West Ham hold relegation key but Allardyce needs miracle and one team almost doomed with Saints
Sam Allardyce and Dean Smith are up against it with the fixtures as Leeds and Leicester fight not to join Southampton. West Ham could be the unlikely key.
The Premier League relegation battle has finally become vaguely sensible after about 427 faced the drop at one stage around February.
Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Wolves have dragged themselves to mathematical safety, with Bournemouth (14th on 39 points from 35 games) and West Ham (15th on 37 points from 35 games) in technical but not at all real danger.
While the latter will not go down, they should still have a considerable say in what happens with the current bottom five as Nottingham Forest and Everton hope to stay above the parapet.
They are 16th on 33 points from 35 games and 17th on 32 points from 35 games respectively, just ahead of Leicester (both 30 points from 35 games), while Southampton (24 points from 35 games) are almost done.
May 13, 14 and 15
Leeds face Newcastle (3rd, h) on May 13 at 12.30pm
Nottingham Forest face Chelsea (11th, a) on May 13 at 3pm
Southampton face Fulham (10th, h) on May 13 at 3pm
Everton face Manchester City (1st, h) on May 14 at 2pm
Leicester face Liverpool (5th, h) on May 15 at 8pm
Big Sam. Big lunch. Big atmosphere. Big chance to turn Arsenal’s sh*thousing into an estate of misery for Newcastle. Southampton need to win each of their remaining games to have any hope of survival but at least Fulham at home is not the toughest assignment, while Nottingham Forest could hilariously pull within six points of Chelsea with victory at Stamford Bridge.
Goodison Park will be a cauldron of Sunday afternoon tension as Everton take what essentially amounts to a free hit against Manchester City, before Leicester have their chance to offer a necessary response to the weekend’s games when Liverpool visit on the Monday evening.
The relegation zone with three games to go
Are these the three teams going down?
— Football365 (@F365) May 9, 2023
May 20, 21 and 22
Everton face Wolves (13th, a) on May 20 at 3pm
Nottingham Forest face Arsenal (2nd, h) on May 20 at 5.30pm
Leeds face West Ham (15th, a) on May 21 at 1.30pm
Southampton face Brighton (7th, a) on May 21 at 2pm
Leicester face Newcastle (3rd, a) on May 22 at 8pm
Everton kick proceedings off next time around, hoping to avenge their stoppage-time Boxing Day defeat to Wolves. Arsenal will know not to take Nottingham Forest lightly at the City Ground on the Saturday evening, ahead of Sunday away games for both Leeds and Southampton. Allardyce returning to West Ham is fun.
Leicester might be happy to have two Monday evening fixtures left in their calendar, giving them a plain and thorough view of the table, their position and what is needed. They will be less pleased that those games come against Liverpool and Newcastle in a tight Champions League race.
Nottingham Forest face Crystal Palace (12th, a)
Everton face Bournemouth (14th, h)
Leicester face West Ham (15th, h)
Leeds face Spurs (6th, h)
Southampton face Liverpool (5th, h)
The toughest fixture any relegation battler faces on the final day goes to the team who will surely be cut adrift by then, as Liverpool bid a fond farewell to their former feeder club.
In terms of who will join Southampton, those last games really do offer an intriguing mixture of mid-table opponents with nothing to play for, and Spurs. It is difficult to deduce which of those two categories is the most volatile and unpredictable, easy as it is to imagine Allardyce devouring Spurs at Elland Road. But those fate-flipping Bank Holiday results were crucial, although West Ham could have a say when playing both Leeds and Leicester.
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