Published On: Fri, Mar 2nd, 2018

10 matches left: How the Premier League's relegation battle could finish

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One of the best relegation battles in years is developing in the 2017-18 Premier League season. Here, theScore looks into the remaining 10 matches for each of the bottom 11 teams and assesses their chances of staying up.

10. Watford

The loss of Gerard Deulofeu through injury does blunt Watford‘s attack a little, but the quality left behind and six-point advantage over the relegation zone offers a sufficient buffer.

It’s the home matches that are the most appetising for Javi Gracia – West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth, Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle United – and they should provide enough points on their own to keep the Hornets in the promised land.

Taking three points or more on the road would be a huge achievement.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 West Brom (h) 1
March 11 Arsenal (a) 0
March 17 Liverpool (a) 0
March 31 Bournemouth (h) 1
April 7 Burnley (h) 3
April 14 Huddersfield (a) 0
April 21 Crystal Palace (h) 1
April 30 Tottenham (a) 0
May 5 Newcastle United (h) 3
May 13 Manchester United (a) 0

Total points = 42

11. Bournemouth

Eddie Howe has almost done it again. The Cherries are already five points above the relegation zone, and progress is evident in the players he has integrated into his team. Asmir Begovic, Nathan Ake, and Lewis Cook are all Premier League-quality mainstays in the lineup.

A shock three points could be taken from Tottenham Hotspur. Mauricio Pochettino’s men will take the pitch at Dean Court four days after entertaining Juventus at Wembley, and Bournemouth may encounter a visitor that is both physically and mentally jaded.

Even with a modest return from the last five outings – just one point is projected – Bournemouth comfortably secures a third straight Premier League season.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Leicester City (a) 0
March 11 Tottenham (h) 3
March 17 West Brom (h) 3
March 31 Watford (a) 1
April 7 Crystal Palace (h) 1
April 14 Liverpool (a) 0
April 21 Manchester United (h) 0
April 28 Southampton (a) 0
May 5 Swansea City (h) 1
May 13 Burnley (a) 0

Total points = 41

12. West Ham United

Marko Arnautovic could keep West Ham United up on his own right now.

With the Austrian at his cocksure best in attack and Cheikhou Kouyate steadily becoming more influential in midfield, David Moyes is in with a good chance of repairing his reputation in east London.

Surprisingly, it is West Ham’s home form has stretched a three-point cushion above the bottom three, and wins at the London Stadium over Burnley and Southampton in the coming weeks could nearly nail down the club’s top-flight status.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Swansea City (a) 1
March 10 Burnley (h) 3
? Manchester United (h) 0
March 31 Southampton (h) 1
April 8 Chelsea (a) 0
April 16 Stoke City (h) 1
April 23 Arsenal (a) 0
April 29 Manchester City (h) 0
May 5 Leicester City (a) 1
May 13 Everton (h) 3

Total points = 40

13. Stoke City

Things had turned stale under Mark Hughes, but there should be enough at Paul Lambert’s disposal to stop the rot and keep Stoke City in the division.

Kurt Zouma and Joe Allen are definitely good enough to be Premier League regulars and forge a strong spine, while the mercurial talent of Xherdan Shaqiri has hit form at the right moment. It’s probably no coincidence his consistent spell is when Switzerland‘s World Cup campaign is drawing nearer.

The Potters’ target before the matches against Crystal Palace and Swansea City should be to have secured safety or to be close by then. If they’re not, the clashes in Staffordshire and south Wales will be nervy and unpredictable affairs.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Southampton (a) 1
March 12 Manchester City (h) 0
March 17 Everton (h) 3
April 1 Arsenal (a) 0
April 7 Tottenham (h) 0
April 14 West Ham (a) 1
April 21 Burnley (h) 3
April 28 Liverpool (a) 0
May 5 Crystal Palace (h) 3
May 13 Swansea City (a) 3

Total points = 40

14. Newcastle United

Keeping Newcastle up could be one of the greatest achievements of Rafa Benitez’s coaching career.

The Spaniard has minimum support from the boardroom, so was forced to address his threadbare squad with bargain loan buys in January. The early signs have been good, with Martin Dubravka showing superb athleticism between the sticks and Kenedy displaying fleeting moments of brilliance.

There are some difficult games coming up for Newcastle, but the Magpies’ two-point head start could prove priceless by mid-May.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Liverpool (a) 0
March 10 Southampton (h) 3
March 16 Tottenham (a) 0
March 31 Huddersfield (h) 3
April 7 Leicester City (a) 0
April 15 Arsenal (h) 0
April 21 Everton (a) 0
April 28 West Brom (h) 1
May 5 Watford (a) 0
May 13 Chelsea (h) 3

Total points = 39

15. Huddersfield Town

Back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and West Brom have given David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town breathing space in the relegation squabble.

It’s all a product of the Terriers’ work in the January transfer window. There was an over-reliance on Christopher Schindler and Aaron Mooy, so, to alleviate some of the pressure, Terence Kongolo and Alex Pritchard were brought in from Monaco and Norwich City, respectively.

