Premier League Relegation Watch: Clubs primed to go down (Matchweek 30)

2 Comments

Matchweek 30 saw massive wins by Fulham and West Brom meaning only seven points separate 12th placed West Ham United from last placed Fulham. The Premier League relegation race is shaping up to come down to the wire with multiple clubs vying for safety.

Here’s the relegation watch currently stands:

source: Getty Images12. WEST HAM UNITED 31 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Manchester United (H); Hull City (H); Sunderland (A); Liverpool (H); Arsenal (A); Crystal Palace (H); West Brom (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A)

League Form: WWWWLL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Marco Boriello, shin (no return date); Joey O’Brien, shoulder (April 14th

Vegas odds to be relegated: 16/1

Verdict: West Ham ripped off four straight wins in February but have since lost two straight to Everton (0-1) and Stoke City (1-3), respectively. But with key players (Andy Carroll and Winston Reid) now healthy, the Hammers should have no problem reaching the 40 point mark.

source: Getty Images13. HULL CITY 30 PTS (28 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): West Bromwich Albion (H); West Ham United (A); Stoke City (A); Swansea City (H); Manchester United (A); Arsenal (H); Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Everton (H)

League Form: DWLWLL

Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Sheffield United on March 13th)

Injuries: Robbie Brady, groin (no return date); Paul McShane, ankle (no return date), Joe Dudgeon, knee (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 12/1

Verdict: Despite losing two straight, Hull City have enjoyed a fantastic Premier League season and few will have the Tigers pegged to go down. With a favorable end of the season schedule and a relatively healthy roster, expect Hull to be in the league come next August.

source:  14. SWANSEA CITY 29 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Everton (A); Arsenal (A); Norwich City (H); Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: LWDLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Nathan Dyer, ankle (March 22nd); Jonjo Shelvey, hamstring (March 22nd); Kyle Bartley, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 10/1

Verdict: These are troubling times at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea find themselves with the second worst form record in the league having taking only five of a possible 18 points from their last six matches. The free-fall can be blamed on a number of things, namely an injury plagued season, participation in the Europa League and managerial ineptitude.

Making matters worse for the Swans is their end of the season schedule which boasts difficult fixtures with Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Southampton as well as potential relegation six-pointers with Norwich and Sunderland.

source: Getty Images15. NORWICH CITY 29 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Sunderland (H); Swansea City (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: DLWLDL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Leroy Fer, hamstring (no return date); Jonas Gutierrez, calf (March 22nd); Michael Turner, hamstring (March 22nd); Elliot Bennett, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/4

Verdict: If anyone who is currently safe is going to get relegated, Norwich City looks the most likely. The Canaries put in a lopsided effort at Southampton this past weekend, coming back from 3-0 down to lose 4-2. With only eight matches to play, Chris Hughton’s side must take points in their next four matches, all of which are winnable. After that, however, it’s curtains for Norwich who end the season against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

source: Getty Images16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 28 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Hull City (A); Cardiff City (H); Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: DLDDLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Morgan Amalfitano, knock (no return date); Chris Brunt, knee (April 21st); Billy Jones, hamstring (March 29th); Claudio Yacob, hamstring (March 22nd); Diego Lugano, knee (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/2

Verdict: Such a massive win for West Brom this past weekend. To go into the Liberty Stadium and come from 0-1 down to win 2-1 will be a huge boost to the confidence of Pepe Mel’s side. The Albion remains banged up with a number of key injuries but with six of their final nine contests against clubs outside the Top 10, staying up looks to be in the cards.

source: Getty Images17. CRYSTAL PALACE 28 PTS (29 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H); Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: LWLDLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Danny Gabbidon, knock (March 22nd); Barry Bannan, illness (March 22nd); Marouane Chamakh, hamstring (March 29th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/2

Verdict: Winless in their last four, Palace need to be careful. They worked hard to ascend out of the relegation zone after Tony Pulis was appointed but the Eagles are now finding it difficult to see out the spring. And with a challenging end of the season schedule pitting Palace against Newcastle, Chelsea, Everton, City and Liverpool the points won’t come easy for the Selhurst Park faithful.

source: Getty Images18. SUNDERLAND 24 PTS (27 PLD)

Remaining Matches (11): Norwich City (A); Liverpool (A); West Ham United (H); Tottenham (A); Everton (H); Manchester City (A); Chelsea (A); Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Swansea City (H)

League Form: DWWLLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Steven Fletcher, ankle (no return date); Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 7/4

Verdict: Of the three teams currently in the relegation zone, Sunderland feel like the most likely to escape. With 11 matches left to play (and most of those being favorable matchups) and having reduced their workload by exiting from the FA Cup, Gus Poyet’s side will have no excuses if they go down. The health of Steven Fletcher will be a factor but with Jozy Altidore available and Ignacio Scocco added to the strike ranks this winter, the Black Cats still have options up top to get the job down.

source: Getty Images19. CARDIFF CITY 25 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (9): Liverpool (H); West Bromwich Albion (A); Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LDLLWL

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Ben Turner, knock (no return date); Andrew Taylor, knock (no return date); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Vegas has Cardiff as the most likely squad to be relegated and for good reason – the Bluebirds are in the worst form of any club in the league and have only eight matches to play. If there are upsides to Cardiff’s situation it’s that the remaining matches are against favorable opponents and the squad is in good health. That said, talk to any pundit covering the Premier League and he’ll tell you Cardiff is destined to be playing in the Championship next season.

source: Getty Images20. FULHAM 24 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Manchester City (A); Everton (H); Aston Villa (A); Norwich City (H); Tottenham Hotspur (A); Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: DLDLLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Kostas Mitroglu, knee (no return date); Ashkan Dejagah, groin (no return date); Giorgos Karagounis, muscle injury (no return date); Scott Parker, knee (March 22nd); Damien Duff, knock (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/7

Verdict: Fulham is only slightly more likely than Cardiff to make it out of the relegation zone. Like the Bluebirds, the Cottagers don’t have any games in hand on their opponents. But Felix Magath’s team did play quite well this past weekend, defeating Newcastle 1-0 at the Cottage. It’s a win that they’ll look to gain some motivation from although Manchester City and Everton will be difficult tasks over the next two weeks.

