The title race may be done and dusted, with Man City needing to win 5 more games to secure the title, however a much more intense battle lies at the opposite end of the table as seven teams prepare to sweat it out for Premier League survival…
Here we assess each team’s chances of going down…
20th: West Brom
After a fairly long stint with West Brom, Tony Pulis was finally given his marching orders by the board in the aftermath of a crushing 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea which ultimately left the Baggies one point above the relegation zone in 17th.
For a club that had finished inside the top half of the table last season, this certainly was not where the club would have wanted to find themselves as fans braced themselves for what could potentially be a stressful festive period for them. There seemed to be no question for who should succeed Pulis as a fresh-faced Alan Pardew was instantly picked from the bunch with his vast Premier League experience gaining the Englishman the upper hand over his fellow candidates. Whether he would be able to replicate the wonders he performed at Crystal Palace and Newcastle raised queries amongst fans but surely he could rescue his side from relegation? Perhaps not- from 17th to 20th, West Brom had suddenly sunk to the foot of the table in just a click of a finger and now with one win in 25 Premier League games, it doesn’t seem like the scenario at West Brom is going to change unless Pardew performs a miracle in the West Midlands. However, if the Baggies do rack up some vital wins in quick succession then they could well be in with a chance of surviving by the skin of their teeth.
Chances of going down: 80%
19th: Stoke City
They may be rooted to second bottom in the table but a solid run of only one loss in their last five games has somewhat sparked a revival under newly appointed Paul Lambert. Signs of a valiant fight showed last weekend at Leicester as a dominant display earned the side a precious point against a team that were flying high in 7th in the table. Certainly at this stage of the season, Stoke would take point away to any top eight club but three points would be even better and that seemed a possibility at the King Power Stadium on Saturday after taking the lead towards the end of the first half through the in-form Xherdan Shaqiri. All was running smooth for Stoke until a rare blunder from Jack Butland at his near post gifted Leicester an equalising goal for which succumbed Paul Lambert’s side back into the dreaded relegation zone.
Stuck in 19th spot in the table, the chances are looking slim that Stoke will be competing in England’s premier division next season and if that is already a huge call then maybe take a moment to ponder about Stoke’s upcoming run of fixtures. The disastrous schedule sees Stoke take on Man City, Everton, Arsenal and Spurs in consecutive fixtures. Four teams and four matches that are destined to hamper the club’s bid for survival.
Chances of going down: 60%
18th: Swansea City
Just when it looked like Swansea had escaped the critic’s eye after stringing together wins against Arsenal and Liverpool, it was about time the Swans returned back to relegation zone as they fell to a crushing 4-1 demolition at the hands of Brighton to register only their first defeat in 10 games.
For some, this will have felt like a massive devastation for Swansea in the relegation battle considering this was pivotal clash lost against a fellow relegation rival. But when you look a Swansea’s superb recent record (1 loss in 10), this should only count as a blip and not a result that defies their season however that doesn’t mean they can release the foot off the pedal because there still lies a lot of work ahead in order to preserve the club’s stay in the league.
Chances of going down: 20%
17th: Crystal Palace
Already seven games in, people were starting to wonder whether Crystal Palace will set a record for the worst points tally in Premier League history and the odds were all of a sudden stacked highly against the club’s bid for survival as early as October. The club were in desperate need of a win quickly to restore a confidence boost back in the side and on a sunny Saturday afternoon Palace welcomed the reigning league champions Chelsea to Selhurst Park. The least of opponents you would prosper for when your club’s in a terrible situation. A much-changed Crystal Palace side stepped out on the pitch that day and it was a surely a London derby win to savour as Wilfried Zaha’s winner earned the Eagles their first points of the season and how stunned were Chelsea at the final whistle.
This was definitely not the last of victories as Roy Hodgson propelled his side away from the bottom of the table with ease as the South London club climbed up to a high of 10th in the table. However, following a recent dry run of results, Crystal Palace have subsequently been sucked in to a relegation battle after failing to record a win in five league games. It’s definitely not an ideal scenario for Roy Hodgson to deal with at this stage of the season but when you compare his experience amongst other managers, you are reassured that Hodgson can handle the pressure of a relegation battle and he will hope to lead his club out of danger in the next few games to come.
Chances of going down: 20%
It came out as a shock towards the climax of last season as the Southampton board surprisingly sacked Claude Puel having reached the League Cup final as well as finishing 8th in the table for what seemed to be a successful season, well not in the eyes of the chairman. In came Argentinian manager Mauricio Pellegrino who had previously managed Alaves in Spain. Perhaps it was a risk taken considering he had never coached in the Premier League and as weeks continued to unfold, there was sense around that Saints wanted Puel back. Too late. The Frenchman was immediately snapped up by Leicester following the sacking of Craig Shakespeare and in matter of weeks, Puel was warmly welcomed back to St Mary’s Stadium. But this time he was in the away team’s dugout as he watched his new-look Leicester side take on his former team. As the final whistle blew, boos echoed around the ground in the direction of Pellegrino as Leicester ran out emphatic 4-1 winners away at the home of Southampton.
Results failed to click for Southampton and it was not until the shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace that really made fans realise that relegation was now looking like a possibility. Clubs continued to dismiss managers in the Premier League but Mauricio Pellegrino was still clinging onto his job with faith highly stacked in his favour. Reaching the FA Cup Quarter-Finals will have given Saints a huge incentive to fight for their manager however work must be done in the league first because the club will not be willing to play soft ball for any longer otherwise they could land themselves in grave danger.
Chances of relegation: 25%
15th: Newcastle United
They may be a newly promoted side but with the vast financial support Rafa Benitez is currently backed with, it’s a surprise that they’re not higher than their league standing suggests. A draw last time out against Bournemouth meant that the club had only lost one of their last 8 games in the league and just over a fortnight ago, the Tyne-Wear side edged Manchester United 1-0 at St James’ Park to secure their best performance of the season and indeed at a rather pivotal time of the season.
At the moment there is very little breathing space between the club and the relegation zone and that is a major problem for Rafa Benitez right now however if Newcastle claim a couple of points in their next few games then survival will be imminent. But for now work must be done.
Chances of relegation: 15%
14th: Huddersfield Town
‘Harsh’ you would say before the start of the season when the majority of pundits predicted Huddersfield to finish rock bottom this season. You honestly couldn’t blame them because when you looked at this team on paper, it seemed as if there lacked a spark of talent within the team and most people were unable to recognise a single player on their team. As the season progressed, fans from all over the nation were left stunned and eyes widened like ovals whilst Huddersfield continued their sensational start to life in the Premier League. Nevertheless this was only the beginning of the campaign and most fans were wary that a slip-up was inevitable anytime. As expected, things suddenly ran dry in West Yorkshire as an eight match winless streak saw the club sink from mid table to the relegation zone. A 4-1 win at home to Bournemouth saw a rejuvenated Huddersfield side revive hope before another win followed a week later- a 2-1 away victory at the Hawthorns which ultimately lifted David Wagner’s side out of the relegation zone.
As for the next few games, the Terriers will play fellow relegation rivals Swansea and Crystal Palace in consecutive home games before away trips to Brighton and Newcastle. In order to secure survival, wins against Swansea and Crystal Palace will be crucial and if they succeed in doing that then by the time they visit Newcastle in early April- relegation will be a distant concern for manager David Wagner.
Chances of relegation: 15%
My predicted table for how the bottom of the table will look like at the end of the season: