With the Premier League season reaching its midpoint this month, there will be a few clubs in the relegation zone that will already be preparing for the Championship next year. For these clubs, little to nothing has gone right with failed transfers and managerial appointments. Some of the clubs have tried to right the ship but they still find themselves in the relegation zone at this point.
Being entrenched in the relegation zone at this point in the season is usually a death sentence, condemning these teams to a season in the Championship the following year. For the clubs that find themselves in this zone, it’s typically a reflection of poor management and strategy at every level from managerial appointments to a failure to properly build with academy players.
At this point, there are three teams that are in danger of being relegated from a Prem staple to a team that seemingly is always beaten down when being promoted to the Prem. While each of these teams find themselves down the table for different reasons, they all seem doomed to relegation.
Norwich City exists in the Premier League to lose, in the past few seasons where they have been promoted, they just lose on a level very few teams reach. The same issues plague the club no matter how many times they get promoted. It seems like they struggle with the same issue time and time again like it’s Groundhog Day.
This team, be it this season or two seasons ago, can not score at the Premier League level and have shown little signs of change. Given that they have only scored 8 goals so far, 14 games in, it gives Norwich an expected 21.7 goals this season which would be historically awful. Derby County’s 2007/8 season marked the lowest number of goals scored by one team in a season with 20 goals but it seems this Norwich team could rival that historic low.
Teemu Pukki is their top scorer this season so far with 5 goals which isn’t too surprising given that he was their top scorer last time around in the Prem. Norwich spent big on two Bundesliga talents in Milot Rashica and American Josh Sargent and both have yet to score despite being quality scorers in Germany. Both players seem to be unable to rise to the level and it’s truly concerning given how much they spent on both of them.
What must be infuriating for Norwich fans is that it’s been this same song and dance every time the team has been promoted back to the Premier League. The inability to find quality scoring is a reflection of a poor transfer strategy and it just seems impossible for them to stay up unless a Premier League scorer is brought in.
Despite the excitement of new ownership, it seems that Newcastle United will be playing next season in the Championship. Unlike Norwich, Newcastle can actually score at a respectable level but it’s their atrocious defense that has let them down.
With a scoring output that sits in the middle of the pack, the amount of goals this team leaks is truly historic. When comparing it to that 2007/8 Derby County team, that is probably the worst team in Premier League history, Newcastle is expected to allow 81.4 goals which is worse than their 80 goals allowed, the current record.
Despite changing managers to right the ship, Eddie Howe has been unable to find the proper defense scheme or partnership. With their center backs having horrific performances, it would seem like there needs to be a shakeup. However, the club barely made any moves in the past transfer window and it seems like new ownership is reluctant to invest in the upcoming winter window, so the fix still seems so far away.
Having a respectable offense is one part of the equation that is staying up in the Premier league, the other half is at least maintaining a sort of solid defense. However with a defense that is leaking goals at a historic level, it seems like Newcastle is in for a rough rest of the season.
Burnley’s case is very weird as they have both a decent offense and defense, when comparing them to other teams in the bottom half, but only have one win. It’s astonishing that a team that is seemingly solid can only have one win at this point and it seems like they will be doomed to go down.
Without making any splashy moves or losing key pieces and the board’s faith in manager Sean Dyche, it’s at first difficult to see what’s gone wrong for a club that has been a stable bottom half of the table club. It’s when looking at the results this season and how games played out where the full picture emerges. The picture that emerges is both weird and shocking with seemingly no real answer being given.
In shocking fashion, Burnley has blown the lead in every game but four this season and it’s hard to find a historical precedent. It’s also not as if they are getting blown away or struggling to keep up the scoring, they have put up a fight in every game and shown glimpses of quality. The manager and players don’t seem to be totally at fault, it just seems like a mixture of bad luck and quality opponents that have pushed them down to this point.
Unlike Norwich and Newcastle, there is enough to suggest that Burnley will be able to turn it around and barely make it out of the relegation zone. As their schedule eases up and their form stabilizes, Burnley should be able to figure things out and stay up.
The relegation battle is always an exciting one that usually mixes some poor soccer with the desperation that isn’t felt by most midtier clubs. This year’s race to the bottom mixes some old faces with a newer one, as each club will have to deal with their own issues to stay up this season.
Featured Image: Molly Darlington/AP