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The Relegation Run-In, Who Survives? Part 3

Leeds United Elland Road
© Copyright Mat Fascione and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

With 10-12 games to go, we take a look at the 9 teams currently fighting relegation for their place in the Premier League next year. We analyse their fixture list, and whether they have a realistic chance of avoiding the drop or not. In this part, we look at the three sides clear of the bottom 3 in terms of place, but not in points, those being Leeds, Wolves and Crystal Palace.

The Relegation Run In, Who Survives? Part 2
Take a look at part 2 here where we focus on Leicester, Nottingham Forest and Everton!

Leeds United – 14th

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Remaining Fixtures

  • Arsenal (A) – 1st
  • Nottingham Forest (H) – 16th
  • Crystal Palace (H) – 12th
  • Liverpool (H) – 6th
  • Fulham (A) – 9th
  • Leicester (H) – 17th
  • Bournemouth (A) – 19th
  • Man City (A) – 2nd
  • Newcastle (H) – 5th
  • West Ham (A) – 18th
  • Tottenham Hotspur (H) – 4th
  • Average Position: 10th

Leeds currently sits in 14th place after 27 games, picking up 6 wins, 8 draws and 13 losses. They are in the same boat as Leicester this year, they can score goals, recording 35 so far this season, but they cannot defend, conceding 44 so far. Leeds started the season well, with 7 points from an available 9, including a brilliant 3-0 win at home against Chelsea. They lost against Brighton in their next game, and it went downhill from there. They got battered by Brentford and ended up on the wrong side of two thrilling encounters with Fulham and Spurs.

It has always been the Leeds way, since Bielsa took charge, to attack and outscore the opposition. Last season, it worked to an extent. They stayed up by 3 points come the end of the season, and picked up some brilliant wins along the way. This year, whilst they are in a higher position, they are just 2 points above the relegation zone. The all-out attack philosophy has not worked this season. The bigger teams are picking them off easily, and the teams lower down are taking their chances against them, and then sitting back and soaking up the pressure.

Leeds will be glad to have a player with the quality of Rodrigo in the squad. He has 11 goals this season and looks like their go-to player if they are to avoid relegation. Gnonto looks like a quality player for Leeds as well. He has pace, he has the skills to beat a player with ease, and with 2 goals already since signing, he looks like another player who could help Leeds steer clear of trouble.

Was Jesse Marsch given too long with Leeds? Since he has left, results have been improving and Leeds has been picking up more points. It was a surprise when Leeds allowed him to take the job when Bielsa left, and it was an even bigger surprise when they kept him in the job when things were not going well. Javi Gracia has now taken over and has made his side look more than capable of avoiding relegation this year. Had they made this change sooner, Leeds could have been relatively safe already.

The fixture list is not entirely kind for Leeds. They play 3 of the current top 4, and they play Newcastle and Liverpool, in 5th and 6th, both at home. They do have a lot of games against the teams below them, including a trip to West Ham and a home tie against Leicester. Leeds needs to be winning these games against the teams around them, which they have been relatively good at doing as of late. They beat Wolves 4-2 in their last game and beat Southampton the other week, they need to keep this up.

Prediction: I think now Leeds has changed manager, they will be fine and will avoid the drop. They have some quality players like Rodrigo, Bamford and Gnonto who will be vital in their pulling away from the relegation zone. Their ability to score goals will be a massive help in their games against the sides around them, all of whom struggle to score. I would not say it is going to be comfortable for Leeds, as one loss against a team below them would pull them back down the table, but they should survive relatively comfortably.

Wolves – 13th

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Remaining Fixtures

  • Nottingham Forest (A) – 16th
  • Chelsea (H) – 10th
  • Brentford (H) – 8th
  • Leicester (A) – 17th
  • Crystal Palace (H) – 12th
  • Brighton (A) – 7th
  • Aston Villa (H) – 11th
  • Man United (A) – 3rd
  • Everton (H) – 15th
  • Arsenal (A) – 1st
  • Average Position: 10th

Wolves currently sit 13th in the Premier League, after 7 wins, 6 draws and 15 defeats. They are currently the joint lowest scorers in the league, with a measly 22, also conceding 41 so far this season. It is surprising to see Wolves with 7 wins when you consider their lack of goals and inability to defend, as other teams with this kind of record are sitting in, or a lot closer to, the bottom 3. They are only 3 points above the relegation zone, and so cannot live comfortably.

Goals are a real issue for Wolves. They brought in former Chelsea man Diego Costa to try and add some ruthlessness up front for them, but this has not worked out, with not scoring a single goal in his 14 appearance so far. He even got sent off in one of his first few games for Wolves. Nearly half of Wolves’ 22 goals this season have been split between Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence, both sitting on 5 goals this season.

Wolves did make a strange, but brilliant signing in the transfer window. They brought in Craig Dawson from fellow strugglers West Ham. At first, this signing seemed strange. It did not fit the usual checklist for a Wolves signing, and it seemed strange to sign a defender from a team who was doing worse than them. However, he showcased his ability and demonstrated why Wolves signed him, when he produced a defensive masterclass at home against Liverpool, helping his new side to a 3-0 win, scoring the second goal. He constantly looked dangerous from set pieces, and I would not be surprised to see him on the scoresheet a few more times between now and the end of the season.

