Six weeks in, and no less than seven teams in the EPL are looking relegation-bound. Some, of course, are in the “But we just got here” camp, and they’ve pretty much been on relegation watch since getting promoted. But Liverpool’s here, which has brought us endless podcast delight, and some other teams on the list are mildly surprising. Let’s run them down. (No, not literally. Insert Balotelli reckless driving joke here.)
Liverpool (5 points, 1W, 2D, 3L)
Signature loss: Though all three have been painful in their own way (questionable penalty late vs. ManU and Pepe Reina being right but awful on the RVP PK, Gerrard falling apart leper-like before our eyes vs. Arsenal), losing 3-0 to West Brom in the opener was an inauspicious start to the Rodgers era. (And a guarantee that Being: Liverpool will be heavy on shots of besotten and saddened Liverpool fans.
Prognosis: Surely they can’t be relegation-level bad, can they? Yet, with Pepe Reina at goal, the failed Andy Carroll experiment shunted off to West Ham, Luis Suarez not getting calls for legitimate fouls as well as dives, and other holes to be filled (shoutout to our podcast listeners!), it looks like a bottom half of the table sort of season.
Glimmer of hope: They won 5-2 this past week against Norwich, and they’ve won every game in which they’ve played in their third kit. (Just one game, of course, but maybe the EPL jersey most likely to be worn by the Axe Body Spray Set might bring good luck.)
Aston Villa (5 points, 1W, 2D, 3L)
Signature loss: It has to be vs. Southampton, which might be the most painful loss any team’s incurred this year. Up 1-0 at halftime, Villa let in four (including an own goal), all in the second half, leading to the Saints’ only points of the campaign. Because of this, the 2012 EPL Saints have one more win then the 2012 NFL Saints. Seriously.
Prognosis: Hey, did you hear that Paul Lambert’s going to turn it around? I hear that they’re going to turn it around soon. No, really, he’s going to turn it around. If everyone’s wrong, of course, and Villa does get relegated, then we live in a world where Robbie Savage is right. No one feels safe living in that world. Not even Robbie Savage.
Glimmer of hope: Our resident Spurs fans expect Villa to upset Spurs this coming weekend, because, well, Spurs.
Wigan (4 points, 1 W, 1D, 4L)
Signature loss: When you lose 4-0 — even to ManU at Old Trafford — it’s bad.
Prognosis: Thanks to Chelsea’s transfer window avarice — because grabbing Oscar and Hazard just isn’t enough — there’s a Victor Moses-sized hole in this team that needs to be filled. And the next four fixtures go like this: hosting Everton, at Swansea, hosting West Ham, and at Spurs. And they’re scoring less than a goal a game.
Glimmer of hope: Martinez is a genius coach, so there’s that, but he’s got very little to work with, so there’s that.
Southampton (3 points, 1W, 5L)
Signature loss: Who is the real Southampton? Are they the team that was crushed 6-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates, in a game featuring two own goals and two Gervinho goals? Or is the team that pushed Man U to the 83rd minute at home, only to let Van Persie hat trick them into futility? Hard to pick. So why pick? Their 9-3 loss to Mansenal United was brutal.
Prognosis: Though relegation wouldn’t be surprising, they’ve shown enough scrap at times to look competitive in the Premier League. And at times, they’ve been, to use my new favorite Ian Darkeism, shambolic.
Glimmer of hope: Hanging tough with Man City and beating Vista shows they might fluke into enough points to stay above relegation.
Norwich City (3 points, 0W, 3D, 3L)
Signature loss: In a match where Clint Dempsey’s reluctance to play was a huge distraction — heralding his exit with glitter cannons and vuvuzelas, basically — Norwich still lost to Fulham in the opener. 5-0.
Prognosis: Considering their next two games are against Chelsea and Arsenal, they could be in a ditch by the time the next winnable games come around. They’re already officially in the relegation zone on GD, and they’ve yet to win.
Glimmer of hope: This is not the worst squad ever assembled, and they still have Grant Holt.
Reading (2 points, 0W, 2D, 3L)
Signature loss: Only a last-minute goal kept them from getting blanked 3-0 vs. Spurs in AVB’s first win with the club, after some early sky-is-falling panic in Spurs-land. There’s losing, and then there’s the brand of losing that gets your opponent’s season on track.
Prognosis: Also a safe bet against relegation, though they haven’t yet had the benefit of going against any bottom-tier teams. Circle Nov. 4 on the calendar for an epic six-pointer with QPR.
Glimmer of hope: They’ve only played five games due to the rainout vs. Sunderland, and there could be points to be had in that matchup. (But if they didn’t make it up, who would miss it, really?)
QPR (2 points, 0W, 2D, 4L)
Signature loss: Like Norwich, they went down 5-0 in their opener — to Swansea, who looked like world-beaters for the first four weeks of the season before reality set in. But their latest loss, a 2-1 Lesserderby to West Ham, was notable in that they went down 1-0 in the third minute.
Prognosis: Grim. Though they have exiled Barton to France for the year, so they’re much less likely to finish matches a man down.
Glimmer of hope: There really isn’t one, so instead, here’s video of Taarabt celebrating his first EPL goal (last year against Arsenal) with a fez.