On Saturday morning we were in 14th place in the Premier League, and with no game until today, there was every chance that we could have slipped down the table with most of the teams still involved in the relegation scrap having the opportunity to pick up points. But none of the teams below us managed to win a game which was probably the best we could have hoped for, so we go into today’s game with little to lose, and everything to gain. An average of a point a game has kept teams outside the bottom three all season, and it is looking increasingly likely that 38 points will be more than enough to achieve safety. It may only take 35 or 36.
Newcastle reached that level (38) yesterday with an important win at Leicester, as did Bournemouth who once again managed a late equaliser to deny Crystal Palace an away victory. They should both now be safe, as Watford almost certainly are with 37. I think that we can now narrow down the potential relegation candidates to eight teams as set out in the table below. Stoke lost to Tottenham, Brighton drew with Huddersfield, and Swansea could only manage a draw at doomed West Brom. I don’t think we could have wished for better than that.
Southampton play at Arsenal today, so I’m hoping that they will not gain on us, and they won’t have a hope of doing so if they replicate their woeful performance against us at the London Stadium last week.
|The bottom teams in the Premier League||Points||Goal Diff.||Games Played||Games to play|
|14. West Ham||33||-18||31||7|
|17. Crystal Palace||31||-19||33||5|
|19. Stoke City||27||-33||33||5|
|20. West Brom||21||-26||33||5|
It could be that Brighton have enough points already, but three more points will almost certainly see them safe. It is just as well that they have 35 points in the bag, as I doubt that they will get many more in their six remaining fixtures, two games at home to Tottenham and Manchester United, and four away games at Palace, Burnley, Manchester City and Liverpool. Our remaining fixtures are not the easiest but a home win against Stoke in the next round of matches should see us virtually safe with five games to go. Looking at the outstanding games, Palace have the easiest run-in on paper, and Swansea have a tough run of games before meeting Southampton and Stoke at home to round off their season. Huddersfield’s next game at home to Watford is a big game for them, as their final four fixtures see them play Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal.
At this stage I reckon that West Brom and Stoke are as good as down, and they will be joined by Southampton or Huddersfield. Bookmakers tend to agree with my assertion with both West Brom and Stoke at massive odds on to be relegated, and Southampton / Huddersfield both around even money. You can get around 5-1 on Swansea, 8-1 on Palace, and 10-1 on ourselves to be playing Championship football next season.
So what chance do we have in today’s game? Very little based on recent visits to Stamford Bridge. The last time we won a Premier League game there Di Canio netted the winner so you can see how long ago that was. Unsurprisingly Chelsea are massively odds on to collect three points, whereas you can get upwards of 10/1 on a West Ham win.
I’m hoping that we can upset the odds, but more than that looking for us to put in a good performance in the game. We beat them in the reverse fixture at home when Arnie scored the only goal of the game, so what chance we can do the double?