The business end of the Premier League is almost upon us and the race at both ends of the points table is heating up. Chelsea looks hot favorites to lift the title while Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all fighting for a place in the top-4. However, the relegation battle at the other end is seemingly more interesting as up to 6 clubs are currently close to the drop zone. Watford in 13th are not in real danger while Burnley in the 14th place, who are just 6 points off safety is where it all starts.
Swansea are currently 4 points off relegation, while Middlesbrough are 2 points off the drop zone. Defending Champions Leicester City are just a point off relegation while Hull City, Crystal Palace, and Sunderland make up the bottom three places. A lot would depend on the remaining fixtures and here is a small prediction on how the relegation race might be, come the end of the season:
Paul Clement’s Swansea side have made great progress since the turn of the year having purchased some decent players. They have found great form of late, picking up 9 points from 4 games, including victories against Liverpool, Southampton, and Leicester. They lost to Manchester City in extra time and with most of their fixtures against top clubs done, they are expected to be safe come the end of the season.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are the farthest from the bottom-3 but they have to play 4 of the top-6 in the points table. However, they have fixtures against the bottom three still remaining and a couple of victories should do the job in what is expected to be a low-scoring survival this season in the top flight.
Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough are yet to win a game in the Premier League since the turn of the year and are not in great form at the moment. However, they have picked up a few draws, that is keeping them safe. In the remaining games this season, Boro will play 4 of the top-6 and also 4 of the bottom 6 which might see their fate decided in the last couple of weeks of the competition.
Champions Leicester are yet to replace Claudio Ranieri, who has not won a point in the league since the turn of the year but they have a decent squad that can stand up and have still to play almost every team around them in the points table, their safety should not be too huge a concern for their fans unless they resist the change under the new manager.
And the hot favorites for relegation, Crystal Palace, Hull City and Sunderland, have to be at their best to move out of the drop zone. Marco Silva’s Tigers have shown some improvement in recent times and they have a relatively easy run-in to the end of the season. But they will have to play out of their skins to retain their place in the top flight.
Sam Allardyce is not going to let his Crystal Palace side go down easily but they are yet to face 5 of the top-6 in the points table and have very little chance of making it out of the bottom three unless they start winning games against lower sides. They have been better in recent games but will have to do far more to stay in the Premier League.
David Moyes and his Sunderland side are currently at the 20th place in the points table and are odds on favorites to go down this season. They have shown no fight or the hunger to win in recent games and are still to play Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea before the end of the season. They have games against teams around them in the points table but they have not shown any promise and will have sealed their fate if they fail to take points consistently starting from now.
The relegation battle this season is expected to be high-octane as teams in the bottom of the table have plenty of games among themselves. These games are virtual six-pointers and can not just save them but will also dump their rivals. At the moment, Palace, Sunderland, and Middlesbrough are on the cusp of relegation but how do you think this battle will pan out come the end of the season?