How the Premier League relegation battle is shaping up

The festive fixtures are over, and we’re fast approaching the business end of the season.

Liverpool look to have all but wrapped up the Premier League title but it’s a very different story in the bottom half.

With less than half the games remaining, we take a closer look at the teams in and around the relegation zone.

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Norwich City – 20th

The Canaries are rock bottom at the time of writing, having endured a tough first season back in the Premier League. No side have won fewer or conceded more this season.

Most concerningly of all for Daniel Farke is the fact that his side have failed to compete with the teams around them. Norwich have taken just one point from seven games against the current bottom seven, scoring one goal in the process.

Already eight points adrift, it looks a big ask for The Canaries to avoid the drop.

Bournemouth – 19th

Eddie Howe’s side got off to a typically strong start but have tailed off in the last two months of 2019. The Cherries have won just once since early November, taking four points from their last eleven matches.

Bournemouth have only scored twice on one occasion since September. During that barren period, Callum Wilson has failed to score or assist a Premier League goal.

Defensive injuries are piling up and could drag Bournemouth further into trouble.

Aston Villa – 18th

Villa are one point from safety after an up and down season. The newly-promoted side have secured one point against top-half opposition but have faired much better against their rivals. They have won six and drawn two of their eleven games against bottom-half clubs.

Jack Grealish and John McGinn are having fantastic campaigns but season-ending injuries to Tom Heaton and Wesley could be damaging. If Villa can find adequate replacements in the January window, they should have enough to survive.

Watford – 17th

Watford surprised many with their incredibly poor first half of the season. Javi Gracia lasted just four games in charge before Quique Sachez Flores was reinstated as manager. His tenure was over after 12 matches which included a humbling 8-0 defeat to Manchester City. The Hornets were bottom of the league on nine points from their opening 17 games.

However, the appointment of Nigel Pearson has brought great optimism to Vicarage Road. Since taking charge, Pearson has guided Watford to 13 points from six games and lifted them from the foot of the table.

With The Hornets now out of the relegation zone, they have a good shot at staying up.

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West Ham United – 16th

The Hammers started the season in excellent form. After an opening weekend defeat to Manchester City, they went on a six-game unbeaten run amidst talk of a push for the top six. Ten defeats from the next 13 left West Ham teetering above the drop zone and lead to Manuel Pellegrini’s dismissal.

David Moyes won 4-0 against Bournemouth on his return but there is still plenty of work to do. West Ham have taken the same amount of points from the 16 games against teams above them as they have from the five below (11).

That record will need to improve if they are to stay up.

Burnley – 15th

An inconsistent first half of the season has left Burnley three points from the drop zone. The Clarets have been impressive against bottom-half opposition, winning to nil on seven occasions.

Worryingly for Sean Dyche, Burnley have managed a single point against the current top ten. With nine of their remaining 16 games against top-half opposition, Burnley need to show more to avoid being sucked into a relegation scrap.

Brighton & Hove Albion – 14th

Brighton fans can be reasonably content with their first half of the season. The Seagulls sit in fourteenth, three points above the relegation zone. Brighton have taken points off the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Wolves and Arsenal so far this campaign.

Just two teams have taken fewer than Brighton’s eight points on the road, but The Seagulls have already faced five of the current top six away from home.

Graham Potter has got his Brighton side playing some attractive football and his team look well equipped to avoid the drop.

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Newcastle United – 13th

The Magpies may be in thirteenth place, but they are far from safe. Four losses in their last six has narrowed the gap to five points ahead of an unenviable schedule. Newcastle face Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal in their next four.

Record signing Joelinton has scored just once in the Premier League, contributing to Newcastle’s tally of 21 goals – averaging less than one a game. Only three sides have scored fewer thus far.

Steve Bruce has a real challenge on his hands in steering clear of a relegation scrap.

Southampton – 12th

It may seem harsh to include a side who currently sit in twelfth, level on points with Everton and Arsenal, but Southampton are not home and dry yet. They have a rather healthy seven-point cushion at the time of writing but that could all change.

The Saints went on an eight-game winless run which included their record-breaking 9-0 home defeat to Leicester. Ralph Hasenhuttl appears to have turned things around since then, thanks in no small part to Danny Ings’ excellent goal-scoring form.

Southampton are heading in the right direction but an injury to their star forward could derail them.

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Fabio Duarte

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