdict: Relegated
Rickie LambertTeam: Southampton
Current run: 2 wins in 7
Key man: Morgan Schneiderlin: Most tackles and interceptions in the Premier League. The heartbeat of this Saints team.
Chances of staying up: Need to start beating those around them but Rickie Lambert's goals are certain to keep them up.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Aston Villa
Current run: 3 wins in 8
Key man: Christian Benteke - Only 22 but powerful runner and full of goals.
Chances of staying up: Villa's kids are finally coming to terms with the relegation battle and can jet up the table after confidence boosting wins over Reading and QPR.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Wigan
Current run: 2 wins in 6
Key man: Shaun Maloney - A real livewire that opponents struggle to pick up in his role just behind effective striker Arouna Kone
Chances of staying up: Their FA Cup has inspired them and experience of surviving a relegation battle means they can get out of trouble.
Verdict: Safe

Team: Reading
Current run: 0 wins in 5
Key man: Jimmy Kebe - A winger with the ability to create and score goals.
Chances of staying up: No boss, no goal scorer in form and a squad full of Championship players. A recipe for disaster.
Verdict: Relegated

Team: QPR
Current run: 3 wins in 10
Key man: Stephane M'Bia - Too good for this team of overpaid plodders. The midfield powerhouse is a quality player.
Chances of staying up: Dead and buried already. Even Harry Redknapp's magic touch is failing them and the gap to safety is too big now.
Verdict: Relegated

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