An international break is a perfect time to take a step back and look at the Premier League season thus far. Without a doubt it’s been one of the most exciting ones in several years. Despite this, the number of teams that are playing like relegation candidates is perhaps greater than ever.
Take a look at the following table and count how many clubs have been below-par and should be concerned with relegation this season:
By my count, it’s 50% of the clubs in the league — from positions 11 down to 20, beginning with Newcastle United and ending with Derby County.
Tottenham should climb to safety under the leadership of Juande Ramos but until Spurs begin winning matches against clubs other than Derby and Wigan, the jury is still out.
West Ham United, despite being on the same number of points as Newcastle, are on their way up, while the Toon need to be deeply concerned with their current form and new injuries (Michael Owen, for example).
Reading, last year’s Wigan Athletic and a favorite of many neutral fans last season, is definitely in trouble and may continue to slide if their defenders keep letting goals in.
The clubs that are used to being in the bottom half of the table that have improved this season are Man City, Aston Villa and West Ham (all with recently new managers).
So while a lot of supporters and pundits comment about how this season is more improved than previous ones, it begs the following question: Has it only seemed to improve because the race between The Big Four is tighter than before? Based on the above findings, I’m confident that the answer is yes.