Norwich and Hull catch the eye for wrong reasons in busy relegation line
Most attention in the Premier League is focused on the dodgem car contest at the top of the table, but there’s a similar fun-packed traffic jam at the bottom of the table.
Indeed, only Newcastle, on 17 points, can be described as “mid-table”, although even they would just need to string a couple of wins together to join the pack chasing down Arsenal.
At the “bottom”, everyone from tenth placed West Brom down can consider themselves under threat of banishment from the Premier League’s groaning table if they don’t sort out at least one aspect of their on-field behaviour.
With so much competition for the three Premier League relegation berths, there are some tremendous relegation odds at this stage of the season.
The prime ingredient for a sustained relegation push is a miserable goal difference. In all of the last ten seasons, at least two of the teams with the worst goal difference at the end of the season have gone down. In four of them, all three did.
And most of those who survived with a Championship-worthy goal difference required a miracle, such as West Brom’s last day leap from bottom to 17th, or Roberto Martinez waking Wigan up in time to piece odds-defying runs together.
Candidates would be advised to sort out their act well in advance of resorting to prayer.
Currently holders of the worst goal difference are Crystal Palace (-15) and Sunderland (-14). The odds on Palace to go down are a miserly 1/16 , but Sunderland are evens, a price which will soon disintegrate if their mini-revival fizzles.
The third worst goal difference, however, is not in the possession of the team with the third fewest points.
Norwich have that honour, with a GD of -12, thanks in significant part to their 7-0 sinking at Manchester City, and they can be backed at 2/1 to go down.
Their goal difference isn’t helped by the fact that their three big summer signings, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander, all bought to provide goals, have managed two league goals between them in 15 appearances.
Truth is, there’s a good case to be put for most sides lurking at the wrong end to conclude the season unhappily, but an interesting tip for relegation is Hull, at 10/3.
A glance at their results and fixtures so far, in what has been an encouraging start to the season, shows that they have played all their games against top half teams away, and all their games against bottom half teams at home.
So most of their remaining home games, where they would expect to pick up most points, are against teams who will be favourite to win. And most of their away games will be at sides who will also be expecting to win, or desperate enough to find something extra.
So Hull, in spite of their fancy “this is going ok” 12th place, could be the value relegation bet.