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Analyzing the Premier League relegation battle

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The battle at the bottom of the Premier League table has intensified over the past few weeks, as eight teams are now embroiled in the relegation scrap.

This is getting intense.

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Big wins for Cardiff City, Burnley and Newcastle have muddled the situation, while only Fulham and Huddersfield seem doomed for the drop. That means six teams are scrapping to stay out of 18th place.

Below we take a look at the situation for the bottom eight clubs with 12 games to go, while the likes of Leicester, Bournemouth, West Ham and Everton will also be looking over their shoulders nervously.


Huddersfield

The Terriers are already prepping for next season in the second-tier under Jan Siewert and haven’t won a PL game since November. Scoring goals has been their big problem, and they have plenty of big boys to play in the final weeks of the season. Adding another 11 points from their final 12 games seems a tad generous too…

Current position: 20th
Current points: 11
Games remaining: Newcastle (A), Wolves (H), Brighton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Crystal Palace (A), Leicester (H), Tottenham (A), Watford (H), Liverpool (A), Man United (H), Southampton (A)
Projected final points tally: 22 points


Fulham

The Cottagers are really up against it now and they play three of the top five in their remaining games. They can still get out of trouble, but it seems very unlikely. Claudio Ranieri is being lambasted by his own fans and even though they look capable of scoring, Fulham’s defensive displays have been ghastly all season long.

Current position: 19th
Current points: 17
Games remaining: West Ham (A), Southampton (A), Chelsea (H), Leicester (A), Liverpool (H), Man City (H), Watford (A), Everton (H), Bournemouth (A), Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H)
Projected final points tally: 29 points


Southampton

Not beating any of Cardiff, Palace and Burnley in their last three was a huge blow fore Saints after a good run of wins. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men will likely go into the final week of the season with a chance of staying up. For the second season running Southampton are in big trouble and their hopes rely on Danny Ings staying fit. Saints’ survival hopes will go down to the wire once again.

Current position: 18th
Current points: 24
Games remaining: Arsenal (A), Fulham (H), Man United (A), Tottenham (H), Watford (A), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Wolves (H), Newcastle (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (H)
Projected final points tally: 39 points


Cardiff City

The Bluebirds have been in great form recently with big wins against Bournemouth and Saints boosting their survival hopes. They have games against each of the top four remaining, but they have momentum. Neil Warnock‘s side will have the neutrals support in the run-in, but do they have the goals to seal the deal?

Current position: 17th
Current points: 25
Games remaining: Watford (H), Everton (H), Wolves (A), West Ham (H), Brighton (A), Chelsea (H), Man City (A), Burnley (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man United (A)
Projected final points tally: 39 points


Newcastle United

Newcastle have played really well in recent weeks and look sharp going forward. Miguel Almiron will be key, but their schedule is extremely favorable as their toughest games remaining are against Arsenal and Liverpool, with the latter at home.

Current position: 16th
Current points: 25
Games remaining: Huddersfield (H), Burnley (H), West Ham (A), Everton (H), Bournemouth (A), Arsenal (A), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A), Southampton (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A)
Projected final points tally: 42 points


Burnley

Sean Dyche‘s men have been in fine form recently and despite a tough final few months of the season (schedule wise) they’ve turned the corner. The Clarets should be fine, just about, but their final four games are very tough. Have to get points on the board ASAP.

Current position: 15th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Tottenham (H), Newcastle (A), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (A), Leicester (H), Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A), Cardiff (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H)
Projected final points tally: 40 points


Brighton & Hove Albion

If there’s one team everyone is expecting to get dragged into the bottom three it is Brighton. They have won one of their last 11 PL games and Chris Hughton‘s side are making big defensive mistakes. They still have to play four of the top five. If Glenn Murray doesn’t regain his form, Brighton are in big trouble.

Current position: 14th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Leicester (A), Huddersfield (H), Crystal Palace (A), Cardiff (H), Southampton (H), Tottenham (A), Bournemouth (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Man City (H), Chelsea (A)
Projected final points tally: 37 points


Crystal Palace

The addition of Michy Basthuayi and the return to form of Wilfried Zaha means Palace will be fine. They aren’t great to watch, but Roy Hodgson will get the job done. Not the easiest schedule remaining, but they are more than capable of picking up a few shock wins.

Current position: 13th
Current points: 27
Games remaining: Leicester (A), Man United (H), Burnley (A), Brighton (H), Tottenham (A), Huddersfield (H), Newcastle (A), Man City (H), Arsenal (A), Everton (H), Cardiff (A), Bournemouth (H)
Projected final points tally: 41 points


Fulham boss Ranieri acknowledges fan unrest amid relegation fight

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Claudio Ranieri is losing the battle against relegation at the helm of Fulham, but that’s not all he’s losing. The fans are turning on him as well.

