BBC BLOGS - Steve Wilson
« Previous | Main | Next »

Who will avoid the drop?

Steve Wilson | 11:29 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

We're 11 games into the season for all bar Manchester United and Fulham who have one in hand on the rest, and the Premier League is shaping up for one of the most competitive ever seasons.

One of the things which is making this season so enjoyable is that the league table has been squeezed up from the bottom. Hull have quite rightly been attracting the most praise, but all the newly promoted sides have made a really good start and nobody looks like being cut adrift.

The league is so close from the bottom up that only four points separate West Brom in 19th from Everton in seventh.

In deciding to assess those clubs looking down rather than up, I couldn't resist checking on the points tallies from last season after the same number of games.

A year ago there were seven teams yet to make it into double figures. For the record they were Fulham, Sunderland, Wigan, Middlesbrough, Spurs , Bolton and Derby. One year later and only Spurs have fewer than 10 points. They may be bottom on nine points at the moment, but I don't think that even the most pessimistic White Hart Laner thinks they will stay there; such is the magic of Harry Redknapp.

Above Tottenham sit West Brom. I am sure that if you had offered Tony Mowbray 11 points from the first 11 games he would have taken it - after all, in the last 10 seasons only three sides have gone down with an average of a point a game. Yet they are still in the relegation zone.

There are good signs from Ishmael Miller and Roman Bednar for the Baggies and they have crucial games against Stoke, Wigan, Portsmouth and Sunderland before a tough-looking Christmas.

The relationship between Bolton fans and managerGary Megson has never looked a harmonious one. Actually I think Megson has done a fine job considering the club were in disarray in the months which followed Sam Allardyce's departure. Unlike West Brom, Bolton do not concede too many (less than Aston Villa at the moment) but scoring is a real problem. Johan Elmander has missed too many games to get into his stride and his goals can't come soon enough.

Wigan boss Steve Bruce seems to have unearthed the find of the summer in Amr Zaki who has the perfect foil in Emile Heskey, but there are question marks over the future of both. Wigan simply cannot afford to lose either in January. Their midfield is excellent but there are defensive problems which remain unsolved.

Wigan's Amr Zaki

Fulham's problems are all away from home where they have just three wins from their last 41 Premier League games. Those three wins were the last three away games of last season when they escaped by the skin of their teeth.

Their squad looks much better this season but they must stop the rot away from Craven Cottage. A midfield of Simon Davies, Danny Murphy, Jimmy Bullard and Zoltan Gera is great to watch but I still think it may be a luxury in their position, being full of ball players rather than ball winners. You have to admire Roy Hodgson, though, for the way he is determined to play.

Some weeks Sunderland look all too ready to cave in and maybe still lack a little authority and experience, but I just can't see them being sucked into the real mire. They do need a partner for Djibril Cisse though. El-Hadji Diouf has never been a natural goalscorer and never will be.

Newcastle's soap opera has stumbled upon an unlikely hero in Joe Kinnear. One pundit labelled him a desperate appointment from a desperate club, but maybe people exuding unwarranted confidence was part of the problem. A few home truths have certainly had the desired effect so far. However, whether the club is sold and what happens next if it is will be crucial, and calamity may yet be just around the corner.

Paul Ince's first steps into top flight management at Blackburn have not all been assured. One or two transfers have raised the eyebrows as have one or two results. The January window will reveal whether some key players are ready to be tempted away but on their day they are a very capable side and should not be sweating come May.

Stoke have taken great delight in upsetting the elite. They are touchy about criticism of the way they play and I don't blame them; it's not their fault that visiting teams are panicking at the sight of a packed six-yard box as Rory Delap wipes the dirt from his hands on the touchline.

It's not all that great to watch at times but their fans couldn't care less. Actually they have some players worth keeping an eye on at Stoke and Tom Soares ,signed from Crystal Palace, looks a proper prospect. I think they are here to stay for a while so the Premier League had better get used to it.

West Ham look vulnerable to me. The squad needs thinning but how many are saleable assets at anything like the price they paid for them? I saw them at Manchester United recently and thought they were very poor; only their young substitutes Freddie Sears and Jack Collison showed the quality you would expect from some of the more established names. I am thrilled that Gianfranco Zola is back in England but managing West Ham is looking harder by the week.

That's the bottom 10 at time of writing; of those in the top half Middlesbrough, Hull and Portsmouth could yet fall away but probably not so far as to be consumed by relegation.
All 10 can make a quite reasonable claim for having what it takes to stay up, but three of them won't. Whoever goes down may be counting themselves very, very unlucky.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I'd say thats a fair analysis. It's hard to say who's going down at the mo but I would love to see stoke,hull and west brom all stay up which i think theres a very good chance of. If i had to pick three it would be bye bye bolton and west ham and i would love to see newcastle go just to see the look on all those geordie faces

  • Comment number 2.

    Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool will definitely be playing Championship Football next season. MARK MY WORDS!

  • Comment number 3.

    This time Steve, you have presented a well-balanced and thoughful blog ;-).

    Personally, I have no prime wish other than for Stoke (Hull and West Brom) to stay up. The pity is that 3 others will have to drop out - because this season it's a lot more exciting as the current mix is quite potent!

    The sweetness of the current state of play is that all those arrogant, pompous afficianados at the start of the season were smugly assuming Stoke and the other 2 would: drop out of sight early on, no contest, etc!

    The fact we've shaken and stirred their comfort zone is truly fascinating.

    Makes your job on MotD easy doesn't it?


    To Arsenal - Yours truly NemesisCuckoo

  • Comment number 4.

    Please god let Stoke be relegated. They're not exactly playing the beautiful game, are they??

  • Comment number 5.

    Looking at how competitive the Premier League has been this season, I expect Bolton and West Brom to go down. I'm really not sure about the third team to face the drop!

  • Comment number 6.

    At the risk of sounding sycophantic, you're my favourite commentator! :-)

    Anyway, a good assessment of the Permier League so far. However, I don't think we'll really know who's for the drop until the end of January when the transfer window closes.

