As we enter the final third of the Premier League season, the table is starting to take its shape with the Title, European spots and relegation places, still all up in the air.
Relegation to the Championship can be financially catastrophic for football clubs; with players wanting to leave, less TV revenue and commercial deals from sponsors also being damaged.
Despite the parachute payments, there is evidence that relegation from the top division is detrimental for many great clubs. With the likes of Sunderland, Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers all now playing in the lower divisions of the football league.
This season, avoiding relegation is more important than ever with the coronavirus pandemic having a substantial impact on the economy.
The three relegation places are currently possessed by Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham.
Sheffield United managed a fantastic ninth place finish last season, in their first top flight campaign since 2007. However, it appears that the Blades are suffering from second season syndrome, currently sitting at the foot of the Premier League table, 14 points adrift of safety.
Chris Wilder’s side actually broke the record for the most consecutive games without a win from the beginning of the season, not gaining a single victory until the 18th game of the season against Newcastle.
They did manage to go on a run of three wins out of five, but it appears it is too little too late for the South Yorkshire side.
Despite this disappointing season, it doesn’t take away the remarkable job that Wilder has done for his boyhood club, taking them from League One to ninth in the country.
West Bromwich Albion gained promotion to the top flight after a two year absence, and it’s safe to say it has been a rocky road.
The Baggies have only won twice all season and have already seen one manager depart from the Hawthorns.
They appointed veteran manager, Sam Allardyce, who holds the title of never being relegated from the Premier League.
However, it does seem a tough ask for the side from the Black Country to recover from and for Allardyce, his illustrious record appears to be slipping away.
The real relegation battle appears to be where Fulham are currently placed. The Cottagers currently sit in 18th position, three points off safety.
Scott Parker’s side gained promotion through the play-offs last season and it took them a while to get going at the start of the campaign.
But the young manager has shown his potential, creating a much more cohesive unit with his team, only suffering three defeats in the last 14.
The concern would be that only two of these 14 games saw the London side receive maximum points. So, to secure a second consecutive season in the top flight, the aim has to be to convert the draws into wins.
Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley are also involved in this relegation fight, but currently sit on the right side of the relegation zone.
Newcastle are on the most rapid decline out of the three and appear to be in serious danger of falling out of the top flight, under Steve Bruce.
The Magpies have lost 10 of their last 14 Premier League fixtures and with top scorer Callum Wilson out with a hamstring injury, the goals seem improbable for the historic club from the Northeast.
If you were to watch Brighton, you would be shocked to learn that they are in their current position of 16th, as they play some excellent football under Graham Potter.
This is personified in their most recent defeat to rivals Crystal Palace, where they dominated the statistics in every way possible, but a late Christian Benteke strike took away any points they deserved.
They did manage to pick up consecutive victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, which has given them a little bit of breathing space, but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
Goals are something that the Seagulls find hard to come by, with French striker Neal Maupay getting the majority of them. This has consequently put Brighton into the relegation fight that they are used to being involved with, since they arrived in the Premier League in 2017.
Since his appointment in 2012, Sean Dyche has done a tremendous job managing Burnley. He has achieved two promotions from the Championship and even obtained a Europa League qualifying spot, which is even more impressive considering his limited budget.
This season, the Clarets got off to a slow start but have found form since to lift them out of the bottom three, six points above Fulham.
The main concern for the club who play their home games at Turf Moor, would be the lack of goals. Only Sheffield United have netted less in this campaign, and they are yet to find an out-and-out goal scorer to lead the line.
The benchmark figure for staying up in the Premier League is usually around 40 points, this has been enough to remain in the division for the past 17 seasons.
It is likely that that the relegation battle will go down to the wire this year. But with games coming quicker than ever, things can change very fast and other teams can also be dragged into the dog fight.
Southampton are included in this, with the Saints in free fall at the moment.
Fulham and Newcastle play each other on the final day of the season at Craven Cottage and it could be a play-off scenario with Scott Parker and Steve Bruce going head-to-head for a chance to stay in the division.
With Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announcing that fans could be allowed in from 17th May, this would add to what could already be a nail-biting encounter and would be a fitting end to what has been a chaotic Premier League season.