AS Mauricio Pellegrino became the ninth Premier League manager sacked, the top flight’s unprecendented eight-way relegation race took another turn.
Southampton, now managerless after axing Pellegrino, have registered just five victories all season – an utter disaster as they’ve slumped this term and risk relegation after finishing eighth last season. The decision to sack Claude Puel at the end of last term has backfired spectacularly,
Club legend Matt Le Tissier told Sky Sports: “We’ve been a fairly negative side, not on the front foot that much, and certainly not scoring the amount of goals to take us to a good position in the league.
“Whenever a manager goes that long, winning one game in 17, I think everybody understands in football these days that the guy is under serious pressure.”
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With eight games to play in the Premier League, we are no closer to a definitive answer as to who will live to fight on in 2018-19.
Just five points separate 13th and 19th, with an unprecedented amount of teams set to battle for survival in the closing stages.
It appears a near certainty that West Brom, who have been stuck to the foot of the table for most of the season, will go down.
The Baggies are seven points away from their nearest rivals – Stoke City and Crystal Palace -who round out the relegation spots, and are reportedly set to part with their second manager in the space of five months.
West Ham are a calamity waiting to happen with their fans in protest, while Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield sit precariously close to danger.
A resurgent Swansea aren’t yet clear, but have recovered well after their shocking start, and just ahead of the pack sit Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle who cannot take anything for granted just yet despite a critical triumph thanks to a win over the Saints over the weekend.
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In Premier League history, the average number of points to guarantee survival is 36.6. Although Bournemouth (33), Brighton (34) and Watford (36) should be safe, it is no guarantee they are still immune from being lured into this discussion over the next two months.
Here’s the state of play in the race to avoid Premier League relegation.
Not all matches are created equal when it comes to this time of the season.
As two relegation candidates match up against one another, the game is essentially worth six points if you can win it – three you get, and three your direct rivals cannot get!
There are still nine of these games to come – these clashes will play a big role in deciding who survives and who perishes.
Six-Pointers in the run home:
Huddersfield v Crystal Palace – 18 March
Newcastle v Huddersfield – 1 April
West Ham v Southampton – 1 April
West Brom v Swansea – 8 April
West Ham v Stoke – 17 April
Newcastle v West Brom – 29 April
Stoke v Crystal Palace – 6 May
Crystal Palace v West Brom – 14 May
Swansea v Stoke – 14 May
TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS
13th: Newcastle – 32 Points
Season defining match: v Huddersfield (April 1)
Based on last season’s final standings, Newcastle should be just two points away from securing another season of Premier League football – however this campaign has proved anything but uniform.
With just five points separating them and 19th placed Stoke, Rafa Benitez’s men cannot breathe a sigh of relief yet, and with a string of tough games ahead – they could still find themselves in serious trouble.
The Toon face six top-half sides in their run home, with two six-pointers set to prove pivotal in their search to secure survival.
Games still to come: Spurs (A, postponed), Huddersfield (H), Leicester (A), Arsenal (H), Everton (H), West Brom (H), Watford (A), Chelsea (H).
14th: Swansea – 31 Points
Season defining match: v Stoke (May 14)
When Carlos Carvalhal replaced Paul Clement in December, Swansea were in dire straits – with few backing them to get even close to avoiding the drop.
Fast forward three months, and the appointment of Carvalhal looks a master stroke; the Portuguese manager has reinvigorated the Swans and now looks set to steer them to a respectable league finish.
Since he took over, the Welsh outfit have lost just twice in 16 matches in all competitions, although they’re not out of trouble just yet.
Their run home features unfavourable match-ups with three top-six sides, although it is also punctuated with three very winnable clashes against fellow relegation battlers.
Games still to come: Southampton (H, postponed), Manchester United (A), West Brom (A), Everton (H), Manchester City (A), Chelsea (H), Bournemouth (A), Stoke (H)
15th: Huddersfield – 31 Points
Season defining match: v Newcastle (April 1)
Boosted by the return of Socceroos star Aaron Mooy, Huddersfield will back themselves to avoid the dreaded drop. But goals have been tough to come by for the PL rookies.
After spurning a prime opportunity to grab a crucial three points against a ten-man Swansea over the weekend, the Terriers’ next two matches shape as must-wins amidst a perilous run home.
In their upcoming outings, they’ll take on Crystal Palace and Newcastle – with both matches shaping as season-defining moments in a season which continues to flirt with danger.
A run home which reads Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal will no doubt be the stuff of manager David Wagner’s nightmares, but a strong showing over the next month can diminish the importance of these terrifying fixtures.
