I find it difficult to add to Geoff’s excellent article this week. If you haven’t read it yet, then I recommend you do so now. Of the nine teams still involved in the fight against dropping into the Championship, only West Ham and Forest have failed to change their manager this season. Will one or both go down? Who knows? It is still too close to call. I keep reading that our manager has one more game to save his job, but if he wasn’t going to go after a 5-1 home drubbing then I guess he’s here for the season now come what may. And I find that truly astonishing.
There are three specific changes I would definitely like to see for our trip to Craven Cottage. Firstly, I believe that a change of goalkeeper is long overdue and Areola must surely replace Fabianski now. Our number 1 has been good, but time is catching up on him.
Kehrer must be replaced by Coufal. I thought Kehrer was badly at fault for the first two goals (although not the only one!). As a defender he lacks awareness of what is going on around him and I believe Coufal, while not perfect, is a better bet in that position.
As for Soucek, I just cannot understand how he can possibly be picked for game after game. To me his season has been full of giving the ball to the opposition or committing fouls and giving an innocent look at the referee as if he cannot understand why a decision has gone against him.
Of course defensively there are others who had poor games against Newcastle. Perhaps Aguerd could be replaced by Ogbonna, but I’d personally be happy to retain him, or perhaps as Geoff has suggested we might even go with a 3-5-2 formation, and keep Zouma, Ogbonna and Aguerd? Fornals and Downes come into the picture, or perhaps play Antonio and Ings together up top and move Bowen a little deeper in a 4-4-2? I don’t think Ings as a lone striker works – he’s not that type of player.
My team would be (4-3-3): Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Rice, Paqueta, Downes; Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma.
But I very much doubt that will be the starting eleven.
So who will go down? It’s still a tough question to answer. There’s still only three points separating Palace in twelfth with Bournemouth in the third relegation spot. We are 15th but only out of the bottom three on the basis of (a worsening) goal difference. All the teams involved at the bottom still have nine games to play, although we have ten.
Bookmakers’ relegation odds are not changing too much and we are still eighth favourites to go down. If you look at the form table for the very last game then we are bottom on goal difference! But if you look at the last five games then it is a different story. The three teams who are odds on to go down are Southampton, Bournemouth and Forest. Everton, Leicester, Leeds and Wolves come next (in that order) and then we are equal eighth favourites with Palace.
The league table at present from the bottom up:
Southampton 23 (9 to play), Leicester 25 (9), Bournemouth 27 (9), Forest 27 (9), Everton 27 (9), West Ham 27 (10), Wolves 28 (9), Leeds 29 (9), Palace 30 (9).
The form table (once again from the bottom up) for the last five games played shows ourselves and Leeds as the in-form teams:
Leicester 1, Forest 2, Palace 3, Wolves 4, Southampton 5, Bournemouth 6, Everton 6. West Ham 7, Leeds 7,
None of the bottom seven teams is averaging a point a game for the season to date, although five of the bottom nine teams are averaging a point a game for the last five games played (including two of the bottom three in the league table Southampton and Bournemouth).
I have updated the table that sets out our remaining 10 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 7 points to take us up to 34. Might that be enough? It might be or it might not. We now have only four home games left (where we have collected the bulk of our points this season) and Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are three of them – not the simplest games on paper. If we are to survive then collecting more points on the road is likely to be vital.
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)
Fulham have had an excellent season and sit in the top half of the table, but their form in the last five games shows only four points attained (three less than ourselves) and they have lost their last three. We must go into this game thinking we can win. But will we be set up by the manager not to lose? The ‘six pointers’ still to come at Bournemouth, Palace and Leicester and at home to Leeds will be crucial to our hopes of survival, but we must look to pick up some points in games where we are possibly not expected to. I think we will win today and I’m confident we will stay up. What are the chances?
4 thoughts on “If it is any consolation after Wednesday’s debacle West Ham still have a game in hand over all their relegation rivals as they travel to Craven Cottage”
Hi Richard, hope you are well, great read, thanks. the real worry concerning our goal advantage, is that we play those top teams, our game in hand being man. city away, it will go right to the wire, i hope were safe before the leicester game, very dodgy position, but surely we are better than 3 teams down there, time will tell.
I think we are better than at least 5 or 6 teams down there but it counts for nothing if we don’t win matches.
I’m convinced we’ll be ok despite the manager’s tactics or lack of being able to adapt.
Time will tell.
All the best
Alway’s read Geoff’s posts, Richard – in fact, only ones I read as he does excellent articles and talks sense.
Sorry, think we’ve had it to be honest – we are truly awful and look totally clueless – some of the players don’t cut the mustard at Prem’ level and I think
far too late to turn it around now, especially looking at some of our remaining fixtures !
As most people have said, dithering Dave and his cronies on the board should
have binned Moyes in the World Cup break in order to at least have given us a chance.
Relegated – West Ham, Forest and Southampton.
Pray I’m wrong !
We all have opinions and that’s good. I think we’ll be ok. I don’t have the same doomed feeling as when Avram Grant was here for example.
Time will tell. I hope I’m right.
All the best
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