How do the run-ins fare for Premier League clubs fighting relegation?
Leeds are sweating over their nightmare fixtures, Leicester and Everton meet in a vital six-pointer and Southampton seem destined for the drop – but how do the run-ins fare for the bottom seven Premier League clubs as they fight to avoid relegation?
- Leeds and Nottingham Forest are precariously poised above the relegation zone
- Everton and Leicester meet on Monday as both sides battle to avoid the drop
- Mail Sport assesses each team’s run-in between now and the end of the season
The Premier League trapdoor is getting ever closer to opening with clubs running out of time to secure their status in the top-flight next season.
Crystal Palace and Wolves appear to have pulled clear of the relegation battle, with Roy Hodgson and Julen Lopetegui having overseen an upturn in results since taking charge of the respective sides.
While Bournemouth are just a point behind both clubs, manager Gary O’Neil has insisted his team must exceed their current tally of 36 points to ensure their survival. West Ham, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest currently have their heads above water heading into their final five Premier League matches – six in the case of the Hammers.
Premier League stalwarts Everton and Leicester are in the bottom three and face a crunch head-to-head clash on Monday, while Southampton seem to have been cut adrift.
As the campaign enters its final weeks, Mail Sport takes an in-depth look at the relegation picture to see who will be playing in the Premier League or Championship next season.
Southampton look destined to be relegated with Ruben Selles’ side six points from safety
14th: Bournemouth – 36 points
Crystal Palace (A)
Manchester United (H)
The Cherries had been viewed as the overwhelming favourites to be relegated at the start of the season, not least after Scott Parker questioned the club’s ambition and recruitment after their 9-0 loss to Liverpool back in August.
Gary O’Neil looks to have steered Bournemouth to another season in the top-flight in his first managerial role.
Bournemouth enjoyed a bumper April to boost their survival hopes with O’Neil’s side having recorded four wins in their last six Premier League games.
While wins over Fulham and Spurs were unexpected, the Cherries have crucially triumphed in six-pointers with 1-0 wins away at Leicester and Southampton.
O’Neil insisted after the win at St Mary’s on Thursday night that there have been no celebrations in the camp, despite moving seven points clear of the relegation zone.
‘It’s a big win for us, of course, the performance was pleasing. I thought we were by far the better side,’ O’Neil said.
The lads are recovering for Sunday. There’s no celebration, there’s not talk of points tallies. I can easily see 36 points going down this year. We won’t be resting.’
A victory over Leeds United on Sunday would surely rubber stamp Bournemouth’s Premier League status next season.
With matches against a Chelsea side in freefall, Crystal Palace and a final day trip to Everton, Bournemouth will feel confident of adding further points to their tally even if they leave Elland Road empty handed.
Bournemouth appear set to defy pre-season predictions by preserving their top flight status
15th: West Ham United – 34 points
Crystal Palace (A)
Man City (A)
Manchester United (H)
A 4-0 home defeat by West Ham was a rare aberration in Bournemouth’s superb April, but the result eased the Hammers own relegation concerns.
David Moyes’ side appear to have turned a significant corner this month after earning crucial wins to move up to 15th in the table.
A pair of 1-0 wins over Southampton and Fulham edged the Hammers clear of the drop at the start of the month, either side of a dismal 5-1 home defeat by Newcastle.
The fightback from 2-0 down to draw against Arsenal and the crushing win away at Bournemouth have given West Ham breathing space, while Moyes was left seething at having been denied a potential penalty to secure a draw against Liverpool on Wednesday.
West Ham appear secure with a five-point cushion and a game in hand on their rivals. Victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday would ease any lingering doubts, particularly with rivals Bournemouth and Leeds going head-to-head on Sunday, before Everton and Leicester meet the following day.
Defeat could yet leave West Ham sweating with Man City and Man United on next week’s schedule, before rounding off the league season against Brentford, Leeds and Leicester.
West Ham certainly will want to avoid needing results in those final two fixtures, with the hope that their sights will instead be set on Europa Conference League glory.
West Ham captain Declan Rice has played a key role in their battle against relegation
16th: Leeds United – 30 points
Manchester City (A)
West Ham (A)
Javi Gracia’s side were able to snap their three match losing run with a point against Leicester on Tuesday. Leeds fans will be wondering about how costly Jamie Vardy’s late equaliser and Patrick Bamford’s glaring miss could be to their hopes of avoiding the drop.
Leeds sit precariously one point above the relegation zone and will be peering ahead to some unkind fixtures in the closing weeks.
A daunting trip to the Etihad to face a Man City side stream rolling everyone in their path, followed by Eddie Howe’s free scoring Newcastle visiting Yorkshire are not ideal fixtures to have.
West Ham and Tottenham as the final two games should also represent tough opposition, sparking concerns over Leeds prospects of adding to their points tally.
