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