The Battle for Premier League Survival – Is it already game over for the bottom three?
The Premier League title is only days away from being won by Liverpool. Let’s turn our attention to the other end of the table. After the weekend fixtures, the bottom three places are filled by Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City. Supporters of these clubs get ready for Championship football next season as they are the trio heading for relegation.
Teams have eight games to play so you might think this is a bit of an early call. After all, only seven points separate the bottom five and there could be many twists and turns in the coming weeks. Yes, there could but the simple fact is the current bottom three just don’t look able to fight their way out of trouble.
Teams such as Watford and West Ham United aren’t world beaters either but let’s look at last season. The 2018/19 season saw Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town relegated. Huddersfield and Fulham just weren’t good enough, their combined points total would have seen them finish 15th in the table.
Cardiff ended up in a battle with Brighton and Hove Albion and the south coast side were so lucky to survive. Only 10 points from their last 15 games but Cardiff just weren’t good enough to take advantage. Their last two wins were against Brighton and a final day win at Manchester United when they were already down.
What happened to Brighton last year is going to happen to Watford and West Ham. Their form isn’t great but those below them are even worse. Those two sides may well continue to struggle in the dying days of the season but they are going to dodge a bullet because the teams below them can’t even hum the tune to ‘The Great Escape,’ let alone achieve it.
Canaries Just Haven’t Done Enough at Home
When Norwich City won promotion back to Premier League Action, few expected them to survive. It was clear that two things had to happen for them to have any chance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship. Teemu Pukki had to be scoring plenty of goals and they had to get good results at Carrow Road. Neither has gone to plan and that’s why they are going to be relegated.
Friday saw them return to action with a home game against Southampton. Their opponents had been struggling before the season was suspended. It was a good chance for the Canaries to get a home win but they ended up losing 3-0. They are six points from safety, virtually seven because of their poor goal difference.
Two major problems surfaced again for Norwich. The inability to score and dodgy defending and both put another nail in their coffin. Teemu Pukki was supposed to be their saviour but his last Premier League goal was in January.
Norwich have four home games remaining and none of them are against sides in the top ten. Both Brighton and West Ham have to make their way to Carrow Road, with Everton and Burnley their other fixtures.
There are opportunities for Norwich with that fixture list. The problem is they just don’t seem to have the form to pick up the points required. How do you save yourself when you struggle to score a goal? The last six league games have produced just one goal. That got them a home win over Leicester but the following two games have both been lost.
This is a time when they desperately need to build some momentum, not lose 3-0 at home to Southampton. Only two of their last 17 league games have been won, nowhere near good enough. As for their away form, the last eight games have produced just two points. They still have to travel to Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea and Manchester City. The Canaries are on their way back to the Championship, no doubt about it.
Villa Live in the Land of Wasted Opportunities
Last season it was Fulham, this time it’s Aston Villa. Fulham won promotion and splashed the cash but went straight back down. The same is going to happen to Aston Villa and they have only themselves to blame.
Winning games is hard enough in the Premier League but Villa have made life difficult for themselves. Time and time again, they have taken the lead and failed to keep it. If you ever bet on them to win, if they go ahead, cash out right away!
It’s happened seven times for Villa this season. Seven leads that could have earned 21 points actually produced just two. And you wonder why they’ll be playing in the second-tier next season.
There’s been some crackers with:
- a 1-0 and 2-1 lead at Arsenal turned into a 3-2 defeat.
- Who could forget them leading Liverpool 1-0 at home with three minutes remaining and losing 2-1.
- Twice they lost the lead at home to Burnley and only drew 2-2.
All those wasted opportunities for a team that is still only a point from safety with eight games remaining.
Two games since the Premier League resumed have produced a single point. Of course, they led Chelsea and lost 2-1! Their run-in is a bit of a nightmare with Wolves. Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Arsenal on their way to Villa Park.
Away form has seen Villa earn just eight points, nowhere near good enough. They still have to go to in-form Newcastle, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham. Villa fans can only expect relegation and the transfer of Jack Grealish in the coming months.
Cherries on their way to the Championship
It’s been an eventful ride for Bournemouth in the Premier League. Lots of goals scored and plenty conceded but never a relegation worry. That’s all come to an end this season and they are on their way back to the Championship.
Their season began with a series of injuries to key players. However, that didn’t stop them earning 11 points from their first seven league games. At one stage, the Cherries were in the top four but it’s all gone wrong for them since.
The 23 league games that have followed have seen Bournemouth earn just 16 points. A form guide for the past 20 has them rock bottom with just 14 points. Bournemouth have been playing for months like a side that are destined to be relegated. Not long to wait before that becomes a reality.
They are only in the relegation zone on goal difference but their form is just appalling. Those last 20 games have seen them win on just four occasions with 14 lost and a goal difference of -20.
Their most recent defeat was a 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace. TV coverage on the BBC gave us all the chance to see what a mess Bournemouth are in. Just one shot on target just isn’t good enough. We can all see how this story is going to end.
Their remaining four home games see them hosting Newcastle United, Tottenham, Leicester and Southampton. None are going to be that easy to get points from, especially the way Bournemouth are playing.
On their travels, it’s even more depressing a fixture list.
Trips to Wolves, both Manchester clubs and Everton are on their way. The Cherries have lost their last six away league games and nine of the last ten. Relegation beckons for Bournemouth and then the player exodus will begin. How will they keep Eddie Howe when the next Premier League vacancy comes along?
There we are then, three teams in desperate trouble and with nowhere to go but the Championship.
June 22nd, 2020 by Simon A
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