Every season, the race for the title generally doesn’t throw up too many surprises- in the past, it used to be Manchester United or Arsenal that were capable of winning it; now Chelsea have added themselves to the mix.
The similar battle at the bottom of the table can always throw up a few surprises though- few expected West Ham United to be struggling for their first team place at the end of last season. Generally, it is the three teams promoted from the Championship that stay there or thereabouts; however this is not always the case as Reading showed last season when they stormed into eighth place (just a point off the UEFA Cup places).
This year it is likely that the three promoted teams will be involved, considering that none of them have started out with a bang; Derby County are almost guaranteed to be relegated. Out of the other sides however, there have been some interesting starts- which team could be a surprise relegation candidate? Here I will take a look at three teams that I feel could be plying their trade in the Championship next season.
Wigan Athletic just escaped relegation by virtue of goal difference last year; this year has already shown that they might not be as lucky. Although Wigan have already played Manchester United and Liverpool this season, two teams that they would not have expected to get points against, they have not won in the Premiership since the 18th of August, where they picked up three points against promoted Sunderland. Wigan have picked up just eight points from their opening nine games, and a look at their defending yesterday against Manchester United would suggest that unless they make some improvements, things are only going to get worse. Wigan’s squad lacks quality in defense, and they could be one of the teams that will struggle this year.
Although Fulham spent big in the summer, their performances this season have not matched the amount of money that was put in during the summer. Fulham fell into the relegation places today after losing to Portsmouth, and are one of the sides many tipped to struggle before the season began. The London club have picked up just seven points from their first eight games, and whilst they have scored more goals than the likes of Chelsea and Blackburn they sit far below them due to their shaky defense. While Fulham should still have the necessary quality to survive in the league this season, a run of poor games and a bit of pressure could see them struggle.
After last season, where Bolton finished seventh and thus qualified for Europe, few would have expected them to be possible relegation contenders this year. Bolton however have had a horrific start to their Premier League campaign, gaining just five points from their opening nine games with new manager Sammy Lee coming under a lot of pressure. Although signings were made in the summer, quite a few unknowns came in; most of them have failed to impress. Bolton have perhaps an over-dependence on Nicolas Anelka, and with rumours that he wants to leave in January starting to surface, they could struggle for goals without the Frenchmen. Anelka has scored five goals and set up a solitary assist for his teammates, meaning that he has been involved in 66.6% of all of Bolton’s goals this season. A kick up the backside for the Trotters is needed; despite the loss of Sam Allardyce in the summer, they should definitely do better on the pitch.
So, those are my three teams apart from the promoted ones that could be relegated. I thought about putting in Tottenham Hotspur as one of the possibilities, but after this post I thought I shouldn’t to keep my life safe from possible revenge seeking Spurs fans. Have no worries though, Spurs will still finish 17th, just avoiding relegation on the last day of the season :D. On a more serious note, who do YOU think could be a surprise pick for the Championship? Use the comments section and tell me below. 😉