    As you said, there are quite a few clubs futures that hinge on this period. West Ham look like they are going to have a fire sale and Wigan need to hang onto their 2 strikers or it may be curtains for them.

    Everyone knows 'arry will get Spurs well up into the top half - his success is predictable. As is the soap opera that is Newcastle. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more twists and turns in that saga.

    For some time now, I've been more interested in the relegation battle than what's going on at the top. Relegation battles are always more exciting due to the constant changing of positions - unlike the top. I think a lot of people are like this now.

    Let's see what happens in January... :-)

  • Comment number 7.


    LOL - you wouldn't be an AVFC, SFC, THFC or AFC fan would you? Or one of our potential next victims?

    Now defend your statement: where precisely do Stoke play any aspect of the methods of play NOT llegitimately open to any team playing the "beautiful game"?

    The term was used to encapsulate the sport you know, i.e. throw-ins, running, tackling, long-ball, short ball, beating teams, strength, stamina, skill, competitive spirit, accepting defeat without wingeing.

    On the basis of the last item - a certain French person isn't playing the "beautiful game" - is he?

  • Comment number 8.

    Steve Wilson - loved the article, it's nice to see a man who observes and makes his own mind up dependent of the general consensus. Finally journalists are being fair to teams like Hull and particularly Stoke. Is it not fantastic that the pre-season predictions are currently being made to look foolish and premature? This is the most fascinating Premier League for years at the top and the bottom; for all the writing and talking about inequalities and vast differences in quality, this year is providing some serious shock...I just don't know who will win almost any match at the moment! Must be a betting man's nightmare! Well done for giving credit where it is due.

    Evil_Stu - For gods sake, when will people like you stop harping on and on and on and on (etc) about the "beautiful game"?? The beauty of the beautiful game is in the fact that teams like Stoke CAN and DO beat the big rich boys with famous names. It's beautiful because it's a level playing field, it's diverse and it's compelling. I suppose you'd rather Arsenal had passed the ball around midfield with great technical brilliance before waiting for a positional weakness or human error and won 5-0. Well, some of the rest of us like a different beautiful game. We like a game where surprise happens, where tactics are diverse and threat can come from anywhere - yes, even a throw in. It's time people like you stopped towing the line of what you THINK is being purist, traditional and for the greater good of the game. Give these teams some credit and respect their success rather than deride it and wish for their demise.

  • Comment number 9.

    West Brazil to finish top of the bottom half of the table...
    the beautiful game will prevail in the end!!
    In Mowbray We Trust boing boing!

  • Comment number 10.

    Personally I would love to see the great under achievers like NUFC and Spurs go down

    These 2 seem to think they are big clubs and too big and good to go down

    Get down there ya dancer

  • Comment number 11.

    Well said number 8,the other guy must have been another pathetic whining gooner!!

    wenger makes me laugh spouting on about stokes tackling. did u see van persies challenge on the keeper. horrendous challenge from an absolutely numpty!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Number 11 (I_amlukechadwick) - thanks mate, reckon you're right! Speaking of which, not so long ago Luke Chadwick was running up and down the wing at the Britannia Stadium....if they think Stoke are ugly now, imagine what they'd have thought then?!

  • Comment number 13.

    I do hope the cloggers go down. Hull, Stoke and Bolton would be good, be honest who would miss 'em?

    I would have course have added Spurs, but I think they will get clear, can't have it all I suppose.

  • Comment number 14.

    West Brom

    Theres the 3 i think are going down, based on what ive seen so far. Spurs wont go down, not in a week of sundays. Even with Ramos there i think they would have stayed up, the players just needed a bit of a kick up the behind.

    Also, this Delap thing is hillareous. Cant believe how much attention this is getting, and why people feel somehow annoyed with this particular tactic. Pure Jokes..

    Anyway man good blog ;)

  • Comment number 15.

    Another Gooner - who would miss them? Well, considering if it weren't for Hull and Stoke, we'd be talking about a) how bad Spurs and NUFC are and b) how great United, Chelsea and Liverpool are, I think the entire division would miss them. They've been a revelation and they've created some of the more interesting and unexpected talking points of the season. Thanks to teams like that, the PL is unpredictable again. Good on them, I would miss them if they were gone.

  • Comment number 16.

    Haha, chadwicks pretty little face is doing the rounds at MK Dons now. Milton Keynes lock up your daughters!!

  • Comment number 17.

    # 13 another whining gooner

    We also played Spurs recently you know but, unlike Mr Winger et al against Stoke, Tony Pulis didn't whine, when Sorenson nearly lost his sight from a late challenge, and for other events in the game - and do please note the judicious avoidance of naming players.

    Conveniently short memories of a thrilling Arsenal, in recent years, liberally laced with the worst yellow-card and sendings-off record, defines only one characteristic: hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 18.

    Evil_Stu - you want Stoke to get relegated because they don't play beautiful football?!

    I'm no Stoke fan, but watching them beat Arsenal was pretty beautiful to me!

    Good luck to Stoke, anyone who thinks they beat Arsenal because of throw-ins knows nothing about football, and the tactical complexity and phsyical effort that went into fending off a technically superior side for 90 minutes. The PL needs Stoke as much as it needs Arsenal, Man Utd or Liverpool. Diversity is vital.

  • Comment number 19.

    A couple of points

    I don't think I whined once in my post.
    My dementia makes my memory vague sometimes. The decent thing would have been not mentioning it.

    My only complaint (please, not the boring whining motif again, get your own ideas just once) is the cost of the neck-braces required for away trips to the reebok, Britannia, and KFC.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's a bit of wish list but I'd love to see Tottenham and Newcastle relegated (even if was a dead cert that they'd be back after one season) and any one from the following


    It's about time the Premiership tree was shaken a bit. I forget the idiot's name but the guy who suggested that the Premiership should become a closed league wants his head tested. Without relegation/promotion issues throughout and at the end of the season ...what's the point?

  • Comment number 21.

