The lowdown on the battle to beat the drop in the Premier League


This season’s titanic scrap to avoid relegation from the Premier League promises to be one of the closest battles in recent years.

There is just eight points currently separating the bottom seven sides who have all had varying fortunes throughout the season. 

Newcastle, the richest club in world football,  and Burnley seemed to be in a precarious position before Christmas but recent improvements have given them optimism that they can survive the drop.

Newcastle are the form team in the battle to survive the drop with only Liverpool having a better record in the last five games

Brentford and Leeds meanwhile are being pulled closer towards the bottom three with the latter hoping that new manager Jesse Marsch can give them a lift after the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa.

Everton, now under Chelsea legend Frank Lampard and Roy Hodgson-led Watford are still waiting for their new-manager boost to spur them on for the final stages of this season.

Norwich meanwhile have done a respectable job since Dean Smith was appointed, to even give themselves a fighting chance of staying up.

Sportsmail takes an in-depth look at the fixtures to come for the seven sides involved and where points could be won or lost.

Brentford are getting pulled closer to the bottom three after just one win in their last 12 games

Brentford are getting pulled closer to the bottom three after just one win in their last 12 games

Newcastle: 14th (25pts) 

P25, W5, D10, L10

Form: WDWWW 

Newcastle are the tale of what a new manager and a lot of money can bring to a club.

After their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City six days before Christmas, Newcastle were 19th in the standings with just one win to their name in 18 matches.

Many wrote off their chances despite the takeover that made them the richest club in world football.

But since then they have turned around their form, with a big help in hand from the £90million plus that they spent in the January transfer window on Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Matt Targett on loan from Aston Villa.

Eddie Howe's side have leapt out of the bottom three after impressive recent form

Eddie Howe’s side have leapt out of the bottom three after impressive recent form

The Magpies are unbeaten since that defeat to Manchester City and their current form over the last five games is better than any team except for Liverpool. 

So based on that form, Newcastle should have every optimism that they can pull themselves away from the scrap.

However, with their game against Crystal Palace postponed due to Eagles advancing to the next round of the FA Cup, Newcastle could face four away games on the trot against Southampton, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham.

Newcastle have a tricky run ahead but will have optimism they will have enough to survive after the improvements made to their side in January

Newcastle have a tricky run ahead but will have optimism they will have enough to survive after the improvements made to their side in January

Eddie Howe will be keen for his side not to drop too many points during that tricky run which could pull them back into the drop-zone, while they also have a double-header with Manchester City and Liverpool to come which anything would be a bonus.

Towards the end of the season they also have away games at both Norwich and then Burnley on the final day of the season which could yet prove to be a decider. 

On current form, they would fancy to pick up big points from their remaining home matches with Brighton, Palace, Wolves, Leicester and Arsenal.  

Survival chances: 8/10 

NEWCASTLE FIXTURES 

Brighton (H)

Southampton (A)

Chelsea (A)

Everton (A) 

Tottenham (A)

Wolves (H)

Leicester (H)

Norwich (A)

Liverpool (H)

Man City (A)

Arsenal (H)

Burnley (A) 

Crystal Palace (H) postponed and date to be confirmed

Brentford: 15th (24pts) 

P27, W6, D6, L15

Form: LLDLL

Similar to Newcastle, there has been a big turnaround in Brentford’s season before Christmas

After their 2-1 victory over Watford in December, the Bees were ten points clear of the relegation zone.

Since then, they have claimed just one win, with 11 defeats in their last 12 matches as their promising start to the season has fallen apart.

Brentford are struggling for form and are set for a six-pointer with Norwich at the weekend

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Brentford are struggling for form and are set for a six-pointer with Norwich at the weekend

Worryingly for Thomas Frank’s side is that they have played more games than any out of the teams in the bottom seven and they could end up in the relegation zone if Leeds, Everton and Burnley win their games in hand. 

Ivan Toney came off the bench in their last defeat against Newcastle and he could play a huge role after missing their last three matches, while it’s yet to be seen what kind of impact Christian Eriksen can have on his return to football.

In the next six games, there are three matches which could prove a crucial factor as to whether they play Premier League or Championship football next season.

They hope the returning Christian Eriksen will have a positive part to play in their survival bid

They hope the returning Christian Eriksen will have a positive part to play in their survival bid

They travel to Carrow Road on Saturday, before hosting Burnley the following weekend, and then go to Watford in April.

These are all winnable matches which could put Brentford back in the right path going into the final matches of the season. 

The Bees could also do with finding their home form from the start of the season, in which they beat Arsenal and took two points off Liverpool in front of an electric atmosphere at their home ground.

They’ve got tricky home fixtures with West Ham, Tottenham and Southampton to come while the atmosphere for their final-day clash with Leeds could be something to behold.  