When April comes, however, the fixture list becomes quite favorable for Fulham with matches against Villa, Norwich, Hull, Stoke and Palace. So while the situation is bleak for Fulham a thin line hope still remains.

Neymar makes history in PSG’s 8-0 thrashing of Dijon

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of statements which are both true, and not at all mutually exclusive, if you allow logic and balance to prevail: 1) Neymar and his friends at Paris Saint-Germain are quite good at the soccer; 2) they aren’t challenged enough in Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Of course, they’ll be challenged plenty during the latter stages of the Champions League (they drew Real Madrid in the round of 16), but on a weekly basis, the level of competition in their domestic league isn’t of a high standard to indicate just how good they are. That’s the new debate with regard to PSG — it’s no longer, “Are they good? Maybe they’re just a big fish in a small pond.”

On Wednesday, led by Neymar, the most expensive transfer signing of all-time, Unai Emery’s side thrashed 10th-place Dijon to the tune of 8-0. As mentioned, Neymar did slightly more than just pull his own weight — four goals to go with a pair of assists; he lent a direct hand in six of the eight goals.

[ MORE: Chelsea survive Norwich in PKs, reach FA Cup 4th round ]

Even the statistical whizzes at Opta appear somewhat stumped by such an abundance of goals.

Anytime the keepers of stats toss out a “since we started collecting data,” be proud of your achievement. Be very, very proud.

FA Cup: Chelsea, Swansea into 4th rd; B’mouth ousted by Wigan

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two more Premier League sides booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, courtesy of third-round replays, on Wednesday, bringing the PL’s total representation to 14 clubs…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea 1-1 (5-3 PKs) Norwich City

Chelsea’s scoreless streak — for both themselves and opponents (three straight 0-0 draws across all competitions) — came to a merciful end on Wednesday, but not before surpassing the 300-minute mark. Michy Batshuayi — who, it must be said, struggled mightily in making just his third start (all in cup competitions) since mid-October — broke yet another scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute, ending the Blues’ scoreless run at 331 minutes.

With barely 30 seconds remaining in second-half stoppage time, 19-year-old left back Jamal Lewis brought the Canaries level with a thunderous header off the post.

Extra-time saw Chelsea reduced to 10, and then nine, men. Pedro was booked for diving just after the hour mark, and the Spaniard earned a second yellow card for a wild challenge in the 117th minute. Four minutes later, in second-half extra-time stoppage time, Alvaro Morata was booked for diving and proceeded to shout and gesticulate in the referee’s face. A second yellow was shown immediately.

Willy Caballero denied Nelson Oliveira on Norwich’s first attempt of the ensuing penalty shootout, giving the Blues the only cushion they’d need as Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard all converted.

Chelsea will host Newcastle United in the fourth round on Sunday, Jan. 28.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Swansea faced the greatest threat of a Cupset on Wednesday but managed to come out on top, knocking off runaway Championship leaders and champions-elect Wolves. The Swans went ahead through Jordan Ayew in the 11th minute before the prolific Diogo Jota, who’ll be in the PL one way or another next season, brought Wolves back to 1-1 in the 66th. Three minutes later, Wilfried Bony bagged the winner to see Carlos Carvalhal’s side through to the next round.

Swansea will visit League Two side Notts County, who knocked off Championship playoff hopefuls Brentford in the third round, on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth

Bournemouth sat 32 places above Wigan in the English football pyramid when Wednesday’s replay kicked off, and it matter not a single iota, as Paul Cook’s side hammered the Cherries at the DW Stadium. Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder bagged the goals for the League One leaders (three points clear after 26 of 46 rounds played). Wigan have alternated each of the last four seasons, finishing 23rd in the Championship and leading/winning League One. It’s been five years since the Latics were relegated from the PL, in the 2012-13 season.

Wigan will host West Ham United in the fourth round on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Sir Alex’s son in trouble for saying he’d “shoot” refs

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) It clearly runs in the family.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was known for having an explosive temper during his nearly 27 years at Old Trafford, and it seems he has passed it down to his son.

Darren Ferguson, who is the manager of third-tier English team Doncaster, is in trouble for saying he would “shoot” referees because of what he perceived as their poor standards.

Ferguson was charged by the English Football Association on Wednesday for remarks that “were improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”

The 45-year-old coach has already apologized, saying it was a “tongue-in-cheek comment” and that “I do not advocate violence against officials.”

Ferguson was unhappy his team was denied a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Plymouth on Saturday.

“The referees are part-time and the standard is appalling, their fitness levels are a disgrace, I’ve had enough of it,” Ferguson said after the match.

“What can I do? Shoot them, it would be a good idea.”

Follow Live: Chelsea, Swans, Cherries in FA Cup replays

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea, Swansea City, and Bournemouth look to avoid upsets in replays of their third round FA Cup matches.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

All three matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues tangle with former Premier League peers Norwich City, this time at Stamford Bridge, in a bid to host a fourth round match with Newcastle United.

Antonio Conte‘s not messing around (too much) with the XI.

Swansea City and Wolves, meanwhile, are arguably battling for a bid in the fourth round, as a trip to Notts County is on the docket for the winner of Wednesday’s replay at the Liberty Stadium.

Bournemouth is at Wigan Athletic for a replay with the third-tier Latics, with the victor hosting West Ham United on Jan. 27.