We’re now entering the final stretch of the Premier League season and while there is plenty to play for in the top half of the table, it is down at the bottom where things are arguably most tense.
Sheffield United have already seen their relegation back to the Championship confirmed, but there are still two more teams who will face the drop yet to be confirmed.
Ten points separate 14th from 18th and it only takes a couple of results to swing momentum one way or another (though time is running out). With that in mind, let’s take a look at this season’s relegation candidates based on their league position.
Current position: 15th
Goal difference: -18
An impressive start to the 2020/21 season put Southampton in early contention for European qualification, but injuries hit the South Coast team hard over the winter period and as a result, they’ve plummeted down the table.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men are certainly outsiders to drop down the Championship but with Leicester and Liverpool and West Ham to come within their final four games, that could change.
But if the Saints can avoid defeat against Fulham, that should do the trick, even if they lost every other game.
Remaining fixtures: Liverpool (A), Crystal Palace (H), Fulham (H), Leeds (H), West Ham (A)
Current position: 16th
Goal difference: -16
Despite losing to West Ham United in their last match, Burnley hold a nine points lead over 18th-placed Fulham and need just four points from their final four games to secure their spot in the 2021/22 Premier League season.
The Clarets play the Cottagers next, while they close out the season away at Sheffield United. Beat Fulham this weekend and they’ll be safe, lose and also fail to beat Sheffield United, however, and who knows what could happen, especially with Liverpool still to come for Sean Dyche’s men.
Remaining fixtures: Fulham (A), Leeds (H), Liverpool (H), Sheffield United (A)
Current position: 17th
Goal difference: -20
Newcastle continue to play some of the Premier League’s most turgid football under Steve Bruce but the Magpies are on the verge of safety. Nine points separate Newcastle from Fulham in 18th, with those two sides squaring off on the final day. If Fulham can close the gap before then, anything could happen.
Of course, the Cottagers need to improve their own form if that is to become a reality, but with Newcastle facing Leicester and Manchester City in their next two games, they’ll have plenty of chances to close the gap. One thing is for certain: Newcastle absolutely need to win that home tie with already-relegated Sheffield United on matchday 37.
Remaining fixtures: Leicester (A), Man City (H), Sheffield United (H), Fulham (A)
Current position: 18th
Goal difference: -20
Fulham have played far better football than their league position suggests, underperforming their xG by just over 12 goals. But their defence has let them down.
Far too often, Scott Parker’s men have dominated matches only to lose by a single goal, or draw when they should have taken home three points. Time is now running out fast for them to set that straight but the silver lining is that among their four remaining fixtures are Burnley, Southampton and Newcastle, meaning they can take points from their direct rivals.
Remaining fixtures: Burnley (H), Southampton (A), Man Utd (A), Newcastle (H)
Current position: 19th
Goal difference: -34
One thing that sets West Brom apart from the rest of the pack is that they have a Sam Allardyce at their disposal. The former Bolton boss has been in this position time and again with the likes of Sunderland and Crystal Palace over the years, always finding a way to safety.
However, they are on the verge of relegation with two draws in their past two games keeping the Baggies 10 points from safety with four left to play. Given their remaining fixtures, West Brom are certainly favourites for the drop, but we’ve seen miraculous escape acts from both this club and their manager before.
Remaining fixtures: Arsenal (A), Liverpool (H), West Ham (H), Leeds (A)