    Anothergooner - in response to your points. Firstly, the whinging is implied in the fact that you dislike teams like Stoke so much. They actually play some nice football and without them and Hull it would be the same old Premier League of great disparities between big and small clubs. Teams like Hull and Stoke have really contributed and given English football a sense that smaller teams CAN surprise - things have got interesting again.

    Secondly, a very witty remark about neck-braces. However, perhaps you should look to leadership from your bench and on the pitch for help, rather than God - who, Arsenal fans would have you believe, is fully against the Gooners. Pathetic!

  • Comment number 22.

    uhm, I think you mean inferred. I was neither explicitly or implicitly whining. One should check to see if that chip is still on ones shoulder.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hull and Stoke to stay up, their football may not be the most attractive but its winning and it gives people a talking point apart from the 'big four' (yawn).
    Bolton, West Brom and Fulham down.

  • Comment number 24.

    When the big clubs and their fans speak out in favour of distributing money within the game in a fairer and more equal way then maybe they can start calling for the Stokes of this world to play good football. Until then I think it's great that they are using whatever tactics they can to upset the big boys and on a fraction of the budget. Anothergooner you are exibiting the classic symptoms of sour grapes and to wish for Hull's relegation is laughable given that their victory of Arsenal was prboably the highlight of the season so far and contained probably the goal of the seasonn so far.

  • Comment number 25.

    I honeslty think Arsenal are vunerable to the drop are only getting 1 point from relegation six pointers with Spurs and Stoke.

    Its going to be a lond hard season for them..honk

  • Comment number 26.

    why pick on newcastle big joe is doing brilliant. Aston villa are looking for a champions league place and we beat them so a dont think we will get relegated

  • Comment number 27.

    As a Blackburn fan I was just picking up on one of your comments

    "One or two transfers have raised the eyebrows as have one or two results..."

    I think the signings (Simpson, Robinson, Grella, Andrews) have yet to settle in as they have been in and out of the side due to injuries.

    Plus I think that once Ince has got a settled squad then he will string the results together.

  • Comment number 28.


    Sorry mate, but the decent thing is off my agenda for the moment. Seems your loosing your eyesight as well as your marbles.

    Lets have a look at

    "I do hope the cloggers go down. Hull, Stoke and Bolton would be good, be honest who would miss 'em?"

    Im sorry but that sentence just doesnt make sense.

    1. Hull are not playing as cloggers, most teams that have played them have been surprised by their football and win loose or draw been more gracious post game then you lot. Just because you were out played at "your game" by an upstart "new money" club, doesn't give you the right to moan about it. Wengers comments recently have been amusing, but a lot of the fans comments...
    Its like the moaning of the old aristocracy as other people started doing well for themselves.

    2. Why should cloggers go down? What makes a purely physical approach to the game any less valid than a purely technical one.

    Stoke will not win the PL playing their brand of football, they will however get some decent results and stay up.

    I can write exactly the same sentence about Arsenal. So what if their style is "prettier"? Stokes is more spirited.

    I don't see what's wrong with using the long throw weapon. If anything its more useful than a free kick as you can't be offside from a throw. Maybe you should get someone who can take them, you get caught offside quite a lot...

    3. We don't want stoke back in the championship. Whilst the physical game is fine, they take it a bit too far at times. How you justify a sliding tackle, on a man off the pitch, when the ball has gone out of play, I do not know. I'm perfectly happy for Stoke to play the physical game, but just be a bit more careful eh lads? I don't think any harm was meant, but it IS dangerous, and even players who come back form injury don't always come back as the same player they were.

  • Comment number 29.

    For me it has to be West Brom, Fulham and Bolton to go down, if reckon that Stoke will stay up. Bolton just lack the firepower that Stoke have whilst Fulham are best their time in the Premier League and West Brom don't have much hope

  • Comment number 30.

    Delap's throws are something special, and should be applauded as such. It makes the game exciting to watch and they are a true test of a defence's abilities. I can harcly imagine the same negativity surrounding a dead ball specialist such as David Beckham. Delap is light years ahead of anyone else in the Premier League in terms of his ability from throw ins, just as Beckham is the best dead ball specialists I've ever seen. He can do things with the ball in his hands that nobody else can. He's unique, and in the beautiful game you can't get much more beautiful than that.

    Just for the record, I'm a Liverpool fan

  • Comment number 31.


    Now that is a good post.

    Disagree with one though. Take a look at their win at West Brom, who try to play on the ground. One set piece and two great big hoofs from the keeper. It wasn't great and it's not the only example of their 'style' either.

    Can't argue with two. I quite agree. After 38 games if your still in it fair play. I do think surviving in the EPL in the longer term requires more than just spirit though. One of these years Bolton are sliding through the trap door for sure.

    Three's up to the referees. where the hell that leaves us I don't know.

  • Comment number 32.

    I would like see the following go down


  • Comment number 33.

    West Ham are a good bet to go down

    Dodgy defence
    Lack of goalscorers that are constantly fit
    When they win it's against the run of play
    Otherwise they have a lot of bad luck
    Have a squad full of ex-Newcastle crocks who are constantly injured
    Have Lucas Neill
    Need to offload in January probably without replacement

    The squad has potential, but can't get out of the injury room


  • Comment number 34.

    West Ham are a good bet to go down

    Dodgy defence
    Lack of goalscorers that are constantly fit
    When they win it's against the run of play
    Otherwise they have a lot of bad luck
    Have a squad full of ex-Newcastle crocks who are constantly injured
    Have Lucas Neill
    Need to offload in January probably without replacement

  • Comment number 35.

    It was Phil Gartside chairman of Bolton who mentioned the idea about making the Premier League a closed shop. Shows just how much pressure he is under if they are coming out with ideas like that.

    I'm a Preston North End fan and seeing sides like Hull, West Brom and Stoke cut it with the big boys gives me hope that one season we can do the same. People who deny smaller clubs like these the respect they deserve and moan about their negative tactics should really take a long hard think about what football is all about and what makes it great. It generally comes from supporters of larger clubs who think that its their devine right to steamroll teams that come up and mostly from the armchair fans who only support the big clubs because they like to associate themselves with the big clubs success. How do you honestly expect smaller clubs to play against the likes of Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea? Attack them with a 4-2-4 formation and get slaughtered?

