Relegation Scrap: Who will be battling for their Premier League status come May?

As we approach the quarter point of the season, it still remains difficult to gauge which sides are set for a long winter of battling the drop. Crystal Palace look destined for a year of struggle, whilst Sunderland despite their victory on Sunday still have it all to do but aside from those sides it is incredibly challenging to signal which other team look most likely to drop. Here we outline some of those most in danger.

Norwich City

It wasn’t meant to be this way for the Canaries. After two seasons of punching above their weight which saw them become established as a Premier League club, Norwich decided this was the season to splash a little bit of cash – with the likes of Gary Hooper, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer amongst the most notable additions.

Things though have not gone to plan – their goalscoring problems of last season have persisted despite the signings mentioned above – Hooper, Van Wolfswinkel and Fellow new recruit Johan Elmander can boast just a single goal between them.

Of further concern is that the home form that kept them afloat last season has gone somewhat missing, with a failure to beat fellow strugglers Cardiff highlighting their plight.

West Ham

A sensational 3-0 win at White Hart Lane has gone someway to masking what has been a worrying start for the Hammers. Having spent the large part of their summer transfer budget on Andy Carroll, West Ham have been left painfully light up top as a result of the striker’s continuous injury problems. So bad have things got that Carlton Cole has been re-signed and in their most recent three games Allardyce has not picked a recognised striker.

Ravel Morrison has been the one creative bright spark but for all his talents, he can’t drag West Ham to safety on his own and they are in dire need of having Carroll both fit and firing. So much has been built around the big man but it is a gamble that could have serious consequences.


Stoke’s transition under Mark Hughes is taking a less than smooth path – with the Potters seemingly turning from a side who knew how to get results ugly to one who consistently play well but get beat. At Old Trafford on Saturday they played some excellent football, yet were let down by defensive errors just as they were against a struggling Fulham.

Further to that there is little sign of an improvement in results, after an encouraging start they are now six games without a win – only Crystal Palace can offer a longer run. Despite the new approach Hughes’ side have scored the joint fewest league goals, a return which outlines their ageing and ineffective strike force.


Wins over Stoke and Crystal Palace offered Martin Jol some much needed rest bite at Craven Cottage, however there is nagging feeling that within his squad that there might not be the stomach for the fight.

There is plenty of flair players within the squad, but with that there is a distinct lack of fighters – take Dimitar Berbatov for example, a player who has in recent weeks hardly looked a fraction close to his best.

As things get nearer to the crunch it remains to be seen whether Fulham’s happy retirement home can overcome the battles of a relegation dog fight.

Cardiff City

The Bluebirds have generally adapted to life fairly well at the highest level, yet there is a ticking time bomb in the Welsh capital in the form of owner Vicent Tan.

Malky Mackay has seemingly overcome one wave of choppy waters following the sacking of his trusted head of recruitment, but there is an inevitability that things are unlikely to remain smooth for long.

A lack of goals from his strikers is also a problem but compared to working with the loose cannon Tan – that is an issue that is mere minuscule. If Mackay leaves the club prior to the end of the season it is difficult to his side stopping up.

Aston Villa

Having finished last term like a train, Villa were expected to kick on this time round. That kick, though, is yet to materialise.  Villa’s issues are particularly prevalent at home where they have lost four out of five games.

The return of Christian Benteke from injury should certainly improve them, after all he played a significant role in over 50% of his side’s goals last season. The Belgium looked a little ring rusty in his return against Everton and Villa will be hoping that he does not suffer any kind of second season syndrome lapse.

Another issue is that they are bedding in several problems from different leagues, where as last year the squad was largely home based.

The Rest

Of course the relegated sides could from outside those mentioned here. Hull have made a strong start and look tricky to beat but their lack of striking options could catch up with them and we have seen many a promoted side tail off, whilst Newcastle are yet to decide what direction their season is heading.

Whatever happens it is going to be beyond tough to call.