Fulham fans jeered Ranieri’s substitutions during the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, and he recognized their unrest in his post-match media availability.

“I know the fans were not happy but I had two players with flu in the week, including Andre Schurrle,” Ranieri said. “I can understand the fans always want their players to play but it’s not always possible. We will work to try and win our next two games. We’re always positive.”

While Fulham fans have taken to Schurrle – winner of January’s Premier League Goal of the Month award for his stunner against Burnley – that’s not all they’re upset about. Fan favorites Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon were both unused substitutes against Manchester United, even with the team playing from behind early on.

Ranieri has said publicly he wishes to play far more direct than his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, who became well-liked for his free-flowing, possession-based style of play, to which Cairney and Sessegnon were vastly important. Now, with Ranieri’s style far from that which saw Fulham win promotion to the Premier League under Jokanovic, he has left Cairney and Sessegnon on the bench for multiple matches, causing Fulham fans to question the Italian’s decision-making.

While those two are ball-playing midfielders who are less useful in a more direct setup, they are vital players to the club for the last three seasons, leaving fans wondering whether the manager should adapt more to the squad’s best players. Fans also have become attached to Jokanovic’s style of play, and many opposed the decision to let him go in November, fairly or unfairly giving Ranieri an even shorter lead, and coupled with just one win and five defeats in the last six matches under the new style of play, fans are beginning to lose patience quickly.

What’s more, the club’s porous defense – the worst in the top five European leagues by goals conceded – has capitulated early in matches, conceding inside the opening half-hour in four of their last five matches, including a 14th-minute goal by Paul Pogba that began the Old Trafford defeat on Saturday, with Anthony Martial scoring nine minutes later to double the lead. Cairney and Sessegnon both came off the bench in that game, but not until the final 13 minutes.

Pogba dazzles as Man United batter Fulham (video)

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  • United remain unbeaten under Solskjaer
  • Pogba, Martial score first half goals
  • Fulham remain seven points from safety
  • 10 wins from 11 for United in all comps under Solskjaer
  • United move into top four

Manchester United eased past Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, with a clinical first half leading the Red Devils to victory.

Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both scored superb goals in the first half, as Fulham just couldn’t cope with United’s rapid counter attacks. Pogba then scored a penalty kick in the second half to cap off his Man of the Match display.

Ahead of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain, United made six changes to their lineup and the players who did appear on the pitch didn’t skip a beat.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains unbeaten as United’s caretaker manager (winning 10 of 11 games in all competitions) and they’ve now moved into the top four and have 51 points. Fulham remain second from bottom and seven points from safety on 17 points.

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After an even start which saw Fulham go close through Luciano Vietto and Aleksandar Mitrovic, United struck twice with their first two efforts at goal.

Pogba smashed home the opener after Martial’s delicate pass into the box, as the Frenchman dominated early proceedings from central midfield.

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Martial then picked the ball up in his own half, danced away from Fulham’s defense and finished off calmly for United’s second, as the Red Devils were 2-0 up early in the game.

Romelu Lukaku almost nodded home at the far post to score a third, and moments later Phil Jones saw a superb shot from outside the box tipped over.

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Fulham had plenty of the ball in the first half but barely threatened, as United were lethal on the counter attack.

Ander Herrera went close after the break but Sergio Rico saved, then United sealed their win as Juan Mata won a penalty kick after he was fouled clearly by Denis Odoi.

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Pogba slammed home the penalty kick with minimum fuss to make it 3-0, as Solskajer continues to work wonders at Old Trafford.

Late chances at both ends saw David De Gea deny Mitrovic’s header, then substitute Alexis Sanchez raced free but his shot was straight at Sergio Rico.

VIDEO: Pogba, Martial score stunners for red-hot Man United

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Manchester United can do no wrong right now.

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Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both scored in the first half at Fulham, as United they continued their fine form under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.

Pogba smashed home at the near post from Martial’s pass to put United ahead, then Martial raced clear on the left flank and finished superbly to make it 2-0.

Watch Pogba’s strike in the video above, while Martial’s stunning solo goal is below.


Watch Live: Fulham v. Man United

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Fulham host Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive game for two clubs in very different situations.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Fulham need the points to stay in the Premier League, while United need to keep their top four dreams alive. Something has to give.

In team news Fulham have Schurrle, Babel and Mitrovic fit.

Man United rest players ahead of the PSG game, with Marcus Rashford.

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