Premier League football emerges from the final international break of the 2022-23 season and resumes on April Fools Day. With the season finale on Sunday 28th May there are just 58 days or a little over 8 weeks for it all to be decided in potentially the most open finish for a while at the very top, in the fight for European places, and in the tussle to be playing top-flight football next season by avoiding the dreaded drop into the Championship. Arguably perhaps all 20 clubs are still involved in one of the three competitions (Top, Europe, Relegation) going into the final two months of a season that was interrupted by the death of the monarch and the winter World Cup in addition to the usual breaks for international football.
I cannot remember a season when there has been such a vast gap between the top and bottom halves of the league with two very distinct sets of teams battling in one or the other. If you want to be pedantic, not exactly halves, but the top 11 and the bottom 9. Depending upon the FA Cup winners and final league placings there are likely to be seven English teams in Europe next season and just 4 points separate Liverpool in sixth with Aston Villa in eleventh place. There is then a vast chasm (as wide as the gap between the top and bottom tiers of the London Stadium) of 11 points before we come to the group of nine clubs at the bottom. Unfortunately West Ham are in this latter group this time around (after two seasons finishing 6th and 7th) where just four points separate Palace in twelfth with this weekend’s visitors to East London, Southampton, who are propping up the table. I suspect that there has never been fewer points separating 12th and 20th place going into April.
As we enter the final run-in we sit in a relegation spot (18th) although we have at least one and in some cases two games in hand over the other eight teams involved. If (and it is a big if) we could win the games in hand over our relegation rivals we would climb into twelfth spot, that’s how tight it is.
So who will go down? A tough question to answer in a season where a win or two on the bounce can transform the position in an instant by increasing optimism amongst fans and decreasing the perception of how much danger a team is in. We should really just focus on our own results, but it is difficult to ignore what is happening elsewhere when it is too close to call and the stakes are so high.
Opta Stats Perform produce probability of relegation figures and their current figures are:
Southampton 78%, Bournemouth 56%, Forest 50%, Everton 42%, Leeds 21%, Wolves 20%, West Ham 16%, Leicester 11%, Palace 6%.
Skybet relegation odds are broadly similar (apart from West Ham and Leicester changing places in the order) and their current figures are:
Southampton 2/5, Bournemouth 4/7, Forest 10/11, Everton 7/4, Leeds 3/1, Wolves 7/2, Leicester 4/1, West Ham 9/2, Palace 5/1.
The league table at present from the bottom up:
Southampton 23 (10 to play), Bournemouth 24 (11), West Ham 24 (12), Leicester 25 (11), Forest 26 (11), Everton 26 (10), Leeds 26 (11), Wolves 27 (10), Palace 27 (10).
The form table for the last six games played:
Forest 2, Palace 2, Wolves 4, Leicester 4, West Ham 6, Leeds 7, Bournemouth 7, Southampton 8, Everton 8.
None of the bottom nine teams is yet averaging a point a game for the season to date, although five of the bottom teams are averaging a point a game for the last six games played (including the bottom three in the league table Southampton, Bournemouth and West Ham). This could be why it is getting even closer at the bottom than it was a few weeks ago. Form of recent games, and potential momentum gained from those results depends partly on the opposition faced, but has been disrupted by the international break. Palace in particular (and especially their sacked manager) could perhaps feel that recent form gives an unrealistic impression. Despite their long winless run, Palace only faced teams from the top half of the table in that period and did manage some creditable (and possibly unexpected) draws. Incredibly they face every one of the other teams in the bottom nine, five at home and three away in addition to visits to Tottenham and Fulham to finish their season. Their goals have however dried up.
An interesting comparison of goals scored can be made between the bottom 9:
Palace 22, Wolves 22, Everton 22, Forest 22, Southampton 23, West Ham 24, Bournemouth 25, Leeds 35, Leicester 38.
Goals conceded comparisons:
West Ham 34, Palace 38, Everton 40, Wolves 41, Leeds 44, Southampton 46, Leicester 47, Forest 49, Bournemouth 54.
