In part four of our Premier League 2017/18 Climax feature, we take a more in depth look at the relegation dogfight at the foot of the table. With under a month of Premier League football left to play, the identities of the league’s three relegated teams have yet to be confirmed. West Brom’s recent return to form has kept them in the running for survival but the task ahead is still daunting and a return to the Championship still looks likely after a seven year stay in England’s top flight.
If you haven’t read part one on the race for second place, part two on the battle for Europa League qualification or part three on the relegation dogfight, then we recommend having a read of them first.
Form is key in this part of the season and this year we have an incredible mix of sides who are starting to find their form and sides who already have points on the board but face a difficult run of fixtures before the season reaches it’s conclusion. Let’s take a closer look at the teams involved in this year’s relegation scrap.
WEST HAM UNITED
Current Position: 15th
Games Left to Play: 3
Relegation odds: 16/1
- Leicester City (A)
- Man Utd (H)
- Everton (H)
The appointment of David Moyes as the successor of Slaven Bilić was met with disappointment and anger from West Ham fans and it is a feeling which has been pretty much ever present at the London Stadium for most of this season. Despite this ill feeling, which has been aimed more to the board rather than the management in recent weeks, West Ham are within touching distance of securing their spot in the Premier League for next season.
Although most clubs will class the fact that two of their remaining three fixtures are to be played on home soil. the discontent in the stands may well prove to be a hindrance rather than a help. The Hammers have hardly entertained the fans on home soil with just 21 league goals scored at the London Stadium and with just one win in their previous eight matches, they don’t look to be in the sort of form to improve that record anytime soon.
However, next up they face off against a Leicester City side who have all sorts of problems of their own and with an Everton side who have been less than impressive on the road under Sam Allardyce, they will surely have the confidence to put sufficient points on the board to secure their safety. That confidence will only be boosted by the fact that they have a three point cushion over the drop zone and none of the sides below them are exactly closing with any great urgency at the moment.
Current Position: 16th
Games Left to Play: 3
Relegation odds: 13/8
- Man City (A)
- Chelsea (A)
- Arsenal (H)
It seems to be almost universally agreed that 38 points will usually be enough for a side to retain their spot in the Premier League for another season at least. Huddersfield Town are almost at that mystical figure and have 35 points on the board with three games remaining. However, the fact that they are priced as low as 13/8 to suffer the drop suggests all is not as it seems for the Terriers.
It is not hard to work out where these odds come from, as a look at their remaining fixtures shows just what sort of trouble they find themselves in at the moment. Next up for David Wagner’s men is the daunting prospect of a trip to the newly crowned Premier League champions. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you don’t need us to tell you just how unlikely it is for Huddersfield to get a result there.
Following that is another difficult day on the road as the Terriers travel to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side who have not quite hit the heights this season. However, the hosts are still trying to win an unlikely spot in the Champions League and will also have players who will be trying to cement their spot in the team for the FA Cup final against Manchester United.
Their final fixture sees them return home to Yorkshire but visiting them at the John Smith’s Stadium is an Arsenal side who will be led by the legendary Arsene Wenger for the final time before he leaves the club. The Gunners have not been at their best in recent years but they have enjoyed a great period of success under the Frenchman’s leadership and will be looking to send him off in style.
It’s not as if Huddersfield can take any great confidence in their previous meetings with these three either as they have lost all three of the reverse fixtures to an aggregate scoreline of 10-2. The Terriers looked fairly abject in their last match against Everton too, so chances of upsetting the odds and claiming that vital three points looks to be pretty slim.
Current Position: 17th
Games Left to Play: 3
Relegation odds: 27/10
- Bournemouth (A)
- Southampton (H)
- Stoke City (H)
Sitting in the final of the positions that would ensure safety, Swansea City go into their final three matches of the campaign in real danger of dropping back into England’s second tier. Swansea looked to be in real danger after a very poor first half of the season, but since the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal the Swans looked reinvigorated and few would have thought that they would be in danger of the drop given the form that they were showing.
However, as with most new manager bounces, their form returned to normal and they go into their match with Bournemouth having claimed just three points from their previous six outings. A major reason for their struggles this season is their inability to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. The Swans have the joint worst offensive record in the division with 27 goals to their name this season, and with just two goals scored in their last six, it’s a stat which hasn’t been getting any better of late.
