Spotlight on the Premier League relegation battle
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on January 30, 2017
As January draws to a close and the winter transfer window gets ready to slam shut teams at the bottom of the Premier League have been scrambling to escape the drop. Now we are heading to the final third of the season and there is a clear gap between the teams battling relegation and the rest, so let’s have a look at the teams involved in the relegation battle.
It is usually around this time of the year where we brace ourselves for the annual Sunderland great escape after their usual change of management and some January transfer business. However, this season is different, there has been no change of management with David Moyes still at the helm and transfer business has been woeful. Shocking on the pitch with a skeleton squad and a defence that looks like it would struggle in the Championship and that overreliance on Jermaine Defoe things are not looking good at all for the Black Cats.
With Moyes himself admitting that he has not got the budget to sign any players that will make a difference Sunderland have resorted to signing Joleon Lescott on a free after he left Greek football in November. With the sale of Patrick van Aanholt to Crystal Palace it looks as if Moyes will have some much needed funds to add to his squad. However there doesn’t seem to be much cause for excitement in terms of new signings with the Everton reunion continuing with the expected signings of Darren Gibson and Bryan Oviedo.
Unfortunately for Sunderland fans they have an owner who has lost interest in the club and does not want to invest in the squad. You have to feel for David Moyes who has been left in the lurch by Ellis Short and is having to battle to bring in any sort of players just so he can field a starting 11 with entirely senior players. It would be one of the great Premier League achievements if Moyes can keep Sunderland up but it is looking almost certain that there will be no great escape this season and that the Sunderland hierarchy have basically waved the white flag and waved goodbye to Premier League football.
Much like Sunderland Hull have an owner who wants to sell the club and is reluctant to invest in the squad. The situation at Hull is rather baffling, after appointing Marco Silva as their new manager and getting some positive results under him they have sold their best players in Robert Snodgrass and Jake Livermore. It also looks as if full back Andrew Robertson will leave the club for Burnley. After much improved results Hull have appeared to throw in the towel and cash in on their star assets while they can maximise the money they can make off the players.
Marco Silva unlike David Moyes at Sunderland has been active but he has bought mainly players to supplement the squad and give the manager more options. The likes of Liverpool flop Lazaar Markovic and Ommar Niasse have been brought in on loan as well as Evandro who joined on loan from Porto. These do not seem like players that will keep Hull in the Premier League but are unknown quantities so could surprise us but based on the players history it’s unlikely. On the face of it it does appear that Hull are resigned to their fate or is it that they genuinely believe these players who haven’t cut it elsewhere will rescue them?
Ah the enigma that is Crystal Palace. On paper they have a squad that should be midtable but oh dear they have been pretty useless this season. Despite the arrival of Sam Allardyce as manager, know for his obsession with clean sheets there has been no improvement at the back or anywhere on the pitch for that matter. Neither Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce have been able to get a tune out of 30 million striker Christian Benteke who looks like a shadow of the player that used to bully Premier League defences for fun. Why Pardew decided to spend such a huge sum on Benteke only he will know but what we do know is that Liverpool must still be over the moon to have got so much money for their former mega flop.
With Allardyce’s only win since being appointed manager coming against Bolton in the FA Cup he has been keen bolster his squad. The arrival of Patrick van Aanholt from Sunderland sees Big Sam reunited with the left back he worked with last season but one that beggars belief. 14 million for a left back who cannot defend is incredible, yes he is good going forward but for a team that needs to improve at the back is van Aanholt really a player you want to add to a struggling back four. Big Sam may find his hunt for the elusive clean sheets even more frustrating. For sure Palace have the ideal manager to save them from relegation but we are yet to see any impact from Big Sam on this team as Crystal Palace continue to look an absolute shambles on the pitch.
After the disaster of the Bob Bradley appointment Swansea appear to have found the suitable manager in Paul Clement. Two wins out of three league games in charge have seen Swansea climb out of the bottom 3. One of those wins included an incredible win at Anfield in which Swansea looked the best they have all season with Clement appearing to have got a good coherent shape to the team with the ability to attack to a devastating effect. Swansea have suffered an identity crisis since the sacking of Gary Monk but in Paul Clement they have a manager who can return them to their philosophy and steer them up the table.
Swansea have looked to add some much needed depth to their squad. Tom Carroll, Martin Olsson and Luciano Narsingh have joined the Swans this month. Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll in particular were outstanding against Liverpool and appeared to make a major difference to the way Swansea play. Of course it was only one game but the impact was so positive from the new players and you couldn’t quite believe this was basically the same team that capitulated in every game under Bob Bradley. Positive momentum will certainly be key in Swansea escaping the drop this season and they have got that at the start of Paul Clements tenure at the Liberty Stadium.
Middlesbrough are a team that have struggled to score goals all season and are a pretty poor team to watch. However, they have a very good defence which has served them well in staying out of the bottom three. They have struggled in recent weeks to get wins under their belt with the struggling attack unable to get them the goals they need to win games. In Adama Traore Middlesbrough have one of the most explosive wingers in the league with the youngster possessing blistering pace that terrifies every defence he comes up against but his final ball is incredibly disappointing. Traore beats several men the majority of the time when he embarks on his blistering runs but all of that is undone when he hits a cross that ends up in the stands. A striker like Alvaro Negredo needs service and Traore has all the capabilities to provide the service Negredo needs and if he can improve his final ball he could be the catalyst that keeps Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
Middlesbrough have been frustrated in the January transfer window with moves for Bojan and Jese Rodriguez failing to materialise. They have signed two strikers in Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford to add some different options to the strike force and can ease the reliance on Negredo. Based on the way the season has gone so far you would suggest Middlesbrough will escape the drop but they need to get some wins on the board as soon as possible and improve their current poor form.
Last season’s champions have had an incredible fall from grace this season. Without an away win this season and looking like a pale imitation of the team they were last season Leicester’s complacency has seen them slide dangerously close to the relegation zone. While we all understand that getting to the Champions League is an incredible thing for Leicester and they want to enjoy it but their lacklustre attitude to the Premier League during the Champions League group stage has contributed to their current situation. The motion of enjoying the adventure is all well and good but when a team has not won a game away from home this season that motion goes right out the window. To put it plainly the fairy tale is over and Leicester are potentially on the verge of a horror story.
Unable to look like a coherent defensive unit all season and conceding goals for fun away from home Leicester should have looked to bring in a central defender but it looks as if they will persist with the floundering partnership of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan that has served them so poorly this season. star players such as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have not turned up this season and have looked shadows of what they were last season and their downturn in form has embodied the downfall of the team as a whole. Even Claudio Ranieri who was praised for his tactical consistency last season has become the tinker man once again this season which has had a detrimental effect on his team. In the January transfer window Leicester have brought in a relative unknown quantity in Onyinye Ndidi who appears to be a similar type player to Ngolo Kante who Leicester are still unable to replace. Leicester should have the quality to survive the drop but based on their form this season anything is possible and they are well and truly in the relegation battle.