5 players who can save their teams in the battle for Premier League survival
As we approach the business end of the tournament, it’s that time of the year when the team languishing at the bottom end of the table begin to take drastic measures to avoid the drop. Managers try to get the best out of their players, with fans nervously biting their nails. In the games involving two relegation-battlers, every deflection that lands at the back of the net is met with delirium from one set of the fans and anguish from the other; extreme emotions, twisting statistics and a lot of frantic moments, it’s the battle for survival. Here’s a list of players who could be influential their team’s resurgence from the bottom of the table.
1) Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers)
The pressure is on Harry Redknapp as he now has the unenviable task of keeping the bottom side afloat. Queens Park Rangers survived the drop last season, albeit losing on the last day of the season in the title decider. The question that surfaced after Harry accepted terms with the side from London is, can Harry do a Houdini and pull off an escape act? His appointment did see a turn of fortunes for the Londoners, however he will be remembered for pulling off an almost sensational transfer with Loic Remy accepting to join the Premier League strugglers.
If Queens Park Rangers are going to extricate themselves, Remy’s goals will be vital. It’s about time that the Premier League see why Harry brought the Frenchman to QPR. He’s a deadly finisher but depends on the supply he gets. Adel Taarabt, Jermaine Jenas, Park ji Sung and co will need to be at their mercurial best to feed this lethal Frenchman. His partner up-front should also be up for the task, Jamie Mackie and Bobby Zamora need to be in tune with Remy and form a fruitful partnership.
2) Ricky Lambert (Southampton FC)
A lot of you might protest at his inclusion into the list, but Southampton are just 4 points adrift the relegation zone, and the talisman has to be at his very best to ensure they stay there, or even improve on their current position. Ever since Mauricio Pochettino took over from Nigel Adkins, Southampton seem more than ready for the task in hand. He’s inculcated the type of play that made him famous at Espanyol.
The Pochettino era has seen a rise of many players like Jason Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez. He’s got the best out of the talented squad that Southampton posses. Many people seem to agree that Southampton are too good to be relegated. However, their ‘captain fantastic’ needs to keep up to the rich vein of form that he’s currently in for the remainder of the season. He’s a valuable asset for the team as he contributes to attack and also tracks back to defend and douse the opposition attacks. No surprises to note that he is the highest scoring Englishman in the league, with 13 league goals to his name. If he keeps up with this form, Southampton are sure to begin the next season on a high.
3) Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa have a dismal defensive record, failing to keep a clean sheet for 18 matches in a row, but their attack more than makes up for it, with the Belgian frontman bagging 17 league goals. His absence has always been a curse for Paul Lambert’s side and his name in the team sheet breathes a sigh of relief into every Villa fan. He also holds a record for the most aerial battles won this season(230), more than anyone else in the top 5 European Leagues this season. His future is in question though, with interest from within the Premier League, but his objective for this season is clear – help Villa battle relegation.
In what has been a dismal campaign for the Villans, his growing partnership with Andreas Weimann has provided their fans with a glimmer of hope. Another Belgian to make an impact of the Premier League this season, apart from Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, his presence is vital and his goals at the rear end of the season could prove to be the difference between relegation and survival.
4) Simon Mignolet (Sunderland FC)
This block would have featured Steven Fletcher, but due to his recent injury, the baton is now in the hands of another consistent performer for the Black Cats. It’s quite rare when you hear of a keeper in a list of star performers, but Simon deserves a feature. He’s taken their league survival matter in his own hands(literally). With starry performances and stunning saves, he’s ensured their opposition’s victory looks less emphatic. He has amassed a total of a 110 saves,second only to West Ham’s Jussi Jaaskelainen, yet another Belgian making his mark in the most physical league in the world.
Sunderland’s season has been dismal but the fact that the only sense of pride a Sunderland fan gets is from a goalkeeper on top form are worrying signs. Being in good form is necessary, but he’s been tested too often for his liking. He’s attracted offers from Liverpool and Arsenal, and Sunderland will need to hold onto him if they were to avoid the drop.
5) Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic)
The Wigan frontman has netted in 10 times since joining the Lactics in the summer from Levante. 10 seems to be quite a small number for an all-out striker, but what he brings to the table are leadership skills, experience and a morale boost. Wigan are known as a team that betrays relegation every season. Roberto Martinez has done just enough to push his team in the late stages of the tournament. They always seem to find that extra bit that a relegation-threatened team fails to come up with.
This season hasn’t been any different; a dismal start to the campaign has produced a resurgent Wigan that are performing when it matters the most. However, the star of this season has to be Arouna Kone, who in tandem with Shaun Maloney has ensured Wigan get their share of goals every matchday. It’s not his goals, but his involvement in every goal that makes him the player that he is. He’s pledged his future to the Lactics for another season by signing a contract extension. Wigan would hope that his form continues till the end of the season as they again enter the battleground that seems so familiar to the occupants of the DW Stadium.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and not necessarily Sportskeeda.