Premier League Relegation Watch

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Premier League Relegation Watch: The fortunes for five sides fighting for safety

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It’s been barely over a month since we last checked the fortunes of the Premier League’s relegation candidates, and there’s certainly been some change.

Bournemouth has more or less escaped, Villa has doomed itself and Crystal Palace has dropped into the mix, while a fourth side has flipped managers for the stretch run.

[ MORE: LVG, Herrera pledge attacking intent vs. Liverpool ]

That last squad, Rafa Benitez-led Newcastle United, hosts Sunderland in a massive Tyne-Wear Derby on Sunday while Swansea City has a chance to improve its plight with a visit from lowly Aston Villa the day before.

After the weekend, three teams will have two long weeks to stew on their fate over the international break.

So who’s going down? Let’s have a gander at the table first.

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Crystal Palace 29 9 6 14 32 39 -7 4-2-9 5-4-5 33
Swansea City 30 8 9 13 30 40 -10 5-5-5 3-4-8 33
Sunderland 29 6 7 16 35 54 -19 4-4-6 2-3-10 25

Norwich City 30 6 7 17 31 54 -23 4-5-6 2-2-11 25
Newcastle United 29 6 6 17 28 54 -26 4-5-5 2-1-12 24
Aston Villa 30 3 7 20 22 57 -35 2-4-9 1-3-11 16

Obviously Crystal Palace is in a decent spot eight points above the drop with a game in hand on Swans and Norwich City, but there’s no doubt they are in the mix. The Eagles also have to deal with the congestion of a FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Europa League — After one leg ]

Along the same lines, Newcastle and Sunderland have to be counting their blessings regarding the match-in-hand on the Canaries.

Apologies to Villa for not including their fixtures, but their escape would be beyond incredible.

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 05: Angel Rangel of Swansea City is tackled by Robbie Brady of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Norwich City at Liberty Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

SUNDERLAND (25 points)
March 20 – at Newcastle
April 2 – vs West Brom
April 9 – vs Leicester City
April 16 – at Norwich City
April 23 – vs Arsenal
April 30 – at Stoke City
May 7 – vs Chelsea
May 11 — vs Everton
May 15 – at Watford

Their toughest matches are at home, which has its pros and cons. Playing thrice in the final eight days of the season means Sunderland could go into May in a bind.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (24 points)
March 20 – vs Sunderland
April 2 – at Norwich City
April 9 – at Saints
April 16 – vs Swansea City
April 19 — vs Manchester City
April 23 – at Liverpool
April 30 – vs Crystal Palace
May 7 – at Aston Villa
May 15 – vs Spurs

Five of nine are at home, but the path to the Championship will look unavoidable if the next fortnight goes poorly. Two relegation six-points on the bounce mean the Magpies could be flying high or walking wounded come Midnight on April 3.

NORWICH CITY (25 points)
March 19 – at West Brom
April 2 – vs Newcastle
April 9 – at Crystal Palace
April 16 – vs Sunderland
April 30 – at Arsenal
May 7 – vs Manchester United
May 11 — vs Watford
May 15 – at Everton

The next five fixtures are critical, as points will be hard to find come that murderers row to finish the season.

SWANSEA CITY (33 points)
March 19 – vs Aston Villa
April 2 – at Stoke City
April 9 – vs Chelsea
April 16 – at Newcastle United
April 23 – at Leicester City
April 30 – vs Liverpool
May 7 – at West Ham United
May 15 – vs Manchester City

Not an easy run-in for the Welsh side, who simply need to pick up points in their next two matches. And that Newcastle visit looms large.

CRYSTAL PALACE (33 points)
March 19 — vs. Leicester City
April 2 — at West Ham United
April 9 — vs. Norwich City
April 17 — at Arsenal
April 20 — at Manchester United
TBA — vs Everton
April 30 — at Newcastle United
May 7 — vs Stoke City
May 15 — at Southampton

The Eagles were once projected to fight for a European place, but are now battling for their spot in England’s top-flight. Palace has not won a league game in 2016, and has two bites at relegation rivals. How bitter could Alan Pardew‘s April 30 trip to St. James Park get?

HOW WILL IT SHAKE OUT? HERE’S A GUESS:

Crystal Palace — 39 points
Swansea City — 38 points
Newcastle United — 33 points

——————————
Norwich City — 32 points
Sunderland — 32 points
Aston Villa — 20 points

Difficult fixture run looms as Aston Villa aims for great escape

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Gabriel Agbonlahor is riding high, as the Premier League Player of the Week broke his duck this weekend and is thinking “great escape” for his Aston Villa side.

Villa has eight points in its last five matches, doubling its season total to 16. That’s still table bottom, but Remi Garde’s bunch would love to see their way out of the drop zone after a brutal start to the season under Tim Sherwood.

What would it take for Villa to pull that off, and avoid the first Premier League relegation in club history?

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Week ]

Turns out, a lot.

There is no easy match in the next five, and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on the schedule after that.

Villa next five matches
Feb. 14 – vs. Liverpool
Feb. 27 – at Stoke City
March 1 – vs. Everton
March 5 – at Manchester City
March 12 – vs. Spurs

The Villans do have three relegation six-pointers left, and two of those are at Villa Park with Bournemouth and Newcastle United. Villa also heads to Swansea City.

But Villa has to make up 12 points on the Cherries, 11 on Swans and eight on the Magpies. And while they are within two goals difference of Newcastle, they have eight goals to make up on Bournemouth and 11 to make up on Swansea.

