The joys and tribulations of football. To focus on the latter, the relegation battle in the early weeks of the English Premier League is filled with names that many would not expect to have seen there.
Liverpool, Everton, and Birmingham are three names that many, if not all, did not expect to be fighting to get away from the bottom of the table.
Liverpool are certainly in a desperate situation, but the simple fact is they are too good to be relegated. Yes, Leeds United and Newcastle United do ring a bell, but Liverpool are not and will not be those clubs.
The Reds will find form and start moving the correct way in the table—as will Everton. Everton have a history of starting slow and working into the season. This may not be acceptable to their fans, but the fact remains that this seems to be an ongoing trend, and it will continue this season.
The beauty of football is that bizarre things such as both Merseyside clubs sitting in the relegation zone at one stage in the league is what makes the sport so compelling, but come the close of the season clubs that many suspect will occupy the relegation zone.
My Projected Relegation Zone looks like this:
18: West Ham
Despite Wigan seeming to be in a good spot near mid-table, the fact remains that they are just three points clear of bottom-placed West Ham.
Wigan have a major concern in terms of goal scorers. In seven games, they have managed just four goals, two of which came against a 10-man Wolves side. In that very game Wigan struggled despite having a man advantage for 80 minutes.
Their defense is an absolute mess. Miscommunication, ill-advised decisions, and calamity are the norm for the Wigan back line. Wigan have already played five games of seven at home. They have managed to win just one. The strength of Premier League survival comes in home wins, and that is something that Wigan are greatly deficient in.
Come January, Wigan and all their star players are going to be dragged into the clown circus that is the January transfer window.
It pains me to say it, but Wolves look like they are going to slip into the Championship.
Mick McCarthy's men will face Wigan next in the league. After that they face Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal in consecutive games.
As it stands, Wolves are second last and have the same number of points as West Ham, who are holding Wolves up.
It is hard to see Wolves taking any more than four points in their next five games, and if Wolves have just 10 points after 12 games, that will be a deficit they would not be able to make up.
Wolves have only managed to pick up a single point in four away games this season. Home wins are imperative, but your team must also make some headway on their journeys as well.
They also only have a win, draw, and loss in their opening three home games. If you do not pick up points away, your home record has to be exquisite, and Wolves are playing more like cubs at home.
Their disciplinary record will also get the better of them. Wolves have already been fined by the Premier League due to lack of discipline. Wolves have already been shown 21 yellow cards and two red cards in just seven games. A club with such a small squad can't survive with so many suspensions.
West Ham has the same issues as Wigan. They have terrible trouble trying to put the ball in their opposition's net, while finding it even harder to keep the ball out of their own.
Only Wigan have scored less goals than the Hammers, and only Blackpool has conceded more than West Ham.
The Hammers' two strikers, Carlton Cole and Frederic Piquionne, are as lethal in front of goal as rabbits are to humans. Both have combined for a whopping two goals thus far this season—both of which were scored by the latter striker.
West Ham have averaged a point per game at home thus far this season, while picking up a point in three away games.
The Hammers have some quality players, but not in the places that count. The centre backs and goalkeeper are major liabilities that leak like a waterfall, while their striker partnership is about as dangerous as a field mouse.
West Ham may also have to fend their stars away from greener pastures come January.