PREMIER LEAGUE: Who Will Lose the Relegation Battle?
March 12, 2018
With Manchester City rampant and poised to win this season’s Premier League by a record margin, it’s fair to say that the title race is already done and dusted.
With this in mind, all eyes have turned to the bottom of the table, where a total of at least nine clubs are facing a battle to secure their EPL futures over the next few months.
Below, we’ll look at how the battle is shaping up, by asking which three sides are ultimately likely to face the dreaded drop.
West Bromwich Albion
Even if you had a free bet and were looking to back a team to be relegated from the Premier League, you probably wouldn’t waste it on the Baggies. Alan Pardew’s side can currently be backed at oppressive odds of 1/9 to drop out of the EPL at the end of the season, and a quick glance at the stats makes it easy to see why.
The Baggies are currently bottom of the table and seven points from safety, while they have won just one out of 14 league games since Alan Pardew replaced Tony Pulis as manager in November. In total, they have won only three of their last 37 league games, and a meagre total of four during the last 12 months as a whole.
Fans can’t even look to their manager for inspiration, with Pardew himself in the midst of his worst spell as a top-flight manager. During his last 50 league matches in charge of both Albion and Crystal Palace, he has won just seven times and recorded an average points-per-game return of 0.7.
Given this, and with disciplinary issues also hampering morale at the club, there is very little light at the end of this particular tunnel. So, while the club will be looking to replicate the Great Escape that they performed in 2005 (when they were still bottom of the table with 15 minutes of the season to go), this currently seems little more than a fanciful dream.
Our next tip for the drop is Southampton, who are currently sat in 16th place in the table and being kept out of the relegation zone on goal difference alone.
The Saints, who have only won one of their last five games, have struggled for form all season, with a paltry goal return of 29 in 28 matches indicative of their trials. In fact, they have only won five league games all season, as a high turnover of players and managers finally appears to have taken its toll on the club.
The decline of the Saints has emerged as something of a surprise, as while the club have also had a reputation for developing talent and selling on star players for a profit, they’ve also managed to remain in the top half of the EPL. They even managed to secure eighth place last year, while then-manager Claude Puel also led the club to the League Cup final (where they lost narrowly to Manchester United at Wembley).
Overall, struggling manager Mauricio Pellegrino has won just 8 games out of 32 during his Saints’ tenure, with a disappointing win percentage of just 25%. He’ll need to turn this around quickly if the club is to survive this term, but the form book seems to suggest that this represents a considerable long shot.
In simple terms, we expect Newcastle, Swansea and Stoke City to compete for the final relegation place, with all three clubs currently separated by just two points.
While Newcastle and Swansea seem to be hitting some kind of form (while the Magpies also have the experienced Rafa Benitez at their disposal), Stoke are continuing to struggle at both ends of the pitch in their attempts to beat the drop.
Interestingly, the Potters showed the green shoots of recovery when Paul Lambert first took over from the sacked Mark Hughes in January, but they’ve since failed to win any of their last four games and have now slipped to 19th place in the table. Stoke also have the worst goal difference in the league, having shipped a record high of 54 goals in their 28 games and scored at a rate of only one goal per game.
It should come as no surprise that the Potters are priced at around 8/11 to drop into the Championship this year, and we reckon that Lambert will have his work cut out if he’s to remain in the top-flight.