    As for Arsene Wenger he should have a bit of grace in defeat and really question the desire of some of his players because for all the so called beautiful football they play, at times this season they really are missing a workhorse in midfield to compliment fabregas. They really are missing flamini and a captain who is not a sulking whingebag like gallas.

  • Comment number 36.

    This year will be a high points total for relegation. West Ham were too good to go down a few years back with Cole, Johnsen, Defoe, Carrick, etc but still managed it with 42 points. However, they did have such stars as Breen and Repka in defence. Lucas Neill reminds me of Repka in that fateful season ie yellow card every game & free-kicks given away constantly in dangerous positions leading to goals

  • Comment number 37.

    Sorry my mails have been split. Howevre, the message is get your money on the Hammers going down, but hope that Tottenham, Bolton and Tottenham go down

  • Comment number 38.

    Why do Stoke seem to be getting so much earache about their approach? I havent had the opportunity to watch many of their games this season, but is it safe to assume that these long balls dont stop the oppositions teams shots on target, they dont tackle anybody, and none of them have gone directly in to the goal that I am aware of. Delap seems to be very gifted at delivering a fast and accurate throw in that benefits his team. David Beckham whips in a fast accurate ball with his foot and he is the best thing since sliced bread. When a team possesses a skill or talent that will gives it an edge, it would be foolish not to employ it. As for Hull, they seem to be a good footballing team, and it would take some sort of collapse for them to be dragged down in to the relegation battle. In an Ideal world, I would have liked Spurs and Newcastle to spend a season or two out of the premier league, just to get shot of the remaining delusions of grandeur once and for all. Unfortunately, Harry"quote of the week" Redknapp seems to be whipping spurs to safety faster than you can say "for sure" so I will take Fulham, Newcastle and the baggies, unless wigan lose Zaki and Heskey in January, whereupon they would find themselves up the creek without a paddle.

  • Comment number 39.

    Real quick, I'd say, no one should take the easy way and in thinking who will go down, think the last three teams at the moment save Tottenham are going down. But as for who is going down, I predicted weeks ago and before the present surge or even hiring Kinnear that Newcastle would break out of jail. West Brom may well be near bottom now but only weeks ago, they were in the top 10. I do think Stoke City will flounder and based on a lot of parity out there, they may be a shade weaker than the other teams in the long run.

  • Comment number 40.

    #38. Spot on! I love watching Stoke get a throw-in in the opposition's half. It's exciting and really puts the willies up the opposition's defence and goalkeeper. What Delap has is a skill that is much under-rated. Don't mock it. It's not like he is cheating, just deal with it!

    Also football is not a game for namby pambies. Seems like Arsenal don't like it up 'em. They need to be giving some back. If the slick passing football is not working and the ref isn't protecting them they need a plan B which should be GIVE IT BACK

    Turn the other cheek is for losers!

  • Comment number 41.

    hi all,

    Have got to agree Steve, it looks like a tough season as regards who goes down. I think though unfortuantely Bolton's time in the premier league is up, unless elmander can find his shooting boots and stay injury free.
    Like most others i cant see spurs or the toon going down, but it would be good if only to freshen up the league. my allegiances aside, its not impossible that pompey struggling with adams in charge, who hasnt really got a proven track record- especially if 'arry buys defoe, sol, james in january like ive heard. I do think though that for next season, hull and stoke will be dead certs (if they stay up this campaign) as it seems to be the trend with the so-called '2nd season syndrome'.

    aside from that, im in marseille at the mo and went to watch the match vs psv. they played really well last night: allez OM!

  • Comment number 42.

    Laughing at Tottenham Bolton Tottenham, and I'm a Spurs fan!

    Steve's spot on: you'd be hard pressed to accurately predict who's going down, there's a fair few teams that could get sucked in. I don't like to see any team go down (though I may grin on the day that Arsenal are at least involved in a relegation scrap), but if I was a Bolton, Blackburn or West Ham fan I'd be a bit worried. West Brom are by no means doomed but need to get themselves onto 20 points by Christmas. Fulham and Wigan have been here enough times in recent years to deal with a scrap, and Stoke scrap for everything!
    Should all be a LOT clearer by January 31st... then again, I'd prefer it if eight teams were in danger of going down on the last day, rather than it being a 3-from-4 scenario!

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree fully with the fact that Delap should be compared with the likes of Beckham but it is still a bit long ball tactic, but whoever said that the long ball tactic was wrong is incorrect, without it Crouch would never have got into the England Squad!

  • Comment number 44.

    It should be tight this season, i think Hull shall be safe though lol. Bolton, Fulham and Stoke i think are going to be relegated, though 1 out of 3 Promoted sides going down isn't that bad, but it should all change throughout the season as it goes on.

  • Comment number 45.

    I think Stoke (God bless them) and Hull can do enough to stay up. Like Reading, the real test may come the following season.

    West Ham, Bolton and West Brom to go down is my prediction. But I'd love to be wrong about the Hammers because Zola was such a great personality when playing in England.

  • Comment number 46.

    If you want a clue as to who is going down, look at the goals against column. This is normally an excellent guide. At the moment the teams with the dodgy defences are

    West Ham
    Man City
    Tottenham Hotspuds

    I don't think there has ever been a season such as this for donkey defences.

    This doesn't mean that Fulham, Bolton and Sunderland are safe, since they can't score for toffee.

    Remember you read it here first

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm a West Ham fan, and I am worried, just one point from the last five games and only one goal in four. Apart from the game at Old Trafford, we're playing quite well but can't stick the ball in the net, and we have to stick a couple of wins together very soon (preferably our next tow games at home to Everton and Pompey) otherwise we will find ourselves in the drop soon and will find it hard to get out. With Ashton injured, nobody else seems to be able to score regularly (or at all!).

