Since 2003-04, the average points needed for a team to finish 17th has been 36.7. The relegation battle this season is closer than it has been in years as eight teams are in a genuine peril of going down at the end of the season
Two draws and two wins before the loss against Everton at home renewed the sense of optimism at Selhurst Park who have made great strides towards survival with the appointment of Alan Pardew after the disappointing second tenure under Neil Warnock was threatening to flirt with relegation. They have had the busiest January transfer window amongst all clubs in the division, bringing in the likes of Yaya Sanogo (loan), Jordan Mutch, Lee Chung-yong and making Wilfried Zaha’s move permanent. Bringing in the experience of Shola Ameobi will also won’t harm their chances of staying up and they should survive comfortably under Pardew.
Sunderland are one of three teams with just four wins this season, and last month’s win over Burnley was a crucial one that ended a dire patch of four losses in five while also giving the fans hope as new signing Jermaine Defoe got on the scoresheet. If the striker can fire similarly in home games against fellow relegation contenders West Brom and Aston Villa over the next month or so, Gus Poyet’s men will be safe well before the final few weeks of the season.
Two wins in the FA Cup and four points in two games in the league since Tony Pulis’ arrival at the Hawthorns gave fans a false sense of security before Spurs came to town and won 3-0. The former Stoke City manager is known for setting up an organised, well drilled side which is going to take some time to get used to. They travel to Sunderland and Aston Villa inside a month, and will need to grind out results with their direct competitors.
Callum McManaman and Darren Fletcher will bring in some much needed quality to the squad having arrived in January, and West Brom would need Berahino to find his goal-scoring touch from the first half of the season to ensure survival.
Aston Villa have been the worst club in terms of scoring goals having scored just 11 goals in 23 games, nine less than any other club. Having picked up just two points in their last eight games and falling into the relegation zone, it doesn’t look good for Lambert. The club is up for sale but there has been no prospectus buyer interested in buying them and Paul Lambert will have to stop the rut lest Villa end up getting sucked into the bottom three with the tag of ‘too good to go down’. They were dismantled 5-0 by Arsenal before getting beaten by Chelsea and Hull City and now have the worst goal difference in the division. Upcoming games against Leicester and West Brom will ultimately prove to be decisive and they will be in deep, deep trouble if they fail to win any of those.
Burnley have done tremendously well to recover from their wretched start to the season that saw no wins in ten games and the ignominy of going the entire season without a win seemingly possible. Wins over Southampton and QPR since December and draws away at Manchester City and Newcastle meant that they will battle it out for survival till the very end. Losses to Palace and Sunderland have stopped their momentum a bit, and the future doesn’t look too bright with trips to Chelsea, Liverpool, Southampton and Everton along with the visits of Spurs, Arsenal and City before April. The fixture list doesn’t seem kind, and they could be bottom of the table come the last week of April, and it will take a miracle to survive. The fans will be hopeful that the returning Sam Vokes can recreate his partnership with Danny Ings that proved to be so profitable last season in the Championship last season. Things look very bleak for them though.
Hull City’s Steve Bruce has been touted as the next manager to get the sack and it’s not difficult to see why. They have been in the relegation zone for the best part of the season after a run of just one win in 16 since the end of August left them reeling. Recent results indicate a rise in form after they grabbed a crucial point at the Etihad before beating Aston Villa at home 2-0. If they get points against QPR, Sunderland and Burnley at home and might just about pull off survival.
Queens Park Rangers have just had manager leave them after his position became untenable. They are 17th in the table, level on points with Villa, having lost 11 of their 12 away matches this season. Caretaker manager Chris Ramsey has one of the toughest relegation fights on his hands and looks dark with all their home games involving tough opponents. The likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Everton and Chelsea will visit before West Ham and Newcastle United round up their games at Loftus Road. QPR better start picking up points on the road like they did at Sunderland if they are to stand any chance of survival.
Finally, Leicester City who are at the foot of the table. There is reason to hope for another year’s stay in the Premier League looking at their remaining fixtures. They have a few winnable home games, and the barren 3 month patch that brought no wins since their famous 5-3 win over Manchester United is well and truly behind them. Club record signing Andrej Kramaric is bound to boost their attack while veteran Robert Huth will help shore up their defence. They maybe bottom by the start of April, however, one would be forgiven to back them up and survive by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the season at the King Power Stadium against QPR.
Prediction: Burnley, Aston Villa and Hull City to go down with Sunderland, Palace and West Brom surviving with relative comfort.