Comparing relegation fighting clubs’ run-ins & results in reverse fixtures

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Everton manager Frank Lampard on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Picture date: Monday March 7, 2022.

As we approach the final stretch of the Premier League season, no fewer than five clubs – Norwich City, Watford, Burnley, Everton and Leeds United – are all embroiled in an engrossing battle to avoid the drop. 

Newcastle United spent much of the season looking over their shoulders, but the Magpies’ remarkable turnaround in fortunes under Eddie Howe’s stewardship suggests their fight for survival is already won. 

Eight points adrift of safety, Norwich are the only side at the bottom end of the table who look destined to be playing Championship football next term, with Watford looking doomed too. You would need a crystal ball to predict the final relegation slot.

Barring Everton – maybe Leeds as well – it comes as little surprise when you see the clubs who are scrambling to preserve their Premier League status. Watford and Norwich were two of this season’s newcomers, operating on a comparable shoestring budget to the league’s top hitters.  

Burnley’s financial situation is much the same, and they looked to have shot themselves in the foot by sacking Sean Dyche. But a battling victory over Southampton has given them renewed hope and they’re just a single point behind Frank Lampard’s Everton.

But where will the fight to survive be won and lost? We’ve assessed the five sides’ remaining fixtures to see if we can offer a greater insight on which teams are doomed to relegation. 

Norwich City

Newcastle United (H) – Draw, 1-1
Aston Villa (A) – Lost, 2-0
West Ham (H) – Lost, 2-0
Leicester (A) – Lost, 2-1
Wolves (A) – Draw, 0-0

Tottenham Hotspur (H) – Lost, 3-0 

The fact Dean Smith’s side have only managed five league victories this season shows how their hopes of survival are minimal in the extreme. In Norwich’s six remaining fixtures, they failed to register three points against any of these teams in the reverse encounters earlier in the campaign. 

At this point, the Canaries are probably playing for pride more than anything else. But until their fate is mathematically sealed, there’s still a chance of an unlikely revival – all hope is not lost just yet. 

Repeating the same results again would see Norwich end up on a tally of 23 points – just two better than they managed during their sorry 2019-20 relegation.

Watford

Manchester City (A) – Lost, 3-1
Burnley (H) – Draw, 0-0
Crystal Palace (A) – Lost, 4-1
Leicester City (H) – Lost, 4-2
Chelsea (A) – Lost, 2-1
Everton (H) – Won, 5-2

If Watford’s results are anything like the ones they had in the previous clashes between themselves and the sides they have to play in April and May – they accumulated four points – it’s indisputable that they’ll be returning to the Championship after just one season away.

Despite having Roy Hodgson at the helm – a manager who’s never been relegated – Watford’s chances of survival look slim. They won at Southampton before the international break in March but have suffered three straight defeats since.

In their six remaining games, the Hornets have daunting trips to the Etihad and Stamford Bridge to contend with, but all the matches they play against fellow relegation battlers take place at Vicarage Road.

But there’s not much home advantage for the Hornets, with Watford’s home form mostly being poor – they’ve lost 10 straight matches at Vicarage Road since beating Manchester United 4-1 in November.

One thing’s for sure – Hodgson must lead Watford to better results than his predecessors. Repeat results would yield just four points from their last nine games – taking them to a doomed total of 26 points.

Burnley 

Wolves (H) – Draw, 0-0
Watford (A) – Draw, 0-0
Aston Villa (H) – N/A
Tottenham Hotspur (A) – Won, 1-0
Newcastle United (H) – Lost, 1-0
Aston Villa (A) – N/A

The footballing world was shocked by the sacking of Sean Dyche in April 2022 –  but perhaps Burnley needed to reinvigorate a side that was going slightly stale.

Despite a rollercoaster 3-2 victory over Everton, defeat in their subsequent fixture against Norwich was more emblematic of Burnley’s season; wasting valuable chances, dropping points against relegation rivals and looking a shadow of their former selves.

Of course, Dyche would have backed himself to keep Burnley up. But under caretaker boss and Jackson 5 member Mike Jackson, they’ve picked up four points from matches against West Ham and Southampton and have a kinder run-in than both Everton and Leeds.

Although, they must turn the two draw notched up in the reverse fixtures against the sides to come into victories. Repeating the same results would see Burnley up to 33 points – plus those two games against Villa.

Everton

Liverpool (A) – Lost. 4-1
Chelsea (H) – Draw 1-1
Leicester City (A) – Draw, 1-1
Watford (A) – Lost, 5-2
Brentford (H) – Lost, 1-0
Crystal Palace (H) – Lost, 3-1
Arsenal (A) – Won, 2-1

Even when unpopular former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was appointed Everton boss in the summer, most of their supporters would have still expected their side to remain in the top half – at worst.

But a calamitous campaign now sees Lampard – employed following Benitez’s miserable reign – tasked with preventing the Merseyside club from plummeting to the Championship for the first time in the Premier League era.

“If anyone doesn’t want to show character and doesn’t want to show fight, they won’t be part of it,” Lampard said after Everton’s recent embarrassing FA Cup exit inflicted by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Whilst the defeat came in a different competition, It was a performance befitting of Everton’s consistent dismal showings on the road this season – a win over Brighton being the only victory the club have mustered away from home.

With only a single-point cushion ahead of 18th placed Burnley, you still have to think with the talent Lampard has at his disposal, they’ll surely survive.

The three remaining home fixtures will be crucial with a packed Goodison Park roaring the players on. This group of underachievers haven’t shown anything to suggest they have the heart or desire to pick up points – aside fom when they have home advantage.

Repeat results would see Everton take five more points, up to 34, which might just be enough.

READ: The last time each of the Big Six – and Everton – suffered relegation

Leeds United

Crystal Palace (A) – Won, 1-0
Manchester City (H) – Lost, 7-0
Arsenal (A) – Lost, 4-1
Brighton (H) – Draw, 0-0
Brentford (A) – Draw, 2-2
Chelsea (H) – Lost, 3-2

There were a few eyebrows raised when American coach Jesse Marsch was the man tasked with being Marcelo Bielsa’s successor at Leeds in late February. Few could replicate the impact the 66-year-old had at Elland Road, but Marsch hasn’t made a bad start to life in England.

Triumphs over Norwich, Wolves and Watford mean the Whites are now five points clear of the relegation places. Despite the slender gap to Burnley, momentum is now well and truly with a rejuvenated Leeds team.

The American will be hoping to make his side more competitive against Arsenal and Manchester City than Bielsa did earlier in the campaign, but those are unlikely to be the games that will define Leeds’ survival push.

If Marsch could steer his new side to repeating the tally of five points which the club achieved in their previous outings against the teams still to play, that would see Leeds end the season on 38 points. That would be a total likely to keep the Whites in the division for a third season running.


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