English Premier League relegation battle, who is going down?

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Football: Opinion

April and May are the months where it becomes clear which teams will lose their spot in the Premier League, let’s have a quick look at the candidates in prime position to make the drop.

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Traditionally 40 points is considered the safe total to avoid relegation. There have been some exceptions over the last 20 years but this season only Swansea could gather enough points from their 5 remaining fixtures to exceed the 40 points mark, in theory at least.

Currently, Watford sit in 10th place with 40 points and we therefore regard them as safe.

Equally, Stoke managed to pull themselves up by their own laces with a win in the previous round. They should be able to gather at least one more point to make the 40 mark from their next 5 fixtures. Of particular interest will be the fixtures with Swansea, West Ham and Bournemouth. A win against any of these three stragglers will see them to safety, three wins would make things difficult for Swansea, Bournemouth and the Hammers in their own battles to avoid relegation.

Prediction: 44 points (safe)

Leicester City

Relegation escapists in 2015; champions in 2016; relegation escapists in 2017?

Matches against Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City might still determine the top 4 but Leicester also play Watford and Bournemouth so their rearguard survival action should be complete.Relegation avoided again.

Prediction: 43 points (safe)

Results: Arsenal 1 – 0 Leicester;

West Ham have a horrible run to the line with matches against Spurs, Liverpool and Everton before a final day showdown with Burnley. We can’t see West Ham taking points from the top 4 contenders but they must take all three from Burnley to avoid being in the relegation zone on May 21st.

Prediction: 41 points (safe)

Results: West Ham 0 – 0 Everton;

Burnley are in a difficult situation with their habit of only picking up the odd point on their travels. Of their last 5 matches, three are at home. The toughest match will be Manchester United, still hoping for a top 4 finish, but West Brom are trying to shake things up as well and finish in the top 10.

Prediction: 38 points (safe)

Results: Burnley 0 – 2 Man Utd;

Crystal Palace are another team that have been in the bottom half of the table far too many times in recent seasons. Big Sam took his time to turn things around but Palace have notched 3 wins in their last 5 outings and are climbing away from danger. Palace are another team who could influence the top 4 with matches against Spurs, Liverpool, City and Manchester United. They also play Hull (away) and Burnley.

Prediction: 42 points (safe)

Results: Liverpool 1 – 2 Palace;

Bournemouth, level with Palace on 35 points at this time, play Boro and Sunderland and wins in both of these fixtures would see them to safety. Just in case they don’t win both, they have Stoke and Burnley next before a final day clash with Leicester.

Prediction: 42 points (safe)

Results: Bournemouth 4 – 0 Boro;

The Bottom Four – dire straits

Hull City are in the best position of the bottom 4. They have a 2 point gap over 3rd from bottom Swansea City. Hull’s fixtures are Watford (h), Southampton (a), Sunderland (h), Palace (a) and Spurs (h) on the final day of the season.

Last season we saw Spurs capitulate in the run-in after it became clear that they could not catch Leicester. Will they repeat this horrific collapse? Let’s assume Chelsea win the title before the final match and Spurs are out of the running. Hull could take points in this scenario, especially at home. Watford have found a bit of form again and picked up valuable points. They won’t be a walkover, although all of their recent wins have been at home.

I can’t see Hull getting anything from Southampton, while Palace should be too strong at Selhurst Park. In essence this means that Hull need to get a win from the match against Sunderland.

Prediction: W-L-W-L-D 37 points (safe) alternate W-L-W-L-L 36 points (safe) Actual: L-

Results: Hull 2 – 0 Watford;

Swansea City, currently in the bottom three, four points clear of Boro and 7 clear of Sunderland.

Fixtures: Stoke (h), Manchester United (a), Everton (h), Sunderland (a), West Brom (h)

I believe Sunderland are in such a dark place right now that they can’t beat Swansea, even at home with premiership survival on the line. The other matches might yield one point but things are going to be difficult for the Swans.

Prediction: L-L-L-W-D 34 points (relegated) Actual: W-

Results: Swansea 2 – 0 Stoke;

Middlesbrough have the least amount of wins from their 31 fixtures this season but with 7 games to play, they also have the chance to gather the most points of all the teams in the bottom half of the table.

Let’s have a look at the fixtures:

Arsenal (h), Bournemouth (a), Sunderland (h), Manchester City (h), Chelsea (a), Southampton (h), Liverpool (a)

At the very best Boro will pick up a win against Sunderland and perhaps a draw with Bournemouth, we can immediately put L’s down for all the other away games. Arsenal have real problems if they can’t get a win at Boro. Equally, City’s top 4 aspirations will be in question if they can’t beat Boro. Liverpool, is the only game Boro might still pick up a point and even that is optimism at it’s finest.

Prediction: L-D-W-L-L-L-D 29 points (relegated) Actual: L-L-

Results: Boro 1 – 2 Arsenal; Bournemouth 4 – 0 Boro;

Sunderland have won one match since Christmas 2016, a thrilling 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace. Instead of kicking on from there, Sunderland failed to score in their next seven fixtures. A lack of goals translates into a lack of points and they are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. In 2017 there will be no lucky escape, no miracle run to break free from the draw of Championship football. No, in 2017 Sunderland are finally playing to their full potential and heading for the chop.

Let’s look at the remaining fixtures:

Boro (a), Bournemouth (h), Hull (a), Swansea (h), Arsenal (a), Chelsea (a)

In the unlikely event that the Black Cats should win all remaining six fixtures, they would end on 39 points, threatening the survival of Hull City. Since we can pretty much guarantee that Sunderland couldn’t score 6 goals (1 per game) this scenario is highly unlikely to play itself out and Sunderland will drop a league with more of a whimper than a bang.

Prediction: L-L-L-L-L-L 21 points (relegated) Actual: L-

Results: Boro 1 – 0 Sunderland;

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Stadium of Light, venue for Championship Football in 2017/8 (www.safc.com)

I predict the bottom half of the table to look as follows by the end of play on May 21st:

Crystal Palace
West Ham
Hull City
Swansea City

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