Two relegation-threatened Premier League clubs that deserve to stay up
Sheffield United have been fantastic following their return to the Premier League but the same cannot be said for play-off champions Aston Villa and Norwich City. They are struggling in the league and find themselves in the bottom three. Another club struggling to string together victories is West Ham.
Here are two clubs that deserve to stay up in the English top tier.
Villa might have been too gung-ho in the summer transfer window but their signings were not made out of desperation or greed but as a necessity. As many as 14 first-team players left the club at the end of the season, leaving Dean Smith with a squad that contained just 17 players over the age of 21.
It is difficult to argue with any of the seven signings Villa made this summer. Anwar El Ghazi, Kortney Hause and Mings were on loan at the club last season; Jota joined as part of a swap deal, with Gardner going the other way to rivals Birmingham City; and the other three are direct replacements for players who left at the end of the season.
Matt Targett is a natural left-back, who will offer necessary competition to Neil Taylor following the end of Alan Hutton’s time at the club; Brazilian striker Wesley Moraes joined on a club-record fee to fill the boots of last season’s top scorer Tammy Abraham while Ezri Konsa came in to fill for Axel Tuanzebe at the heart of the defence.
Although Villa are currently struggling, they have a good contingent. In Jack Grealish, they have one of the best young players across Europe. Tyrone Mings and Tom Heaton have played at the international level. John McGinn is a fantastic player while in Targett and Guilbert, Villa have two young and consistent full-backs.
They have been plagued by injuries but have shown glimpses of their form in the games against Liverpool and Manchester United. A couple of signings in January might prove to be the catalyst for a string of strong results which would deservedly keep Villa in the Premier League.
The Hammers recently sacked manager Manuel Pellegrini and appointed former boss David Moyes to ensure top-flight safety.
In his last spell at the club, Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic with West Ham in the relegation zone and helped them secure safety with two games to spare, eventually finishing 13th in the Premier League. He spent 11 years in charge of Everton before taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013, lasting 11 months in the job. Spells at Real Sociedad and Sunderland followed.
Even by West Ham’s standards, the speed at which their season has unravelled has been spectacular. Starting with the 4-0 defeat by Oxford in the Carabao Cup, a run of 10 defeats in 14 matches followed, culminating in the embarrassing defeat by Leicester’s second string.
The growing sense of apathy among them was illustrated perfectly during the second half against Leicester. Having equalized through Pablo Fornals’ first Premier League goal since his £24m move from Villarreal just before the break, West Ham should have taken control against a visiting team featuring several inexperienced players.
But a series of mistakes that culminated in Issa Diop’s attempted rugby tackle on Ayoze Pérez as he broke through to set up Demarai Gray’s winner meant it was only the small pocket of Leicester fans who were audible until the chorus of boos directed towards Pellegrini at the final whistle.
West Ham have quality players like Diop, Rice, Felipe Anderson and summer recruits Haller and Pablo Fornals. The arrival of Moyes could change the plight of the Hammers as they are too good a side to be relegated from the Premier League.