Three Things to Take From The Weekend’s Football – 11/12 February
I take a look back at the weekend’s action in the English Premier League and discuss three interesting points.
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The fight for safety is just heating up – This season has been very different from others in that two of the three newly promoted teams are nowhere to be seen when you look at the bottom of the table. Before the season started, most people seemed to tip Queens Park Rangers as the team with the greatest chance of staying up, and that is completely understandable. They had the greatest spending power out of the three teams and an experienced manager in Neil Warnock that had been in the Premier League before, the same could not be said of Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers or Norwich’s Paul Lambert. Swansea and Norwich have hit the ground running though this season, as they currently lie in 11th and 8th place respectively, and don’t look in trouble of slipping down the league as the season draws to a close.
The picture painted at the bottom of the league is a very close one, with only two points separating the bottom five teams. Unlike when their were teams like West Ham last season and Newcastle in 08/09 whose position in the league clearly didn’t reflect the quality of their squads, arguments could convincingly be made for all of the five teams at the bottom to go down. QPR have some talent in their ranks, and are arguably the best of the stragglers, but they are having a difficult time getting the team to gel under their new manager Mark Hughes. QPR’s poor form was on show as they lost to relegation favourites Blackburn 3-2 on Saturday. Blackburn seem to have the ability to play like a completely different team from one week to the next. They do have their constants, over reliant on Yakubu, leaking goals for fun and manager hating fans, but their knack of getting absolutely destroyed one week and then grabbing a convincing win the next is remarkable, as they have done in the past two weeks with a 7-1 loss at Arsenal followed by a 3-2 win against QPR. Before this weekend Wigan were very close to being cut away from the pack at the bottom of the league really, and if they hadn’t have won at Bolton then questions would have been raised about whether safety was out of their reach. The fight for survival is really hotting up now, and it is a fight that is very difficult to call.