Those fixtures mean that Sunday’s trip to the Vitality Stadium to play Bournemouth looks like a must-win if Leeds are to stay up.
Leeds have failed to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League since a 1-0 win over Southampton back in February. While Gracia’s side have only scored more than once in one of their last six Premier League matches.
Either, or preferably, both will have to change if Leeds are to stay afloat.
Leeds face a daunting run-in with fixtures against Man City and Newcastle on the horizon
17th: Nottingham Forest – 30 points
Crystal Palace (A)
The relief at the City Ground was clear on Wednesday as Steve Cooper’s side beat Brighton 3-1 to record their first win in 12.
The surprise result lifted Forest out of the bottom three and gave a much needed injection of belief into their battle for survival. Especially since the hosts fought back from 1-0 down having earlier seen Brennan Johnson’s penalty saved be Jason Steele.
Cooper admitted the result boosted the mood in the dressing room, but insists his side must look after their own results in their final five games.
‘It’s a vibrant dressing room and it was a good night, but we’ve got to get straight back to the training ground and prepare for another important game on Saturday,’ Cooper said. ‘I said before the game that things can change quickly, for better and for worse, we’ve got to keep on doing everything we can to make change for the better.’
A major concern for Forest fans will be that three of their final five matches are away from the City Ground.
Cooper’s side have earned only six points on the road this season, a Premier League low, with their sole victory coming at rock bottom Southampton back in January.
Forest may need to get something from their trips to Brentford, Chelsea and Crystal Palace to prevent an immediate return to the Championship.
While Forest will not want to look beyond Saturday’s away fixture at Brentford, their home match against Southampton will surely have been earmarked as a game they have to win.
Fans may hope the title race has been wrapped up by the time Arsenal come to the City Ground on the penultimate weekend of the season. While the fixture looks tough, Forest have proved a tough nut to crack for the Premier League’s best sides at home. Just ask Manchester City and Liverpool.
Victory over Brighton saw Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest boost their survival hopes
18th: Leicester City – 29 points
West Ham (H)
Forest’s win over Brighton saw Leicester slide back into the bottom three, despite taking four points from Dean Smith’s three matches in charge.
The hard-fought point at Elland Road in midweek has kept Leicester in touch with Leeds, leaving two sides just a point above them.
Monday night’s home match against Everton looks seismic for both side’s prospects. Victory and survival will feel within reach, while defeat would deepen the gloom.
Leicester will hope the quality of James Maddison can shine through, while the presence of Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy on the scoresheet in recent matches offers come optimism. Can Vardy provide another storyline despite fading as a Premier League force?
The Foxes will enter the crucial clash in better shape than Everton after a victory and a draw this week.
Leicester’s next two matches could go a long way to determining their fate, with an improving Liverpool side and an away trip to Newcastle representing tough fixtures in the run-in.
The Foxes should though have enough to escape the drop. Boasting a much better goal difference than their nearest rivals may prove crucial.
James Maddison could play a crucial role as Leicester seek to move out of the bottom three
19th: Everton – 28 points
Manchester City (H)
The Toffees look in an increasingly sticky spot, with Sean Dyche’s side two points from safety after the 4-1 home defeat by Newcastle on Thursday.
Dyche claimed his team ‘went under too easily after the second goal’ against Newcastle, with the visitors scoring three goals in a six-minute spell at Goodison Park.
Everton simply cannot afford a defeat in the six-pointer at Leicester, as the outcome would see one of their nearest rivals open up a four point gap with just four games remaining.
Dyche’s side must look to pick up points on the road in their final five matches, with Manchester City’s visit to Goodison Park looking ominous despite their home support.
Everton’s fight for survival looks likely to go down to the final day of the campaign when Bournemouth travel to Merseyside.
Having scored just 25 goals in their 33 matches, a league low, Everton’s prospects of avoiding a first relegation from the top flight since 1951 look increasingly bleak.
Everton are staring at the prospect of suffering a first relegation from the top flight since 1951
20th: Southampton – 24 points
Nottingham Forest (A)
Despite bloodying the nose of several of the Premier League’s top sides during the season, the writing appears to be on the wall for Southampton following their 1-0 loss to Bournemouth.
Saints are now six points from safety and have a worse goal difference than Everton, Leicester and Leeds.
The desperate situation probably requires Ruben Selles’ side to have to go to Newcastle and win on Sunday.
Given both sides respective form and the fact only Liverpool have won in the Premier League at St James’ Park this season, Southampton are very much drinking in the last chance saloon.
Saints face three away matches in their last five games and a final day home match against Liverpool.
It would take a remarkable run of results in their final five fixtures for Southampton to avoid playing Championship football next season.
Southampton will need to prove a remarkable run to avoid dropping to the Championship
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