Who is going down from the top flight?

The way things are going in the Premier League this season, the battle to avoid the drop is looking more exciting than the title race. Manchester United are currently 9 points clear of their rival Man City and the Red Devils show no signs of faltering.

Last season we saw the relegation battle go to the last day of the season, Bolton needed to win and hope that QPR lost. QPR became part of the title race on the final day as they played Manchester City, so the battle of survive relegation intertwined with the battle to win the Premier League. With fixtures the way they are, I don’t think we see scenes like that this time around.

We could be treated to one of the closest relegation battles in years, with 5 teams looking like they’ll be fighting it out. Despite the encouraging start that Mauricio Pochettino’s reign as Southampton manager, I think they’ll be involved in the relegation scrap until the last few games, but will pick up enough points to survive the drop. The magic 40 point total is only 13 away for Saints and they’ll get close to that. They will have to beat all of the teams currently around them, but they will be fine at the end of the season.

Reading have shown in the past few games that they are capable of staying up, but have also shown that they could quite easily drop into the bottom three. They concede too many goals and seem to rely on their attackers to dig them out of holes and salvage something from games. I fear for them if Adam Le Fondre gets injured as he’s been their main goalscorer recently and has come off the bench and scored important goals for the Royals.

Wigan have survived relegation in every season they have been in the Premier League, 8 in all. If they want to do that again, they will have to beat not just the teams around them but a couple of the big teams as well. They have Chelsea at Stamford Bridge up next, as well as Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal to play later on in the season. They always seem to find something extra in the last 3 months of the season though. In order to beat the drop, the Latics will have to show the same level of performance in the last part of this season as they did in the last part of last season They haven’t looked too good over the past month and they could start slipping further down the table if they are not careful.

Aston Villa are in very real danger. They have the worst goal difference in the Premier League by far and they haven’t exactly scored enough goals in games to turn losing positions into a draw or even a win. If Christian Benteke gets injured even for a couple of weeks, Villa will feel it massively. He gives them so much pace and power, as well as being a good finisher. Aston Villa have missed Ron Vlaar over the past few months and his return will give their back line the rigidity and strength that they have needed. I think if they lose to any of the teams around them, they could end up being cut off from those teams and ultimately be relegated. Paul Lambert didn’t bring in enough players in the January transfer window and it may well prove to be their undoing.

The team currently at the bottom of the Premier League table, QPR, look like they could survive relegation. No TV pundits has given them a chance, but I think they will survive the drop. They have brought in players like Loic Remy and Chris Samba in the January transfer window, they will be key to the Super Hoops’ Premier League survival campaign. Their last three games of the season are Arsenal and Newcastle at home and then Liverpool away so they will have to pick up points in their other games. The amount of points needed to survive could be as high as 35 this season, so QPR will have to start winning games and stop drawing them.

At this point in the season, I think the bottom three come the end of the season will be (in no particular order) Aston Villa, Reading and Wigan.

Thomas Baxter