Who will avoid the dreaded drop?

With the first gap beginning to form between the team at the bottom (West Bromwich Albion) and Southampton (in 17th place); I will be looking at all 10 teams I believe could still go down. I will be analysing how likely they are too go down, their key fixture(s), which players could make the difference and rate their chances of survival out of 10.


I will be starting from the team furthest up the table, that I think could realistically still be relegated and that is Watford. Watford are a team full of potential and good players as they showed at the beginning of the season under Marco Silva. However, they have dropped off the pace since Silva was linked with the Everton job. Watford brought in good reinforcements during the January transfer window and should help see them through to the end of the season. However, they do need to start picking up points consistently and not just a win against Chelsea, then getting beat off West Ham. If Watford are to stay up they will need Troy Deeney to behave himself and stop picking up necessary bans for off the ball incidents. They seem like a team lost of ideas without him, whereas with him they seem like a team determined to get a positive result. The key fixtures for Watford are the back-to-back fixtures at home to Huddersfield (14/04) and away to Crystal Palace (21/04). They should be picking up a minimum of four points if they are wanting to stay clear of the drop zone. Survival rating: 8/10

West Ham United

West Ham have had a indifferent season. Under Slaven Bilic they looked doomed to be heading down. However, against all the odds and what fans across the country thought, David Moyes has managed to turn things around at the London Stadium (just about). The reason West Ham are nearly in the top half of the table is simple, Moyes has allowed Marko Arnautovic to play a free royal. Under Bilic, Arnautovic was forced to play on the wing and help out defensively. However Moyes has taken the shackles off Arnautovic and he has been in great form for the Hammers. The key fixtures for West Ham are coming up soon and they are away to Swansea City (03/03) and at home to Burnley (10/03). That week to prove to make or break West Ham’s season; if they win both of those games they will surely beat the drop, but if they only take one or two points they will more than likely find themselves in a relegation battle until the end of the season. For West Ham to stay up they need Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini to stay fit as on their day, either of them could play for a top six side. Survival rating: 8/10

Newcastle United:

This season has been one of struggle for Newcastle. It was a poor start to the season which was followed by them going as high as eighth in the league. Newcastle hadn’t won at home since October (1-0 against Crystal Palace) before they beat Manchester United 1-0 (12/02). Newcastle seem to be crawling over the line to safety and doing it in typical Newcastle fashion, the difficult way. I believe that Newcastle’s bid for survival will go down to the last day, which is againts Chelsea at home, so they must hope results go in their favour. For Newcastle to stay up it is very simple they must start scoring more goals, that Islam Slimani will bring to the team and keep Jamaal Lascelles fit. They have only conceded two or more goals when he has played on two occasions. He is the glue that keeps this Newcastle team together and he should be considered for the England World Cup squad if Newcastle do stay up. The key fixtures for Newcastle if they are to stay up will be, Huddersfield at home (31/03) and West Brom at home (28/04), Those two fixtures will be crucial in their bid to stay up as their home form has not been good enough and if they are to stay up they will need to improve this. With those two fixtures looking like must win games, especially with the latter being their penultimate home game of the season and they would like to seal their fate by winning that game.                Survival rating: 5/10

Brighton and Hove Albion:

This is Brighton’s first season in the top flight of English football and it’s been nothing short of memorable for the fans. They did go on a very long run of not winning a game. However, their fans would have expected this season to be tough against better teams, compared to the last few seasons. Credit to Brighton and Chris Hughton, they have stuck to the brand of football that got them promoted last season. That is playing football and being confident enough to play out from the back and try to keep possession of their ball for as long as possible. The one thing they have lacked this season is goals. They are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. However, the signing of Leonardo Ulloa and Jurgen Locadia should bring some much needed assistance to Glenn Murray in the back end of the season. Brighton’s key fixtures for me are going to be the two home games against Swansea (24/02) and Huddersfield (07/04). These two games are critical for Brighton’s season and they could ultimately define their season. If they pick up six points from these two games you would believe they are safe as they would move well clear of the drop zone; however if they manage only draws or, even worse defeats they could be down into the bottom three as Huddersfield and Swansea would jump above Brighton. This would surely turn up the pressure on Chris Hughton’s men. To avoid relegation they have to get Jose Izquierdo playing more consistently. He is the player that gets fans on the edge of their seats, a bit like Zaha does for Crystal Palace fans. He needs to produce more goals and assists for the quality he has, especially the pace he has terrifies defenders when he runs at them and cuts inside. If he starts performing more consistently then Brighton can be confident of staying up this season. Survival rating: 6/10

