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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can any of the Premiership new boys stay up? by Matt Harris

by Matt Harris for World Football Commentaries

Premier League 201415
Image credit: AndhikaMPPP.
















In an admittedly early Premiership table, the signs are not good for the three promoted teams. After two matches, both Burnley and Queens Park Rangers are without a point while Leicester City have secured a solitary draw from their opener with Everton.

Naturally there is plenty of time left for all three sides to recover but have those early matches given us an indication as to how each will fare in the months that lie ahead?

A Predictable Struggle?

Prior to the start of the season, Burnley Leicester and QPR were the three favourites in the relegation market as quoted by Betfair. Two games in, that situation has improved for Leicester, thanks mainly to the problems at Crystal Palace but the remaining new boys have consolidated their positions as firm favourites for the drop.

The early fixture calendar wasn’t exactly kind to a Leicester side who had to face Everton and then Chelsea in their opening games. The Foxes were expected to lose both but a battling point against Roberto Martinez’s men was followed by a more than respectable 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge and early signs are relatively positive for Nigel Pearson’s men.

Against Everton, Leicester had to be patient as their opponents dominated possession for the first 45 minutes and the hosts had to come from behind twice to snatch a draw with a late Chris Wood effort. Pearson’s men showed that they could defend in numbers but also attack effectively and that positive approach will be vital as the campaign draws on.

September is equally tough for a Leicester team who have to take on Arsenal and Manchester United but in the coming weeks, the Foxes will be targeting points against Stoke, Crystal Palace and Burnley.

Rangers Woe

While Leicester have impressed in places, Queens Park Rangers slumped to the bottom of the table after an opening defeat against Hull and a 4-0 thrashing away to Spurs. Rangers and Harry Redknapp in particular are traditional big spenders in the transfer market but perhaps the issue of Loic Remy is central to the side’s chances of staying up.

With a proposed move to Liverpool having fallen through on medical grounds, other sides have been slow to follow up their reported interest in the Frenchman. Remy can score the goals that could keep his club in this league but against Spurs he looked a little disinterested as the game fell away from Redknapp’s men.

However, it’s at the back where the manager is being criticised for fielding a central three that was hopelessly exposed in the defeat at Tottenham. QPR’s next two home games are against Stoke and Sunderland and even at this early stage of the campaign, it is vital for them to take points from both of those fixtures.

Claret Misery

Although Burnley managed to take the second automatic promotion place in the Championship season of 2013-14, Sean Dyche’s team are the one which most pundits expect to go down and early performances indicate that the so-called experts might be right.

After a promising start against Chelsea, the gulf in quality showed while the manager would have been disappointed with a subdued display in a 1-0 defeat against Swansea.

The teams still have a few days left in the transfer window to strengthen their squad but Leicester seem to be the only side linked with deals right now. The veteran Argentine international Esteban Cambiasso would bring extra strength in midfield while the potential signing of Algerian World Cup star Islam Slimani would take the pressure away from David Nugent up front.

We’re just at the start of a very long season but after just two games, Nigel Pearson’s Leicester City seem to be the side best equipped to stay up.

About the Author

Matt Harris is a freelance journalist. His work has been featured at the Huffington Post, Sky Sports and other international sports publications.


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