We're almost at the halfway stage of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign, and several clubs are bracing themselves for a relegation scrap.
Here are six teams who must prepare to avoid the dreaded drop in the second half of the season.
Low morale, lack of goals and internal strife. The signs for Nigel Pearson’s men do not look good.
Their start to the campaign showed encouragement and their 5-3 demolition of Manchester United must have led fans to dream of a glorious return to the top division. Since then, the points have dried up and Pearson’s recent confrontations shows that he may well be cracking under the pressure.
The Tigers have fallen victim to the all too familiar second season syndrome. Their progress last season has not yet been built upon and they find themselves struggling at the wrong end of the table.
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Things are not all doom and gloom for Steve Bruce and his men. A promising point away at Everton and a controversial defeat by Chelsea must give cause for optimism.
Sandwiched between these games though, a goalless stalemate against West Brom and a home defeat by Swansea. These are games that they simply cannot afford to drop points in.
Lancashire’s little club are showing the tenacity, fight and desire to remain in the Premier League. Question is, will this be enough?
To Burnley’s credit, they are getting results in the games that really matter. Sean Dyche has himself stated that defeats against the ‘Big Boys’ must be tempered with realism. His approach of refusing to break the bank to keep the Clarets up is also admirable.
The problem though is that neither he, nor his team, holds a great deal of experience in surviving the merciless perils of the Premiership.
The season after the miraculous job done by Tony Pulis was always going to be a struggle. Neil Warnock was the man chosen to succeed him and working with virtually the same set of players sees Palace outside of the drop zone but they are a long way from being out of trouble.
A couple of shrewd additions in the January transfer window may ease these fears. More importantly though, Warnock should focus on the performances of his players and not, as has been the case recently, those of match officials.
To the relief of their fans, the Hoops have shed their ‘Big time Charlie’s’ tag which played such a part in sending them down before. They have adapted reasonably well to life back in the top flight, mostly down to the scoring exploits of Charlie Austin.
Holding on to their prize asset will be critical if they are to stray away from danger. Combining this with the master of motivation in Harry Redknapp and Rangers should be safe.
West Bromwich Albion
Inconsistent results and a fairly untested manager mean the Baggies are still in the mix. These factors seem to be working against them and a run of wins against the teams in and around their position may be all that it takes to pull away.
Perhaps unlike their relegation rivals, Albion may benefit from slightly weaker and inexperienced teams below them in their bid to beat the drop.
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