In this week’s Premier League Odds Analysis we take another look at the innards of the relegation fight, and try to figure out who will end up in the Championship next season.
Four games left.
Can you imagine being the DNA of one of the clubs desperately clinging on to Premier League status like a teenager clings to his dirty bed sheets? Not the manager. The DNA will fire him. Not the players. The DNA will sell them.
The Adam’s apple.
It must be terrifying knowing that you’re a moth, desperately flapping your wings along Virginia Woolf’s mantelpiece.
And that’s our focus until the end of the season. The place where tears will fall and clubs will drown.
Last week, we ended up on the wrong side of the gamble (again). Chelsea beat Southampton, and Huddersfield beat Watford. Swansea let us down by drawing at home to Everton, Brighton lost a humdinger away to Crystal Palace. West Ham stole a point from Stoke.
Onto this weekend.
Despite West Brom’s miracle at Old Trafford (which saw bookies cut their odds of relegation in half), I am not going to waste precious minutes covering their game against Liverpool this weekend. The Baggies are gonners, end of.
Let’s begin at Stoke.
Stoke v Burnley
Paul Lambert believes his Stoke side need three wins to avoid the cataclysmic freefall currently being experienced by Sunderland. I can’t see three wins.
First up is Burnley at home.
Stoke MUST win this game for Lambert to find his three wins. The final two games for Stoke are against Crystal Palace and Swansea, and wins against those two rabble-rousers are likely. Sandwiched in between those three fixtures is a trip to Anfield.
So Stoke has to beat Burnley at the Bet365.
And in a season or two gone by that would have seemed likely, but not this season. Burnley is a Europa League hopeful. Sean Dyche’s side comes to Stoke having won five league games in a row, and having beaten Stoke in their previous last two outings.
In contrast, Stoke has only won one game since Lambert replaced Mark Hughes and that was 11 games ago.
I think Stoke have had it, the irony of Bet365 having to offer relegation odds on their own team not lost on me.
Verdict – Draw
Stoke’s Remaining Games
Crystal Palace (H)
Leicester v Southampton
Southampton may share the same points as Stoke. They also have the same horrific record, coming into the game against Leicester having lost four on the bounce, and winless in seven.
There were signs against Chelsea that Mark Hughes is teaching his team to dance. For once, they weren’t standing on the sidelines, backs against the gym wall, watching everyone else have a jiggle. They got stuck in. They created a two-goal lead, and nearly beat last year’s winners.
And when you look at the run in (Leicester, Bournemouth, Everton and Man City) Saints players and fans alike can be optimistic that they can cling on to their Premier League life.
If Southampton are going to survive, they need to get the job done before they host City because beating the champions will be as difficult as preventing a young kid from having skids in his underwear.
All of this means, they have to beat Leicester at the King Power, and that’s something Southampton has only done once in 11 visits. There is hope. Leicester has drawn three of their last four home games, and Kasper Schmeichel may miss out with an ankle injury. The Saints defence will have to do a job on Jamie Vardy. The England striker has 17-goals this season and has scored in eight of his last ten Premier League appearances.
Will the former Saints boss, Claude Puel, stick a bayonet into a Southampton lung?
I think he will pierce the skin, but it won’t be fatal.
Verdict – draw.
Southampton’s Remaining Games
Man City (H)
If Southampton does manage to survive, who replaces them?
Swansea is the most likely candidate. The appointment of Carlos Carvalhal injected some spunk into the trunk, but is it a case of premature ejaculation?
Swansea is winless in five.
Man City is Man City.
And then they face Chelsea.
The battle for Swansea will lie in the final two games when they face Bournemouth and Stoke.
Crystal Palace shouldn’t have a problem finding their way North. The 3-2 win against Brighton was a vital three points for Roy Hodgson’s men, and the Eagles have the most comfortable run-in of all the teams involved in this cluster fuck. I’m ruling them out. In fact, I have no idea why I wasted 30-seconds of my life writing this.
I believe the final spot in the Championship will go to either Swansea, Southampton, Brighton or Huddersfield.
The bookies agree with me when it comes to David Wagner’s side. I said last week that they had to beat Watford if they were to retain any hope of staying up and that’s because the Terriers face Chelsea, Everton, Man City and Arsenal in their remaining four fixtures and only Everton looks like a satisfying entree.
Brighton’s run-in is equally as horrendous, but they have one point more than Huddersfield, and that seems to be enough for the bookies to make them the 16/1 long shots. Spurs, Burnley, Man Utd and Liverpool, are all going to pluck a few feathers off the Seagulls by the end of the season. Will they still be able to fly?
Swansea’s Remaining Games
Man City (A)
Crystal Palace’s Remaining Games
West Brom (H)
Brighton’s Remaining Games
Man Utd (H)
Huddersfield’s Remaining Games
Man City (A)
West Brom 1/1000
Fixtures in Full
Burnley v Chelsea
Leicester v Southampton
West Brom v Liverpool
Watford v Crystal Palace
Arsenal v West Ham
Stoke v Burnley
Man City v Swansea
Everton v Newcastle
Premier League Table
1. Man City – 87
2. Man Utd – 74
3. Liverpool – 70
4. Spurs – 68
5. Chelsea – 60
6. Arsenal – 54
7. Burnley – 52
8. Leicester – 43
9. Everton – 42
10. Newcastle – 41
11. Bournemouth – 38
12. Watford – 37
13. Brighton – 36
14. West Ham – 35
15. Huddersfield – 35
16. Crystal Palace – 34
17. Swansea – 33
18. Southampton – 28
19. Stoke – 28
20. West Brom – 24