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Predicting Premier League’s relegation battle

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The Premier League relegation battle is incredibly tough to predict right now and it is likely that will be the case until the final weekend of the season.

This is bonkers.

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With only Norwich City seemingly cut adrift at the bottom, the other two relegation spots could go to two of six teams who have been sucked into the battle in recent months.

From slumping teams like Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton to battlers Watford and Bournemouth who have been down there for most of the season, the fine margins will really make the difference in the final months of the season.

On paper all we can do right now is look at the remaining schedules for the seven teams at the wrong end of the table and predict which three will go down.

With 11 games to go, time is running out for teams to keep themselves out of the bottom three as the Premier League relegation battle will be a huge point of focus between now and mid-May.


Toughest remaining schedule:
1) Bournemouth: Nine of their remaining 11 games come against teams in the top 12. No six-pointers left. They look doomed.
2) West Ham: Five of their next six are against teams in the top 10. Given their lack of direction and attacking intent, they could nick the odd point here and there but fixtures haven’t been kind. Hosting Aston Villa on the final day of the season will be pivotal.
3) Aston Villa: Speaking of Villa, the only game they have left against a team below them is that crunch clash against West Ham. After Dean Smith’s incredible rant against his players, they are sinking. Fast.
4) Brighton: Not an easy schedule, at all. They host Liverpool and Man City in late April but by then Liverpool will have probably won the PL and alongside Man City they will likely be focusing on the UCL. Home games against Palace and Newcastle will be key.

Easiest remaining schedule:
1) Watford: Even though they sit in 19th place right now, Nigel Pearson will be keeping things calm. They face Norwich, Newcastle and West Ham in late April and early May and that will decide their season. There should be hope at Vicarage Road.
2) Newcastle: Currently seven points above the drop zone, injuries have hit Steve Bruce‘s side hard but they should be fine. But they play against West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa in a stretch in late March and early April and if that goes badly they could be sucked back into the battle. If that is the case their last two away games against Watford and Brighton will be massive.
3) Norwich City: They have four or five home games left which you could see them winning and they would need to do that just to give themselves a chance of staying up. Daniel Farke‘s side will go for it and they will attack teams home and away but unless they improve drastically in defense, they will be relegated before the final few weeks of the season arrives.


Projecting the table on the final day

14. Newcastle – 42 points
15. Watford – 40 points
16. Brighton – 40 points
17. West Ham – 38 points

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18. Aston Villa – 36 points
19. Bournemouth – 36 points
20. Norwich City – 29 points


Final verdict

Momentum means everything at this time of the season and the likes of Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich just don’t have it. With 11 games to go the clock is ticking and those three teams would be my picks to go down, even though they have plenty of goals among their attacking options. Defensively those three teams haven’t been good enough all season and I think West Ham, Brighton, Watford and Newcastle have more defensive solidity about them to stay up. Looking at the projected points tally above, this will go down to the final game of the season as six teams battling to stay out of 18th and 19th will be the main talking point on May 17.

VOTE: Premier League March Madness playoff final

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Our Premier League March Madness tournament began on Monday and we had some early drama in the relegation playoff semifinals.

The opening two games of our bracket produced two surprise winners, as #20 Norwich City edged out #17 Watford after winning 50.48 percent of the vote, while #19 Aston Villa comfortably beat #18 Bournemouth with 62.14 percent of votes.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub

That means Norwich will now face Aston Villa in the final, and Villa won both of their meetings in the Premier League this season. The first with a 5-1 win at Carrow Road, the second with a undeserved home win at Villa Park.

What do the winners get? If you win the relegation playoff final you are exempt from relegation and finish as the 2020 tournament as #17 seed, while the runner up will be relegated along with the two semifinal losers.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Okay, vote below (until 3 p.m. ET) for the two relegation playoff finalists as our Premier League March Madness tournament continues!

Report: Premier League prepares for June return

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The Premier League is reportedly preparing to return to action in June as the current season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Multiple reports across the UK, including this one from the Daily Mirror, claim that the government has given the Premier League the green light to return to action from June, provided the situation has improved as expected by then.

Per the report, Premier League clubs have been told that they should prepare for games to be played from June 1 onwards behind closed doors and there is a ‘tentative agreement for the top flight to resume behind closed doors after the 20 clubs mapped out a plan with senior officials on a resumption of matches.’

