Week 9 of the season, and my oddball selection of sides have hit a relegation market, a collective 40 points, Sure, that’s not going to keep any one of them up individually, but it’s all going surprisingly well so far, with no sides at all in the drop zone.
That said, on some fronts the strain is starting to show. Here’s the latest ahead of the international break…
Bundesliga: Arminia Bielefeld (5/6 on to be relegated) 0-5 away to Union Berlin
A confession: Union Berlin are a side I have a real soft spot for, having seen them live before they were anywhere near the Bundesliga, and taken a liking to the political activism of their fans. I’ve committed myself to Arminia for the season, though, and this particular loss is a terrible sign.
Arminia had been on a bad run, but against good sides, which makes it somewhat excusable before now, but this was a real thrashing. Union were two up in a little over a quarter of an hour, and Bielefeld didn’t create anything in the whole game even worthy of the highlights reel.
They’re still outside the drop zone. Just, thanks to the three sides in the Bundesliga yet to grab even one win.
Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 0-1 away West Ham
On the face of it, when a team concedes a goal in the 91st minutes and then misses a chance to equalise through a penalty even after that, you’d say they were unlucky.
Fulham are getting better, in my view, but they weren’t unlucky here: even the Fulham club highlights show little more than West Ham somehw failing to score, before they finally do, and then Fulham man Lookman trying to be far too clever with a frankly awful penalty.
I’m really disappointed in Mitrovic so far – for a striker of his reputation, he’s done very, very little so far this season. Fulham continue to struggle in what’s become a four-team relegation battle, though at least they’re top of those four.
FC Metz (1/6 on to go down), 1-1 at home to Dijon
By the standards of Metz’ recent run – now seven games unbeaten that runs back to September – a home draw against struggling Dijon can probably be considered a poor result, especially given how poor Dijon have been
That said, Metz remain in the top half ten games in, but really should have won this, seeing a very early penalty saved by a goalkeeper making his first ever professional appearance a few minutes in, before going behind to a Dijon break.
Yade equalised after just 20 minutes, and there was still time for Dijon to have a penalty saved too before half time. The second half wasn’t quite so nuts: though both sides could have won it, neither looked great up front.
Serie A: Spezia (1/4 on to go down) 3-0 away to Benevento
It’s distinctly weird seeing this fixture as a Serie A one, given Spezia have never played in the league in front of a crowd, and Benevento aren’t too much more established. Nevertheless, here we are, and it’s the kind of game Spezia will need to win.
What a performance this was, though – neither side looked good defensively, but Spezia created so much going forward, and could easily have scored (and conceded) more. Given their main forward is out injured, it’s reassuringly positive all round, and this second-half performance was as good as I’ve seen from any of these sides this season.
The season will be about these kinds of games, and it’s looking good.
La Liga: Elche CF (8/15 to go down), 1-1 at home to Celta Vigo
Elche continue to hang around mid-table and seemingly have little to fear from the majority of La Liga as they continue to eke out results the majority of the time.
They were helped here by a slightly dubious looking early penalty put away by Chaves, but created plenty of chances against Celta and didn’t look at all outclassed.
Presumably there’s tougher to come, but all’s well so far.
The stats (across my five teams, league games only)
Played 38 Won 11 Drawn 9 Lost 18
Goals for 40 Goals against 57
Average score – 1.05-1.50