Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Steven Gerrard for Liverpool (v Newcastle Utd), 28 December 2008

So, then, we're half way through the season and for everyone other than the top Four (and Arsenal, ha ha) it's basically turned into a relegation dogfight. Everton in 6th are safe-ish (you'd think) but from there downwards the next five months are fundamentally a scrap to stay in the division.

Six of the teams have changed their manager (some voluntarily, some with no option) and it remains to see whether the likes of Big Sam or (and how bizarre was this?) Joe Kinnear can save them.

At the start of the campaign, ST predicted the three promoted teams would go down. I thought Boro, Stoke and Bolton. Right now either of us could be correct, or we could both be completely wrong. My gut feeling is that Big Sam will save Rovers, new management at Spurs and Sunderland will propel them to mid-table and Hull's amazing start will be enough.

I fear for the teams about to lose important players. Tony Adams' Portsmouth seem to be in freefall and the imminent departure of Jermain Defoe can't help. Boro seem set to lose Stewart Downing (and possibly others) which will make a threadbare squad look even less competitive. My biggest fear though is for Newcastle who look weak as it is and the possible departure of Shay Given (notwithstanding the capable back-up of Steve Harper) and an injury to Michael Owen could see them really struggle. I'm not sure Barry Ferguson is the solution either, after his previous ignominious flirtation with the Premier League a few years back.

So, it should be an interesting few months. Three to go down? Newcastle, Portsmouth and West Brom. No. Stoke, Boro and Bolton. No. West Brom, Bolton and Boro. Oh, I don't know. Toss a coin, maybe.

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