  • Comment number 48.

    i'd like to see west ham go down but i don't like wishing relegation for any team. when you think about all the players in each aquad you realise how much relegation affects a team.

  • Comment number 49.

    I do not think that Bolton nor Fulham will be going down this season. I know that they didn't do that well lasty season either, however, i do think that they will get out of it.
    With Stoke and Hull- I am incredibally pleased for them. I think that they have played some high quality football this season and they do not deserve to go down - possibly next season though.

    These are my bottom five, as it is so close this year.
    Westham 18th
    West Brom20th

  • Comment number 50.

    I dont want tottenham to go down even though i am a manchester united fan, i think

    West Bromwich Albion

  • Comment number 51.

    fulham fan here

    think that west brom
    fulham (unfortuately)
    West Ham

  • Comment number 52.

    As much as this season has been made far more entertaining by the fact that it's very competitive - isnt that because it's somewhat mediocre?

    three teams have come up and are getting results against the old order and it's hard to tell who will go down - there are no whipping boys this year

    but I think that is more to do with a lot of poor quality - spurs and newcastle are obvious examples, but look at the top - only villa will really chase the top 4 this year, and only arsenal look weak out of them - unlike last year portsmouth, everton, city and blackburn are going nowhere - hull, stoke and west brom have come in as contenders because they match the poor quality of the bottom half of the table

    I don't think this is a bad thing tho - i'd rather have entertainment than predictable results

    anyway - as usual I think bolton or fulham could go down, hull surely can't now, and I think West Brom are the likeliest to 'boing' back down of the new 3 - the game against blackburn showed that - 2 crucial points wasted, and there aren't a lot of draws this season (hence the higher than usual scores), they need to get some wins - which stoke tend to do better

  • Comment number 53.

    Good Article

    Based on current performance I think the three for the drop will be;

    West Ham
    West Brom

    Just want to say well done to Stoke and Hull for beating the Arse', it sure has wound the Gooners up on this site, lol.

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh and by the way who would I like to see relagated,


    or better still;


    Mmmm that would make the championship worth watching next season.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's far too early to predict who will go down but at least this season we are seeing more of a game being made of it with both Hull and Stoke pulling off suprise wins already. Albion's next two games are Liverpool and Chelsea so the bets should be on;

    £5 x 2 bets at about 20/1 each might be worth a go :-)

    But in general one of the key things to look out for in struggling teams is the manager's hold on his position. Those 3 above are solid but can you say the same about the likes of Midds, Bolton, Newcastle, Fulham, Blackburn, West Ham even Portsmouth.

    At the moment I would bet on at least two of those losing their manager before the end of the season.

  • Comment number 56.

    Its funny how people want the worst teams to watch stay up.

    Id like the most boring, dull teams to go down... Although that could be anyone

  • Comment number 57.

    ok that would be the teams that are always last on MOTD then


    Still think that the following will go down tho

    Tottenham Hotspuds
    Notlob Wanderers

  • Comment number 58.

    its gona be a contest between

    west brom

  • Comment number 59.

    Good article until the comment about Tom Soares. As someone who's seen him many times, Tony Pulis is going to have a tough job keeping the lazy side out of Soares' game.

    The Soares that would let a ball in front of his foot run out for an opposition throw started the season at Palace, and most fans weren't that bothered by him going.

    Overall Stoke have a decent squad though, and as long as their throw-ins continue to be effective, then they might stand a decent chance of still being in the top flight next season.

    Good luck to them; seeing promoted sides doing so well gives all of us in the Football League hope.

  • Comment number 60.

    I expect to see the usual Midlands 'Double Drop' scenario - and both the Baggies and Stoke to go down. (Two Midlands teams always go down).

    Hope I'm wrong.

    It would be nice to have more Midlands clubs in the PL and less clubs from either London or the NW.

    It'd be good to see Bolton, Wigan and West Ham go. Or Spuds instead of West Ham. Dont mind which.

  • Comment number 61.

    Evil_stu, stop using 'Please God' all the time. You are Evil and should not be calling for him. He told me he wants nothing to do with you. He/she/it hasn't forgiven you for supporting a crappy team who can't take pressure or losing. Good old Stoke. Admit it, it was men against Ladies last Saturday.

    Here is my prediction for relegation:

    West Brom

  • Comment number 62.

    I made a mistake, i meant to say:

    West Brom
    West Ham

  • Comment number 63.

    My three for the drop:

    Stoke City
    West Brom

    I just think that eventually the amount of goals from throw-ins for Stoke might dry out, for example, if Delap, or even Fuller gets injured, then if the rest of the season carries on like the start of it (7 of Stoke's 13 goals have come from a Delap rocket-throw) then where would the majority of Stoke goals come from?

    Sorry, but that is my view, and i urge Stoke to prove me wrong.

  • Comment number 64.

    It is indeed too early to make relegation predictions. Even before Christmas the composition of the bottom could easily be radically changed. There are teams currently in the perceived saftey of mid-table who can still get dragged in But the January transfer window further complicates prediction. Those 'in trouble' could make useful additions, whilst those 'safe' could lose important players - either way seasons could still change suddenly.

    Nonetheless, I'd prefer it if the likes of Spurs, Newcastle, Man City, West Ham and Everton kept themselves well clear of trouble. I'm of the view that love or hate these clubs, they still represent the best hope of the big four being broken up on a more sustained basis in the medium term. They all have big support, and currently have or are seeking large stadiums (i.e. 40,000+). As for past success, remember that Chelsea's contribution to English football was a mere footnote until about 10 years ago.

    Lose any of these clubs from the EPL and the big 4 will be further strengthened to the point they could be talking European Super Leagues in a few years time.

  • Comment number 65.


    good comment

    the pl would never be the same without these teams. Newcastle are in the same state chelsea were in 10 years ago and spurs are just having no luck these teams dont even deserve to go down

  • Comment number 66.

    I think this is a fairly unbiased blog to all of the sides that are battling for the drop. Wigan should be safe along with the mighty Potters (hope so anyway).