The change in manager for Wolves has certainly done them wonders. Ever since Lopetegui took over, Wolves have looked like a completely different side, who actually look capable of winning games, and look more comfortable in front of goal. He has dragged them away momentarily from the relegation fight, and whilst they are within an arms reach of the drop zone, Lopetegui will be hoping he can haul Wolves into a safe position with a few games spare.

The remaining fixtures for Wolves are difficult. Nearly all of their big games are away from home. They play both Forest and Leicester away from home, as well as daunting trips to Man United, and one to Arsenal on the final game of the season. Their home games are not any easier. They play Palace and Everton at home, as well as European hopefuls Brentford. Wolves need to pick up points in these home games and avoid defeat in the games against the teams around them. If they have not ensured their safety by the last game of the season, they could be in trouble as they face the potential Premier League champions.

Prediction: Wolves’ squad is simply too good to go down. When you look at some of the other teams around them, you see that they lack that star player who can change the game instantly or a reliable midfielder who can control the game for you. Wolves have these kinds of players in their squad, and they now have a manager who is slowly getting the best out of them. Again, I do not think it will be completely comfortable for Wolves, this is the Premier League after all, but I do think they will survive.

The Relegation Run In, Who Survives? Part 1
Take a look at the first part of this series, focusing on the Premier League’s current bottom 3, Southampton, Bournemouth and West Ham!

Crystal Palace – 12th

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Remaining Fixtures

  • Leicester (H) – 17th
  • Leeds (A) – 14th
  • Southampton (A) – 20th
  • Everton (H) – 15th
  • Wolves (A) – 13th
  • West Ham (H) – 18th
  • Tottenham Hotspur (A) – 4th
  • Bournemouth (H) – 19th
  • Fulham (A) – 9th
  • Nottingham Forest (H) – 16th
  • Average Position: 14th

Palace sits in 12th place after 28 games, with 6 wins, 9 draws and 13 losses, recording, a Premier League low, 22 goals, whilst conceding 38. Surprisingly, Palace is struggling for goals. When you look at their team and see the likes of Wilfred Zaha, Olise and Eze, you think the sides would ooze quality and goals, but this has not been the case. Zaha is their top scorer this season with 6, followed by Eze with 4. Like the other sides with 22 goals this season, their strikers are struggling. Jordan Ayew has made 28 appearances and only managed a goal and an assist. Mateta has made 22 appearances and has only managed a single goal, and Edouard has made 25 appearances, registering 3 goals and 2 assists. This is not good reading for anyone associated with Crystal Palace.

Despite their strikers not coming up with the goods, Zaha, Olise and Eze have all impressed at times this season. Everyone knows how good Zaha can be on his day. He can be unplayable. He pace and skill troubles defenders, and he finds the back of the net with ease. Olise has had some brilliant performances this season, and his brilliant 91st-minute free-kick against Man United at Selhurst Park to earn Palace a draw might be one of his moments of the season. Eze has also impressed since moving from Championship side QPR. There were questions as to whether he could make the step up, but he has shown his quality on multiple occasions this season. These 3 could be invaluable for Palace going forward.

It was a long time coming, the sacking of Vieira. His results were poor, his side was struggling to create chances and score goals. It was inevitable that his time at Crystal Palace was coming to an end. The replacement? Roy Hodgson. I will probably regret saying this, but I think that is a terrible appointment by the board. He took over Watford in the Premier League in 19th place, and Watford got relegated that season, finishing in 19th place. His time as England’s manager was poor. A terrible Euro 2016 tournament in France ended with England being knocked out by Iceland in the round of 16, after finishing runners-up in their group including Wales, Russia and Slovakia. It is not an inspiring appointment, and I cannot see it ended well for either party.

Crystal Palace has the easiest fixture list out of any of the other 8 teams that have featured in this series. The average position of the teams they have left to play is 14th, with only two games against teams in the top half of the table to come, both away from home. All their home games are against teams that are either in, or immediately surrounding, the relegation zone, and this will be a big boost for them coming into these games, being backed by a boisterous Selhurst Park crowd. Despite the lack of form, the lack of goals, and the confusing change in manager, Palace need to take advantage of this fixture list. If they win two or three of their first few games, that could be enough.

Prediction: This is a difficult one to call. They are in the worst form out of any of the teams in the league at the moment. They became the first team on record to not register a single shot on target in 3 consecutive Premier League games. They are struggling to create, and when they do create, they are not putting their chances away. I am not entirely convinced on Roy Hodgson either. 10 years ago, the appointment would have made sense, but now? I think he may be past his best, and it may not be a change that will favour Palace’s fortunes. The fixture list gives Palace a good chance to beat the teams around them and put space between them, but it also presents the other teams a chance to claw Palace back down the league and into the relegation spots. I think this one will go all the way to the end of the season. I want to stick my neck out and predict Palace to go down, but my head says they will stay up, just.

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2 thoughts on “The Relegation Run-In, Who Survives? Part 3”

  1. SprintersApp

    I have read the article carefully the information was quite informative as per my idea please keep posting such I ideas continuously.

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