As we near the three-quarter pole of the Premier League season, the relegation picture is taking shape – and at least two clubs are in serious trouble.
Fulham and Huddersfield Town both suffered two-goal defeats this weekend to sink further to the bottom of the table, and fireworks aren’t exactly going off in Cardiff City over the Bluebirds’ season-long swirl.
Then again, Crystal Palace and Newcastled United picked up important wins on Saturday, and the fate of two more clubs this round is yet to be seen.
Here’s a look at where things stand.
Punched their ticket to the Championship
Huddersfield Town — OK not officially, but there’s little hope here. Huddersfield is 14 points from safety, has won two games and lost 20 this campaign, and has scored 10 less goals than anyone else in the league. By the time Huddersfield conceded a second goal in its 2-0 loss to Newcastle on Saturday, the resignation was apparent:
German-American manager David Wagner piecemealed this squad into surviving the drop last season. Now that he’s gone, this season will end differently.
Don’t get too attached to the Premier League
Fulham — When Claudio Ranieri replaced the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic, the Cottagers finished the year fairly well with nine points from eight matches. It was hardly trophy-winning form, but it handed Fulham the chance to make a move toward safety in the new year. That hasn’t happened, and with a paltry 17 points, the club is tipped for relegation by every major bookie. A brutal March, which includes fixtures against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, might seal its fate.
Cardiff City — Manager Neil Warnock made headlines last month when he praised Brexit and said “to hell with the rest of the world.” Well, his team said “to hell with” competing in a 5-1 drubbing against Watford Friday. Cardiff sits on 25 points and is in better shape than Fulham or Huddersfield, but it’s firmly in the mix for the final relegation spot. Having waited until Oct. 20 to win its first match of the season, Cardiff is trying to make up ground. With five games left against the top seven, there’s a good chance it won’t happen.
Brighton & Hove Albion — The Seagulls are off this weekend, which means they’ll have a game in hand for awhile. Problem is, that game in hand will be at Stamford Bridge, and even amid Chelsea’s recent struggles, that’s not a ground where you can count on earning a result. Especially when you haven’t won in the league since Dec. 29, like Brighton.
Southampton — Things are cloudy at the moment at St. Mary’s, but those clouds are close to parting. Since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over in early December, the club has only lost five times in 12 league matches and beaten Arsenal while earning at point at Chelsea. The return fixture vs. the Gunners is Sunday, but even if Southampton loses, the momentum is there for Premier League survival.
A few more results ought to do it
Crystal Palace — Leicester City dominated much of the first half on Saturday. So where exactly did this come from?
Wherever the goals in the 4-1 flooring at the King Power Stadium came from, they have Crystal Palace eyeing imminent safety under Roy Hodgson. The January arrival of seemingly rejuvenated Michy Batshuayi doesn’t hurt, either. There are enough winnable fixtures remaining for Palace to finish the job.
Burnley — Our own Doug McIntyre already detailed the Clarets’ impressive upset of Tottenham Hotspur in this space, and they still haven’t lost in the league since the day after Christmas. Now sitting on 30 points, Burnley’s midseason revival has been led by the strike pair of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes. It’s been 42 days since anyone other than those two scored for the Clarets. Looks like it’ll be an additional year, at least, before they’re out of the Premier League again.
Newcastle United — Salomon Rondon’s opener on Saturday sent Newcastle to its third win in five matches:
With Major League Soccer products DeAndre Yedlin and Miguel Almiron playing regularly, the Magpies should have the attention of North American soccer fans. Their remaining opponents would do well to take notice, too.
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