One thing which will work in their favour is the fact that two of the three remaining matches are against sides who are in a similar position to them. Next up they face a Bournemouth side who have already secured their future in the league and have little left to play for, whilst their final match against Stoke City could see them face a side who have already seen their fate sealed by the time they meet.
Current Position: 18th
Games Left to Play: 3
Relegation odds: 6/5
- Everton (A)
- Swansea City (A)
- Man City (H)
At the start of the season most people would not have had Southampton in their picks to be relegated to the Championship come the end of the campaign. They may frequently sell their top stars, but they have made a habit of being able to replace them and still earn enough to achieve their aims. However, ask anyone in football and they will tell you that it is a business model which cannot be sustained and a poor season was always going to be on the cards at some point or another.
The Saints have finished in 7th, 6th and 8th in their last three seasons but the appointment of Argentinean Mauricio Pellegrino to replace Ronald Koeman proved not to be a successful one. Southampton failed to score in four of their first six league matches and although Pellegrino lasted until early March 2018, he left the club deep in the relegation mire. Mark Hughes was brought in on a short term contract just two months after the Welshman had been sacked by Stoke, and it appears to be another appointment which has left the fans at Saint Mary’s scratching their heads.
However, Southampton’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday will give a much needed boost of confidence to the Saints in their bid to avoid the drop. With an in-form Everton next up, it looks a difficult place to go and get three points but with relegation rivals Swansea still to come before closing the campaign with a trip to the Etihad to face a Man City side who have already accomplished what they set out to do, there is still hope for Hughes to lead his side to safety.
Current Position: 19th
Games Left to Play: 2
Relegation odds: 1/8
- Crystal Palace (H)
- Swansea City (A)
Saturday’s credible draw against Liverpool showed that there is still plenty of fight left in Stoke City as they bid to avoid relegation to England’s second tier. However, truth be told Liverpool were much the better side and, had Stoke come for anything more than a point, they would likely have been picked apart by the Champions League semi-finalists and left with nothing to show for their efforts.
At the start of the season Mark Hughes had built a strong looking squad on paper with Xerdan Shaqiri set to be the star quality which would impress in front of a hard working defensive unit. However, like many of the other sides at the bottom of the table, The Potters have struggled to find the back of the net on a consistent basis and they have managed to score just 32 times this season.
Now under the stewardship of boss Paul Lambert, Stoke surely have to win both of their remaining fixtures to have any chance of avoiding the drop. However, with an in-form Crystal Palace next to visit, it will be tough for them to gain anything more than a point in that fixture. Given that they have only managed one win on the road all season, a trip to Swansea City on the final day doesn’t look like it will be the salvation they will be hoping for.
West Brom fans will be delighted with their form since Darren Moore was made interim boss until the end of the season but they will question why Alan Pardew was given so long to turn things around. In the three games Moore has managed, he has claimed the scalps of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United, as well as claiming a point from Liverpool at Anfield. As impressive as that is, safety still remains a distant possibility for the Baggies as even winning both of their remaining games looks unlikely to be enough.
Brighton looked to have all but secured their future with a point against Burnley at the weekend and barring a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, they will be lining up in the country’s top division next season. Although it is still mathematically possible for Bournemouth, Watford and Crystal Palace to be caught, odds of 500/1 for each of them shows just how unlikely it is for any of that trio to be relegated.
There is already a general acceptance in the West Midlands that West Bromwich Albion will be relegated this season and we cannot see anything other than that being confirmed in the coming weeks. West Brom have a reputation as being the “boing boing Baggies” and although it has been a while since they were last in the second tier, they should be well equipped at bouncing straight back up.
The other side who look to be dead and buried are Stoke City. The Potters just don’t seem to have enough threat up front to get the points required to close the gap on those ahead of them in the league. Although Lambert has them playing good football, they only seem to play well in spells and have lacked the sort of 90 minute performance which would convince us they have enough in their locker to get out of trouble.
The final spot is a three way shoot-out in our opinion. Southampton have the least amount of points on the board but have the most potential of the three clubs to put together a sequence of results. Swansea have the easiest of the run in but are out of form and carry little threat up top. Huddersfield have the points on the board but a near impossible run in and, given that they have a worse goal difference than the Swans, are our tip to suffer the drop.