As we enter the business end of the Premier League season, there is still plenty of football to be played. In fact the title race, Champions League qualification and the relegation battle all remain wide open. In the first of two articles, we decided to run the rule over the bottom six in the division.
15th – Brighton
Why they’ll stay up: They’re five points clear of relegation, have played the fewest number of games in the division and in Chris Hughton they have a manager with experience of relegation battles. Their goal difference is so superior to most of the teams below them that, unless they started losing every match by four goals, it effectively counts as an extra point.
Why they’ll go down: The FA Cup semi-final could prove to be a huge distraction. Their cushion to the relegation zone isn’t enough to take their eyes off the ball and, if they do, they could get dragged into the mire quickly. With Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and City still to come, they have a tough set of fixtures.
Remaining Fixtures: Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Bournemouth (H), Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), Tottenham (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Man City (A)
16th – Southampton
Why they’ll stay up: Because Mark Hughes is out and Ralph Hasenhüttl is in. They had achieved 0.6 points per game before the managerial change and 1.5 thereafter, which has dragged them out of trouble. Their remaining fixtures are manageable with Liverpool the only top six opposition remaining.
Why they’ll go down: Since the Hasenhüttl effect subsided, their form has dipped. They have won two of their last seven matches and have kept a solitary clean sheet in their previous nine. Goals have been a problem for Southampton all season and they have scored the sixth fewest in the division.
Remaining Fixtures: Southampton (A), Liverpool (H), Wolves (H), Newcastle (A), Watford (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (H)
17th – Burnley
Why they’ll stay up: In dropping Joe Hart, Sean Dyche finally managed to restore the defensive solidarity that led them to the heady heights of seventh last season. After a shocking start in which they look doomed after winning three of their opening 19 matches, hope was restored by an eight match unbeaten run in which they won five.
Why they’ll go down: That solidarity has, once again, abandoned Burnley. Since that unbeaten run, they have lost four league games in a row. Additionally they are facing a nightmarish end to season against Chelsea, Man City, Everton and Arsenal. Yikes.
Remaining Fixtures: Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A), Cardiff (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H)
18th – Cardiff
Why they’ll stay up: Neil Warnock has done a fantastic job at Cardiff this season in very difficult circumstances. He has turned what is essentially a Championship squad into one that is punching well above its weight in the Premier League. With virtually nobody giving them a chance of survival, Cardiff’s spirit might yet carry them to safety.
Why they’ll go down: Their remaining fixtures are an absolute nightmare. They face Chelsea and Man City in the space of four days before trips to Liverpool and Man United. In fact six of their remaining fixtures are away from home, including a run of five in a row. Not ideal for the team with the third worst away record in the league.
Remaining Fixtures: Chelsea (H), Man City (A), Burnley (A), Brighton (A), Liverpool (A), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man United (A)
19th – Fulham
Why they’ll stay up: They won’t. To stand a chance they’d probably need to win at least six of their remaining seven fixtures, starting with Man City this weekend. A campaign that promised so much has turned into a nightmare.
Why they’ll go down: Their defence has more holes than Swiss cheese. Having conceded 70 goals already, at the current rate they are on course to leak 86 goals over the campaign. The most ever conceded was 89 and with City looming large this weekend, they might go close to that. Three different managers in a season hasn’t helped matters.
Remaining Fixtures: Man City (H), Watford (A), Everton (H), Bournemouth (H), Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H)
20th – Huddersfield
Why they’ll stay up: They won’t, barring hell freezing over. Huddersfield are 16 points short of safety with only 21 left to play for. If Burnley beat Wolves and Huddersfield lose to Palace this weekend, they will be relegated before April.
Why they’ll go down: They simply can’t score. With 18 goals from 31 matches this season, they are scoring just over half a goal a match on average. The Terriers are still two goals short of Derby’s record for the fewest ever scored in a single campaign and, with fixtures against Tottenham, Liverpool and Man United to come, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get them.
Remaining Fixtures: Crystal Palace (A), Leicester City (A), Tottenham (A), Watford (H), Liverpool (A), Man United (H), Southampton (A)