A fascinating Premiership relegation battle is heating up after Southampton sacked manager Mauricio Pellegrino with just eight games of the season remaining. Meanwhile, West Ham fans invaded the pitch in protest as their team slumped to a 3-0 win against Burnley at the weekend, leaving the Hammers in real danger. Crystal Palace have lost four straight games and they are now in the thick of the battle, and several teams are looking nervously over their shoulders. Here we analyze the leading contenders to be relegated in the tightest battle in years:
Alan Pardew’s men have now lost six on the bounce and they are eight points adrift at the foot of the table. The Baggies are doomed and the best price available on them is just 1/33 with William Hill, so they should start planning for life in the Championship next season.
The Potters have suffered a dismal run of results and they are 19th in the table after defeat to Man City on Monday night. Three teams go down and Stoke are second in the betting, priced at 4/5 with Ladbrokes. However, there is hope for Paul Lambert’s side as they are just a point behind 17th placed Southampton, and they have the quality to dig themselves out of trouble. In Xerdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen and Jese Rodriguez, they have goals and creativity, while there is a bit of defensive resilience from Kurt Zouma and Jack Butland, so do not write Stoke off just yet.
Saints are 2/1 to go down after they took a huge gamble by sacking Pellegrino on Monday. The Argentine had secured just one win in 17 and Southampton were sleepwalking their way towards relegation. They have spent years selling their best players to Liverpool, and it appears to be finally catching up with them. You could argue that Southampton are too good to go down, blessed as they are with the talents of Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic, and James Ward-Prowse, but they are sloppy at the back, listless in possession and lacking creativity up front right now, so they are in real trouble and look interesting at 2/1 as they still have to play Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal in their final eight matches.
Palace looked doomed when Roy Hodgson took over earlier this season, but he inspired a fantastic turnaround in results and dragged them up to mid-table. However, the revival turned sour in recent weeks after star player Wilfried Zaha suffered injury. He was missing during Frank De Boer’s ill-fated reign, and his absence from the team once again coincided with a horrible downturn in form, leaving the Eagles back in the drop zone. Four defeats in a row has damaged their confidence, but it is worth noting that it was against top opposition in Chelsea, Man Utd, Tottenham, and Everton. Palace were unlucky not to get a result against Chelsea and Utd, and Zaha is now back fit to lead them to safety, so you would fancy the Eagles to secure enough points to beat the drop as their schedule does not look too tricky.
The Hammers have had a similar season to Crystal Palace: they were in real trouble, they sacked their manager, brought in someone with great Premiership experience, he dragged them up the table, and then they have lost their way again in recent weeks. David Moyes looked beleaguered during Saturday’s defeat against Burnley, and the toxic atmosphere at the club could count against it. They too have to play Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal, plus Man Utd, Leicester and Everton, so they are in danger. West Ham are just three points above the drop zone now, and it has been said in the past that the Hammers are too good to go down, only for them to be promptly relegated. The 9/4 on offer at green-listed bookmakers Unibet and 888 Sport for the Hammers to be relegated looks extremely attractive.
Kudos to Brighton and Newcastle, who keep earning strong results and seem like they will battle their way out of trouble. The Magpies are only two points above West Ham, but they are in better form. A third promoted club, Huddersfield, could be a wildcard in this relegation race through at 5/2. They have a four-point cushion from the drop zone, but that can quickly be eaten up if the likes of Crystal Palace and Stoke return to winning ways. They have battled bravely all season, but if they run out of steam their rivals will capitalize. Swansea’s upturn in form has been remarkable and they should be safe, ditto Bournemouth. Right now things are looking extremely bleak for West Ham, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Stoke, but the Hammers and the Saints have the tougher schedules and could be joining West Brom in the second tier of English football next season.