The Premier League has a relegation race again.
And while it’s neither likely that anyone in the bottom three besides Fulham will escape nor that anyone besides Newcastle will drop into the bottom three, we’re going to have some fun and predict scenarios in which anyone in the bottom seven could be relegated or save themselves.
When you check out the list of six-pointers at the bottom of the post, well, maybe?!?()
[ MORE: Three things from Man City – Wolves ]
We’re not going to include Crystal Palace even with its injuries and current wretched form because being caught by a team 10-points or more behind them is a pretty wild idea. Not impossible, but wild.
Southampton’s seven-point cushion gets included but seems likely to soon be less of a worry due to a really easy fixture run.
Here is one reason why each team will go down, and another why they could stay up.
Why they’ll stay up: There are six teams beneath them and Saints play five of them (No Newcastle). With a seven-point advantage, they may already be in a good place.
Why they’ll go down: The loss of Oriol Romeu is huge, the goalkeeping is far from exceptional, and the 9-0 loss to Man United followed up by the 3-2 loss to 9-man Newcastle sapped their confidence to new lows.
Why they’ll stay up: Nick Pope is as good a keeper as you’ll find for a project like Sean Dyche’s Burnley, and center back duo Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are just as good of a fit. They may not score enough, but they’ll grind out enough 0-0, 1-1, and 1-0 results to get by
Why they’ll go down: The Clarets have outperformed advanced stats every year and that can’t last forever, right? Scoring 0.69 goals per game is terrible and projects to 26.3 goals over 38 games. Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 scored 28 and is the only team to survive while scoring less than 30 goals in a season in seven seasons.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Why they’ll stay up: This team is a top-five team in expected points, expected goals conceded, and ranks sixth in expected goals. The fact that they are anywhere near the bottom three is wild, but that’ll happen with missed penalties and other sorts of wasteful shooting.
Why they’ll go down: At some point in time, someone from Brighton and Hove Albion aggrieved some sort of malevolent force that demands the sacrifice of its Premier League status.
Why they’ll stay up: There is a lot of quality, especially at the back. Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow have proven their goalkeeping accolades while Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, and Ciaran Clark are key pieces for an injury-hit center back corps. Jonjo Shelvey’s passing range will help created chances even without their best attackers.
Why they’ll go down: Newcastle is without stars Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Miguel Almiron for a couple of months, including matches against West Brom, Brighton, and Burnley. They may be back for a brutal run of fixtures — West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Man City. By the time they finish with Sheffield United and Fulham, will they be within six points of safety?
Why they’ll stay up: Fulham has improved its defense, has an all-world midfielder in Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and there is some youthful vigor in attack with Ademola Lookman and Josh Maja finding their roles under Scott Parker.
Why they’ll go down: Too many draws the past two months and not enough points likely to arrive before May to keep them alive for a final four matches where nine points is not unreasonable.
West Bromwich Albion
Why they’ll stay up: Something something about Big Sam teaching them how to do something something. The January arrivals have showed promise and Sam Johnstone is a shotstopper’s shotstopper between the sticks.
Why they’ll go down: Their 17 points is the second-worst total in the league but their 17.28 expected point total is more than six points worse than the second-worst (Sheffield United). Their 55 goals conceded is horrendous and their 1-0 win over Brighton was three points and clean sheet only because Brighton missed two penalties and got a goal taken off the board by a wild referee error. xG was 3.12-0.69 in favor of the Seagulls.
Why they’ll stay up: It’s a huge ask but Blades will meet Southampton, Brighton, Newcastle, and Burnley. Twelve points there brings Chris Wilder’s men to 23 points. Palace, Wolves, and Leeds are also on the docket. Win all of those and maybe get a point or two from shocking opponents while another team like Newcastle falls apart? It’s possible.
Why they’ll go down: It’s just too late for an unlucky team. The club’s two huge buys have failed this year, Sander Berge because he’s been injured for a long time and Rhian Brewster because either he’s not up to the task or his whopping seven appearances longer than one half aren’t enough for any young player to bed-in with a new club in a new league. Oliver McBurnie and Oliver Burke each have one more goal than Brewster’s zero but have done it in about 700 more minutes.
Relegation “six-pointers” the rest of the season
Sheffield United v Southampton — Saturday
West Brom v Newcastle United — Saturday
Crystal Palace v West Brom — March 13
Southampton v Brighton — March 13
Brighton v Newcastle United — March 20
Southampton v Burnley — April 3
Burnley v Newcastle United — April 10
West Brom v Southampton — April 10
Sheffield United v Brighton — April 24
Fulham v Burnley — May 8
Southampton v Fulham — May 12
Newcastle United v Sheffield United — May 15
Fulham v Newcastle United — May 23
Sheffield United v Burnley — May 23