As the Prem season starts careening towards its conclusion, the relegation battle becomes more and more intriguing. Truly a war of attrition, clubs are willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the dreaded drop. This season looks to be another exciting battle with some Prem mainstays staring down the barrel of relegation.
Relegation and promotion is what makes football a truly beautiful and unique sport. The simultaneous birth and death of clubs that happens every year is fun to watch.
This season has seen a variety of clubs hit rock bottom from Leeds to West Ham, but only three are really below the others. Bournemouth, Everton and Southampton have all found themselves in this danger zone for a variety of reasons. Now, their fans must watch with fear as they mount one last desperate attempt at safety.
With the end of the season creeping on fans, the relegation battle will only heat up. Fans of those three teams will be begging for the season to end the moment that they are clear of relegation.
The Saints have been a mainstay in the Prem since their return in 2012 and have made it to the Europa League. After a few years of flirting with the bottom, it seems like this club is destined to sleep with the cruel mistress that is relegation.
One of the most impressive aspects of this dumpster fire is just how bereft of creativity this side is. No player has more than 2 assists which has to be an anomaly in the modern era of this sport. Truly, this has to be where the club’s downfall is, no club can survive without playmakers.
With such a lack of playmakers, it’s of no surprise that Southampton’s top scorer only has six goals. James Ward-Prowse’s six goals would be impressive on any other team, but for a relegation candidate, they need something more. There is no threat from any other player and new signing Mislav Oršić will be wasted on this side.
Despite a focus on bringing in quality defenders last transfer window, Southampton has the third worst goals allowed record in the league. Salisu has regressed and every pairing that has been tried with him has just failed to help his development. It’s impossible to gauge the development of Gavin Bazunu given the train wreck of defenders in front of him.
At one point, the Saints were a promising team, overflowing with talents like van Dijk and Mané with their development staff desired all over. Now, they are doomed to sink like the famous ship that once sailed from the city’s port, the Titanic.
The only promoted team that is in danger of relegation, Bournemouth have wasted a potentially exciting season. One of the models of sustained success in the Prem at one point, the Cherries are now facing another season in the Championship.
Unlike Southampton, Bournemouth have found ways to score even without a true goal scoring threat. In fact, they have one less goal than Chelsea and have one of the better goals scored records amongst the bottom dwellers.
It’s their league worst defense that will condemn Bournemouth to the dustbin of the Prem. Neto looks totally lost in the Prem, but has had terrible defenses in front of him. The back three has failed too secure any sort of stability, as they get cut through with ease.
Eddie Howe’s tenure was full of defensively sound teams that wouldn’t score much but could shut teams out. This current Cherries side is such a departure that it feels like Howe’s imprint is fully gone. Any newly promoted side has to build a solid defense because it’s what has traditionally ensured success in the Prem.
Bournemouth are facing an uncertain future as they will almost surely return to the second division. It just begs the question, was the club’s rise mostly due to Howe.
It’s easy to punch down on Everton, they are a dumpster fire that will finally go down after years of mismanagement. After Lampard’s reign was put down like Old Yeller, Sean Dyche was brought in as one final hail mary, only to fail.
In a way this all dates back to the summer of 2017 when Everton attempted to build themselves into a European club. Wayne Rooney was a nice story, but he was cooked by that point and Cenk Tosun never adapted to the Prem. Just about every transfer flopped, as they ruined managerial careers.
Yes the appointment of Ancelotti a few years later helped, but he saw the writing on the wall. This club will constantly find ways to sabotage themselves by constantly trying to be something they’re not. The Moyes era is long gone and they just need to accept a long rebuild is in order.
When Everton’s obituary is written, it will be immortalized that Lampard’s appointment is what killed the club. Bringing in a totally unproven manager when you’re staring down relegation is a bold move that never pays off. Ironically, if the Dyche appointment had happened last year, they wouldn’t be in this situation.
As harsh as it seems, a relegation would be the best thing to happen to Everton. The club needs to figure out what their path forward is.
From some of the Prem’s more established teams to a sort of new face, the teams facing relegation will have a lot to figure out. Relegation can be a death knell for certain teams, but for others, it’s a chance to be reborn. The Prem season is nearing its end and the stakes have never been higher for these sides.
Featured image: Bournemouth