Survival chances: 6/10 

BRENTFORD FIXTURES 

Norwich (A)

Burnley (H)

Leicester (A)

Chelsea (A)

West Ham (H)

Watford (A)

Tottenham (H)

Man United (A)

Southampton (H)

Everton (A)

Leeds (H) 

Leeds: 16th (23pts) 

P26, W5, D8, L13

Form: LLLLD 

Leeds are hoping for a new manager bounce after they sacked Marcelo Bielsa after their 4-0 defeat at Tottenham.

Results results proved too much for the Leeds board, who were reluctant to let the popular manager go, but 20 goals conceded in the last five games in which they’ve picked up one point was not good enough.

American Jesse Marsch is the man who has been tasked with saving Leeds’ season and their next six games provides them with a chance of putting some good results on the board.

Leeds hope to get a new manager bounce from Jesse Marsch who replaces Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds hope to get a new manager bounce from Jesse Marsch who replaces Marcelo Bielsa

After playing Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham in consecutive games, their next six matches are all against team currently positioned eighth or lower in the standings.

They have home games with Aston Villa, Norwich and Southampton with away clashes against Leicester, Wolves and Watford.

If Marsch doesn’t pick up ten points from those games then it could give him a big task for the final six games of the season which include Chelsea and Manchester City at home, as well as Arsenal away.

Leeds have been in woeful form recently having shipped 20 goals in their last five outings

Leeds have been in woeful form recently having shipped 20 goals in their last five outings

If the race goes down to the wire, they will look at their last two fixtures of the season against Brighton at home and Brentford away, optimistic they have a chance to keep themselves in the Premier League for a third season on the trot.

Key to their survival hopes will be the return of Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford who have missed much of the season.

Keeping them fit would be a huge luxury for Marsch that Bielsa never quite had this season. 

Survival chances: 6/10 

Leeds fixtures 

Leicester (A)

Aston Villa (H)

Norwich (H)

Wolves (A)

Southampton (H)

Watford (A)

Chelsea (H)

Crystal Palace (A)

Manchester City (H)

Arsenal (A)

Brighton (H)

Brentford (A) 

Everton 17th (22pts) 

P24, W6, D4, L14

Form: LLWLL 

Frank Lampard hasn’t quite got off to the start that he would have liked when he took on the Everton job.

There was a comfortable victory against an off-form Leeds, but defeats to Newcastle and Southampton were disappointing.

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They did however show a level of determination and effort in their unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Manchester City which had been seriously lacking under the helm of Rafael Benitez.

Everton have showed more effort and determination under Frank Lampard than Rafael Benitez though results still haven't been great

Everton have showed more effort and determination under Frank Lampard than Rafael Benitez though results still haven’t been great

It has been a miserable season for the Toffees who have been dragged into the relegation fight for the first time in years.

The one big advantage though is that they have games in hand over all the teams around them with as many as three more to play than Brentford ahead of them.

Everton have two difficult games in front of them – but ones they could pick up some points away at inconsistent Tottenham and at home against Wolves.

They then play Newcastle at home and Watford away which will provide them a chance to take points off some of their rivals for the drop.

However they then face a tricky run where they play four teams within the top six with home clashes against Manchester United and Chelsea, with away trips to West Ham and the Merseyside derby.

Everton have a number of games still to be rearranged where they will fancy taking three points

Everton have a number of games still to be rearranged where they will fancy taking three points

They then finish the season with trips to Leicester and Arsenal which are sandwiched by a must-win clash against Brentford.

Everton have four games which need to be fitted in somewhere including Crystal Palace and Leicester at home, as well as Burnley and Watford away – all games in which Lampard will fancy picking up maximum points. 

Their games in hand puts them in good position but if Lampard can’t turn around Everton’s form, they could find themselves outside of the top division for the first time since 1954.

Survival chances: 7/10 

Everton fixtures

Tottenham (A)

Wolves (H)

Newcastle (H) 

West Ham (A)

Manchester United (H) 

Liverpool (A)

Chelsea (H)

Leicester (A)

Brentford (H)

Arsenal (A)   

Burnley (A), Leicester (H), Watford (A) and Crystal Palace (H) all still to be rearranged

Burnley 18th (21pts) 

P25, W3, D12, L10

Form: LDWWL

Back-to-back victories against Brighton and Tottenham have put Sean Dyche’s side back in contention for survival.

Burnley had won just one game all season before then and it looked like their five-year stay in the top-flight was about to come to an end.

But now they are just one point outside the drop with games in hand over the three teams above of them with a much better goal difference than any of their rivals at -10.

