With only a handful of games left in the season it’s crunch time at both ends of the table.
This is a brief summary of teams I feel have either underachieved or done well this season based on the current squad, stature and last seasons performances. Firstly, let’s have a look at some teams that have struggled this year.
There’s not much explanation needed for why Fulham get a mention here. A team that finished 12th last term and never really seemed in danger, spending the season languishing at the bottom end of the table and entertaining three managers is hardly a recipe for any great promise. That being said, Magath gives the impression he knows what he is doing at Craven Cottage. They have picked up a few very valuable wins in recent weeks most importantly over relegation rivals Norwich City who are now tipped for the drop. Fulham may yet find a way to keep their Premiership status.
West Bromwich Albion were terrific last season. A team that looked very solid in the first half of last term in particular have since hit a downward spiral. They look a little bit lacking in confidence and have been leaking too many goals from nothing in recent months. Romelu Lukaku was formidable for them during his loan spell and despite the Odemwingie saga, Shane Long also put in a number of good performances and added to the goal tally. They were getting goals when they needed them and staying solid defensively. This season Albion are struggling to table enough wins. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out wins are what you need. A win and a loss from two games is better than two draws. That has been West Brom’s problem this season, they haven’t been able to hold on to leads as they showed with the collapses against Cardiff and Tottenham more recently. Anichebe and Sessegnon are fair additions in place of Long and Odemwingie and I believe the team is capable of nice football going forward. However, I think they look uneasy at the back. Fosters long absence was a hindrance for sure, and their best back four in my opinion of Jones, McAuley, Olsson, and Ridgewell have all had little niggles with injuries, but all in all the defence needs to stop leaking goals to convert some of those many draws into what could’ve been wins. Nonetheless, Albion should be safe this season.
Yet another team to undergo a managerial change that I personally don’t agree with. Swansea have fallen far from the attractive and successful football of the past two years. Laudrup endured a struggle this season before being shown the door but since Monks takeover the Swans have dropped further down the table. Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup both encouraged an attractive passing style at Swansea and wonders for the club and so I feel the decision to relieve Laudrup was a rash one. While they are certain to avoid the relegation scrap it is a massive fall from grace for a team that neutrals have loved to watch since their promotion to the Premier League.
From an impressive 11th place finish last year to now hovering just 2 points above the relegation zone with three games to go. Not to mention these games are Manchester United (A), Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H). Whilst United’s home record this season has been less than impressive, I wouldn’t fancy their chances against any of the three despite the spirited performance against Liverpool at the weekend. It needed to come sooner. Players have not performed to the level required. Bassong is much more error prone this season, Hooper the only threat up top with no help from Van Wolfswinkel or Elmander in the goalscoring department and an ever changing midfield. In contrast, Snodgrass and Fer have often looked the part, and I have always been a fan of both Howson and Hoolahan. They are capable of much better. The sacking of Hughton with four games to go also bemused me as I don’t really see what the club had to gain from the decision. Realistically I always thought that the game against Fulham was verging on a must win. I like Norwich, but I can’t help feeling that at least one of Fulham or Sunderland will overtake them and the Canaries will be playing Championship football next season.
How the mighty have fallen. From clear cut Premier League champions to what looks like a mid table team at times, United have had a terrible season by their standards that has now culminated in David Moyes leaving the club with four games to go. I could talk forever about this season but I’ll keep it short for now for the sake of this article. 11 losses is not acceptable. 6 points against the top 6 teams is not acceptable. Fellaini for 28 million is ludicrous and the football the team has played this season has been largely unattractive and unfruitful. There will certainly be more said on the matter in the near future.
Predicted bottom 3;
18th Fulham (It really is a toss up between Fulham and Sunderland for this spot)
Part 2 and the successes to follow…