The winter transfer window has closed and teams battling relegation have done all they can to strengthen their squads. Here, we look at those teams and give our prediction on who we think will finish in the bottom three.
15th – Middlesbrough – 21 points
Boro have been in and around their current position for most of the season, but their form is dipping. They are without a win in six matches and have only won one in nine. Three of their last four have finished level, with a total of nine draws this season. They have also gone ten games without an away win.
They are the lowest scorers in the division, but improved their attacking options in January. Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford arrive with a point to prove, whilst Adlene Guedioura adds a goal threat from midfield.
They are only two points outside the relegation zone and unless they start turning those draws into wins, they could find themselves in the bottom three.
16th – Leicester City – 21 points
The reigning Premier League champions look a shadow of the team they were last season. Only one win in their last eight games, with three consecutive defeats, has seen them languishing dangerously close to the relegation zone.
A lack of goals is the biggest reason for their poor position. They have failed to score in five of their last six, with only one goal scored during that time. Last season’s top scorer Jamie Vardy has only scored five this campaign, with three coming in one match.
Claudio Ranieri brought in just one player during the transfer window, with Wilfred Ndidi hoping to fill the void left by N’golo Kante.
17th – Swansea City – 21 points
At the end of 2016, Swansea sat bottom of the table with just twelve points. Things were looking ominous after their second manager of the season had been dismissed.
However, they seem to have turned things around since the appointment of Paul Clement. Three wins from their last four matches have lifted them out of the bottom three, with fans now hopeful of them retaining their place in the top flight.
Relegation is still a looming threat and February will be tough for them, with trips to Manchester City and Chelsea in the next couple of weeks. They also still have the worst defensive record in the division, with fifty-two goals conceded.
Luciano Narsingh, Tom Carroll, Martin Olsson and Jordan Ayew have been brought in to strengthen the team.
18th – Crystal Palace – 19 points
Alan Pardew paid the price for Palace’s awful season, getting the sack just before Christmas. Sam Allardyce has come in, and picked up his first league win in-charge against Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
Before that victory, they were on a win-less run of eight and had only kept one clean sheet all season. They were free-falling into the Championship with only one win in sixteen. Too many goals were being conceded and morale was extremely low.
‘The Eagles’ have looked more organised under ‘Big Sam’ but they are still in the relegation zone and it will be a tough slog to climb out of it.
Jeff Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho are all big signings for Palace and will add plenty of strength and depth to the team. If they can fit in quickly, Allardyce will be confident of keeping his side up.
19th – Hull City – 17 points
Hull have had a torrid season. Mike Phelan, who started the campaign as caretaker manager, was given the permanent job for less than three months and then dismissed. There have also been protests at matches, due to a bitter spat between fans and the club’s owners.
Those off-field problems haven’t helped on the pitch, with Hull winning just one of their last twelve games. They’ve been in the relegation zone since 22nd October and are looking outclassed at this level.
Star players Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass departed in January, in moves which surprised many. New boss Marco Silva has added seven new players to the squad and made Markus Henriksen’s loan deal a permanent move, as well as overhauling his coaching staff.
A brave performance earned them a 0-0 draw away at Manchester United in their last match, giving them hope, but they will need a lot more like that to have any chance of avoiding the drop.
20th – Sunderland – 16 points
Last season, they surprised everyone by surviving relegation and they need to perform another miracle if they want to repeat it this time around.
Their highest position in the table this season has been sixteenth, after matches one and three. They have just one victory in their last nine and have gone six without a win. The fact that they have only scored one goal in their last three games highlights their biggest problem, which is scoring goals.
Away from home they’ve been woeful, picking up just four points from eleven games and they still have to travel to two of the top three sides.
David Moyes allowed Patrick van Aanholt to join Crystal Palace in January, in a move which could come back to haunt him. He has added to the squad, with Joleon Lescott, Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson joining the relegation scrap.
A dramatic turn around is needed, although Sunderland do look destined for the Championship.
Other Teams in Danger of Relegation
The teams above those six have a bit of a points cushion but could be dragged into the fight. Bournemouth are seven points above the drop zone, with Watford and Southampton a further point clear.
Watford should be okay, especially after beating Arsenal in their last match. Southampton have won one and lost five of their last six, but should also pick up enough points to stay safe.
Out of those three, Bournemouth look like they could have a relegation scrap on their hands.
Defeat at home to Crystal Palace made it four without a win and they’ve lost four of their last seven. Top scorer Callum Wilson has been ruled out for the rest of the season and their only signing in January was a young back-up goalkeeper from Sheffield United.
They should have done enough already to avoid the drop but they will definitely be in or around the bottom four or five at the end of the campaign.
This season there could be seven or eight teams failing to reach the magical thirty-nine point mark that should ensure safety.
Of those teams, we think Hull will achieve the lowest points total and finish bottom. Sunderland will come next, a few points above Hull but still too few to avoid relegation.
It’s so tight at the bottom that the third relegation place could be decided by goal difference. For that reason, you have to opt for the lowest scorers and say Middlesbrough will be relegated.
Above those three, we think Swansea and Bournemouth fans will be breathing a sigh of relief whilst Palace and Leicester should be safe with a game or two to spare.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena