With the Premier League fight for survival just past the halfway stage of the 2012/2013 campaign, history suggests that there is no hope for Reading, while it is a case of déjà vu for the likes of Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic.
Relegation follows certain clubs around and avoiding it can feel like winning a trophy. That is the line QPR boss Harry Redknapp is spinning to potential new recruits, with quotes to that effect widely reported in the betting news.
The experienced manager took the reins at Loftus Road with the Rs sat on only four points after 13 Premier League games and with confidence crumbling as a result of heavy defeats, topped off by Swansea recording the season’s biggest away win at Loftus Road (0-5). The last team to notch up such a woeful record after the same number of games was Sheffield United in 1990/1991 (W0 D4 L9), although United did manage to upset all the odds by avoiding the drop that year.
Redknapp’s side ended their 16-game wait for a win against Fulham on December 15, Adel Taarabt scoring twice, and recorded the shock of the season at Chelsea last time out, the first time they experienced an away win since way back in November 2011 when Luke Young was still finding the back of the net for them.
However, they remain bottom of the table on 13 points, five from safety.
It will be tough for QPR to avoid the drop and upset the football betting odds, but they have a squad and a manager capable of repeating last season’s dramatic escape.
For Reading, level on points with the basement side, the task is considerably more difficult. Holding the record for fewest wins and lowest points per game in the Premier League stats along with QPR, they found themselves bottom at Christmas with the unenviable task of defying history. Only one club in 20 Premier League seasons has managed to escape relegation from that position (a plucky West Brom in 2005).
Brian McDermott’s side struggled to take last season’s incredible form into the top flight and now must face up to an immediate return to the Championship. The Royals have yet to win on the road this term, a stat which sums up their campaign to date, while they have also conceded the most goals (40 compared to 39 for Wigan and 36 for QPR).
Wigan have become masters of the great escape and they will need to repeat the dose again this season. Last season they pulled off shock wins against Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United towards the end of the campaign, losing to Chelsea after two offside goals, to ensure a late revival hauled them to safety.
Now, they occupy a place in the bottom three, despite winning more games than the two sides positioned directly above them. Defeats have been the big problem for the Latics, who have lost more matches than any other team in the Premier League (13 to date).
Southampton and Aston Villa are the other sides in serious danger, with three from those five clubs set to wave goodbye to the Premier League.