A couple of wins before the tough final two matches should be enough to earn another term of top-flight football for Wagner’s industrious throng.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Tottenham (a) 0
March 10 Swansea City (h) 3
March 17 Crystal Palace (h) 1
March 31 Newcastle United (a) 0
April 7 Brighton (a) 1
April 14 Watford (h) 3
April 21 Chelsea (a) 0
April 28 Everton (h) 1
May 5 Manchester City (a) 0
May 13 Arsenal (h) 0

Total points = 39

16. Crystal Palace

Out of all of the individual spells in the treatment room this season, none is more damaging than Wilfried Zaha‘s at Crystal Palace.

The Eagles have lost all of the eight league matches Zaha has missed in 2017-18, but were only defeated in five of the 20 he featured in. He’s a whirlwind of pace and relentless work rate when he plays, and is by far biggest miss on the lengthy injury list at Selhurst Park. The latest prediction for his return is the trip to Huddersfield.

The next four fixtures are daunting, but after that Roy Hodgson can pick up points against a string of bottom-half battlers. The cliche “relegation six-pointer” will be aired many times over the next two-and-a-half months, especially when addressing the bulk of Crystal Palace’s run-in.

Date Match Point prediction
March 5 Manchester United (h) 0
March 10 Chelsea (a) 0
March 17 Huddersfield (a) 1
March 31 Liverpool (h) 0
April 7 Bournemouth (a) 1
April 14 Brighton (h) 3
April 21 Watford (a) 1
April 28 Leicester City (h) 3
May 5 Stoke City (a) 0
May 13 West Brom (h) 1

Total points = 37

17. Swansea City

Carlos Carvalhal has taken pressure off the Swansea City squad, and some of it is down to anecdotes which draw puzzling imagery from topics as varied as taking a chicken to a picnic and driving a Formula One car through London traffic.

That stuff is entertaining, but it all wears a little thin when Brighton is helping itself to a fourth goal against you. The organisation that Carvalhal has brought to Swansea wasn’t evident in last Saturday’s stuffing, and his substitutions – he’d made all three swaps by the 66th minute – were followed by a goal for his team, but three for the opposition.

The Swans may need positive results in the final two games to preserve their Premier League status.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 West Ham (h) 1
March 10 Huddersfield (a) 0
? Southampton (h) 3
March 31 Manchester United (a) 0
April 7 West Brom (a) 1
April 14 Everton (h) 3
April 21 Manchester City (a) 0
April 28 Chelsea (h) 0
May 5 Bournemouth (a) 1
May 13 Stoke City (h) 0

Total points = 36

18. Brighton & Hove Albion

There is much to admire about Chris Hughton and his Brighton side. The Seagulls have wrung the best out of 34-year-old Glenn Murray, Jose Izquierdo, and the defensive duo of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk to take eight points from their last four league matches and instill belief that another top-flight season is on the horizon.

But it might not be enough.

Brighton is heading into a difficult run of fixtures to end the campaign, and if results are needed over the final four tilts, Hughton may find himself in a spot of bother. It would be a shame for a manager as talented as he is to suffer relegation, but it’s a harrowing possibility for a team currently positioned in 12th.

Date Match Point prediction
March 4 Arsenal (h) 1
March 10 Everton (a) 0
? Manchester City (a) 0
March 31 Leicester City (h) 1
April 7 Huddersfield (h) 1
April 14 Crystal Palace (a) 0
April 20 Tottenham (h) 0
April 28 Burnley (a) 1
May 5 Manchester United (h) 0
May 13 Liverpool (a) 0

Total points = 35

19. Southampton

Is the Southampton board’s patience with Mauricio Pellegrino to be commended or questioned?

Recovering from the apathy and subsequent sale of Virgil van Dijk is difficult, but there are players in the Saints ranks’ – Cedric Soares, Steven Davis, Mario Lemina, Ryan Bertrand, and others – who don’t belong near the foot of the table.

The most disappointing juncture of this season had to be January. Southampton could only win in the FA Cup that month, and the blatant need to pick up attacking talent through the middle was addressed by £19-million Guido Carrillo – a forward who has hardly played for two years and doesn’t have a noteworthy scoring record in either Argentina or France.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Stoke City (h) 1
March 10 Newcastle (a) 0
? Swansea City (a) 0
March 31 West Ham (a) 1
April 9 Arsenal (a) 0
April 14 Chelsea (h) 1
April 21 Leicester City (a) 0
April 28 Bournemouth (h) 3
May 5 Everton (a) 1
May 13 Manchester City (h) 0

Total points = 34

20. West Bromwich Albion

No bounce and no bravado. When those aspects of an Alan Pardew regime fail to materialise, it’s difficult seeing anything other than a miserable period for the club concerned. West Brom appears doomed, and cannot even rely on its senior members to provide leadership and inspiration while they struggle with curfews and cab fares.

Related – Report: West Brom taxi case provisionally dismissed over lack of evidence

Pardew’s future at the Hawthorns will apparently be assessed after Saturday’s trip to Watford, but even if the Baggies sack him, where will they go from there? Would somebody like Martin O’Neill be able to make a difference?

It will probably be a captivating battle against the drop, but West Brom could be a mere spectator by late April.

Date Match Point prediction
March 3 Watford (a) 1
March 10 Leicester City (h) 1
March 17 Bournemouth (a) 0
March 31 Burnley (h) 3
April 7 Swansea City (h) 1
April 15 Manchester United (a) 0
April 22 Liverpool (h) 0
April 28 Newcastle United (a) 1
May 5 Tottenham (h) 0
May 13 Crystal Palace (a) 1

Total points = 28

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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