So what can we make of all these statistics as we approach the final games of the season? Goal difference could be worth another point and may make all the difference at the end. Leeds, Leicester and West Ham fare better than the others in this respect. As virtually all the teams in the league are still in contention or have something to play for then the strength of opposition in remaining games might not mean a lot. If all the teams in the bottom 9 averaged a point a game from here, then the final table would see Southampton and Bournemouth relegated with 33 and 35 points respectively, and the remaining seven teams would have 36 (West Ham, Everton and Leicester) or 37 (Palace, Wolves, Leeds, Forest). Unless there was a significant swing in goal differences Everton would be the third team relegated.
The difference between the points for a win (3) and a draw (1) take on added significance at this stage, and even the single points gained from draws could be crucial. Games played between teams in the bottom nine (so called six pointers) will be massively important too and there are lots of these. Palace have 8 of them, Southampton, Bournemouth and Leicester 6, West Ham and Leeds 5, Forest, Everton and Wolves 4. In this coming round of fixtures there are three (‘6 pointer’) games including our own against Southampton.
Conversely that means Palace have only 2 fixtures against teams in the top 11, Southampton have 4, Bournemouth and Leicester 5, Everton, Wolves and Leeds 6, Forest and West Ham 7.
The table below sets out our remaining 12 league games with the figures in brackets the points that we picked up in the reverse fixtures already played earlier in the season. If we were to replicate those then we would collect another 9 points to take us up to 33. Might that be enough? I suspect not, so we must do better. At least 12 would probably be needed, or possibly more. Six or seven points (or even optimistically nine?) in the first three would go a long way to alleviating relegation fears, whereas three points or less would leave us still in the fight for survival. If we could win the five games against teams in the bottom 9 then that undoubtedly would be enough. But that’s easier said than done. And how will our continued involvement in Europe influence things? It will mean nine games in 28 days in the month of April!
2/4 Home v Southampton (1)
5/4 Home v Newcastle (1)
8/4 Away v Fulham (3)
16/4 Home v Arsenal (0)
23/4 Away v Bournemouth (3)
26/4 Home v Liverpool (0)
29/4 Away v Palace (0)
3/5 Away v Man City (0)
7/5 Home v Man Utd (0)
13/5 Away v Brentford (0)
20/5 Home v Leeds (1)
28/5 Away v Leicester (0)
What does all this analysis mean? Will we survive? I think so, yes, but it will be close. An exciting climax for those not involved. Who will go down? Its too close to call but I’ll give it a shot. At this point I’ll say any three from Southampton, Bournemouth, Everton and Forest. But next week I might change my mind!
6 thoughts on “As West Ham entertain bottom club Southampton this weekend we try to work out who will go down this season”
Hi Richard, my hope is that success in the ECL will continue, giving the squad a lift. But all our remaining games are against teams with something to play for, and one of the no-hope teams usually becomes a world beater with time running out. It’s going to be very close, and my fear is that David Moyes’ over-caution could lead to too many drawn games. He needs to let the players off the leash. Hoping for that tomorrow… We have the quality. COYI!
It would be exciting if we weren’t involved in the scrap at the bottom!
We really need to win this game. Surely the manager realises that and will let them off the leash!
If he does we will survive with ease. We have some top players. But if this cramped negative stuff continues, we won’t. I have a feeling at the moment, though, that Rice will get the club through all this. Already very nervous about tomorrow. We have – for obvious reasons – to avoid conceding free kicks near goal. Still going for a Hammers win 2-1 🙂
We are talking David Moyse, so nothing is a given. We have just pushed through the swing doors of the last chance saloon. The players know this and none of them wants Championship football next season. They need to ignore the dinosaur, play the game like a cup tie and give everything on the pitch. As I write, Bournemouthhave just gone 2 – 1 up against Fulham! There is NO way we can rely on results from elsewhere.This is IT!,
Hi Richard, i am a bit braver than you, [ or hopeful ] i predict we will have 39 points, and survive.
Our goal difference could count, although i just watched Man city destroy Liverpool, scoring goals for fun, so a bit worrying, our away game at city could be crucial, just try to think positive.
After Saturday’s games we know that defeat will leave us at the very bottom. A win and we are 13th with one or two games in hand over the others. That’s the difference one game can make.
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