Relegation 2014: Which Three Teams Will Go Down?

Sunderland v Swansea City: Sunderland’s final match of the season again comes at the Stadium of Light, where they will have to play fluid football against a Swansea side that love to pass and fluidly move the ball. Wilfried Bony and Jonjo Shelvey have been massive for the Welsh side throughout the course of the season, but especially in recent weeks. With Shelvey’s recent Wayne Rooney impersonation, a belter from the halfway line that rocketed into the top corner, he will certainly be a player that will keep the likes of O’Shea, Bardsley, and Brown occupied. Bony is the real danger, though, and it would be unsurprising to see him find the back of the net. I think that despite Sunderland’s ability to withstand a team such as Swansea, they may find themselves with another point in hand, cementing their survival in style. Prediction: Sunderland 1 – 1 Swansea City. 

Sunderland will pull off the great escape, leap-frogging Villa on goal difference.

Total Points for Sunderland: 36 GD -20 Final Place in the Table: 16th

 

Norwich City

The unsurprising departure of Chris Hughton underscored an extremely lackluster season for Norwich City. The football club have looked well and truly lost. Under Hughton, there was a consensus among many Norwich supporters that they had almost conceded before each game began. There was a real sense of hopelessness that had enveloped the squad. The purchases of players Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, lauded as tactically astute, in-form strikers, have largely disappointed as neither player seems to have adjusted well to the pace and physicality of the Premier League.

Under Neil Adams, things don’t seem much different. It would be unfair to place the blame of Norwich City’s impending relegation on Adams, as the situation the Canaries now find themselves in should have been aptly prepared for by Chris Hughton earlier in the year. Norwich should have taken more points from teams around them in the league, because now, with forthcoming fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea, they face teams in the leagues upper echelons that still have everything to play for. It is difficult to see where Norwich will pick up another point.

Norwich City v Arsenal: When Arsenal roll into Carrow Road, they will be fondly recalling the last time they played Norwich, which resulted in a 4-1 victory for the home side. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will be two players in fine form that Norwich will have to be mindful of, yet I don’t see the home side being able to retain the combination play between someone like Ramsey, Ozil, Corzola or a finisher like Giroud. I imagine Arsenal will again walk out with a handy victory on their way to securing a Champions League position. Prediction: Norwich City 0-3 Arsenal

Chelsea v Norwich City: Chelsea’s dogged display at Liverpool had many calling foul play, with Jose Mourinho reportedly encouraging time-wasting tactics and a defensive display to halt Liverpool’s attack. Say what you will about a performance like this, but the Special One certainly knows how to play to his strengths. Regardless of the “weakened side” that Chelsea may field depending on their involvement in the Champions League at that juncture of the season, even their reserves should be comfortable in dealing with Norwich. Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Norwich City

I see Norwich sinking further into trouble, and can’t imagine that the visit of Arsenal or trip to Stamford Bridge helping them sleep any easier in the coming weeks.

Total Points for Norwich City: 32 GD -38 Final Place in the Table: 19th; Relegated.

 

Fulham

Fulham, another club who have switched managers once the going got tough, have seen a huge resurgence in form under the leadership of Felix Magath. Magath has long been derided as an incredibly difficult manager, but is somewhat a master of the great escape, helping clubs in his home country of Germany avoid the drop or grind out tough results on the short term.

With heavy investment in the January transfer window yielding only the underwhelming Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou, Fulham have been rotating an unsettled squad full of underperformers, like Darren Bent, who are simply failing to live up to their potential. Rodallega and Dejagah have helped Fulham register some important wins as of late, but with the draw at home to Hull City this weekend, the results are now well and truly out of their hands. Though they have taken seven points from their last six fixtures, and sit in fourteenth in the form table, Fulham are 1 to 4 to go down, and it’s unlikely seeing them as the heroes of the great escape considering their next two games are away to a resurgent Stoke City under Mark Hughes, and home to a rampant Crystal Palace.

Stoke City v Fulham: Stoke’s old brand of brutal, physical, direct football is starting to become a distant memory under Mark Hughes; Stoke are more fluid, dynamic, and with a solid plan to break teams down. Aside from Steve Sidwell, Fulham’s one constant performer in the middle of the park, it is hard to see another Fulham player whose name might strike fear into the hearts of Stoke City as they peer over their opponents on the team sheet. Fulham lack the tactical discipline that Stoke has displayed in recent weeks, ninth in the form table, with goals coming from Odemwingie, Crouch, N’Zonzi, Cameron, and more. Hughes has got Stoke firing, and Fulham may be another one of their victims as they climb into the comfort of mid-table. Though Stoke has been more fluid and dynamic, Fulham’s work rate and relentlessness may just see  a player like Sidwell being to make a difference in the encounter. Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Fulham

Fulham v Crystal Palace: When Palace appointed former long-ball merchant Tony Pulis to rescue them from the threat of relegation after Ian Holloway’s departure, no one expected Pulis to reinvigorate a side to challenge for their best finish ever in the Premier League era. I think this achievement will be something that Pulis will aim to continue, and struggle to see Fulham being able to keep a hold of players like Bolasie and the in-form Jason Puncheon. Palace are at the top of the form table, with the loss to Manchester City this weekend representing their only points dropped for their last six encounters. Fulham 1-3 Crystal Palace

Total Points for Fulham: 31 GD -45 Final Place in the Table: 20th; Relegated.

 

Cardiff City

Former Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to the English league has not been the happiest. Though Cardiff have played some good football over the course of the season, Solskjaer was no stranger to the challenges that lay in keeping this team afloat in the English Premier League, describing the feat, were it to be achieved, as one of his “greatest achievements.” However, Cardiff City, dead last in the league table and hovering just above the relegation zone on the form table, are out and out favorites for the drop, and have to win both of their next matches to make the great escape. Cardiff are one in twelve for the drop, and should have better fortunes bedding into Solskjaer’s style of play in the Championship next season.

Newcastle United v Cardiff City: Newcastle United have become the league’s whipping boys a bit. After a flying start to the season where the Magpies seemed to be competing for at least a Europa League berth, Newcastle United have dramatically petered out under Alan Pardew immediately after the loss of Yohan Cabaye to PSG. Without Cabaye’s cunning and creativity, Newcastle have been firmly reliant on French striker Loic Remy to score–and while his record has certainly been admirable, this may represent Cardiff’s best chance at a lifeline. Newcastle sit third from bottom in the form table, and I just imagine the engine of Noone and Mutch getting the better of Newcastle. Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Cardiff City

Cardiff City v Chelsea: Again, it’s hard to see Chelsea giving up on their push for the title and the Champions League on the last day of the season; regardless of where they finish, Jose Mourinho and co. will want to ensure that their points tally is as high as possible. Their squad should have no trouble with Cardiff; at this point in the season, I would not be surprised to see starts for some of Chelsea’s more fringe players, yet expect a heavily rotated squad could still rout Cardiff and see them reach the Championship. Prediction: Cardiff City 0-3 Chelsea. 

Total Points for Cardiff City: 33 GD -39 Final Place in the Table: 18th; Relegated.

Vote below to determine which three teams you think will go down.

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5 Comments

  1. Brian April 30, 2014
  2. Pakapala April 30, 2014
  3. Blaque Costeau April 30, 2014
  4. samuel Walden May 1, 2014
  5. Richie May 1, 2014

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