    We will cause alot of teams trouble this year and if we get Valencia's Nikola Zigic in the January window players of the opposition will find it even harder to deal with us with a 6ft 8" striker.

    We are here to stay so the rest of the Premier League better ease off the criticism because we don't take it too well, that is if you already know your going to be Delaped.

  • Comment number 67.


    To be honest, as it is we already have no Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday nor Nottingham Forest. Even these clubs appear a long way off a PL return. Again these clubs have strong historical success and/or big city support bases. If these clubs were in the PL we'd perhaps be placing these in the same category of the clubs mentioned in #64.

    In the meantime clubs like Wigan, Bolton, Fulham, Portsmouth, Stoke, Hull and WBA can only make up the numbers at best (maybe with the odd venture into the top 10). I know this sounds elitist, but if the PL is to become more competitive on a sustained basis, we need the best equipped clubs there. I apologise to the footballing romantics when I say that these mainly derive from big cities AND possess stadiums with minimum capacities of around 30,000. Yes, clubs must still earn the right to be in the PL, but from a footballing point of view I believe that the current make up of PL clubs is imbalanced and will exacerbate the power of the big 4, over time.

  • Comment number 68.

    Look it's not about who you would like to stay up but who is going to stay up. A lot of people write for the sake of writing but know nothing about football. So stop being long winded and shut up.

    West Brom has no depth and presently is not good enough to stay up.

    West Ham can play good football one day and rubbish the next. Their financial crisis will force them to sell in January and that will leave them sadly short of good players to cope with a relegation battle.

    Bolton have some good players but have been under performing for far too long now and I think under the manager the players' motivation is not really there. In the end the quality in the squad is really not premiership standard.

  • Comment number 69.

    "They do need a partner for Djibril Cisse though."

    How can it be hard to forget our best player in Kenwyne Jones.

  • Comment number 70.

    Good article and discussion. As a Blackburn fan I'm a tiny bit concerned - the defence is struggling and we lack for goals, which is not a good combination. The danger for Ince is that in trying to make us play more attractive football, he may be losing out on the grit which used to characterise out play, especially against the 'big' teams. I hope relegation's not going to be an issue, but I wouldn't rule it out just yet, sadly.

    Otherwise, delighted that Hull and Stoke are confounding the patronising punditry. I fear this will be a season too far for Fulham and I would not shed any tears if Bolton succumbed. But on the whole, I'd like to see a "big" team (eg. Tottenham, West Ham) get relegated. It's not that I bear those clubs any particular animosity, but a Premierleague where Hull stay up and Spurs (or whoever) go down might just be one which has a little bit more to do with football, and a little bit less to do with money, than we've become used to.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think, having read all the serious predictions that it would be worth a punt to name Fulham, West Brom, Bolton and an-other to go down and place the bet as a yankee.

    That's 11 bets with the possibility of a treble and three doubles.

  • Comment number 72.

    If you want a clear picture of who is going down, look at the goals against column on the table. This is normally an excellent guide. At the moment the teams with the chicken defences are

    Man City
    Tottenham Hotspur
    West Ham

    I don't think there has ever been a season with such marooned defenses and also compare goals scored against with that of last season.
    This doesn't mean that Fulham, Bolton and Sunderland are safe, since they can't score goals.In short till the last week of December.

  • Comment number 73.


    A pink frock for the team of ladies. I think ladies have more spirit than they do so it is an insult to put them in the same bracket as the pretty players and their manager.

    Hope Stoke, Hull, West Brom do well.

    Congratulations to Hull on the ManU game, what spirit, what persistence. Am looking forward to the Stoke game. If we are beaten, well, that's why the game is interesting. Look at Celtic and what they did last night.

  • Comment number 74.

    the teams to go down will be West Brom, Bolton & Stoke. Mark my words!

  • Comment number 75.

    West brom, Fulham and Bolton to go down..
    its really refreshing to see the smaller teams like stoke and Hull giving shock to Big Boys in PL.. its been same old story in PL for the last couple of seasons! same top 4 ( yaaaaaaaawwn) nothing intersting at top end of the table but its xiting to see these smaller teams teaching them a lesson or two!! I would love to see Hull and stoke stay UP only b'cos of their dedication and spirit to play for thier badge unlike these millionares trying to play safe and never gives 100 % to avoid injuries to re-negotiate thier mega million deals coming next may!! arsenal is not going to win any thing sooon if they play ' beautiful ' game and it cannot be considered as an achievement if they finish 4th this season but for Hull and stoke staying up by playing thier physical game is going to be a great acheivement!! Infact Hull already overachieved this season!
    just for record am an aresenal Fan

  • Comment number 76.

    It is far too easy to talk about the relegation battle. I remember years ago Sheffield Wednesday being top of the league after eight games and getting relegated so who knows. Think Bolton are in trouble already though and probably West Brom. Would love it if Sunderland went down too. Roy Keane is one the worst managers in the league. 5 million on Chopra. haha

  • Comment number 77.

    Post 22 - anothergooner. No, I think I meant implied, it means very much the same as inferred when used in this context - nice try though mate. One should check one's information when one intends to patronise, shouldn't one. As for the chip on my shoulder, what would that chip be there for? Are you implying (or, should I say inferring) my jealousy of Arsenal? As a United fan I'm not sure why I would have that chip because I'm neither jealous of Arsenal nor worried that they're about to threated United's title bid. As far as chips on shoulders go, do you not think your criticism of Hull and Stoke might suggest it is in fact YOU who has a chip on their shoulder? Just because you can't admit you deserved to lose against these teams, even though, surely, with your superior brand of football and world-class players you should have won. Get a grip mate, give teams credit when they beat you fair and square. Good luck in the race for 4th place.

  • Comment number 78.

    Why do people believe everything they read. For the record a vast majority of Newcastle fans don't think we are a 'big' club, we have a big following and hope for success, what's wrong with that, doesn't everyone???

    The only time Newcastle have struggled this season is when we were without a manger, our record with a manager reads P8, W3, D3, L2, these include away games against Man Utd and Arsenal. In my opinion thats not bad form.

