Down with the Villa...who's going down with the Villa?

Aston Villa At Villa Park

Discussing who could get relegated from the Premier League this season.

Is the consensus that one of the relegation places will be taken up by Aston Villa? The statistics certainly back that up, and it is going to take some supreme transfer market skills and a Champions league form back-end of the season for them to escape this year.

That leaves two relegation spots remaining, which the North East giants of Newcastle United and Sunderland currently reside in.

Looking back to the start of the season, only the most optimistic of fans of the three promoted teams, Bournemouth, Watford and play-off winners Norwich City, would have envisaged the relative safety in which they currently sit.

Leicester City have quite rightly taken the plaudits as the surprise package of the season, but Watford's 29 Premier League points to date is a remarkable achievement in its own right. How many saw it coming, too, especially after the August they had where they went the first four games without a win (albeit drawing three and playing reasonably well)?

Watford have beaten Villa, Norwich city and Sunderland; results which have taken three much needed points from sides they would have thought would be around them come the end of the season, and provided impetus for their win against Liverpool and the draw against an improving Chelsea side who we have to remember are still the champions!

While results have not quite gone their way against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, the performance is still there, and although no one around Vicarage Road would shout it, Watford look all but safe.

Bournemouth and Norwich are less safe, but I am sure both sets of supporters would settle for where they are now before a ball was kicked back in August.

Norwich are in decent form at the moment, having secured ten points from five games since the defeat against Watford. This run includes the momentous victory at Old Trafford. The Canaries, assuming they can recover from being walloped by Manchester City in the FA Cup, should go into their next three Premier League games believing they can get results in them all. They face Stoke, Bournemouth and Liverpool, who have all had mixed results recently, and are games they should be targeting victories from.

Bournemouth, even more impressively have lost just one in the last eight, including the back-to-back wins at Chelsea and at home to Manchester United. No one can help but be impressed by what they have achieved so far. They were nailed on to go down, and went on a run of eight games without a win, drawing four when things started to look problematic for them. Consecutive 5-1 defeats to City and then Spurs would have rocked them.

They are in the most danger of the three promoted sides, and their injury list has certainly not helped their cause. It makes their achievements even more admirable.

Their next three league games are against West Ham, Norwich and Sunderland, and you can bet Eddie Howe will have his players primed for these. The signing of Benik Afobe will certainly not harm their chance of survival, assuming he can continue the form of the first half of the season

If results go the way of either Norwich or Bournemouth, they could also be confidently looking forward to Premier League football next season before the winter transfer window has even slammed shut.

Where does this leave the perennial under achievers from the North East though? While some of their supporters probably thought they could be knocking around the middle of the table, not setting the world on fire, but not in any real danger either, few would have thought the likes of Bournemouth and Watford would be comfortably clear of them.

Indeed, both clubs have relatively new managers, which is traditionally time for an upturn in fortunes. Instead, the pair of them appear in desperate trouble.

So, which of these famous football clubs, if either, will avoid the drop? Both know that victories are desperately needed if they are to pull the two promoted clubs back into the race. Swansea are also in danger and after the sacking of the unfortunate Garry Monk, Hew Jenkins has put his eggs, until the end of the season at least, in the Alan Curtis basket. This is a massive gamble, considering what is at stake if a club is to suffer the ignominy of relegation, in this the lead up to the richest Premier League season ever.

After the humbling at Oxford in the FA Cup, things look even bleaker for the South Wales side

It is Sunderland fans though who should be the most optimistic. The victory against Villa was essential. It has virtually condemned their opposition to the drop, and the three points were desperately needed.

The not-so-secret weapon they have in their armour though, will be their manager. Big Sam has been in this sort of situation many times in his career, and he has, more often than not, been successful in avoiding relegation. He will look to be backed in the January transfer market, and if he has his way more players ready for the fight will be following Jan Kirchhoff.

The promoted sides have already proved worthy additions to the division, and the new TV money will strengthen them beyond anything they could have imagined. Some seasoned top flight clubs will be departing the Premier League come May, with at least one, probably two and maybe even all three promoted sides surviving.

Who has what it takes to not go down with the Villa?

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