Last summer three teams were steeling themselves towards a crack at the big-time in the Premier League. After securing their place amongst England’s footballing elite, QPR, Norwich and Swansea were on the way to huge steps in class.
Whilst QPR were favoured to stay up, with a team of household names and established stars; it was the upstarts, Swansea and Norwich, who were expected to politely slide back down the pyramid into their rightful place.
However this didn’t happen, QPR struggled and fought to the end, staying up by the skin of their teeth, whilst Swansea and Norwich cantered to Premier League survival. Whilst the Canaries and the Swans may struggle to recapture form this time around it should act as a warning sign to anybody feeling Southampton and Reading are relegation fodder for the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Whilst West Ham appear to be in the ilk of QPR, considered safe, many a pundit tips the Hampshire and Berkshire sides for the relegation trapdoor but they are more than capable of staying up.
In Southampton’s case there are many parallels to Norwich. Back to back promotions and now playing in the Premier League, with a looming, muscular, goalscoring centre forward now given his time to shine on the biggest stage. It is fair to say survival rests heavily on Rickie Lambert emulating the form of Grant Holt at this level.
They have also become accustomed to winning. In the past 30 months that’s what they have done the majority of the time. A late playoff push after administration related points deductions, winning promotion to the Championship and then finishing as runners up to secure a return to the Premier League last season. Momentum is a huge advantage coming into a new season and despite a relative dip in form late last term in general the Saints could go ‘marching on’ to survival.
They also boast an intimidating home record at fortress St Mary’s and scalps on the South Coast could keep them up this season.
Reading also come carrying momentum, a playoff defeat to Swansea in 2011 overturned by an incredible run of form in 2011-12 to fire them to Championship glory. The Biscuitmen seem prone to these little bursts of incredible form, another one this season could spell survival come 2013.
Brian McDermott has kept the core of the side together and added Pavel Pogrebnyak, who looked a forceful marksman at Fulham last season. Like the Saint’s Reading’s home form will be pivotal, as beating the likes of Swansea, West Ham, Norwich, Wigan, Stoke etc at the Madejski will prove pivotal during squeaky bum time.
Like Swansea and Norwich both teams are also showing the utmost respect to the players that got them here, to the higher echelons of English football. Jose Fonte, Adam Lallana and Kelvin Davis of Southampton; Jimmy Kebe, Jem Karacan and Alex Pearce of Reading are just a few players who have earned their arrival on the big stage and will fight very hard to keep it.
What do you think on the Saints and the Royals hopes of Premier League survival?
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