Premier League Relegation – The Race to stay up
In a season where the race for the title has only just offered us the slim prospect of someone knocking Chelsea off the top spot, the race at the bottom has suddenly burst into life in the last few weeks. The table has split apart in that respect, leaving five teams in danger, with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Everton sitting precariously above them slightly further afield. QPR, Burnley, Leicester, Hull and Sunderland are all now genuinely fighting for survival.
There are undoubtedly many qualities which stand out about the Premier League; the plethora of talent, the many twist and turns within the season, the price tags put on players, the list is endless. But, the one which stands out most for me, is the fight for Premier League survival. You get to about ten games remaining, and the whole point of interest in the Premier League shifts. Okay, there’s an extremely slim chance of something happening regarding the top of the League, but at the bottom is where all the excitement is now.
It gets brought up in conversation by pundits, newspapers and even opposing managers when facing teams that are battling relegation, and that is; you really don’t want to be facing these teams. Leicester are showing that trait now, a trait, which could see them stay in the Premier League come the end of the season.
“At this stage of the season generally, at that level at the lower end of the league, if they can win four out of six, or three out of five they can give themselves a lifeline,” – Sam Allardyce, pre-Leicester talking to SkySportsNews.
These wise words, were shoved firmly down Sam Allardyce’s throat in the end as Leicester started their bid to beat the drop out of the Premier League, with a win over West Ham United. But they’re also summed up by the facts through the season. Until the end of March, for instance, Leicester City had only won a measly four League games. But with three consecutive wins they have propelled themselves upwards, installing a firm belief that they could well claw their way out of it. Hell, if they carry on as they are now, whose to say they won’t even have to worry come the final day of the season?
It’s not just he fact that they have recorded the three consecutive wins though, it’s the manner of them too. In all three games they’ve been extremely threatening offensively. Against West Ham they missed a penalty and had a goal-bound attempt cleared off the line – so it could have been three or four goals instead of the two. Against West Brom, at The Hawthorns, epitomised by Jamie Vardy’s determined late goal which saw him slot home after breaking free from the half-way line. Swansea, like West Ham, are the ideal opponents for teams fighting relegation in that they have nothing to play for anymore. Boy, have Leicester City taken advantage of these two teams who were, let us not forget, having a go at targeting European places earlier on in the season. Now? Getting rather easily dispatched by a Leicester side fighting to maintain their Premier League spot.
The three consecutive wins have seen them notch an impressive 7 goals, no mean feat for a side who were sat precariously at the bottom of the table, with seemingly nothing going their way. Now, they’re playing thoroughly good football, which in their circumstance makes it extremely exciting football. The players seem more confident now, which is bred from their very good performances as well as the results, and as the club claws itself closer towards survival Nigel Pearson also seems more confident.
“We have got to keep our fate in our own hands as much as possible. Winning games does that” – Nigel Pearson, post-Swansea win.
The clubs survival in the Premier League is by no means a forgone conclusion though; Leicester City will be coming up against three relegation rivals in their last games; Burnley, Sunderland and QPR. These are ultimately the games which could determine all of the clubs involved fates. That said, I dont think you’d find many Leicester fans who wouldn’t mind adding Chelsea to the list of big club casualties at the King Power Stadium this season. With a solid defence for the first time this season, a midfield all following in midfield general Cambiasso’s command and strikers up front finally hitting the back of the net, who knows what could happen for Leicester. One thing is for sure though, they’ve saved their best of their season till last.
Maybe it’s something that is just wired into us as humans whereby we’d rather watch the underdog battle for its life, rather than watch someone stroll to victory without much of an effort. The most bizarre thing though, is that you can bet your bottom dollar that QPR, Burnley and Hull will also pick up big wins in the next few weeks. One thing you couldn’t bet on at this stage, is who will fall through the trap door of the Premier League, and who, will pull off a great escape.