The battle for Premier League survival with half of the season gone has got very interesting.
The results on Saturday did little to clear up the situation. None of the bottom teams won, as there was frustration for a number of teams near the basement of the league.
Cardiff have endured a dramatic week after parting company with boss Malky Mackay. The Bluebirds must have thought they were ending the year with a win when Fraizer Campbell made it 2-0 against Sunderland in the late-kick yesterday.
However, the Black Cats battled back and scored goals in the 83rd and 95th minute to take home what looked like an unlikely point for the visitors.
The point for the Black Cats meant that the side from the north east claimed four points from two very difficult away games.
Sunderland may be bottom of the Premier League, but there are now signs that they could recover to survive the drop this season. Gus Poyet’s men are only two points away from safety. I certainly will not be writing them off just yet.
Crystal Palace are another team that no longer look like such a sure bet to go down this season. For a good while Palace look like they were going to struggle to get off the bottom of the table, never mind escape the drop.
However, since Tony Pulis’ arrival at Selhurst Park the team has been transformed. The Eagles secured a vital late win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day and followed that up with a very unlucky 1-0 defeat at title challengers Manchester City on Saturday.
Pulis seems to have brought solidity to the Palace team and the confidence looks to be high in the Eagles squad. Palace’s performance at the Etihad Stadium showed that Palace have what it takes to stay up this season.
One team really struggling for results is West Ham. The Hammers have had two home games over the festive period, but only claimed one point. They now find themselves second from bottom in the league and struggling to find any sort of form.
The Irons have obviously lacked a prolific striker this season, but there are now worries at the other end of the pitch, as they have conceded six goals in their last two home games. West Ham had looked pretty solid for the majority of the season.
The situation must be worrying for everybody connected with the club and people are now asking questions about the future of boss Sam Allardyce. Big Sam has had his critics amongst the Hammers fans in the past, but has largely done a decent job at the Boleyn Ground.
However, this season the results have been disappointing and for club from the east end. Allardyce’s team face a long season ahead if performances do not improve.
Fulham are third from bottom in the Premier League table. The Cottagers have seen a slight improve in their performances since Rene Meulensteen’s arrival at the Cottage, until yesterday’s 6-0 thumping at Hull City.
The new Fulham boss made a number of changes for the match at the KC Stadium and it all went horribly wrong. The Dutchman will be hoping that his team see the benefit of those changes in the New Year’s Day relegation six-pointer with London rivals West Ham at Craven Cottage.
The Cottagers will kick-off that game a point above their London rivals and it could be a pivotal game in Fulham’s season. They really do need a victory.
Cardiff find themselves in the relegation battle and are now in need of a new manager. The quicker Cardiff owner Vincent Tan acts the better, as the team are perilously close to the relegation zone. Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is current favourite. The next boss will inherit a decent squad and apparently be given a big war chest in January.
Vincent Tan has made some big decisions in his time as owner of Cardiff. The next decision could be make or break for the Bluebirds in the top-flight.
Other teams could also get dragged into the battle. The likes of Norwich, West Brom and Aston Villa are not that far outside the relegation and have all struggled for consistency this season. The trio are probably unlikely to be relegated, but you just never know. Nobody is too good to go down as the saying goes.
The first half of the Premier League campaign has been one of unpredictable results and surprises. The race for survival is now as unpredictable as the race for the Champions League places at the top of the table.
It is difficult to predict what is going to happen at the bottom of the table. Teams that seemed doomed earlier in the season are showing signs of life and others are starting to get dragged into the fight for survival.
Every season the battle for survival seems fascinating and this season will be no exception. With teams so close in the table expect the fight for survival to go right down to the wire.
Who will be relegated from the Premier League this season?
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