    Any 3 of the following 4 to go down...Fulham, Stoke, WBA, Bolton.

  • Comment number 79.

    I understand that West Brom are taking a lot of stick and should be going down.
    But because this EPL season is going to be the tightest season in years, who knows who'll go down?

    I'm not going to moan, but it's still early days at the moment.
    Out of 11 games, west brom have got 11 points with a 3-2-6 record.
    All we need, is some time in the january transfer market to find a natural goalscorer, then we'll be up and running.
    We play beautiful football, and was once called the 'arsenal of the championship'.
    That's got to mean something right?
    Since last year, we've sorted out our defense and have a very decent keeper between the sticks.
    Our main problem is Defensive errors
    Once this is solved, we'll be back to winning days.

    Conclusion to this..

    my three to go down has to be:
    BUT this is only if kinnear does not succeed as interim manager and the club is in turmoil for further months.
    West Ham
    as they are injury struck and players need more time to settle with Zola.
    They have had to adjust their style of play to a more attacking approach since being with Zola, and it may not be working out as well as it planned.

    Then again, as i said earlier, it is only early days, this could be a very competitive season and im sure the three teams that do end up going down will be kicking themselves!

  • Comment number 80.

    Why on earth do so many 'fans' want to see the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham relegated?

    Surely it's better playing ambitious teams in full, noisy stadiums with a bit of history than some of the teams with no past and half empty characterless stadiums?

    I'm a newcastle fan and I've never heard another newcastle fan say we have a right to win the league. What we do demand, in return for the years we've been following the team with our hard-earned money is at least a match in commitment on the pitch and fulfilling potential.

    Not sure why this to so much jealousy or loathing - surely everyone wants the best for their team?

    West Brom, Fulham and Blackburn for me. Hull need to be careful next year if you look at the history of teams who surprise in the first year.

  • Comment number 81.

    A Stoke City fan showed me (pre-season) a text he had received from a colleague. The text claims that Richard Branson had declined Stoke's request for shirt sponsorship because he didn't feel comfortable with putting "Virgin" on the shirts of a team that was going to get scr*wed every week ...

    Subsequent results show that the refusal was misjudged. Now, if the sponsorship had been requested by Spurs (up until 2 weks ago?) ...

  • Comment number 82.

    Steve - at least let us know who you think will go down rather than sitting on the fence. I think West Brom, West Ham and Bolton

  • Comment number 83.

    I really hope Stoke stay up. They might not be playing "the beautiful game", but they are playing the game well.

    Take the Arsenal game for example. They scored from two throw-ins. Arsenal can play pretentious attractive football all day long for all I care but if they end up with less goals than the other team, then its not good football.

    Football is about scoring goals and there is no right or wrong way to do it. They all count and so credit to Stoke for making use of their strengths. If they stay up this season then they can build on it next year and the more attractive football can come over time.

    They don't have the resources that teams like Arsenal do so you can't expect them to turn up and try and play the way Arsene Wenger wants them to. Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool all play good attractive football so its Arsenal that need to change, not teams like Stoke.

    Hopefully West Brom and Bolton will go down, they bring nothing new or exciting to the premier league at the moment.

  • Comment number 84.

    Can no-one else see wigan going down? They may have Zaki till the end of the season but they may have a tough time holding on to Heskey.

    As the blog mentions they have a decent midfield but I believe Heskey is a huge part of that team who is also enjoying a fantastic run in the England squad. They may try and hold on to him but with his contract coming to a close they may be forced to sell him in order to make some cash from this.

    I just think without heskey wigan will be lacking in something which will result in a huge dip in their current form.

    As for my other picks I am thinking West Brom and Fulham.

  • Comment number 85.

    Stoke is unlikely to make it as I don't think they have enough against a lot of the mid table teams. The physical game and throws have given results so far. But physical only takes you so far and someone will find a way to take care of the throw-ins.

    By the way, how close are you allowed to stand in front of the thrower? I mean if you can get close enough, you may be able to intercept or at the very least force the thrower to give the throw more of an arc rather than the flat ones we keep seeing, right?

  • Comment number 86.

    At 84.

    Heskey may have been great for England but he's been terrible for Wigan this season.

    We've played all our football on the deck and Heskey suits more long ball so he's not needed.

    Sell him in January hopefully and get a replacement who's quick and nippy.

    Heskey doesn't suit Wigans style, we've looked more threatening upfront when he's not played.

    Our midfield has got bags of quality and outside the top 4 is one of the best.

    In Kirkland we have one of the best keepers in the league.

    Defensively apart when Scharners not played we've been solid. He's been dire this season. Edman is back soon aswell and he's a quality player.

    Get rid of Scharner and Heskey in January and get replacements and anything less than top 10 will be criminal with Wigans current squad.

    Bar the Villa and Fulham games we've been excellent this season and not get the results we've deserved points wise. We've got a decent run of fixtures till late January so hopefully the Portsmouth game will be the turning point and we'll put a few wins together. After all the leagues so congested that a back to back wins could put you 7th.

    The leagues not taken shape yet, usually it happens by now so wait until December before you start to get teams settling into positions.

  • Comment number 87.

    I meant to say:

    Defensively apart from when Scharners played we've been solid. He's been dire this season. Edman is back soon aswell and he's a quality player.

  • Comment number 88.

    It's so hard to predict who is going down this year, usually you'd say 2 of the promoted teams and one other. But this year, all the promoted teams seem capable whilst traditionally bigger teams are struggling. I think we can take Spurs and NUFC out of the equation, whatever happens I don't think these teams will go down because they have too much quality. I don't know why people particularly want these teams to go either, teams like these make the premier better because they fill big stadiums with passionate fans.

    If I were to predict, at this stage I'd probably go for Fulham 18th Bolton 19th WBA 20th. That'll be wrong I have no doubt, but I really hope Stoke and Hull stay up. Hands up who said the Championship was a poor league last year? And that the promoted teams would have no chance? Ooops!