Crystal Palace:

If Crystal Palace do stay up, then Roy Hodgson has every right to laugh in everyone’s face. Because let’s be honest not one person can say they didn’t laugh or question Crystal Palace’s decision to hire Roy Hodgson as manager earlier on in the season. However, Hodgson has turned palace into a confident team that like to take the game to any team they play, especially at home. Just look at the home game against Manchester City when they should’ve won the game if it wasn’t for last minute penalty miss by Palace. The player that has made the difference and is the difference between Palace staying up and palace going down is Wilfred Zaha. He is, arguably, the best player outside of the top six, apart from Riyhad Mahrez possibly. If Palace do stay up then Hodgson has to be in the running for manager of the season as when he took over Palace were without any points or goals to their name so far. I do believe that they are going to be fine because of the quality of personnel that Hodgson has at his disposal. However, all it takes is another injury to Zaha to rule him out for the season and they’re struggling again. Their key fixtures are Brighton at home (14/04) and West Brom (13/05). That game against West Brom may prove to be extremely important as it’s the last game of the season and crucially it’s at home and Selhurst Park will be a very intimidating place to go for West Brom, who may already be relegated by that game. Palace need to keep Zaha fit and pick up points against the teams around them. If they can keep Selhurst Park a fortress for teams to come to and try to pick up three points they will be safe. Palace should be okay as teams below and even above them are worse than them on current form and they have a rather favourable run in of fixtures. Survival rating: 7/10

Swansea City

Swansea, like Crystal Palace seemed down and out before they changed managers during the season and now they have, arguably, the bets momentum in the bottom half of the league. They look like a team that should be in the top half of the table comfortably, especially against Arsenal and Liverpool this season. Carlos Carvalhal has instilled a new lease of leaf into the Swansea players and they all seem to now believe they can stay up. In the games prior to Carvalhal’s appointment Swansea seemed like a team that would roll over as soon as they were put under pressure or go a goal down. Whereas now Swansea are taking the game to every team they play at home and seem more Well drilled in defence away from home. Swansea are still just one point above the drop zone, but they should see that as a positive, if they compare that to where they ere before Christmas. Swansea’s key fixtures for the remainder of the season are West Brom away (07/04) and Stoke City home (13/05) as the West Brom game should be three points against a team struggling rooted bottom of the table and the Stoke game is the final game of the season in from of their own fans. Home advantage could prove important for Swansea as they look to their fans to be the 12th man and help them stay in the Premier League. To stay up Swansea need to keep up this great momentum they have. They need to not let their heads drop if they lose one or two games in a row. Especially if they slip up against teams around them they need to move onto the next game and think about the end goal of getting as close to 40 points as possible. The player that Swansea need to keep fit is Alfie Mawson as he is the rock that keeps the defence organised and is even a threat in the oppositions box. Mawson offers leadership at the back and is very calm and the ball and can pick out a pass from the back which relieves pressure at the back. Survival rating: 5/10

Huddersfield Town

What a fantastic season it has been for Huddersfield fans. The highlight of their season for me has to be that home win against Manchester United, which I’m sure will live long in the memory of every Huddersfield fan. They started so brightly with their high pressing game plan, however they have come unstuck in the last few months. The contested fixture list against bigger and better squads seems to have derailed their season a little bit. However, they picked up a big three points at home to Bournemouth last weekend which should give them some much needed confidence for some must-win games in the league. Huddersfield have to make sure that every player is prepared to go above and beyond what is required to stay up to get as many points as possible. Huddersfield’s key fixtures fro the remainder of the season are Newcastle at home (31/03) and Watford at home (14/04), the Newcastle game could be pivotal to their season as Newcastle have only won once since October at home. If Huddersfield can get the crown to turn on Newcastle within the first 20 minutes they could easily get three points against a relegation rival. The Watford game could be even more important as it is the last game against a relegation rival before a run of games against: Chelsea (a), Everton (h), Manchester City (a) and Arsenal (h). To stay up Huddersfield need to keep scoring goals like they did against Bournemouth as that has been their Achilles heel this season. They haven’t been able to score goals enough to keep their heads comfortably above the drop zone. They need Aaron Mooy to stay fit if they are to score more goals as he is the player that can unlock a defence during a tight game where a team may be settling for a point against them. Survival rating: 4/10


