One team likely secured their safety from relegation this weekend in the Premier League, but for everyone else, the race got a whole lot more tight. The teams in 19th-16th place all got results while 15th-placed Aston Villa got nothing and the result is a little bit of worry for everyone left. Mathematically speaking, no one is even close to being a sure-thing drop yet, but we know better.
For this week's edition of relegation watch, we've dropped West Bromwich Albion. Newcastle are still probably safe, but their recent run of atrocious form means that we're keeping them in here for at least another week. You'll see that I've also added relegation odds. They are accurate as of 1435 GMT on Monday, April 27. I took the SkyBet odds as provided by OddsChecker. There was no particular reason for this pick.
Speaking of odds, next week's relegation watch will see the return of my look at the run-in using odds-based probabilities. For this week, there are still more than 1,000 scenarios remaining with the bottom six teams, so the numbers are still a bit too big to deal with. By next Tuesday, that number will be down to 216 (and that's even a bit high, given that some of these teams still have to play each other).
Points/Goal Difference: 26/-26
This weekend's result: An 0-1 loss to Leicester City
Next up: at West Ham, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 1/12
Poor Burnley. On March 14 they beat Manchester City 1-0 and looked likely to secure their survival. Since then, they have taken one point from fifteen available. Heck, they only have five points from their last 30, so maybe we should have seen this coming. But that Manchester City win looked so promising.
If there is any hope for the Clarets, it comes in the form of maybe the easiest run-in of any team down here. At West Ham, at Hull, Stoke, and at Aston Villa doesn't look that easy, though, if you've been playing like Burnley have. It's not out of the realm of possibility that they could win all of those and still drop. It is out of the realm of possibility that they'll win all of those, though. (Look forward to me eating my words in three weeks!) Two wins, a draw, and a loss probably wouldn't even do it for Burnley, and as things stand they must get at least two wins to have any chance at all. The team who beat Manchester City could have maybe pulled this off, but not the Burnley we've seen since then. It's been nice having you up here, Claret. Enjoy the Championship next year.
Queens Park Rangers
Points/Goal Difference: 27/-21
This weekend's result: An 0-0 draw while hosting West Ham
Next up: at Liverpool, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 1/16
This was maybe the only result that truly went Aston Villa's way this weekend. And while a point seems less-than-ideal, it doesn't do much to help QPR and it came because of a Charlie Austin missed penalty. If we think that 35 points is the magic number (more on that under Aston Villa below), QPR would have to average 2 points per game in what they have left. Given how terrible they've been (outside of the West Midlands), that seems like too much to ask. Not sure there is too much else to say here.
Points/Goal Difference: 30/-23
This weekend's result: a 1-1 draw at Stoke
Next up: Southampton, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 1/2
The moribund Sunderland probably would have taken a draw coming into the weekend. When you're at the bottom of the table that's usually enough to tread water. But nope, the Black Cats got a decent away result and dropped into the bottom three. Poor Black Cats.
Except it's hard to have sympathy for a team who are so poorly run and who have been in this position for so long (so also: Aston Villa). They've got a match in hand, but as we've said for weeks, Sunderland need results now. If they don't secure safety before the last week, trips to London to play Arsenal and Chelsea probably spell doom. So if you want to Houdini your way out of the Championship for the second year in a row, Sunderland, you'd better start this weekend.
Points/Goal Difference: 31/-16
This weekend's result: An 0-1 win over Burnley
Next up: at Chelsea, Wednesday, 7:45 PM GMT; Newcastle, Saturday, 12:45 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 6/1
Leicester are the new Crystal Palace (more on them in a second)! After looking dead to rights, they've won four matches in a row and taken 13 of their last 18 points available. At this point, it's tough to know what will happen. Their visit to Chelsea midweek is almost assuredly a loss. That's fine. But will it kill their momentum?
And it leaves Saturday's match against Newcastle as a huge event. If the Foxes win, they add further credence to the idea that Newcastle are dead in the water and they simultaneously make us all think that they can survive. Lose, though, and suddenly the great streak is dead and they're stuck on 31 with two losses in a row. And at that point, we have to start wondering if the Foxes team that we saw all season until April was the real deal.
Of course, now that I've written all of this, they'll probably beat Chelsea and Newcastle. Because, you know. Football.
Points/Goal Difference: 31/-14
This weekend's result: an 0-2 win at Crystal Palace
Next up: Liverpool, Tuesday, 7:45 PM; Arsenal, Monday, 8 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 9/4
I have a new least-favorite team: Crystal Palace. Going into their match against West Bromwich Albion, Palace had won five of their last six matches. They had the chance to demoralize a reeling WBA and this weekend they could have popped the last bit of hope that Hull had. Instead, they lost both matches and made sure that Albion would probably be safe and that Hull would have some fight in them ahead of an incredibly tough week.
I still worry for the Tigers, but I'm less certain of them dropping after the win. Liverpool have been really bad lately, and there is every chance that, with not much to play for but a spot in the Europa League, they will come in looking poor. Arsenal, who are still in a fierce fight for a top-3 spot may have more to play for. Nevertheless, a point from this week would be huge for Hull as it would set them up to take three from Burnley before closing with Spurs and United. That's not a great run-in, but it gets them 35 points, which brings me to...
Points/Goal Difference: 32/-22
This weekend's result: a 3-2 loss at Manchester City
Next up: Everton, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 7/1
I went into the weekend expecting a loss for Villa. But it's been slowly dawning on me that the club were a match-changing Benteke goal away from a 2-3 win and 35 points. Had the offside flag not been up, Joe Hart's tackle would have at least merited a penalty. If Benteke makes that (no sure thing, see: Austin, Charlie) Villa take the stunning lead and likely assure themselves of at least a point and possibly change the complexion of the match enough to get three.
But such is football. Everton have looked much better lately, but so, too, have Villa. The clash between the two at Villa Park this weekend could actually be really fun to watch, and a win there probably makes safety a sure thing. After that is West Ham who have only one win in their last ten, and who are definitely beatable at Villa Park as well. Heck, even if everything goes terribly, there is still the Burnley match on the last day. Maybe 35 points isn't enough, but asking for Sunderland, QPR, and Burnley to get five, eight, and nine points respectively seems like a tall order.
Since Tim Sherwood arrived, Villa have not played like a relegation-quality team. But unfortunately, they have the Paul Lambert legacy dragging them down. As we've always thought, though, Villa are close to safety thanks more to the ineptitude of those below them than their own skill. Luckily, there's enough of that skill on display lately that they may be able to flip things around and survive on that. It's sort of crazy to think that 41 points is a very real possibility right now. But let's just focus on Saturday.
Points/Goal Difference: 35/-21
This weekend's result: a 2-3 loss at home to Swansea
Next up: at Leicester, Saturday, 12:45 PM GMT
Odds for relegation: 18/1
Speaking of recent form (as we did with Burnley), it's their past ten matches that have Newcastle here. From 30 points available they have taken... four. That would be lower if they hadn't managed to beat Aston Villa on February 28th. At this point, though, you can't even really consider who Newcastle are playing. Sure, they've had a tough string of matches, but they also lost to Sunderland. Until we see them nick a win or a couple of draws, we have to believe they are very much plummeting to the earth and quite possibly to the Championship. Right now, they're the anti-Leicester, which is fitting given that the two clubs play each other on Saturday. I know that I said that 35 points looks safe, but anyone else who gets to that number is headed the right way. Newcastle could very well finish there after hitting the mark at the end of February. At this point they've got to hope resurgences from below aren't enough to catch them.