Premier League 2017/18 has reached its business end, and for all the teams, not more than two matches are left. And with that, the battle of survival has become immensely interesting. Not only the bottom-half teams have to win, but they also have to depend on other matches to see if they can play in the top flight next year.
Let us start our discussion with a quick look at the bottom half of the league log.
It is evident that Brighton & Hove Albion, sitting 14th in the table, have already ensured their Premier League survival, thanks to their last week surprise victory over Manchester United. Same is true for West Ham, as fellow strugglers Swansea and Southampton will lock horns against one another on Tuesday night. Thus, not both of them can go above the Hammers, and hence, they are safe. On the other hand, following the 1-2 defeat against Crystal Palace, Stoke City have no way of making up, and they have already been relegated to the Championship. The teams between West Ham and Stoke are the ones still fighting, and a lot will depend on the upcoming games this week to see if they can manage to survive in the end.
In that regard, the upcoming fixtures are going to be very important and let us see what in in the store for these four teams.
|Huddersfield (36 points)||Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H)|
|Southampton (33 points)||Swansea (A), Manchester City (H)|
|Swansea City (33 points)||Southampton (H), Stoke City (H)|
|West Bromwich (31 points)||Crystal Palace (A)|
Clearly, in order to make their case, West Bromwich have to win their final game against, and then, they have to rely on the results of the Southampton and Swansea City games. For one thing, if the result of Swansea vs Southampton is anything but a draw, that would ensure West Bromwich’s demotion. Moreover, even if that ends in a draw, both these teams have to lose in the last game, and overall, West Bromwich have to make up a total goal difference of 4. It might be mathematically possible, but realistically, the Baggies’ chances are very slim.
Huddersfield, on the other hand, despite sitting 16th in the table, are not very comfortable either. They face in-form Chelsea and Arsenal sides in coming weeks. But, last Saturday, they stopped the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling and snatched a point from the Premier League champions. If they can replicate that performance, it will be possible for them to get something out of at least one match and that should seal the deal for them.
Finally, if Southampton defeat Swansea tonight, they will be in a great position because of a superior goal difference. But, if Swansea can win, they will still have to rely on no upset from the Southampton vs Manchester City fixture. Either way, the battle will continue till May 13th, when all the teams will play for one final time in the league this season.
Here is a quick recap of how the final two game weeks of this Premier League can control the fate of the bottom teams. As already discussed, a lot will depend on tonight’s result.
(1) Swansea defeats Southampton:
If Southampton do not win against Manchester City in the final gameweek, they will join West Bromwich and Stoke City in the bottom three. While that is the most likely scenario, it will be more fascinating if the Saints pull off a miracle against the Champions. In that case, the final standing will depend on what happens in Huddersfield and Swansea matches. Both these teams have to lose their remaining games for Southampton to survive, and then, goal difference will decide which among these three will be relegated along with the Baggies and the Potters.
(2) Southampton defeats Swansea:
West Bromwich and Stoke will be confirmed to relegate. If Huddersfield lose both matches, Swansea will have to defeat Stoke City and then, it will come down to the goal difference between these two sides (and possibly Southampton too, if they lose to City by a huge margin). In such case, most likely, it will be Huddersfield, West Bromwich and Stoke City. If Swansea cannot win against the Potters, they will replace Huddersfield in the bottom 3.
(3) Swansea vs Southampton ends in a draw:
This is the most exciting case, where West Bromwich will also have a chance to survive. In this scenario, the Baggies will have to win against Crystal, and hope for Southampton and Swansea’s heavy defeat against Manchester City and Stoke City, respectively. Should that happen, the three teams going down will be Southampton (or West Bromwich, on goal difference), Swansea and Stoke. If Southampton (or Swansea) win their last match and Swansea (or Southampton) do not, the three relegated teams will be Swansea (or Southampton), West Bromwich and Stoke. And if both teams win their last matches, Huddersfield will join West Bromwich and Stoke City.
Hence, it goes without saying that the Premier League’s final two weeks are going to be scintillating affairs for the football lovers.
Photo by Solent Creatives