Aston Villa. What a sorry state this club is in at the moment. They currently lie rock bottom of the Barclays Premier League, with just two wins to their name, and have not showed any signs of significant improvement under their new manager Remi Garde. Last season Tim Sherwood managed to re-invigorate the Villa side and guided them to safety. This season was thought to be the season where they would push on and challenge for a mid-table position. However, after losing arguably their two key attacking players in the form of Benteke and Delph, transferring to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively, they simply look lacklustre going forward. They have scored the least amount of goals out of any team in the league, which is not surprising given their league position. Their defence has not been performing that much better either. Having said this, they have been fortunate to retain the services of Brad Guzan, or the situation they find themselves in could be a whole lot worse. I feel the main problem here has been that the signings they have made, have not made adequate replacements for the personnel they have lost. For example, Rudy Gestede who admittedly did well for Blackburn, could not even manage a first team spot at his previous club Cardiff City, so I found it rather surprising when he managed to fashion a move to Aston Villa. So what does all this mean for Villa? They are currently ten points from safety and in all honesty, look like they will certainly be playing Championship football next season. However, that has been said before about the likes of Sunderland and Leicester in recent years. So who knows, maybe this Villa side will be able to emulate their heroics.
Newcastle have been a poor side for a number of seasons now and have shown no real signs of improvement that suggests they deserve to stay in England’s top flight. Despite changing their manager, once again, and investing millions in players in an attempt to strengthen their squad, the Magpies have been poor so far this season. This could be a very important January transfer window for them. They have already shown that they are determined to stay in this league through the signings of Shelvey and Townsend, each player estimated to have been purchased for around £12m. This may seem like a lot of money, but if these signings help them avoid the drop, it will all be worth it. They have also been linked with Loic Remy, to bolster their goal scoring options. Their summer signings such as Mbemba and Mitrovic to name a few, while undoubtabley talented, are not Premier league proven, and I feel that is what this Newcastle side is lacking. Appointing Steve McClaren as manager was also a questionable decision as he is not someone with a wealth of premier league experience, and has struggled this season. We have seen moments of real fight and determination from his side such as their 3-3 draw with Man United recently. They are in the best position of the three teams here, being just two points away from safety. They play Aston Villa on the penultimate weekend of the season, which could be a huge game for both clubs.
If any of the three are to avoid relegation I think it will be Newcastle. They have invested heavily and seem to always just about stay in the league. If they do stay up I would expect a club such as Bournemouth or Norwich, to take their place. It may seem very optimistic to predict that no newly promoted side will go down, but I think Watford Norwich and Bournemouth have all done exceptionally well, especially Bournemouth who at the start of the season, were outright favourites to make an immediate return to the Championship. This years Premier League is as hard to call at the bottom as it is at the top. But I cannot see Aston Villa, Newcastle or Sunderland staying in England’s top flight any longer.
By Jonathan Wood – TFN Columnist on 02/02/2016