Southampton have had an underwhelming and disappointing season, to say the least. They had a great season in most people’s eyes last season, they finished eighth and got to a cup final, on that they may have won on a different day if the officials were more on the ball. The sacking of Claude Puel has proven to be a very poor decision by the board as they have tumbled down the league to the relegation zone; without losing any of their key players during the summer transfer window, for the first time in many years. Southampton just haven’t been able to build any momentum, as every time they seem to get a good victory they go and lose a few games in a row. They have one of the best squads by far in this relegation battle, just for whatever reason they haven’t been able to get them to perform as a team consistently. Southampton’s key fixtures are Stoke City at home (03/03) and Bournemouth at home (28/04) as Southampton need to focus on scoring goals at home as this has been the one thing that has stood out as an ongoing problem for them this season. They will need to pick up six points in these two games as the teams around them have started to find a way of winning games at just the right time. Also, by the time they play Bournemouth they could be safe and have nothing to play for and thus be a good time to play them as they may not be trying 100%, especially with the World Cup just around the corner. Southampton will have to get their new signing Guido Carrillo firing straight away, otherwise it could be seen as a waste of money as I doubt he will want to play Championship football. Carrillo doesn’t have the best record from his time at Monaco, but it’s an improvement on Manolo Gabbiadini’s record this season which has been nothing but woeful, compared to last season. If Southampton can starts coring goals, and fast, they should be fine to stay up, but it is looking worrying on the South Coast at the moment. Survival rating: 5/10

Stoke City

The story of Stoke City is a strange one this season. They have one of the most talented players outside of the top six, yet Xherdan Shaqiri is one of the most inconsistent footballers you will ever see. He can change a game in a moment of brilliance by scoring a great goal or setting up a goal. Or, he could cost you a game by giving the ball away and then not tracking back while his man scores a potential winner. Something that could come back to haunt Stoke is that they conceded so many goals in single games such as: Chelsea 5-0 Stoke, Tottenham 5-1 Stoke, Manchester City 7-2 Stoke and Stoke 0-4 Chelsea. Goal difference is going to be a massive factor this season, and going for games away to the big teams this season may come back to send Stoke down this season. Stoke’s key fixtures are against Crystal Palace at home (05/05) and Swansea away (13/05) and these two are the last two games of the season. I predict that the battle to stay up will go down to the last day, so if Stoke were able to pick up six points in the last two games of the season they would be in with a great chance of staying up. If they are to stay up, they need to get their defence more organised as a whole back four/five. You associate Stoke with being a rough and aggressive team that don’t give you much space to play in, however this season they have been all over the place, although they have improved slightly under Paul Lambert. This could be down sorted if Ryan Shawcross ands Jack Butland start playing to their full potential like they can do. Shawcross can command the defence and Butland could win Stoke points on his own. Survival rating: 3/10

West Bromwich Albion:

West Brom have found themselves in one hell of a mess. They sacked a manager that has never been relegated and would’ve more than likely kept them up and replaced him with a manager with nothing good to show for apart from a 5th place finish with Newcastle one season. They only have themselves to blame, from the recruitment of players, to the sacking and hiring of managers and the tactics used by those managers. I think most West Brom fans would agree with me when I say that they haven’t had any real moments to get excited about this season and this doesn’t look like changing after going out of the FA cup over the weekend. West Brom do look down and out, but they have pulled off a great escape once before, there’s a chance they could do it again. However, if they are to pull off a great escape, they will need to start managing games a lot better. They need to learn when to go for a goal, when to defend and invite pressure on themselves to set up a counter attack as they have the pace in their team to do so. They should learn which games to go for a win and which games they should shut up shop and try and get a point or keep the goal difference in tact. Every fixture for West Brom could now be seen as a must win game, however the two I have picked out as crucial games will see if they’re made of the stuff to see them fight for a place in the Premier League next season. These fixtures are: Huddersfield at home (24/02) and Swansea at home (07/04), Huddersfiled at home is the perfect fixture to start picking up points; againts a relegation rival who usually struggle to score goals, and its West Brom’s next fixture. They need to pick up pints ASAP and this is the perfect time, whereas Swansea at home is a must win game, simple as that, know matter how well Swansea have been playing, if they don’t win these two games they will be down. To win these games and have a chance of staying up they need a miracle, simple as that, they need all their players to play above their current ability and pull off at least one unexpected win against a top six side. Survival rating: 1/10