That doesn’t include Sunderland and Norwich, sides four and seven points ahead of the Villans (though both have tricky runs left as well).

If Garde’s club is to make its escape, it will be close to unbelievable. That it will close with a match against Arsenal makes it even trickier, but that would be just the final impressive note in what could only be considered a Garde-conducted masterpiece.

Newcastle’s Carver on relegation fight: “I can’t believe it’s come to the this”

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John Carver’s been watching as his team scooped up one point out of its last 30 to slide from the top half of the table to the brink of relegation, but he still can’t believe it.

The self-glossed best coach in the league, Carver’s running out of things to say (at least logical ones). His recent media talks have ranged from the bizarre — We mentioned he said he was the best, right? — to the conspiratorial (Remember his claim that Mike Williamson took a red card on purpose?).

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

And this tense final week has been no different. In what you’d hope wasn’t a line from his Sunday team talk, Carver expressed wonderment at his team’s failures, “I can’t believe it’s come to this, but it has and we’ve got to deal with it.”

Many people, however, can believe it has come to this. Carver’s bunch has played lackluster football while being waxed by clubs from the top and bottom of the table.

At times it looks a lot like the last relegation season, only with an odd-quipping manager talking about how he swore he’d never get the club relegated. And he remembers watching Alan Shearer managed the deciding loss to Aston Villa.

From The Guardian:

“I’d come back from Canada and I was watching on television in a pub,” said the Tynesider, who had then just resigned from his post as the head coach of Toronto in the MLS but now occupies Shearer’s old shoes. “It was a difficult time for me and on that day I genuinely didn’t speak for an hour afterwards.

“I remember seeing the pictures of Alan on the pitch afterwards and I thought: ‘I hope that never, ever, happens to me.’ As it happens, I saw Alan only the other day and we talked about his feelings at the time and I told him what I felt. I just said: ‘I hope I don’t have to experience that.’ Hopefully I won’t.”

Visualize that. Carver walking up to a club legend and saying, “That must’ve been terrible, Alan. I sure hope I don’t blow it on Sunday!”

At least Newcastle supporters can know that even in a worst-case scenario, owner Mike Ashley wouldn’t keep Carver on board if the team goes to the Championship, right. Right? Right?!?!?

(Crickets).

QPR’s Ramsey after 6-0 loss seals relegation: “We shot ourselves in the foot”

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Queens Park Rangers became the second casualty of the Premier League relegation zone, falling 6-0 at Manchester City on Sunday morning.

Manager Chris Ramsey had plenty to say after the loss. He wants to stick around and help the R’s earn promotion, and he’s a bit stunned at how his team looked in such a crucial fixture.

[ MATCH RECAP: Man City 6-0 QPR ]

Even with the odds stacked against their survival, Ramsey expected more.

From the BBC:

“We came here with a lot of hope, shot ourselves in the foot and gave away three set-pieces which they scored from. On the day we didn’t really turn up and they are a very good team. The boys will be very disappointed in the way they performed. We are really feel sorry for the travelling fans.

“As you can imagine the dressing room is very, very quiet. I don’t think it’s a time for post mortems, our fate is what it is. The club is in a rebuilding phase now and would have been anyway regardless of today. There are lots of people at the club who will be extremely disappointed in the way we conducted ourselves today.”

It’s a lot to take for fans of the R’s, who will now have to hope for a rebuilt unit to quickly thrive in the Championship. Twelve players are out of contract, including Joey Barton and Bobby Zamora.

Tony Fernandez has the money to bring in help, but also consider that Charlie Austin, Robert Green and Matt Phillips will be among those sought after in the transfer market. This time, going back up is going to be much, much tougher.

Premier League scenarios: How can clubs clinch UCL, Europa and relegation places this weekend?

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Chelsea may have clinched the Premier League crown, but this weekend there’s plenty at play outside of the No. 1 slot.

Let’s begin with the UEFA Champions League, where Manchester City and Arsenal can each gain a berth in next year’s competition by picking up a point or more on Sunday (City) or Monday (Gunners).

Manchester United can also clinch a UCL spot for next season if it beats Crystal Palace and Liverpool loses to Chelsea.

[ PL preview: Everton vs. Sunderland ]

The Europa League is a bit trickier. For one thing, we’ve learned that West Ham United is going to Europe if it can avoid a card-happy final few weeks.

For now, fifth and sixth place each qualify for Europe, with a berth going to the seventh-place finisher if Arsenal beats Aston Villa in the FA Cup final.

A Manchester United win on Saturday guarantees them sixth or better, while a Southampton loss or draw also pushes the Red Devils through. A Saints loss on Saturday would also give Liverpool the chance to clinch a top-6 spot with a win over Chelsea.

As for relegation, mathematical safety is currently 43 points, but will drop to 42 if Sunderland draws against Everton and 41 if the Black Cats lose at Goodison Park.

  • Burnley will go down if it draws or loses at Hull on Saturday.
    — The Clarets go down with a win if Leicester and Sunderland win, and both Aston Villa and Newcastle pick up a point.
  • Queens Park Rangers will go down with a loss at Manchester City on Sunday.
    — QPR also could go down before Sunday if Villa, Newcastle, Leicester and Hull all win.
    — QPR would need a win Sunday to avoid relegation if Sunderland wins, and either Leicester or Hull win/draw, OR if Leicester and Hull both win or draw, OR if Hull wins and Sunderland or Leicester wins or draw.

As for who will join Bournemouth and Watford as new Premier League teams, click here for the playoff preview.