With only 12 games to play in the 2012-13 English Premier League season, each club’s position in the table accurately represents their quality on the pitch. After 26 games, nothing can be considered a fluke. As of right now, three of these four teams look as if they will be the ones relegated from the Premier League. Southampton and Newcastle are within striking distance of the bottom three, but with their four point separation and current form, they seem to be in a relatively decent survival scenario. With that, let’s have a look at the bottom of the table.
Queens Park Rangers, 17 pts
QPR ended their unbeaten run taking a 4-1 thrashing at Swansea. The Swans were at their slick-passing-best from start to finish and made QPR look very amateur. QPR’s defensive performance in this game contrasts their recent Premier League form. Since the start of the new year, Queens Park had only conceded one goal. With that run you would expect them to rack up the points and get out of the drop zone.. Nope. They’ve accumulated just one victory and four draws in that span. Now Rangers find themselves seven points away from safety and seemingly doomed. This season they have only two wins in 26 matches. Two! That is indescribably bad and a recipe for relegation even with their solid record against the league’s top teams. The question at this point is what will happen to all of their high priced players when the club is relegated. I don’t think established top flight veterans will want to be rolling around in the nPower Championship, but they may not have a choice. I don’t foresee many teams in the Premiership going after the likes of Bobby Zamora, Park Ji-Sung, Jermaine Jenas, or Shaun Wright-Phillips next season unless newly promoted clubs are able to pick them up at a cut-rate.
Wigan Athletic, 21 pts
As expected, Wigan suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat at Chelsea over the weekend. The scoreline was flattering for the Blues as two of their goals were scored late. It was just a one goal difference as late as the 85th minute when Frank Lampard finally sealed it. Wigan needs to shake this loss off and focus on the vital six-pointer at Reading next weekend. Despite their position, I still don’t count Wigan out. They seem to be in this spot every year, and I don’t think Reading or Aston Villa will run away from them. I trust Roberto Martinez will at least give this team a chance to get out of this mess.
Reading, 23 pts
Reading’s good run finally came to an end with a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City at Britannia Stadium. If there was a Premier League “Toughest Places to Play” ranking, I think Britannia would be number one – or at least close to the top of the list – so it’s not surprising that Reading were unable to to get a result. Stoke was in control most of the game until Adrian Mariappa pulled one back to bring Reading within one goal with just seven minutes to play. Reading has an FA Cup date with Champions-elect Manchester United this weekend.. Hopefully they can find some last gasp magic in that one; as this season in particular has proven, anything can happen in the FA Cup.
Aston Villa, 24 pts
Aston Villa climbed out of the drop zone with a solid 2-1 victory over West Ham at Villa Park. I have killed Villa in recent weeks and they have responded with a much needed three points. Christian Benteke converted a penalty in the 74th after Charles N’Zogbia was brought down in the box. N’Zogbia then entered the score sheet on his own with a nice free kick goal. Maybe fortunes are finally starting to turn around for Villa as they have managed five points out of their last four matches. Not great, but it’s a start. Unfortunately for Villa, their next two matches will be brutal: they travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal before hosting Manchester City. If Aston Villa can accumulate any points in that two game span, they should be happy.
The Authority’s Predictions
Newcastle, Southampton, Wigan
QPR, Reading, Aston Villa