Premier League Basement Battle Could go to the Wire4 min read
The Premier League has built its entire brand image on its inherent competitiveness. From top to bottom, the cliche goes that everyone can beat anyone in the division. That is true, to a certain extent, but in terms of the table as a whole, there is a clear divide. That divide splits the top six and the rest.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs will almost certainly occupy the top six places in the Premier League come the end of the season, leaving the rest to jostle and scrap for position. Some, like Everton, Leicester City and West Ham, harbour ambitions to break through the glass ceiling, but for the most part, 10 to 12 clubs going into each and every season with the sole intention – avoid relegation.
With three games of the 2018/19 campaign in the books, there are already early signs of how the scrap at the foot of the table could unfold. No team suffers the drop in the first few weeks of the season, but the tone can be set for the struggle to come. That is certainly the case for Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.
The Bluebirds have picked up two points from their opening three fixtures, putting them six places from the bottom. But in their performances, Cardiff have shown little to suggest they will stay up. There has also been some concern for Huddersfield Town, who have just one point from three games. Neither side helped their cause by playing out a goalless draw on Saturday.
After spending big in the transfer market in the summer, both Fulham and Wolves have found things tough in the opening few weeks of the season. Fulham, in particular, look to be something of a work-in-progress having made so many signings. Wolves have at least showed their potential with an impressive home draw against Manchester City.
Burnley could be another team that gets sucked into trouble at the foot of the table. Sean Dyche’s side were the surprise package in the Premier League last season, but competing in the Europa League is stretching them, testing their depth, and that could see them lose some consistency over the course of the campaign.
Their coming run of games against Wolves, Bournemouth, Cardiff and Huddersfield could be a defining stretch of the season for Burnley, with Southampton also facing a similarly important stretch of games – they will play Crystal Palace, Brighton, Wolves and Bournemouth within just a few weeks.
With half of the Premier League looking over their shoulder, the real drama in the English top flight could be found near the foot of the table. It’s a scrap that could go right down to the wire, but the course has already been set for many of the teams who will be dragged into the relegation fight.
To Be Relegated: