The Premier League title race is all but mathematically over with Liverpool waltzing their way to a first title in 30 years. However, if we look at the other end of the table and you’ll see a tight cluster of teams scrapping for their lives.
Here we look at the teams in the mix.
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We’ve already mentioned that tight cluster of teams, but Norwich aren’t part of it. They’re as good as relegated already. The Canaries find themselves rock bottom sitting seven points adrift of safety and over the past 10 matches they’ve only managed one win. On top of that, when they were promoted a lot was made of their decision not to invest too heavily in their squad and, as a result, the pressure for goals has fallen to Teemu Pukki.
He has looked capable at times throughout the campaign and 11 goals is a solid return; the problem is the team have only scored seven in their last 10 giving them the joint most toothless attack over that period.
The major concern for Norwich fans shouldn’t be relegation but how badly their squad might get decimated in the summer as they slide back to the Championship. If this was a horse race as the Kentucky Derby, Norwich will probably be fancied now to finish last.
When Nigel Pearson was appointed manager back in December his side were sat in bottom place and six points from safety but fast forward to today and the picture looks ever so slightly different. Pearson has taken 15 points in that time and, although the Hornets are still right in the thick of it, they are just one point from safety.
The only question that needs answering is whether Pearson has genuinely improved Watford or if they’ve just profited from an initial bounce as two points from the last 12 available doesn’t make great reading – especially when your top scorer only has five goals to their name.
You’d expect Watford to out work most teams now and with Troy Deeney leading the line they might just have enough in them to fight their way to the finish.
Like Watford, West Ham made the decision to wield the axe and bring in a new manager, albeit in the shape of David Moyes, who managed the club previously. They thrashed Bournemouth in Moyes’ first game back in charge but the five games since have yielded just two points to leave them in more serious trouble than before.
The biggest downside to the Hammers’ season is the failure to kick on after what, at the time, looked a reasonable summer window with the arrivals of Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals promising a false hope of attacking prowess – instead the combined £70m pair have contributed just seven goals between them.
West Ham are far from down though and, like Watford, are a solitary point from safety. They close the season out with a winnable set of fixtures and the key to survival might be keeping the confidence intact through the next few weeks as tougher looking tests come their way.
At the moment, Villa are hovering just one place above the relegation zone but whether they stay up or not you can place your bets now that Jack Grealish won’t be there come August. Dean Smith’s side have the worst defence in the league having shipped 50 goals.
Thankfully, Grealish is regularly on hand to bail them out and six goals and seven assists is a very good return for a player who is asked to do every job on the field, such is his enthusiasm for the club.
The last month of the season sees the League Cup finalists play Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal so it will be imperative that Villa manage to gather points from elsewhere with the final match day of the season offering up what could be the decider between West Ham and Villa.
A lot of slack has been afforded to Eddie Howe because of Bournemouth’s injury problems but Newcastle have endured similar issues and Steve Bruce has them away from danger so what exactly has gone wrong for Howe’s men?
Well, in a nutshell, they’ve always shipped goals, but this campaign has seen them struggle to notch at the other end and that’s not a good combination.
On top of losing Callum Wilson, who was involved in 24 goals last year, to injury it doesn’t help when players like Ryan Fraser have their heads turned by transfer speculation.
Two wins in their last three outings has stopped the rot somewhat though and, if Wilson can stay on the grass, you have to fancy Bournemouth to survive.
At this moment in time, Brighton are furthest away from danger of the sides we’ve discussed with three points and two teams separating the Seagulls from third bottom West Ham but come May Graham Potter might be nervously looking over his shoulder.
The former Ostersunds boss has been recognised for a solid start to life in Brighton with a contract to 2025 but for all the pretty football that is on show at the Amex the bottom line is that goals win games and Brighton don’t have enough in attack.
Will it be experienced head Glenn Murray to the rescue? Potter clearly doesn’t fancy the old-fashioned centre forward given he’s played just 600 minutes of football this season but when it comes to putting the ball in the net, he is the best Brighton have.
There you have it, a review of the relegation candidates. Who do you think is set for the drop? Let us know below.
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