Back in October, we took a look at the bottom seven teams in the EPL for two reasons. First off, it seemed a reasonable number when talking about possibilities for which teams in the EPL might face relegation, and more importantly, it was the number of teams required for us to include Liverpool and subsequently ROFL all over ourselves.
Now, with just over a week left in the January transfer window, we’re revisiting the question of who will make way for Cardiff, and probably Leicester, and maybe Hull, and maybe Millwall or a Zaha-less Crystal Palace (Fergie to Zaha: YOU ARE MINE. What Fergie to Zaha sounds like to those of us who aren’t zombies: BRAINNNNNS! BRAINNNNNNS!), but sadly probably not a Nottingham Forest to enter the Prem, and disappear into the vortex that is the Championship League.
But, we digress. Here are your losers.
Fulham (25 points, 6W, 7D, 10L)
Recent signature loss: It’s one thing to lose to Liverpool at Anfield — despite the Reds’ woes, they can still be formidable at home. But to lose 4-0? And give up goals to Martin Skrtel and Stewart Downing? That’s Downing’s only goal of the year so far. Stewart Downing, yo. (Okay, we’ll let it go.)
Prognosis: If they can muster a draw in the same week that 13th place Norwich loses — not a shocking possibility at all, really — they’re tied on points and in decent goal differential shape. (Right now, they’re at -7 to Norwich’s -15.) While they’ve got City and Chelsea as part of their next six, they also have puny Sunderland, tedious Stoke (prediction: 0-0) and a Feb. 9 mid-table showdown with the Canaries.
Glimmer of hope: They still have Berbatov! And they’re probably not in serious relegation danger, even if they do tank down the stretch.
Southampton (23 points, 5W, 8D, 10L)
Recent signature loss: To paraphrase Big Pun, they’re not a losing team, they just draw a lot. You have to go back to Nov. 5 and a 2-0 loss to West Brom to find a game they didn’t win, draw, or lose 1-0. (Their matches are not necessarily Must See TV.)
Prognosis: Here’s what they’ve done in January: Home draw against Arsenal, home win over Villa (on a shady penalty), away draw at Chelsea, and home draw against Everton. That’s six points where you might expect just one, given the level of competition. That’s probably good enough form to keep the Saints up.
Glimmer of hope: See above — draws against three of the Prem’s top six teams gives the Saints momentum heading into a weird next six matches — their next match is at Old Trafford against Five Points Clear, but they’re also getting some lesser lights.
Newcastle (21 points, 5W, 6D, 12L)
Recent signature loss: Losing 2-1 to Reading isn’t good, but the 7-3 loss to Arsenal (in which Ba kept them alive for a stretch before Arsenal had a goalsplosion leading to Giroud’s pregnant goal celebrations) was particularly painful, and indicative of the slow toilet bowl swirl that is Newcastle’s 2012-13.
Prognosis: The journey back starts with a six-pointer against Aston Villa, and then there’s a rough stretch of games waiting for them after that. (Without Ba, of course.)
Glimmer of hope: Ben Arfa’s coming back in mid-February, and despite noise that he wants to go to PSG, his first priority is to “save his club” from relegation.
Aston Villa (21 points, 4W, 8D, 11L)
Recent signature loss: While it’s tempting to say their 3-1 defeat in the COC semis against Bradford, their EPL season got seriously derailed with an 8-0 loss to Chelsea on Dec. 23, leading to an awful week in which they lost three matches by a combined score of 15-0. How bad was that Chelsea game? Torres scored. In the third minute.
Prognosis: Somehow, they’re reminding me of Kristin Wiig’s STD impersonation in Portlandia. “What happened?” The Paul Lambert experiment is not going well.
Glimmer of hope: Benteke is promising, and this is a young squad who is going through some obvious growing pains together. My colleague Keith is working on a post that will offer more than the cliches and shrugs I’m managing here. (And a proposed rallying cry for Villa fans: “Prove Savage wrong!”
Reading (19 points, 4W, 7D, 12L)
Recent signature loss: Many to choose from — let’s go with the 3-1 loss to Spurs at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day. Pogrebnyak (Reading’s one player of note) scores in the 4th minute, Spurs score five minutes later to equalize, Adebayor and Deuce slot second-half goals.
Prognosis: Chelsea’s up next, followed by three winnable games. But relegation seems inevitable. And, dare I say it, hoped for by anyone not a Reading fan.
Glimmer of hope: They’re in 18th place right now! Glimmer of hope ever; we now return you to your regularly-scheduled pallor of gloom.
Wigan (19 points, 5W, 4D, 14L)
Recent signature loss: Their latest game is a great place to start — losing 3-2 to Sunderland in particularly painful fashion: Going up 1-0 on an own goal, conceding a penalty for an equalizing PK (from a handball on a freekick), two Stephen Fletcher goals to go down 3-1, and then a too-little-too-late goal from Henriquez.
Prognosis: Surely Martinez is a better manager than 19th, yes? Some tough games in the next six weeks, including Chelsea and Man City and (possibly) Liverpool.
Glimmer of hope: We’ve bandied about that theory that Wigan could find their “Wigan-thinks-they’re-Barcelona” form for six weeks again this year. (Looking less likely. But plausible.)
QPR (15 points, 2W, 9D, 12L)
Recent signature loss: How about 3-0 to Liverpool on Dec. 30? Giving up all three goals in the first thirty minutes?
Prognosis: Both Manchesters in the next six weeks, plus Swansea, but otherwise, some winnable games.
Glimmer of hope: Where there’s ‘Arry, there’s ‘ope! Plus, they’re actually spending on players — Remy’s a serviceable striker who delivered in his first EPL match, and they’re shoring up other needs. They seem to be gearing up to make the sort of run that Wigan made last year. (Or, maybe, I can’t bear to think of an EPL without Redknapp — though I’ve hung on to a half-season with no Joey Barton so far.)