As we reach the squeaky bum stage of the season, there are seven clubs fighting for survival in the Premier League. We assess who is for the drop
Sunderland, Hull, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Leicester and Bournemouth.
Just seven points separate these seven clubs, with just five points separating the bottom six.
By 4pm on Sunday 21st May we will know the outcome…..possibly before that? Each team has 12 games left. Pundits always look at the final six games.
However I feel that this season we will know the three relegated teams by mid-April. On a yearly basis, Easter weekend sorts the men from the boys in all of the divisions. Each club have their own failings; let me discuss each of them individually.
They have the worst form in the division, managing just one draw in the last six games whilst conceding almost three goals per game during that period. In the last 10 games they have won just once.
On Saturday lunchtime they head to Old Trafford to face in-form Manchester United. Over the last 10 games, Jose Mourinho’s men have won seven and drawn there, and won their 3rd piece of silverware in 9 month last weekend. You really can’t expect the Cherries to get anything this weekend.
Before Easter, they also play Chelsea and Liverpool at Anfield. Over the next 12 games they play four of the top six and four of the bottom seven.
Summary: Their poor current form could undo all the good work they did at the beginning.
Are they fully resurgent since the thrashed Liverpool on Monday? Not a chance! One swallow doesnt make a summer!
Last week, our guest writer claimed that Leicester were right to sack Claudio Ranieri, and on Monday night they started to prove it. They went back to basics and did everything the way they did it last season. They defended their own half with two banks of four and broke at pace using Vardy as an outlet.
For every positive there is a negative and with Leicester there are many. Monday’s goals were the first in the league in 2017. They are yet to win away and have scored just eight times on their travels with 88% of their points this season having come at home.
Summary: Play like they did Monday and they will be mid table and safe. Play like they did in January and they will be in the thick of it. If they can’t, they could face the indignity of the drop.
Swansea have conceded more goals than any team in the Premier League – 57 in 26 games. They also have the second worst goal difference in the division behind Hull. Not great.
However, on the flip side, for the remainder of the season they play just two of the top six and only four of their fellow relegation fighters.
Despite languishing in 16th place they have current form that would put them 10th in the league and are a different side under the guidance of the newly appointed Paul Lambert.
Their next four games are crucial to their survival; Burnley at home (Burnley yet to win away this season), Hull (second from bottom), Bournemouth (worst form in division) and Middlesbrough at home (Middlesbrough only won once away)
Summary: If they maintain their current form, they could just survive.
This will not make pleasant reading if you are a Middlesbrough fan.
- Third worst home record
- Only one win away all season
- Won the least amount of games of any team in the division – just 4 wins in 26 games.
- Scored the least amount of goals all season with 19 – just 8 of them away from home (lowest in division)
Their top scorer, Alvaro Negredo, has scored just six times in the Premier League which is the same amount that Gareth McAuley has managed at West Brom. McAuley is a defender!!
They have a FA Cup quarter final against Manchester City in mid-March so will play a game more than the rest of their strugglers. Worse than that, they face five of the top six (including City) and four of the bottom seven in their remaining fixtures.
Summary: They are going to need to find goals to stay up and I would argue that if they are not safe by the time they play Arsenal at Easter they will be relegated.
Now we enter the current bottom three.
Let’s start by being positive. Palace have scored more goals than any of their counterparts and Christian Benteke being one goal away from double figures has helped their cause. They also have Relegation survival master Big Sam at the helm, who has performed miracles at this end of the division on numerous occasions, with both Sunderland and Bolton.
However, I am afraid the praise ends there. Palace have the worst home record in the whole league. The table doesn’t lie in March; they are in the bottom three for a reason.
Their remaining 12 fixtures see them playing all six of the top clubs and two of the bottom seven.
Summary: I am afraid their destiny will be decided by their ability to get the unexpected out of the EPL’s elite.
I fear the worst for Hull. The Tigers have won just once away from home all season scoring just six goals whilst conceding 28 on their 13 away days this season. They have scored just 23 times in their 26 games and their top goalscorer has netted just 7 times.
Believe it or not, it gets worse!
Their remaining 12 games see them pitted against two of the top six and five of their fellow relegation strugglers. Their next four games are of critical importance.
They play Leicester and Swansea from within the bottom 7, with Swansea in very strong form and Leicester potentially turning it round too.
After that, they go to Everton who are the most in form side in the last six games before hosting West Ham (8th most in form side).
Summary: Marco Silva has improved results since his arrival, so the results against those in and around them will be critical. Defeat in those and their Premier League status will look bleak.
On a number of occasions in recent years they have escaped but I am not sure they are showing the same steel this term. I am not sure that Moyes is the right guy for this kind of struggle.
The Black Cats have lost 17 of their 26 games and have the third worst goal difference with -24. They have scored just 24 goals all season and Jermaine Defoe has scored 14 of those!! Only 5 other players have scored this season. They are too dependent on Defoe.
On the bright side they have won five games this season and face four of those teams during the run in, but it could be too late by then.
Their remaining fixtures see them play four of the top 6 and five of the bottom seven, however, three of those games against ‘weaker’ opposition make up their final 4 games with Chelsea being the other.
Summary: I fear the next eight games will see them relegated. I fear they would have been relegated already had it not been for Jermaine Defoe.
Bournemouth should be safe thanks to their early season form. Swansea meanwhile have found form under Paul Clement at exactly the right time and should be also safe.
Leicester need to continue the performances and form they showed on Monday against Liverpool.
I feel that given the remaining fixtures and current form, Sunderland, Hull and Middlesbrough will be relegated with Crystal Palace surviving by the thinnest of margins.
One thing is for sure, the neutrals will enjoy the run in more than supporters of these clubs!
Who do you think will go down? Leave a comment below