The run-in of every Premier League club ranked
Manchester City look nailed-on to be Premier League champions following a sensational season, but as we enter the final few weeks of the campaign very little else has been decided.
Arsenal have dropped off in recent weeks having lost four of their last six matches to seemingly rule them out of a shot at fourth, with the three remaining Champions League qualification spots between four teams – Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.
With their awful run of form, West Brom are favourites for the drop, but with just 10 points separating second-bottom Stoke City and eighth-placed Leicester City, who will join them in the Championship next season is far from clear. Thankfully, we’ve ranked every Premier League club’s run-in from easiest to hardest to try to make those permutations a bit easier to comprehend.
Nothing seems particularly straightforward for Arsenal at the moment, but they have the opportunity to finish the season strongly with the easiest run-in of the lot. They face just one of the big six teams – Manchester United at Old Trafford – and have five matches against clubs in the bottom seven, giving Arsene Wenger the chance to concentrate on the Europa League, the only winnable trophy left for the Gunners.
Easier said than done, though, with a resurgent Milan in the round of 16 coming up. Winning the Europa League may be Arsenal’s best chance of playing Champions League football next season with the club in a terrible run of form, having lost four of their last six in the league.
19. Leicester City
It’s been a difficult season for Leicester City but they have an opportunity to finish the campaign on a high with a relatively easy run-in. Claude Puel hasn’t enjoyed the best of times at the King Power since he replaced Craig Shakespeare in October, winning just 10 of his 25 Premier League matches, but with games against four of the bottom six and only two matches against the clubs fighting for European spots remaining, there’s every chance Leicester can improve their current position of eighth.
With an FA Cup quarter-final coming up against Chelsea, the final couple of months of the season could be an exciting time for Leicester supporters. Saying that, the Foxes are currently on a poor run of form, without a win since January 20th.
It was all so promising for the Toffees at the beginning of the season, with Ronald Koeman splashing out on some lovely players in a bid to try and bring some silverware to the success-starved masses at Goodison Park. Fast-forward to the end of October and Koeman had been sacked, Davy Klaassen had barely kicked a ball and Everton still hadn’t worked out how to get three No.10s into the same team.
It’s been a trying season at Goodison with many supporters unenthusiastic – to say the least – about the direction the club is going in under Sam Allardyce despite the January signing of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott. But his teams usually finish strongly and with a fairly comfortable run-in there’s at least a chance to put the "good" back into Goodison before summer.
The reigning Premier League champions were roundly slated for their performance against Manchester City at the weekend, but with five of the bottom six to come before the end of the season things are all set to get easier for the beleaguered Antonio Conte. Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and the Champions League but find themselves five points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with nine games to go.
With Spurs also enjoying a relatively kind run-in, the match between the two at Stamford Bridge at the end of the month may go a long way to deciding which of the London clubs represents the Premier League in the Champions League next season.
16. Crystal Palace
It’s been a tough season in south-east London. There was optimism at the beginning of the season when Frank De Boer took over from Sam Allardyce, but 77 days and four straight Premier League defeats later, the former Ajax and Inter boss was sacked. Roy Hodgson was given the task of keeping Palace in the Premier League and has given Palace a fighting chance of doing so, despite a huge injury crisis.
Palace host Liverpool at the end of the month in their only other game against top six-opposition before the end of the season. With things so incredibly tight at the bottom of the table, their last two games – away at Stoke and home to West Brom, both of who may already be relegated – may prove crucial to Palace’s hopes of staying in the top flight for another season.
15. Manchester City
City have already won the League Cup, they sit 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and are a shoe-in for the quarter-final of the Champions League, having hammered Basel 4-0 away from home in the first leg of the round of 16. Pep Guardiola will be delighted with the run-in City face in the Premier League too, which, given the enormous gap they’ve created, affords them the opportunity to rest players at the business end of the Champions League season.
City could wrap up the title as early as April 7th – in the Manchester Derby at the Etihad.
The Cherries are on an excellent run of form having lost just once in the Premier League since Christmas, and face a relatively kind run-in, with four of the bottom five to come – three of which are at home. They also face Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United who are all in the mix for a top four spot, but only the Liverpool game is on the road. With a six point cushion between Bournemouth and the relegation zone, survival is in their own hands if not yet a formality.
Eddie Howe will make sure they don’t become complacent and with Southampton, Swansea and Burnley their last three matches of the season it may come down to the wire.
The Terriers’ form between Christmas and the beginning of February was horrendous, losing five and drawing three of their eight matches. They got a crucial couple of victories to end that run, emphatically beating Bournemouth 4-1 at home before holding on to take all three points at the Hawthorns against a seemingly doomed West Brom.
While their run-in is relatively decent, they will have to pick up enough points to keep them in the Premier League sooner rather than later; they face Swansea, Palace, Newcastle and Brighton in their next four matches before things get more difficult. Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal await in three of their last four matches.
Carlos Carvalhal has reignited Swansea’s season since taking over from Paul Clement at the end of December. He has guided the Swans to eight wins and five draws in 15 matches, a run that has seen them go from rock bottom of the table to 13th.
They remain just three points clear of the relegation zone though and have to travel to both Manchester clubs and host Chelsea during the run-in, but have games against Huddersfield, Southampton, West Brom and Stoke too. Survival is in their own hands thanks to their affable new coach.
Spurs face four firm relegation candidates – and two others that are far from safe – in their final nine matches, with trips to Stoke, Brighton and West Brom and a fixture against Newcastle at Wembley. They also take on Chelsea – direct rivals for Champions League qualification – at Stamford Bridge and host Manchester City at Wembley.
