It may be relatively early days in the Premier League, but in the battle to avoid relegation, there are one or two teams for whom it is looking likely that they’ll be in for a tough few months if they’re to retain top flight status next season.
Southampton are no strangers to being involved at the wrong end of the table, having spent much of the last two years either inside the relegation zone – or hovering precariously above it.
A convincing defeat to Burnley on the opening day of the season was hardly the best of starts, and losing by a record-breaking margin at home to Leicester was another example of how Saints have found life difficult in England’s top flight this season.
On the positive side, those games remain the only two in which Southampton have failed to score, and also account for most of the club’s -18 goal difference, with most other defeats occurring in games that were much more closely contested.
But with just eight points to show from the opening 12 games, the only side currently below Southampton in the table are Norwich City.
Last season’s Championship winners started the campaign well and, boosted by the goals of Teemu Pukki, looked set to compete well enough to survive.
Despite being 4-0 down to Liverpool by half time on the opening night of the season, Norwich competed better than the scoreline suggested and created plenty of goalscoring chances of their own, for which they were rewarded with a consolatory goal in the second half.
More than three months on however, Norwich have yet to score another goal away from home, and despite being difficult to beat at Carrow Road during an opening month which involved a sensational win over Man City, the home form of Norwich, as well as that of Pukki, has suffered since beating the champions, and they currently appear a team in real danger of drifting further from the teams outside of the bottom three.
With a congested league table and the eleven teams from 5th to 15th place separated by just 3 points, it leaves only a small handful of sides who are either in the relegation zone or just outside of it. West Ham are one such team, though would progress six places up the table and into the top half with a win in Saturday’s lunchtime encounter at home to Spurs.
Below the Hammers are Aston Villa, who have performed well against the teams positioned around them, but will need to pick up points against mid-table sides in order to avoid getting sucked into the battle at the bottom, especially with Watford slowly recovering their position after a disastrous opening month.
So much can change, particularly a time of year when the schedule is at its most intense, and with some key clashes involving teams in the bottom six before the festive season, the picture may become clearer in the rup up to Christmas.
But as things stand, the likes of Southampton and Norwich will be hoping to find their upcoming opponents in a generous mood and with points to be gifted in order to make the table more comfortable reading for fans.