Burnley have a favourable goal advantage compared to their rivals which could help their chances

Burnley have a favourable goal advantage compared to their rivals which could help their chances

Their end to the season is also quite favourable despite upcoming clashes with Chelsea and Manchester City.

Those two games are sandwiched by a six-pointer against Brentford, while there are winnable games at home still to play against Southampton, Wolves, Aston Villa and Newcastle – with the latter on the final day of the season.

They also have important away games still to come at Watford and Norwich – which could prove vital if they are to extend their Premier League status to a sixth season.

Burnley have won just three games all season but have games in hand over some of the teams above them

Burnley have won just three games all season but have games in hand over some of the teams above them

Losing Chris Wood was a blow in January but the signing of Wout Weghorst looks a shrewd purchase and already looks like he suits Burnley’s style of play.

Burnley still have games that need to be rearranged including Aston Villa away and home clashes with Everton and Southampton.

Survival chances: 6/10 

Burnley fixtures 

Chelsea (H)

Brentford (A)

Man City (H)

Norwich (A)

West Ham (A)

Wolves (H)

Watford (A)

Aston Villa (H)

Tottenham (A)

Newcastle (H)

Aston Villa (A), Everton (H) and Southampton (H) all still to be rearranged 

Watford 19th (19pts) 

P26, W5, D4, L17

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Form: DLWLL 

It’s safe to say that the appointment of Roy Hodgson has not given the Watford bounce they would have been hoping for.

Just one win in six games and has left them three points off safety and left their Premier League status in a precarious position.

The win against Aston Villa and keeping Manchester United to a clean sheet will have given them some hope though that they can offer more defensive solidity and rack up some points to get themselves out of the drop zone.

Roy Hodgson has walked into a big job at Watford who face a tough challenge ahead to survive

Roy Hodgson has walked into a big job at Watford who face a tough challenge ahead to survive

They have got a tricky run of fixtures ahead however, with games against Arsenal, Wolves, Southampton and Liverpool who are all inside the top ten.

That’s followed by two must-win games at home, where they face Leeds and Brentford, before facing Manchester City in a game where they will unlikely pick up anything.

To ensure safety they will also likely have to pick up some decent points from Burnley at home, Crystal Palace away and Leicester at home – before they face Chelsea away in an extremely difficult match to finish the season. 

Recent clean sheets against Aston Villa and Manchester United will give them some optimism

Recent clean sheets against Aston Villa and Manchester United will give them some optimism

They also have a game-in-hand to be rearranged with Everton and it will be vital to pick up points from the teams around them if Hodgson is to get Watford out of danger.

As proven by Nigel Pearson’s sacking though, Watford show no fear in sacking a manager right towards the end of a season where they’re fighting relegation.

Survival chances: 4/10

Watford fixtures 

Arsenal (H)

Wolves (A)

Southampton (A)

Liverpool (A)

Leeds (H)

Brentford (H)

Man City (A)

Burnley (H)

Crystal Palace (A)

Leicester (H)

Chelsea (A)

Everton (H) still to be rearranged 

Norwich 20th (17pts) 

P26, W4, D5, L17

Form: LLLDW 

Dean Smith has done well to get Norwich back in the hunt after their awful start to the season under Daniel Farke.

However they have dropped off the boil again recently after back-to-back wins over Everton and Watford in January.

They have lost three matches on the bounce, albeit very difficult games against Manchester City, Liverpool and in-form Southampton.

Dean Smith has given Norwich a glimmer of hope of survival after a poor start to the season

Dean Smith has given Norwich a glimmer of hope of survival after a poor start to the season

Their clash with Brentford is a six-pointer and is a huge chance for them to pick up points against a side who are struggling to get anything right now.

A defeat to the Bees could leave Norwich with a serious up-hill task to avoid relegation.

They then face Chelsea away but then have another run of games which Smith will be eyeing up big points.

They still face an uphill task but have some winnable games ahead of them after their recent tricky run of fixtures

They still face an uphill task but have some winnable games ahead of them after their recent tricky run of fixtures

They travel to Leeds and Brighton, before their home clashes with Burnley and Newcastle are separated by a difficult trip to Old Trafford against Manchester United.

Norwich then end the season with trips to Aston Villa and Wolves, and home clashes against West Ham and Tottenham.

They have the biggest task ahead of them as you’d expect for the team at the bottom of the table, but if they pick up some good points in the next few weeks they might just give themselves an outside chance of survival.

Survival chances: 4/10 

Norwich fixtures

Brentford (H)

Chelsea (A)

Leeds (A)

Brighton (A)

Burnley (H)

Man United (A)

Newcastle (H)

Aston Villa (A)

West Ham (H)

Wolves (A)

Tottenham (H) 

Leicester (A) still to be arranged 



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