With their Champions League over, Spurs' only distraction from their run-in is the FA Cup: they have a quarter-final at Swansea and may fancy their chances of another "home" game or two at Wembley thereafter.
Newcastle are in real relegation trouble, sitting just two points and two places above the bottom three. Their season hasn’t been helped with the constant takeover speculation and their current owner’s reluctance to invest in the team. Newcastle’s home form during the run-in – along with their superior goal difference to many around them – may well prove crucial, with Southampton, Huddersfield and West Brom all still to visit St James’ Park. They also host Chelsea and Arsenal and travel to Wembley to take on Tottenham before the end of the season.
In the final analysis, whether Newcastle stay up may hinge on the results of their next two matches – Southampton and Huddersfield at St James’ Park.
9. Manchester United
It’s been a disappointing season for United and Jose Mourinho despite their improvement on last year’s league position. Sitting second in the table but a whopping 16 points behind their cross-city rivals, the battle for a Champions League place isn’t the one the envisaged at Old Trafford in Mourinho’s second season in charge.
They host Liverpool and face a trip to City in two of their next three matches. A couple of defeats would not only see Liverpool leapfrog them but potentially see City win the title during the Manchester Derby at the Etihad. Ouch.
In addition to the two matches against their biggest rivals, United host an ever-increasingly shaky Arsenal and six fixtures against sides in the bottom half of the table.
A tough end to the season awaits Southampton and their under-pressure boss Mauricio Pellegrino. They’ve only won once since the end of November, slipping from 10th to 17th in that time, separated from the relegation zone by one place and a solitary point. Six of their remaining nine fixtures are away from home, making things doubly difficult – especially when you consider that they’ve only won twice away from St Mary’s all season.
Winnable matches against Newcastle, West Ham, Swansea and Bournemouth all lay ahead, but conversely so do home games against Manchester City and Chelsea and a visit to Arsenal. This, their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, may prove to be their last for now.
The Reds’ trips to Manchester United and Chelsea are tempered by games against three of the bottom four and winnable matches against Everton in the derby, Watford, Bournemouth and Brighton as Klopp’s men look to improve on last season’s fourth-place finish.
With Liverpool still in the Champions League and having won eight of their last 10 Premier League matches, it could be a fantastic end to the season, but defeats in those two encounters with Chelsea and United could make things nervy in their bid for a top four spot and more Champions League football next year.
6. West Ham
It’s been a thoroughly disappointing season at the London Stadium. Slaven Bilic was sacked in November following a 4-1 defeat to Liverpool, with David Moyes named as his replacement the following day. Things haven’t improved much under the Scot, despite some positive results, including a 1-0 win over reigning champions Chelsea at the London Stadium. Successive 4-1 away defeats at Liverpool and Swansea have left the Hammers in 14th, just three points above the relegation zone.
They are, however, unbeaten in their last four matches at home and with Burnley, Southampton and Stoke still to go to London, Moyes will be looking for a strong showing – particularly with both Manchester clubs still to visit West Ham and London derbies at Chelsea and Arsenal.
5. West Brom
The Baggies have won just three matches all season and sit firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table. They’ve lost their last five in a row and have won just one match since August and need a miracle to remain in the top flight, particularly given their tough run-in. They face Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs as well as away matches against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace and Newcastle in three of their last five matches, with Leicester, Bournemouth and Burnley before that.
Already eight points adrift at the bottom of the table and with one of the worst goal differences, it’s almost nailed-on that West Brom will be playing their football in the Championship next season.
A couple of 1-0 home wins in their last two matches against West Brom and Everton have put the Hornets on 36 points, just four away from the 40-point mark and safety. Javi Gracia has done a sterling job since he replaced Marco Silva at the end of January, guiding Watford to three wins and a draw in his five Premier League matches – a stark contrast to the solitary victory in Silva’s last 11 at the helm.
There’s still some work to be done despite the recent good form, however. Watford face four of the top six, all away from home, with trips to Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal ahead. Home matches against Crystal Palace and Newcastle – and an away trip to Huddersfield – should provide enough of a return to ensure another season of Premier League football at Vicarage Road.
Burnley came from behind to beat Everton last time out to record their first win since beating Stoke 1-0 in the middle of December, picking up just six points from a possible 33 in that time. Their next six matches, all against teams below them in the table, are an opportunity for Sean Dyche to improve their position of seventh in the table but they problem all season has been scoring goals – the Clarets are the second lowest scorers in the Premier League with just 24 in their 29 matches.
They face the bottom two, West Brom and Stoke, away from home in the coming weeks and finish the season with a trip to Arsenal and a home tie against Chelsea in two of their last three matches.
The Potters are in serious trouble. They’re only a point from safety but are on a poor run of form and face a daunting run-in. They’ve won just six Premier League matches all season, only one since Christmas and face four of the top six – home games against City and Spurs and trips to Arsenal and Liverpool – before the end of the campaign.
Things get relatively easier right at the business end with games against Palace and Swansea to finish off the season but it may be too late by then.
Brighton need points, and fast. They look relatively safe on 34 points, sitting tenth in the Premier League table, but face the top four teams in their last five games of the season which, if they’re safe, is an exciting way to finish their first top flight season since the early 1980s.
They face Everton, Leicester, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace in their next four matches and in reality should accrue enough points in the coming weeks to ensure their safety, particularly given the fact they’re in good form, without a defeat in five, picking up 11 points in that time.
There’s also the small matter of an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United to come. Potentially a wonderful return to the top table for the Seagulls.
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