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Premier League Relegation Battle Preview

Important fixtures, predictions and more

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Daniel Chesterton/Offside/Getty Images

As the season winds down, urgency will set in for a selection of teams who haven’t put themselves in a safe enough position. In this case, we will consider Norwich, Watford, West Ham, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace to be in danger of relegation.

The Premier League table currently looks like this.

Remaining schedules:

Norwich City

M28 vs Leicester
M29 at Sheffield United
M30 vs Southampton
M31 vs Everton
M32 at Arsenal
M33 vs Brighton
M34 at Watford
M35 vs West Ham
M36 at Chelsea
M37 vs Burnley
M38 at Manchester City

Projection: 6 points


Watford

M28 vs Liverpool
M29 at Crystal Palace
M30 vs Leicester
M31 at Burnley
M32 vs Southampton
M33 at Chelsea
M34 vs Norwich
M35 vs Newcastle
M36 at West Ham
M37 vs Manchester City
M38 at Arsenal

Projection: 6 points


West Ham United

M28 vs Southampton
M29 at Arsenal
M30 vs Wolverhampton
M31 at Tottenham
M32 vs Chelsea
M33 at Newcastle
M34 vs Burnley
M35 at Norwich
M36 vs Watford
M37 at Manchester United
M38 vs Aston Villa

Projection: 11 points


Aston Villa

M28 vs Sheffield United *to be rescheduled
M29 at Leicester
M30 vs Chelsea
M31 at Newcastle
M32 vs Wolverhampton
M33 at Liverpool
M34 vs Manchester United
M35 vs Crystal Palace
M36 at Everton
M37 vs Arsenal
M38 at West Ham

Projection: 6 points


Bournemouth

M28 vs Chelsea
M29 at Liverpool
M30 vs Crystal Palace
M31 at Wolverhampton
M32 vs Newcastle
M33 at Manchester United
M34 vs Tottenham
M35 vs Leicester
M36 at Manchester City
M37 vs Southampton
M38 at Everton

Projection: 6 points


Brighton & Hove Albion

M28 vs Crystal Palace
M29 at Wolverhampton
M30 vs Arsenal
M31 at Leicester
M32 vs Manchester United
M33 at Norwich
M34 vs Liverpool
M35 vs Manchester City
M36 at Southampton
M37 vs Newcastle
M38 at Burnley

Projection: 10 points


Newcastle United

M28 vs Burnley
M29 at Southampton
M30 vs Sheffield United
M31 vs Aston Villa
M32 at Bournemouth
M33 vs West Ham
M34 at Manchester City
M35 at Watford
M36 vs Tottenham
M37 at Brighton
M38 vs Liverpool

Projection: 7 points


Crystal Palace

M28 at Brighton
M29 vs Watford
M30 at Bournemouth
M31 at Liverpool
M32 vs Burnley
M33 at Leicester
M34 vs Chelsea
M35 at Aston Villa
M36 vs Manchester United
M37 at Wolverhampton
M38 vs Tottenham

Projection: 6 points


Predicted Table (using https://www.worldfootball.net/table_calculator/eng-premier-league/ )

Key matches in the relegation battle:

Bournemouth vs Chelsea - Matchweek 28 - Bournemouth have beaten Chelsea in both of their last two meetings, including a 4-0 battering in January of last year. If Bournemouth can play like they have before under Eddie Howe, stealing a win off one of the top 5 teams that they face may be the survival boost they need.

West Ham vs Southampton - Matchweek 28 - West Ham would be happy to do the double over Southampton. Southampton would put themselves in a very comfy position with three points here and they have a friendly enough schedule that Europa league isn’t inconceivable if they get hot.

Newcastle vs Aston Villa - Matchweek 31 - Newcastle was relegated after the 2015-16 season despite taking 12 points from their 6 matches against Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester United. One of the reasons Newcastle was relegated was that they failed on two occasions to beat 20th place Aston Villa who finished the season with 17 points. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

Newcastle vs West Ham - Matchweek 33 - Newcastle’s road record of late doesn’t inspire hope among their supporters, so a home fixture against a fellow relegation candidate is extremely meaningful in the relegation picture.

Norwich vs Brighton - Matchweek 33 - Norwich isn’t done yet. This match against Brighton is a must-win for the Canaries. If they can steal a few wins in the weeks preceding, this matchup with Brighton could keep their hopes alive. Norwich will be hoping for lots of draws between relegation candidates.

Crystal Palace vs Burnley - Matchweek 34 - If Palace can manage a win against a stingy Burnley defense, they will be safe. Burnley has conceded 2 goals in their last 5 league matches. During that span, they’ve faced three of the Premier League’s top 4 scorers (Vardy, Aubameyang, Ings).

Crystal Palace v Burnley - Premier League
Burnley and Palace will match up again soon and it holds a lot of weight
Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Watford vs Newcastle - Matchweek 35 - Watford looked like they had figured it out not too long ago, but they have cooled off since. They will need to defend their pitch. Watford will be looking for six points between this match and the next.

Watford at West Ham - Matchweek 36 - A draw just won’t do for either side here. Each team will be clawing for three points. The pressure will be palpable at this point. Watford needs a win here because their last two matches are against Manchester City and Arsenal.

Brighton vs Newcastle - Matchweek 37 - Former 2016-17 Championship rivals meet in a high stakes clash. Brighton would like to send Newcastle down after they handed Newcastle the championship trophy a few years ago.

West Ham vs Aston Villa - Matchweek 38 - If one of these teams isn’t already relegated, this is likely a fight for survival.

Influential factors to consider:

Liverpool’s Motivation

Will Liverpool be resting players toward the end of the season? I expect that they will play their hardest if they are still undefeated. If they do lose, does that mean they take their foot off the gas or will they keep up the intensity to set the points record as high as they can? Liverpool plays every team between 19 and 13 (excluding West Ham who they just played) in the current table, so their strength at the time of each fixture could play a major role. Liverpool’s intensity shouldn’t matter for Watford (matchweek 28), Bournemouth (matchweek 29), and Crystal Palace (matchweek 31). Aston Villa and Brighton face Liverpool on matchweeks 33 and 34 after the Reds face their toughest remaining Premier League fixture at Manchester City. If Liverpool then survives Arsenal and Chelsea and heads into their final match at St. James Park, Newcastle United will have quite a test on decision day.

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool: UEFA Champions League
As Champions League play heats up, will Liverpool begin to rest players in the PL?
Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Champions League Spots

Tottenham, Chelsea, Wolves, Leicester, and Manchester United are all going to be playing for Champions League qualification spots, but there are only five remaining matches where these teams face one another. Because they don’t play each other often, they need to take care of business against opposition from the bottom half of the table. Expect these five teams to impose their superior talent on smaller clubs during this frantic stretch.

For those questioning the exclusion of Sheffield United, they are in contention as well. Sheffield United must face all five of these teams, so they have more direct influence on their Champions League hopes. The issue with Sheffield is that they earned 4 points in 5 matches against the above contenders, which may not be enough this time around if they want to qualify for Europe. Sheffield United plays Villa, Norwich, and Newcastle in their next three Premier League matches, though, and winning those three will certainly help their case.