Games still to come: Crystal Palace (H), Newcastle (A), Brighton (A), Watford (H), Chelsea (A), Everton (H), Manchester City (A), Arsenal (H)
16th: West Ham – 30 Points
Season defining match: v Stoke (17 April)
It’s absolute chaos at the Hammers at the moment, and their season is in danger of getting even worse.
As captain Mark Noble clashed with a fan over the weekend after a pitch invasion, the Londoners suffered an equally embarrassing loss to Burnley which sent them even closer to the drop zone.
Just three points clear and with a tough run of fixtures ahead of them, David Moyes’ men are in real danger of heading down to the Championship.
Their off-field troubles aside, their football – which has yielded three consecutive three-goal losses – is seriously lacking and will need to improve if they’re to negotiate safe passage to another Premier League campaign.
With six top-half clashes remaining, their meetings with Southampton and Stoke will decide their season.
Games still to play: Manchester United (H, postponed), Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Stoke City (H), Arsenal (A), Manchester City (H), Leicester City (A), Everton (H)
17th: Southampton – 28 Points
Season defining match: v West Ham (April 1)
The relegation race was changed immeasurably as Southampton opted to part with manager Mauricio Pellegrino at a crucial point of the campaign to try and turbocharge their campaign with a change of leader.
It’s been a seriously disappointing season at St Marys amid transfer activity which saw them fail to adequately reinvest the £75m (AU$132m) Liverpool paid them for Virgil van Dijk.
The toothless Saints have registered more draws this season than any other Premier League team – 13 – and are languishing just one point away from the bottom three.
Big clashes with Swansea and West Ham shape as season-defining outings, with their remaining schedule littered with difficult clashes against top half opposition.
Two wins against their fellow strugglers would go a long way in their quest to survive – but it might already be too late considering how tough their other fixtures appear.
However, with a new boss to come in, hope of a resurrection re-emerges – and if their replacement boss can inspire a turnaround, it will prove decisive in determining the outcome of the relegation scrap.
Games still to play: Swansea (A, postponed), West Ham (A), Arsenal (A), Chelsea (H), Leicester (A), Bournemouth (H), Everton (A), Manchester City (H)
18th: Crystal Palace – 27 Points
Season defining match: v Stoke (May 6)
A topsy turvy season at Selhurst Park has Crystal Palace in the drop zone with eight matches to play.
After an awful start, Roy Hodgson had begun a turnaround only for an injury to star winger Wilfried Zaha to stifle the Londoners’ progress.
An eight-game unbeaten run between November and late December had restored the Eagles to mid-table obscurity, but a recent lean streak, where they have failed to register a win in their last 10 games has undone that good work.
It’s an interesting run home for Hodgson’s side with a range of mid-table match-ups followed by a pair of six-point clashes to round out the season.
The penultimate and final round clashes see them face the only two teams currently below them on the ladder – and are crucial to their chances of survival. Lose and they’re almost definitely going down.
Games still to play: Huddersfield (A), Liverpool (H), Bournemouth (A), Brighton (H), Watford (A), Leicester City (H), Stoke (A), West Brom (H)
19th: Stoke City – 27 Points
Season defining match: v Crystal Palace (6 May)
Stoke City have been sub-par this season, and deserve to be embroiled in a relegation scrap.
However, just one point separates them from safety, and with three winnable clashes approaching, a few big performances could easily see them earn a perhaps undeserved ticket to remain in the top flight.
They face West Ham, Crystal Palace and Swansea in their run home, and wins in those must win clashes should see them home – although a failure to capitalise on those fixtures could be the final nail in the coffin.
Everton, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool also still await and it’s unlikely they’ll take anything from any of those matches.
Still odds on to go down.
Games still to play: Everton (H), Arsenal (A), Spurs (H), West Ham (A), Burnley (H), Liverpool (A), Crystal Palace (H), Swansea (A)
20th: West Brom – 20 Points
Season defining match: v Crystal Palace (14 May – their last game in the Premier League for a while)
As things stand, it would take a miracle for West Brom to take part in next season’s Premier League.
They’re easily the league’s worst side and the table reflects that – with Alan Pardew having registered just a single win as West Brom boss to date… he took over in late November.
A look at the fixtures suggests we won’t see a late flurry from the Baggies, with clashes against Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs all still to come.
Its been a shambolic season at The Hawthorns, and barring a phenomenon, they will be greeted with their deserved fate – a one-way ticket to the Championship – come season’s end.
Games still to come: Bournemouth (A), Burnley (H), Swansea (H), Manchester United (A), Liverpool (H), Newcastle (A), Spurs (H), Crystal Palace (A)
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