Premier League Relegation Battle: Who will survive and who will fall?

With just five games remaining in the 2014/2015 Premier League season, the fight to stay in the top flight looks set to go down to the wire in what promises to be a dramatic climax. Aston Villa’s shock victory at Tottenham has not necessarily secured their safety, but up to five teams find themselves in a much more precarious situation at the wrong end of the table. There are a number of potential six-pointers left on the fixture list that could make all the difference in deciding who survives and who falls, and with just three points separating the five beleaguered teams, every goal matters. Predicting who will go down is anyone’s guess, but while the three teams who do perish may bounce back at the first attempt, the Championship is an unforgiving league in which there is no guarantee of returning to the top flight.

Burnley (26 points)

Burnley would most certainly be top if the Premier League was based on teams who show the most commitment and determination for the cause, with Sean Dyche’s side showing a superb account of themselves all season. However, consecutive defeats have seen them slide to the foot of the table, with a poor run of four games without scoring illustrating that Burnley may ultimately lack the firepower to survive. They have three six-pointers in which to save themselves against all odds, with fixtures against Leicester, Hull and Aston Villa standing out as now-or-never moments in Burnley’s season.

Queens Park Rangers (26 points)

It could be argued that Queens Park Rangers have considerably under-achieved this season for a team who have the seventh highest wage bill in the Premier League. They find themselves in a precarious position in 19th, and while Charlie Austin’s goals may be their only saviour, they face a tricky run-in that might be their downfall. Fixtures against West Ham, Leicester and Newcastle present wonderful opportunities to pick up three points, but trips to Liverpool and Manchester City limit their survival bid to just three games.

Leicester (28 points)

One considered dead and buried, Leicester have seemingly resurrected their chances of Premier League survival following a run of three consecutive victories. Nigel Pearson’s side have arguably performed better than their current league position suggests, but they now have the momentum and belief that may carry them over the line. Facing Burnley, Newcastle, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season could be the fixtures that Leicester target to pick up three points in, with games at the King Power Stadium against Chelsea and Southampton posing much tougher tests.

Hull (28 points)

Two wins in their last twelve Premier League fixtures have sent Hull into freefall, with Steve Bruce’s side going from relative mid-table security to the edge of the relegation trap door. Their remaining fixtures do not favour either them, with tough games against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United providing limited opportunities for three points. The penultimate game of the season against Burnley at the KC Stadium could be their best chance of securing three points, although Hull cannot afford to rely on other results to go their way in their current predicament.

Sunderland (29 points)

Dick Advocaat has been tasked with the responsibility of saving a capsizing ship, with one win in their last ten games putting Sunderland in real danger of relegation. Their 1-0 derby win against Newcastle should have been the springboard for survival, but the dramatic 4-1 collapse against Crystal Palace sent them back down to earth with a bump. Sunderland’s run-in may not fill their fans with confidence either, with their game against Leicester at the Stadium of Light standing out as a realistic chance to pick up three points. Facing the likes of Arsenal, Everton, Southampton and Chelsea are not the type of fixtures that any team who are just one point above the relegation zone would want in the remaining weeks of the season, with Sunderland needing a repeat of last season’s great escape to secure their Premier League status.

 

Harry still looking at players

Harry Redknapp has admitted he is still in the market for at least three new players as he looks to assemble a squad capable of keeping QPR in the Premier League. Redknapp’s men begun life back in the top-flight with a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Hull City, and the QPR boss has made it clear he feels the squad needs more new faces if it is going to be able to handle the stresses and strains of a full Premier League campaign.

The club are still paying the price for their reckless spending during their previous spell in the top flight, and that has been a factor behind a relatively quiet summer for the club in terms of player recruitment; with only Steven Caulker, Jordon Mutch, Rio Ferdinand and Mauricio Isla arriving at Loftus Road so far this transfer window.

While there is an argument that the squad that achieved promotion through the play-offs last season was more befitting of the Premier League than the Championship, the flip-side of that would be that the majority of the squad are nearer the end of their careers than the beginning.

With QPR currently among the favourites for the drop, Redknapp knows a couple of injuries could have a huge impact on his side’s hopes of survival this year.

“We need to get a couple more in, we’re short in some areas. So we’re looking to get one or two midfielders in and maybe a front man as well, because we need a bit of cover there. You need four strikers, in an ideal world.”

“If you look at the whole squad, with everyone fit we’ve got 18 or 19 outfield players, and that includes one or two lads who couldn’t get in the squad last year. We’ll probably use the loan system again. Maybe we’ll buy one and loan a couple.”

Redknapp’s job could become even tougher if striker Loic Remy leaves the club before the end of the transfer window. The Frenchman has a buy-out clause in his QPR contract and has already come close to leaving the club this summer only to fail a medical at Liverpool, although the latest football newssuggests Remy is likely to be the subject of plenty of interest up until the end of the transfer window and the club will need to find cover in case the France international is snapped up at the last minute.

One possible option for Redknapp should Remy leave could be Saint-Etienne striker Mevlut Erding. The Turkey international has been a consistent goalscorer in Ligue 1 throughout his career, and QPR are reportedly preparing to put in a bid for Erding before the end of this summer’s transfer window. Aside from Charlie Austin and Loic Remy, Rangers fans are rightly asking the question as to where the goals are going to come from this season. A lack of goals proved hugely costly to QPR during their last visit to the Premier League, and there won’t be many betting fans backing Bobby Zamora to score 20+ goals this year.