Survival of the Fittest
Reading, Southampton and West Ham United face the toughest of tasks this season – maintaining Premier League status. The new boys traditionally have always found it tough, but in recent times, promoted teams have entered the Premier League better equipped than most established teams and survive the first season. Just look at Stoke City, the kings of survival. More recently, look at Norwich, Swansea and QPR. Swansea were written off before a ball was kicked last season, but managed an impressive 11th place finish. All three survived for another season, but will Reading, Southampton and the Hammers do the same? Let’s take a look:
Reading – Their fans like exciting football, and that’s what they tried to provide in their opener against Stoke, but the Potters, who wrote the book on Premier League survival, were resilient as always. Reading had the better of the first half, despite falling behind to a strike by Michael Kightly, which Reading ‘keeper Adam Federici should have done better with. They persevered and found the breakthrough in the last minute, with Adam le Fondre burying a penalty after Dean Whitehead fouled Garath McCleary to earn himself a second yellow card. Reading are notorious for high scoring games, and with trips to Chelsea and Sunderland looming, they’ll have to pull their shooting boots on tight this season and just try and out-score the opposition. Will they survive? – I say yes, they’re a decent attacking side who like to score goals, I think they have what it takes.
Southampton – The Saints have almost become a breeding ground for young British talent, but struggle to hold on to them, with Gareth Bale poached by Tottenham and Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pinched by Arsenal. On the field, Southampton are a decent side and were unlucky not to get a result against Manchester City. Ricky Lambert proved he can get goals in the top tier of English football after a phenomenal scoring campaign last year in the Championship, and that is going to be important for the Saints if they want to survive this season. They are going to struggle against the big teams, but I feel they can take teams lurking at the bottom of the table, and that is going to be vital if they are involved in a relegation scrap. Will they survive? – Just about. After nearly upsetting Manchester City, one might feel that Southampton will be the surprise team this season. The question is, can they keep that kind of performance up all season? They must be careful not to burn out in the latter half of the season.
West Ham United – The Hammers are back. They had fantastic support during their Championship campaign and have missed the Premier League badly. They play a decent brand of football, despite having Sam ‘hoof it 70 yards’ Allardyce in charge, but he’s done well at the club. A win against Aston Villa is just what they needed on the opening day, and I do not think they are going to have a problem picking up points this season. They will not be in a relegation scrap this season, but will not be challenging for European places just yet. Mid-table safety for the Hammers sounds fair as they bleed themselves back into Premier League life. They have been fairly busy in the transfer market and have captured some big names, including Jussi Jaaskelainen from Bolton and Alou Diarra from French giants Marseille. Will they survive? – Absolutely. With their tradition as a proper football playing club, I think they will slot effortlessly back into Premier League life. Top ten finish.
There we have it folks, there is my foresight on how the promoted teams will fare this season. But remember, this is the Premier League, where anything can happen…