At 24 games in it was time for my review of the relegation prospects I set out at the beginning of the season but with game 25 only two days later it made sense to wait.
You’ll remember my chosen three were
QPR – chosen because a promoted team is almost certain to go down and most often it has been the playoff winner.
Hull, on the basis that second season syndrome’s due and as two London teams have never been relegated in the same season QPR’s demise must mean Palace are safe.
Aston Villa, on the grounds of their being the only club to have been in the bottom three for each of the last three seasons without being relegated. – See more at: https://safc.blog/2014/12/flatlining-safc-will-we-ever-head-upwards/#sthash.AvEaDeFs.dpuf
In addition, I had two wildcard teams: Southampton, chosen because of the personnel changes and turbulence the club had experienced and West Brom, selected because of last season’s iffy form and the way they appointed their manager.
My chosen measure of progress was the rolling-point average of each club; in other words, the average points gained per game as the season moved forwards. My logic was and is that any club which managed a point per game would stay up. It’s not exact but as only four clubs have been relegated with 38 points or more since the turn of the century it’s a very useful target.
How, then, have my chosen clubs done? How have we done with them? And are there any other clubs that now need to be included? The answer to the last question is “Of course there are”. Southampton have been a revelation. They reached the magic 10 wins on Boxing Day, are now being spoken of as European Championship contenders and congratulations are in order. Leicester, who weren’t on my radar, have replaced them and Burnley are also strongly in contention as I write.
But let’s look at some figures. Here are the rolling point averages for my chosen club, plus newcomers, plus one or two others who have been around the bottom at some point since the start of the season, in order of current league position:
Plotting these figures as a graph makes for a complicated picture:
It’s not complicated as such, it’s just that there are so many clubs so close together. We can say that Southampton have settled and are safe, as are Newcastle, but what about the others? It’s impossible to tell.
Trendlines can simplify the picture at the risk of sometimes being inaccurate. For what they are worth, here they are:
As far as I’m concerned it’s still impossible to tell although Palace and WBA, with new managers, should be safe. Leicester, I think, won’t recover from being bottom at Christmas. We did, and WBA, but I can’t see it happening again. Hull might just escape second season syndrome but I expect them to falter once more on their path to safety. QPR, despite Tuesday, look to not have it while Burnley might well be battling in vain. Villa, however, might provide a lifeline for one of them, as might we. It’s too close to call at the moment.
I’ll revisit in six or seven games, depending on how the fixtures unravel. Until then, fasten your seat belts and adopt the brace position.
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