The report adds that ‘in principle, with government health officials hopeful of a coronavirus peak in the UK in the next few weeks, they will sanction games under strict guidelines.’ 

Plans are in place for players to be isolated together and away from the public, as they could begin training in May so they can prepare for the current campaign resuming.

With the situation in the UK deteriorating over the last week and the country on lockdown, these tentative plans can of course change quickly.

Premier League players have had differing views on what should happen to the 2019-20 season and Luke Shaw is the latest to say games should not be played behind closed doors. But if teams play two games per week in empty stadiums or training grounds from June 1, there is the real possibility the season could be finished by the start of July and then FA Cup and Europe competitions could follow.

The overwhelming feeling from Premier League clubs, the league itself and many other individuals is that the 2019-20 season should be finished whenever it is safe to do so. Recent PL club meetings came to that agreement and that is the official stance.

However, the next big question is whether or not fans will be able to attend games for the rest of the season and this report seems to suggest that is totally off the table and if the current campaign is concluded, fans will not be present.

Luke Shaw: Scrap season and start again

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Man United and England defender Luke Shaw has said the 2019-20 season should be scrapped and started again if games cannot be completed.

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Shaw, 24, was speaking during a FIFA 20 competition which was streamed on Twitch to raise funds for UNICEF’s Combat Corona campaign.

“Scrap it and start again. Start it again, yeah,” Shaw said. “It’s got to be, you know. If we can’t carry it on, it’s got to be void.”

All 20 Premier League clubs remain committed to completing the 2019-20 season whenever ‘safe to do so’ but there’s no resumption date currently lined up.

One option is for games to played behind closed doors, when possible, but Shaw isn’t keen on that either.

“Fans are so important. You realise it even more (now),” Shaw said. “I think the sport is for fans really… I think if you don’t have fans, and you don’t play in front of fans, it just doesn’t feel right. Especially on matchday, the fans are always amazing and always help the team. Whether it’s home or even away, our fans are always brilliant and I feel like they’re always there with us.”

The view of Shaw differs slightly from other Premier League players who have discussed the current suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic but there is a general consensus that they want to move onto the next season as soon as possible. When it comes to Shaw, his views are very interesting as Man United had rallied to be three points off the top four and had plenty of momentum ahead of the final nine games of the current league campaign, as well as being in a great position in the latter stages of the Europa League and FA Cup.

Man City star Kevin de Bruyne wants to move on from the 2019-20 season as soon as possible as he doesn’t think the start of the 2020-21 campaign should be delayed and is concerned about players being injured if they are asked to resume the season quickly.

Other players are fine to wait to see what the Premier League plans but Tottenham forward Harry Kane has also expressed his desire to move on from the current campaign if games cannot be completed by the end of June.

It is intriguing to hear so many differing views from Premier League players on when the season should resume, if at all, but Kane, Shaw and De Bruyne are all saying something slightly different. Therein lies the problem. How will a consensus be reached between PL clubs with so many different ideas and opinions on what should happen next?

If you throw club affiliations and rivalries into the mix, why on earth would a Man United star want the current season to be deemed as ‘void’ when Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table and just five points away from securing the Premier League title…

Son to complete military service in South Korea

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Tottenham have confirmed that forward Heung-min Son will complete his military service in South Korea this month and will return to London in May.

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Son, 27, previously became exempt from the mandatory 21-month military service as he captained South Korea to gold medal glory at the 2018 Asian Games but there is also a four-week stint he needs to complete in the army.

A new rule which arrived in 2018 means that men in South Korea must enlist in the military by the age of 28 and Son turns 28 on July 8.

Spurs released the following statement on Son’s situation, as he recently returned to South Korea as he continues his rehabilitation from a broken arm he suffered in the 3-2 win at Aston Villa in February.

“The Club can confirm that Heung-Min Son will commence his mandatory military service in South Korea this month. The forward arrived back in his home country at the end of March where he is currently in quarantine. Our medical staff are in regular contact as he concludes his recovery after fracturing his arm in our 3-2 win against Aston Villa on 16 February and continues to train.

“Sonny had surgery on his arm in South Korea before returning to the UK at the end of February to continue his rehabilitation, prior to the initial announcement of the professional game in England being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Premier League has since announced that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is ‘safe and appropriate to do so’ and is under constant review. Son will return to London following the conclusion of his military service in May.”