Premier League relegation battle analysed by form and fixtures

Sheffield United and West Brom deep into drop zone; Fulham resurgence sparks survival hope; Newcastle, Brighton, Burnley, Southampton and Crystal Palace remain in danger

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Sheffield United are now 14 points adrift from safety at the foot of the table, with 19th-placed West Brom also 11 points behind 17th - but Fulham have hit form and are only three points deep in the drop zone.

As it stands, only 10 points divide the Cottagers in 18th and Crystal Palace in 13th, which leaves all the teams in between in danger of slipping into the second tier come May: Newcastle, Brighton, Burnley and Southampton.

Projected table

Current Points Per Game

Based on their current ratios for goals scored, conceded and points per game, the relegated teams would mirror the current standings with Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham consigned to Championship football next term.

Who has the toughest run-in?

From the current bottom three, Fulham appear to be the only side capable of escaping the drop - but Scott Parker's side face the toughest schedule with opposition averaging at 9.5 in the table and 1.49 points per game. West Brom's dwindling chances also look bleak with a run of tough fixtures.

Conversely, Newcastle fans will be relieved to see their side has the easiest run-in out of the eight relegation candidates, with Southampton also facing a more favourable schedule.

Sheffield Utd

Overview

Also See:

Position: 20th
Games played: 25
PPG: 0.44
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 1/66
Active cup competitions: FA Cup

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Form

The Blades appeared to lose their cutting edge after returning from lockdown last year. The chart below reveals the average number of goals scored and conceded over a rolling five-game period and emphasises how the Blades have failed to ignite this season, missing fans and several key players through injury.

The graphic below provides a clearer indication of the true quality of chances created and conceded this term, showing the same average for expected goals scored (xG) and conceded (xGa). This data suggests Chris Wilder's side have only been marginally inferior for most of the season.

xG basics

  • A shot from eight yards has a higher xG value than a shot from 18 yards
  • A shot directly in front of goal has a higher xG value than a shot from a tight angle
  • A shot taken by the foot has a higher xG value than a header

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 10.8
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.38

On paper, Sheffield United face the third-easiest run-in out of the eight contenders - but they must still face Liverpool, Aston Villa, Leicester, Leeds, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

West Brom

Overview

Position: 19th
Games played: 25
PPG: 0.56
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 1/50
Active cup competitions: None

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Form

West Brom could consider themselves fortunate not to be rock-bottom. The chart below shows the greatest gulf of inferiority across the campaign - having shipped a league-topping 55 goals, while only two teams have scored fewer than their 19.

Expected goals data produces no surprises. The Baggies' returns clearly reflect the true quality of chances they have created and conceded. Sam Allardyce's clean record of keeping clubs up appears to be on the line.

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 9.7
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.45

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To compound West Brom's woes, only Fulham face a tougher run-in. Everton, Chelsea, Leicester, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham all await before a season finale at Leeds.

Fulham

Overview

Position: 18th
Games played: 25
PPG:
0.88
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 5/6
Active cup competitions: None

Form

The chart below clearly reveals Fulham's incremental improvement over the season - which has almost entirely derived from becoming almost twice as watertight defensively.

Like Sheffield United, the expected goals data suggests the Cottagers have been only marginally inferior and, again, highlights how the defence is now up to speed - but it is too late?

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 9.5
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.49

Fulham have now gone four games without defeat and won two of those fixtures. The upturn in form certainly bodes well compared with the downward trajectory of 17th-placed Newcastle.

But Parker's side face the toughest run-in out of the eight teams. It's quite a feat even on paper. After Palace this weekend, they face successive games against Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Leeds, Aston Villa, Wolves, Arsenal and Chelsea - before playing Manchester United at Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend.

Newcastle

Overview

Position: 17th
Games played: 25
PPG: 1.00
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 13/8
Active cup competitions: None

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Form

Newcastle's form has dipped since mid-December and Steve Bruce has tried to inject a more attacking style after his side's defensive approach began to receive growing criticism when results dipped.

Expected goals data almost mirrors the actual returns, which appears to have placed Newcastle in the driving seat for survival over Fulham.

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 10.9
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.35

There is more good news for Toon fans: the Magpies have the easiest run-in - on paper, at least. Bruce's men still face Villa and Spurs before mid-April, when a tricky month ensues with fixtures against West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City.

But, their schedule is comparatively easier than their rivals at the wrong end of the table, but their final two games are against Sheffield United and Fulham. Indeed, that season finale at Craven Cottage could prove to be pivotal.

Brighton

Overview

Position: 16th
Games played: 25
PPG: 1.04
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 9/1
Active cup competitions: None

Form

Brighton have been repeatedly labelled 'unlucky' this season, and rightly so. The chart below highlights the fine margins they have been maintaining at both ends of the pitch this term.

Statistically, Graham Potter's men are this season's anomaly. The Seagulls rank among the elite across a raft of metrics but the most striking is their expected goal returns. The chart below almost resembles inverted returns from their actual results - suggesting their finishing has been under par, coupled with numerous doses of misfortune along the way.

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 9.6
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.44

Brighton are among four relegation contenders to have a slighter tougher schedule - but will look to pick up points between two three-game runs against current top-half opposition: the first from early April and in the final three weeks of May.

Burnley

Overview

Position: 15th
Games played: 25
PPG: 1.12
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 7/1
Active cup competitions: None

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Form

Burnley continue to maintain Premier League status and defy limited resources, but have once again been dragged into the periphery of a relegation battle this term. A recent upturn has coincided with similar improvement among their closest rivals, but Sean Dyche's men look set to secure a fifth successive top-flight campaign.

Interestingly, according to expected goals data, the Clarets were unfortunate at the start of the season but have become increasingly fortunate as the campaign has progressed.

Remaining fixtures

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Average position of remaining opponents: 10.2
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.39

Dyche will be quietly confident with his side's upcoming schedule. After an impending tough run against Spurs, Leicester, Arsenal and Everton, the Clarets will face only four other current top-half sides: Manchester United, West Ham, Leeds and Liverpool.

Southampton

Overview

Position: 14th
Games played: 25
PPG: 1.20
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 40/1
Active cup competitions: FA Cup

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Form

Southampton topped the Premier League only three months ago but the culmination of this season's compact table and a decline in form since mid-January - suffering seven defeats in their past eight games - has seen the Saints slip to 14th, only eight points clear of Fulham.

Expected goals data suggests Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have reaped maximum returns from slender margins but the drop-off in recent weeks is stark - compounded by the humiliating 9-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 10.8
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.35

However, the fixture list appears to ensure the Saints will avoid a staggering slump to relegation with the easiest run-in out of the eight candidates, along with Newcastle. Tough opposition is punctuated with fixtures against lower-half teams and should offer ample opportunities to secure survival.

Crystal Palace

Overview

Position: 13th
Games played: 25
PPG:
1.28
Relegation Sky Bet odds: 22/1
Active cup competitions: None

Live Premier League

Form

Palace are true outsiders for relegation and currently sit 10 points clear of Fulham. An impressive first half of the season took a turn for the worse in mid-December - but the Eagles appear to have secured safety with their 32 points to date.

Expected goals data underlines how Roy Hodgson's side are almost certainly exactly where they deserve to be and so often finish, escaping the serious threat of danger among the upper echelons of the bottom half.

Remaining fixtures

Average position of remaining opponents: 9.5
Average PPG of remaining opponents: 1.44

However, Palace do have a relatively tricky run-in and will be looking to pick up points against Fulham this weekend, West Brom (March), Southampton (April) and Sheffield United (May).

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