I was expecting a season of watching clubs lose as part of this project, but in truth it’s been a lot better than that: two of the five clubs I’m following now sit in the top half of really competitive leagues, and the five are collectively averaging over a goal and over a point a game, an impressive stat for the odds on favourites for relegation in the five top leagues in Europe. It’s a shame about Fulham, though…
Here’s how week seven went…
La Liga: Elche CF (8/15 to go down), 2-1 at home to Valencia
Elche now have a spectacular 10 points from their opening five games, after losing their first game in La Liga, and this win was probably the best of the lot. Fernandes’ curling strike from distance put them ahead against Valencia, who are nothing like the side they once were.
The second goal was almost as good as Fidel lashed home from outside the box, and while Elche were hanging on towards the end, including a late clearance off the line to keep hold of the three points, they already look a very good bet to stay up this year.
The win puts them firmly in the top half of the table with games in hand, and above the likes of Barcelona, Sevilla and the Valencia team they saw off here.
FC Metz (1/6 on to go down), 2-0 at home to St Etienne
Another team that are making their early-season relegation odds look ridiculous, FC Metz looked like they might face issues when their key goalscorer Niane was injured for the entire rest of the season last time out.
This was a very comfortable win, though, and sees Metz climb into the top half. St Etienne offered precious little and while Metz have a tendency to shoot from distance a little too much, they are finding the net regularly.
This win brings them into the top half of the table having lost their opening three games of the season. They’re now unbeaten in five. Surreal seeing those crowds, though, given the situation in France right now.
Serie A: Spezia (1/4 on to go down) 2-2 away to Parma
There are strange parallels between Spezia and Metz’ seasons: both should be struggling after the loss of their main goal threat, both… well, aren’t. Tiny Spezia continued their good run away at Parma over the weekend, though it should have been better, really.
The newcomers have this kind of scrappy resilience, scoring goals from corners and convoluted build-up play this week as they went 0-2 up away to well-established household name Parma, with two goals in three minutes of a dominant period.
There were ample chances to win the game, with Spezia hitting the post three times, including one of those fine inside post ones that kind of trickles along behind the goalkeeper. Eventually, they conceded the equaliser to a late penalty, but this was the best performance of the season so far.
Spezia also won in the third round of the Coppa Italia yesterday, though it’s hard to imagine that’s this season’s priority.
Bundesliga: Arminia Bielefeld (5/6 on to be relegated) 1-2 away to Wolfsburg
Arminia are in the middle of a poor run, and a visit to Wolfsburg – who hadn’t won at home since February – probably looked a decent prospect. Wolfsburg are traditionally a minor power in Germany, but this year they’ve become draw specialists, though not today.
The home side scored twice in two minutes against Arminia to control the game, and could have had more in the first half, with Arminia offering really quite little.
In fact, it was Arminia’s first shot on target that got them back into the game with ten minutes to go, and while they smashed the post with a deflected late effort, they were never really looked like getting anything from this. That positive start has evaporated in the last few weeks.
Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 1-2 at home to Crystal Palace
Fulham are proving easily the weakest of the five sides I’m following, and this game was no different, the scoreline slightly flattering due to Fulham’s late consolation five minutes into second half injury time, a fasntastic strike from Cairney and their first goal at home this season.
Parker’s men are already being talked about as a possibility for one of the lowest points finishes in premier league history, though there are some other strugglers keeping them company down at thebottom and keeping plenty of hope alive.
Their first half performance was okay, in fairness, but results need to come soon if Fulham are to have any chance.
The stats (across my five teams, league games only)
Played 28 Won 8 Drawn 7 Lost 13
Goals for 30 Goals against 40
Average score – 1.07-1.33