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Assessing the chances of the Premier League survival hopefuls - Part II

Tuesday 25th April 2017
The relegation battle this season has been an absorbing one with fine margins all that there is between the bottom six teams. The question is: which club will secure survival in the Premier League?

In part I of this article, we discussed the chances of the first three teams that make up the bottom six ( i.e those placed 15th to 17th)

Here, we discuss those who are presently in the drop zone and in more serious danger of going down.

Swansea City

For Swansea, it has been a season of very few highs and very many lows. The Swans have had two managerial changes this season, yet still, find themselves in the relegation zone.

The first of those changes was Bob Bradley coming in for Francesco Guidolin. The Italian who worked miracles last season was ruthlessly sacked just two months into the season. The decision to sack Guidolin was necessitated after a run of five defeats in seven games left Swansea teetering dangerously above the relegation places.

The appointment of Bradley wasn't a popular one among the Swansea supporters who felt Guidolin should have been given more time. The American lasted only 11 games before he too was shown the door.

In the games he oversaw, Swansea lost seven and won just twice. The South Wales side was in deep trouble, and were rock bottom going into the New Year. At the time, relegation seemed to be written in the stars - until the arrival of Paul Clement.
Clement made an immediate impact at the club and after just five games in charge, he lifted Swansea out of the drop zone. The former Derby County boss was being lavished with praised and rightly so. But just as the Swansea faithful were beginning to celebrate survival, things have suddenly gone south.

The defensive frailties of the early part of the season have returned at the worst time possible. The attack has equally been poor as demonstrated in the failure to score in three of their last five games prior to Saturday's win against Stoke city.

Remaining games:

Manchester United (a) Everton (h) Sunderland (a) West Brom (h)

Will Swansea go down?

Just like Hull City, I believe Swansea has a fifty-fifty chance of securing safety. And they certainly did their chances of survival no harm by winning what Clement described as "a must-win" at the weekend. With Hull also recording a victory on the same day, they remain two points behind the Tigers whilst creating further daylight between them and those behind on the standings.


Anyone who watched Middlesbrough play in the Championship last season will know how deserving they are of their place in the English top flight. Boro have played some wonderful football in the Championship and after making some high-profile signings in the Summer, they looked like they would take the top division by storm.

The Premier League season began reasonably well for Boro as they tasted defeat only once in their first four games. But with time, the reality of playing in the top division dawned on them.

Middlesbrough throughout the first half of the season was never more than six points away from the dreaded drop zone. That said, Boro never for once fell into the drop zone throughout the first 19 games of the season because of one thing: resolute defending.

The boys from Riverside conceded an impressive total of just 22 goals in the first half of the season - the then joint-seventh lowest in the league. This came as no surprise since they were always known for their watertight defence under Aitor Karanka. But something was wrong: the forwards were lacking goals. Boro managed only 17 goals in the same period - at an average of less than a goal a game.

This shortcoming made then manager, Karanka dip into the winter market. He signed forwards Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford from Aston Villa and Chelsea respectively, and to be honest, neither, thus far, has done anything to suggest they are fit to play for a side in the top division. The pair has just the one league goal between them and made a joint total of zero assists.

Unkind 2017

The year 2017 has so far been a poor one for the side from the North East. The defence that kept them away from the drop zone has crumbled. Hence, the flaws of the forwards have been laid bare for all to see. Goals win you games, so it's no surprise to know Middlesbrough are still to win a game this year.

The decision to sack Karanka may end up being a blunder for the hierarchy at the club. If anything, Boro are now worse off than they were with the Spaniard at the helm.
After the 4-0 hammering at the Vitality this past weekend, Boro has slipped further behind those gunning for another season in the English top flight - albeit with a game in hand over both Swansea and Hull.

Remaining games:

Sunderland (h) Manchester City (h) Chelsea (a) Southampton (h) Liverpool (a)

Will Boro go down?

If you asked me this question at the start of the season I would have told you no without thinking twice. However, right now I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel for them. I watched Middlesbrough play in the Championship last season and I might as well watch them there next season.

Relegation is surely going to be a bitter pill to swallow for the Boro faithful who saw their side play in the Premier League for the first time in seven seasons. But it's not too early to get preparations for the Championship underway.

Sunderland AFC

Unlike the other teams down in the relegation zone, Sunderland from the start of the season knew they were going to be involved in a battle for survival.

The start of the season couldn't have been more miserable for David Moyes and his men. The Black Cats lost a staggering eight times in their opening 10 games, the other two being draws. Right from the round of fixtures, Sunderland has never leapt out of the relegation places. In addition, the Black Cats have never managed to go more than two games without defeat in all competitions since the start of the season.

The defending at times from Sunderland has been nonexistent. The players seem to lack the drive, the commitment needed to pull the club out of the drop zone. And they have Jermain Defoe to thank for relegation not already being confirmed.

The Englishman had a terrific first half of the season where he notched up fourteen goals - 53% of Sunderland's goals. With the Black Cats so reliant on his goals, It was always going to be a struggle to get goals if Defoe lost form.

And unfortunately for Sunderland, he has picked the worst time possible to go on a goal drought. The 34-year-old hasn't scored in two months and so it's no surprise Sunderland themselves are winless over the same period. In fact, they have lost six of their eight games since Defoe last scored.
Sunderland were not in action this past weekend and with others picking up points they are now 12 points off safety - albeit with two games in hand over Hull and Swansea.

Remaining games:

Middlesbrough (a) Bournemouth (h) Hull City (a) Swansea (h) Arsenal (a) Chelsea (a)

Will Sunderland go down?

Sunderland has survived relegation by the skin of their teeth for two years running prior to this one, but they appear to have run out of luck.

It has been a disappointing season for the Sunderland fans who have watched their side put in lackadaisical performances often times this season. And despite being told to expect a relegation scrap by Moyes in August, few would have expected the Black Cats to bid farewell to Premier League this season.

The reason Moyes and Sunderland haven't parted ways is beyond me. It is crystal clear he is not the man for this kind of job. The board can have only themselves to blame as relegation is now only a matter of time.


In my opinion, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are as good as being relegated. Leaving one spot which either Hull City or Swansea will fill. I'm not too sure on who, but one thing is sure: it's going to be a nail-biting end to the season for both of those sides.
Adoyi Joshua Adoyi

Adoyi is a Nigerian with a keen passion for sports  - more so football and is an avid supporter of Manchester United. He spends his weekends glued to his TV screen, watching the beautiful game.

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