Things already looking bleak for clubs near the Premier League basement

first_imgShare on Twitter Gareth Southgate claims Premier League season kicked off too soon There is a certain symmetry about the Premier League table at the moment. Three teams at the top are still unbeaten, and already it is being suggested that the title will end up at Manchester City, Chelsea or Liverpool, even though Arsenal should perhaps not be discounted.At the bottom, three teams are without a win after eight games, the first time in the Premier League era that this has happened. Already it is being suggested that Huddersfield, Newcastle and Cardiff are as good as relegated, even if Fulham and Southampton are not exactly accelerating up the table away from the danger zone. Sportblog comment Newcastle United Fulham Southampton Premier League Read more Read more Share on Pinterest Fulham, after a reasonably bright start, are beginning to conform to the unwritten rule that says the club coming up via the play-offs tends to struggle in the top flight, though at least they can take heart from the fact that last season’s Championship runners-up are struggling more.Aside from a brief period early last season, Huddersfield have rarely looked like a viable Premier League unit. They faded badly after picking up 15 points from their first 11 games, and though they kept going and managed to save themselves with a couple of matches to spare, things might have been a lot tighter if Swansea, Stoke and West Bromhad not endured such dreadful seasons.The fact that three established Premier League teams went down last season is probably what is unusual here. It meant the three promoted sides stayed up, for a start, when in a more normal season perhaps one or two of them might have made a quick return. The upshot is that the present top flight contains at least four sides who might be more at home in the Championship, and Wolves are not among them. While the finishing order remains uncertain, it is beginning to look as though two of the relegation positions might be filled long before the end of the season.center_img Share on Messenger Reuse this content Cardiff City Share on Facebook While it is clearly unsafe to make predictions at this stage, the stats for the bottom three sides make particularly grim reading. With just two points after eight matches Cardiff and Newcastle are averaging a quarter of a point per game. It is generally accepted that a side looking to escape relegation needs to be earning around a point per game so as to be in sight of 37-40 points at the end of the season, and if they cannot improve on their present rate both the bottom two clubs are on course to rival Derby County’s dismal 11-point record from the 2007-08 season. If they do not start winning soon they will probably lose too much ground to make up in the second part of the season.Huddersfield are scarcely any better. Although the Terriers have one point more than the two teams below them they have scored only four goals and their sole clean sheet came when similarly stricken Cardiff visited West Yorkshire in August. Derby managed 20 goals in their nightmare season of setting Premier League lows, and with two clubs averaging one goal every other game that record may also be in danger.So is it the case that the gulf in standards between Championship and Premier League has grown too wide to be bridged? Are the days of adventure and upward mobility for smallish clubs such as Bournemouth, Burnley and Wigan over?It cannot be as simple as that, otherwise Wolves would not be sitting in seventh position, a promoted side lording it for the moment over established names such as Manchester United and Everton. Yet maybe Wolves are a one-off; they won last season’s Championship by nine points, after all, and in the football they play and the quality of player they have attracted they cannot be regarded as top-flight tourists destined to spend a season looking around.Cardiff might fit that description more closely, with Neil Warnock admitting he would not be surprised to be sacked before Christmas, though the Welsh club is presently the only promoted club in the bottom three. Fulham may soon be joining them if some glaring defensive deficiencies cannot be addressed, but Newcastle and Huddersfield were around last season, with the same playing squads and managers. Newcastle finished 10th in 2017-18, a more than satisfactory achievement for such an unstable and capricious club, and in Rafael Benítez they certainly have a manager capable of making the most of scant resources. Of course it is a pity that a manager of Benítez’s pedigree is still having to do that, a wonder that he continues to put up patiently with such an unhelpful situation and a scandal that such an impressive football institution cannot find anyone at boardroom level to match the enthusiasm of the fans, but we are where we are and Newcastle are second from bottom.Benítez said before the international break that he did not think his side would go down. No one watching their last performance at Old Trafford would have disagreed, and after playing Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in their first eight games, Newcastle have a run of ostensibly easier fixtures to try to elevate their lowly league position. The next month or so brings games against Brighton, Southampton, Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley, and while none of those could remotely be described as a gimme, Newcastle supporters should have a much clearer idea of their chances of survival by December.Cardiff and Huddersfield have to play Liverpool in the next 10 days, though Fulham visit the bottom club on Saturday in what has to be regarded as a must-win game for Warnock and his players. Victory by more than a single goal would see Cardiff climb above Slavisa Jokanovic’s side – that is how fluid the situation at the bottom can be with only three points separating five sides – though rather than contemplating such a giddy rise supporters in south Wales are probably more worried about what might happen if the result goes against them. Leeds owner calls for a Premier League Two to replace Championship Share on WhatsApp Topics Huddersfield Share via Email Share on LinkedInlast_img read more