  • Comment number 89.

    I am West Ham fan and looking at the leauge we are mid table and only 2 points off the rel zone. I feel we do not have what I would call a world class player or just a player who stands out. We need to get a player like Tevez, and get rid of all the dead wood. So I think West Ham will be one of the teams relegated and I hope the Yides go with us as well. But I think it will be us bolton and west brom.

  • Comment number 90.

    What people forget about Hull, compared to
    other promoted teams is that they went out and signed 13 players including 9 internationals to play alongside their existing 5 internationals. Maybe not all household names, but all hugely experienced. All have points to prove and even Scolari has suggested that the re-invigorated Geovanni could well be worthy of a recall to the Brazilian squad. On his performance at Old Trafford on Saturday, Bernard Mendy must have raised eyebrows at PSG and within the French heirarchy. Stelios Giannakopoulos wishes to extend his Greek international career. Kamil Zayatte and Daniel Cousin are established national players, with the former probably the BPL "find" of the season, especially as he is being played out of position. For a defensive midfielder he is rapidly showing he is an outstanding centre-back. George Boateng, with all his experience, is showing it game after game. And let's not for get the player who first captained the Tigers in the bottom flight, led them through 3 promotions and is captaining them in the BPL. Ian Ashbee has had his ability to "step-up" with each successive promotion questioned by pundits and supporters alike. He has done it every time. Phil Brown might be a rookie manager, but he has the vastly experienced Brian Horton whispering constantly in his ear. Hull spent under £7m during the summer, which will be matched in January when the 3 loanees sign permanent contracts. Plus Brown has earmarked up to 5 more players. His criteria are simple. They must be hungry for success, willing to work hard, put team before themselves, plus have experience and ability. The only time they have come really unstuck this season (the oft quoted 0-5 to Wigan) was when they were decimated with injuries and suspensions and played what was effectively the CCC team.

  • Comment number 91.

    I am a Bristol City fan and went to the playoff final V Hull City... on the way to the game and as i drove back i must have said atleast 100 times that whoever won would come straight back down with 0 points along with Stoke and be a bigger embarressment than Derby.... I am so glad that i was wrong - Stoke and Hull are proving that there is a point to trying to get promotion from the Championship and not just then "doing a Watford" and not trying to improve - and just taking the money.... I think this is great and i love what it is doing to the league!

    This is brilliant - and as for the never ending amount of Gooners that go on and on about the beautiful game - i love the way you lot can only remember back as far as 1996... as far as i can remember even the holy arsenal weren't playing as beautifully before Wenger.... infact you were often derided as being boring and winning ugly!

    and ontop of that... to moan about the "treatment" dealt out to Arsenal players is crazy.... football is a contact sport - and there are officials to make sure people don't over step the mark - if the "treatment" was half as bad as Wenger makes out (btw i think he is a great manager) then teams would end up with multiple sendings off everytime they play the gunners - and infact i think the stats show that Wengers Arsenal have had more than their fair share of sendings off and bookings....

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    I'd love to see Arsenal go down.

    Bunch of pansies.

  • Comment number 94.


    For a closer inspection of the 'unfair' treatment that Arsenal have received, a quick peek at the fouls suffered table tells a story. Arsenal are 13th.

  • Comment number 95.

    I would like to make 2 main points.....

    People will always have their own opinion and they are entitled to it, however, for saying that the likes of Stoke are not playing the beautiful game is ludicrious. If you saw their game against Arsenal they were tactically almost perfect.... does this not constitute playing the game correctly? The problem i have with the likes of Arsenal is that they doen't react well to the physical side of the game, yes i will concur that they do play very attractive football when given the space and the freedom, but they don't like it when the physical aspect comes in to it.

    Anyway i digress..... i think Stoke, West Brom and particularly Hull have been a breath of fresh air for the premirship, Hull's game against Man Utd was a particular highlight for me. Even as a Chelsea fan i will say this, I love watching entertaining football and Hull's brand seems to fit the bill.

    As for the relegation dogfight, it will be very interesting as the season gets to what is undoubtadly the hardest time of the season (Xmas period) how the likes of Fulham, Bolton, West Ham (although, i would like them to stay up) and so on will get through it.

  • Comment number 96.

    This is the first time I've posted on here. Sunderland supporter, I come in peace!! Right oh first of all I hope the mags stop up, who wants to not have the best game of the season?

    I fear for Sunderland this season, a lot of pundits seem to think we've bought too well to go down, but I'm not too sure. It seems like a fair few of our players think they are a bit better than they are and they can pass their way to safety and that's good enough.

    That brings me back to Stoke - I watched our game with Stoke last week - there was nothing 'illegal' about their approach, they have a lot of big lads in the team and they simply bullied us from playing our passing game, except for Keiran Richardson the midfield all bottled it, simple as that. Now I've no complaints about being beaten, I just think the style of football is awful to watch, the same goes for Bolton. Wigan used to be like that but old cushion head has changed that and they get it down and pass.

    I hope the following go down
    West Ham

    But I think it will
    West Ham

  • Comment number 97.

    Have just seen that Stoke have to go to The Emirates on the last day of the season. Could be a very interesting if Stoke need a win there to survive.

  • Comment number 98.

    Blackburn, Bolton and West Brom for the drop

    But Id prefer WBA to stay up and either Fulham or Newcastle to go down

    Such boring teams to watch

  • Comment number 99.

    West Brom

    in no particular order

    the way things are going it would be nice to see the Wninging whining Gooners there. They play great football at times but it is getting very boring when they lose or concede goals or dont score. Its either the Refs fault, bad tackling, naivity, linesman, the other manager, injuries, premier schedule (as foreign teams dont have a league do they !) etc etc but never ever their fault. and Wenger never gives any praise to the opposition.

  • Comment number 100.

    Isn't it a bit early in the season for this kind of article ? For example, take Fulham last season : they were doomed with only a few weeks of the season left but managed to pull-off a remarkable escape. Therefore, who knows what will happen ? .... And that's excatly why we love the game !


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.