While the battle at the top of the table is shaping up as an increasingly close race between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, down at the bottom, Sunderland have become the first team to be officially relegated from this season’s Premier League.
No Tyne-Wear Derby Next Season
With just 21 points from 34 matches, David Moyes’ team is no longer mathematically capable of survival and will play next season in the Championship, one tier below the Premier League.
With Sunderland’s North East rivals Newcastle United having just punched their ticket back to the Premier League, fans of the Tyne-Wear Derby will have to wait at least another season to see the two clash.
Middlesbrough Facing the Drop
Despite fighting Manchester City to a draw with an impressive performance on Sunday, Middlesbrough look to be the next club on the docket for the drop. The Teessiders only just having earned promotion last season. Boro started the season strongly with impressive performances and good results that included draws against Arsenal, Leicester, and Man City again, back in November.
A run of poor results saw Boro parts ways with Aitor Karanka – the manager who led the club up from the Championship – back in March. Results under caretaker manager Steve Agnew have improved marginally. But with just 28 points from 34 rounds, Boro need points desperately. However, with three remaining games, against the likes of Chelsea, Southampton, and Liverpool, it’s difficult to see where Middlesbrough will get the points they need to stay in the Premier League.
Swans and Tigers in a Battle for Survival
Sitting in 18th, four points above Boro, Swansea City still have a fighting chance at survival. Paul Clement, who was appointed after the sacking of ex-USMNT boss Bob Bradley has improved results rather significantly. The Swans drew Manchester United on Sunday and with winnable fixtures at home against Everton, away to Sunderland and at home against West Brom, Swansea might just pull off the great escape this season.
If the Swans are to survive the drop, it will certainly be at the expense of Hull City. The Tigers are in 17th place with 34 points. Hull also drew this weekend, against Southampton and have had a mixed season, the highlight of which may have been a 2-0 win over Liverpool in February. With games against Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Tottenham, Hull has a more tricky run-in than Swansea and could find itself in trouble depending on how the cards fall.
Crystal Palace Run the Gauntlet
With 38 points, Crystal Palace are not completely out of the woods yet either. Part of the problem is Palaces’ run-in, which will see the London side face Manchester City next week before a visit from none other than Hull City. That match, which takes place May 14, holds the intriguing prospect of seeing two direct relegation battlers in what could be a head-to-head fight for survival. With a trip to Old Trafford to face Man United awaiting on the last day of the season, Crystal Palace will need to keep fighting until the end to avoid being overhauled by the likes of Hull or Swansea.
West Ham United All But Safe
One place above Palace in 15th place, West Ham United look to be on the cusp of Premier League survival. It’s been a disappointing season for the Hammers to say the least. After last season’s seventh-place finish, many expected the club to kick on under manager Slaven Bilic, and perhaps even challenge for a top six finish. However, things went south quickly and the club’s star player, Dimitri Payet, departed the club under ignominious circumstances back in January.
But despite the relative disappointment of failing to build on last season’s success, with 39 points, Bilic’s Hammers are just one point from the “magic number” of 40 points teams typically need to survive. West Ham do face something of a tricky run in, with home fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool and an away trip to Burnley on the final day of the season. That said, you’d bet on the Hammers to find the point they need, especially in light of how much poorer the teams below them are.
Teams on the Up
Apart from Newcastle United, Championship League leaders Brighton have already secured promotion to the Premier League. Below the top two, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham have already booked their places in the end-of-season playoffs that will decide the third and final team that will ascend to next season’s Premier League.
Watch the Premier League relegation battle play out on NBC Sports and the Championship League playoffs this month on beIN Sports.