After a successful European win on Thursday, a cherry-picking trip to the South Coast for West Ham to face an improving Bournemouth team

An important game – the winner will virtually be safe from relegation, although whatever the result, they probably both will

The Opta Supercomputer makes and updates predictions on the likelihood of all manner of things, including which clubs will be relegated from the Premier League. It gives a percentage chance of facing the drop based on form, the strength of opponents in the games to play, and goodness knows what else. I wonder what the Supercomputer would have made of the chances of West Ham getting anything out of the Arsenal game last weekend after the first ten minutes? Surely it would have been close to zero percent. That’s what I thought, as did many of us I guess, so it was refreshing to witness a comeback that didn’t seem likely, and it could have even been a win at the end.

What brought about the change in the game? The Arsenal manager believes that they eased up once they were two ahead, and that may have been partly the case, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There was a marked change in the way we played. We pressed them higher and played with an intensity rarely seen of late. Which begs the question – why haven’t we seen this for most of the season?

Who will go down? It’s still a tough question to answer, but perhaps a little easier than it was a couple of weeks ago. Back then there were just three points separating Palace in twelfth with Bournemouth in the third relegation spot. Palace decided to dispense with a young progressive manager and replace him with the oldest manager around who had decided to give up managing last season. But three wins in a row for Roy Hodgson since taking over once again at Selhurst Park has taken the Eagles out of the equation and they are now as good as safe.

It’s partly to do with the way that the fixtures have fallen with Palace now playing teams in the bottom half, as opposed to a run of games against teams closer to the top before Hodgson was appointed. Scoring goals has been the difference for Palace too. In the three games with the new manager in charge they have scored nine goals. In the 16 games prior to that they had also scored nine goals. What a difference! Not long ago there was a big gap between Palace and the team in eleventh place. Now they are just three points behind Chelsea who have collected just one point from their last three games.

A new manager at Everton had a similar (but only temporary) effect. When Sean Dyche took over they won two of their first three games reinforcing the change of manager ‘bounce effect’. But since then they have won just one of their last eight games, drawing three and losing four, and they are still in deep trouble with just seven games to play.

With Palace now out of it that leaves only eight clubs at most in the relegation mix. Let’s now take a look at some of the statistics involving the bottom eight.

This article was written before the result of the Arsenal v Southampton game last night was known.

The league table at present from the bottom up:

Southampton 23 points (7 to play), Leicester 25 (7), Forest 27 (7), Everton 27 (7), Leeds 29 (7), West Ham 31 (8), Bournemouth 33 (7), Wolves 34 (7).

The form table (once again from the bottom up) for the last six games played shows why the gaps are opening up near the bottom:

Leicester 1 point, Forest 1, Southampton 2, Everton 6, Leeds 7, West Ham 8, Wolves 10, Bournemouth 12.

The form table for the last three games is even more revealing:

Southampton 0, Leicester 0, Forest 0, Everton 1, Leeds 3, West Ham 4, Bournemouth 6, Wolves 7.

None of the bottom five teams are averaging a point a game for the season to date, and they are now in reality strong favourites to provide the three teams who will be playing in the Championship next season. If our game at Bournemouth on Sunday has a winner then that team will almost certainly be safe from the drop. If we can follow up the positive performance from last Sunday when we travel down to the South Coast then our relegation fears will be all but eliminated. We still have a game in hand and a goal difference that could be worth another point compared to the other teams in the bottom eight. That assumes that we don’t concede too many when we visit Manchester City of course.

I mentioned the Opta Supercomputer at the beginning of this article; their up-to-date figures for percentage chances of relegation are:

Southampton 93.6%, Forest 74.4%, Everton 57.8%, Leicester 46.4%, Leeds 23.5%, West Ham 2.1%, Bournemouth 1.6%, Wolves 0.5%

Bookmakers’ relegation odds vary a little, but taking Bet 365 as an example, the current odds before this weekend’s games are:

Southampton 1/14, Leicester 2/7, Forest 5/6, Everton 1/1, Leeds 9/4, Bournemouth 16/1, West Ham 20/1, Wolves 40/1.

On Thursday night we progressed into the semi-final of the Europa Conference League with a magnificent second half performance against Gent.  AZ Alkmaar, fourth in the Dutch league (as Gent are in the Belgian league) stand in our way from reaching a European final in Prague, our first since 1976.

But before then it is back to the important domestic action. We don’t have a good record in away games at Bournemouth in the Premier League. We have won just once in five attempts when two goals from Valencia and one from Payet secured a 3-1 victory in January 2016, a reversal of the 4-3 defeat we suffered earlier the previous August when Callum Wilson (now of Newcastle of course) scored a hat trick in our last season at Upton Park.

The stakes are high for this game. Both sides know that a win will make them virtually safe. Will it be a cagey affair? Will both sides be happy with a point apiece? Both teams can count on recent momentum. Whatever happens I think we’ll both be in the Premier League next season. I’ll agree with the Opta Supercomputer and the bookmakers. It’s any three from five now – Southampton, Leicester, Forest, Everton and Leeds. It can still change of course, but I’ll stick with that.

4 thoughts on “After a successful European win on Thursday, a cherry-picking trip to the South Coast for West Ham to face an improving Bournemouth team”

  1. hi richard great article thanks.
    glad to see your optomistic, i am confident we will survive, but need 7 more points i think.
    having studied those bottom teams myself, i think that they can all possibly win 3 games, barring notts forest, so the top team in this battle have 27 points and assuming they get their 3 wins, thats 36, so we need those extra points to make sure, as this is football, and you never can tell.


  2. Hi Paul,
    Yes, in the words of Chuck Berry, You Never Can Tell, as Arsenal fans would have found out last night!
    You are right – we never know how many points are needed – I’ve been guessing for a few weeks now.
    I’m always optimistic and even more so recently. Bournemouth should not be underestimated though – O’Neill has done quite a job there.
    One win and a couple of draws is my latest thought but I hope we get more than that.
    All the best.


  3. Hi Richard, if we continue to press, as you say, further up I think we’ll be fine. It gives our talented players the chance to really play. If we go for it, there’s a good chance of survival and a trophy.


    1. Hi John
      I’m very confident but Bournemouth will be tough. It shouldn’t really have come to this though!


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: