Relegation ratrace: who can escape the dreaded drop?


It's about the pride, about staying among the elite. It's about living up to your potential. It's about tradition, history. And now, perhaps more than anything, staying in the Premier League is about money. With television rights deals likely to shove more money into the pockets of top-flight chairmen over the next decade, no team can afford to risk missing out on the party.

This season's battle against the drop is shaping up to be one of the most thrilling since the Premier League began. Here's our light-hearted view of the teams scrapping for their lives:


Queens Park Rangers (4.25 to stay up)

Strengths: Good squad; 'Arry Redknapp's media contacts; probably offering stupid bonuses to their players.
Weaknesses: Adel Taarabt's attitude; the 'Arry Redknapp media circus; Bobby Zamora's creaking joints.


Reading (7.50 to stay up)

Strengths: Amazing in the last ten minutes; Adam Le Fondre; Sean Morrison's great on Twitter.
Weaknesses: Terrible in the first 80 minutes; haven't got a manager; haven't got a defence.


Aston Villa (1.38 to stay up)

Strengths: Christian Benteke; Christian Benteke; Christian Benteke.
Weaknesses: Half their players have GCSEs to study for; the rest have A-Levels; Christian Benteke sometimes has to pass.


Wigan Athletic (1.72 to stay up)

Strengths: Arouna Kone; always come good in spring; Roberto Martinez is a nice man.
Weaknesses: Arouna Kone's hair; too many midfielders called McSomething; Roberto Martinez is too nice.


Southampton (1.07 to stay up)

Strengths: They're actually good at attacking; Rickie Lambert's a beast; cool manager.
Weaknesses: Loads of dodgy keepers; Danny Fox dreams of being Danny Dyer; wobbly defence.


Sunderland (1.18 to stay up)

Strengths: Steven Fletcher; good goalkeeper; they have more points than the others.
Weaknesses: Midfielder? Go play at full-back!; Titus Bramble; scatter-brained wingers.


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