Predicting the Premier League relegation battle: Has Everton’s luck finally run out?

11:00 AM ET

The battle to stay in the Premier League is intensifying. As the top-flight clubs enter the FA Cup for this weekend’s third round, the break from league action will do little to ease the relegation concerns of the eight teams separated by just five points at the bottom of the table.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

With only two points between 18th-placed Everton, who occupy the third relegation spot, and Leicester in 13th position, the fight for survival threatens to run until the final weekend of the season and is likely to involve some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

The next round of league fixtures will signal the halfway stage of the season for most clubs, but for the bottom eight, their objective between now and May is clear: Do everything possible to avoid the drop.

So how is the battle shaping up, and which clubs should be really worried? And, as things stand, who are the three teams most likely to be playing in the Championship next season?

– Premier League: Standings | Schedule | Statistics


13th place, 17 points, -5 goal difference

Why they are struggling

Leicester recorded six defeats and one draw in their opening seven league fixtures and have been playing catch-up ever since, so the root cause of their struggles is obvious. Manager Brendan Rodgers was unable to strengthen his squad sufficiently in the summer — an issue he has raised several times — and only added £15 million defender Wout Faes to a team that had lost key figures, including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and defender Wesley Fofana during the transfer window. And time appears to have finally caught up with striker Jamie Vardy, 35, who has scored just one goal in 18 Premier League appearances.

Room for optimism?

To be in 13th position after such a poor start is a testament to the managerial skills of Rodgers and the quality that Leicester still possess, despite the lack of investment in the squad in recent windows. James Maddison (7) and Harvey Barnes (6) have been regular goal scorers from midfield, with Youri Tielemans adding three more. If Leicester are able to hold on to Maddison and Tielemans this month, they will see out the season with one of the best, if not the best, midfield departments outside the top six. Leicester’s results over the last 10 league games would place them in 10th in the form table, so they have slowly overcome their bad start and seem to be heading in the right direction, albeit with a lack of consistency still affecting performances.


If they are able to keep Maddison this month, Leicester will be fine. They have too much quality and experience to go down.


14th, 17 pts, -6 GD

Why they are struggling

Two wins in their past 14 league games has seen Leeds waste the good work of a start to the season which saw them collect seven points from their first three games, including a 3-0 win against Chelsea at Elland Road. But although Leeds have scored 25 goals — just two fewer than fourth-placed Manchester United — many have come in high-scoring defeats. What Leeds lack is a striker who can win a tight game by taking the only chance to seal a 1-0 victory. Patrick Bamford has failed to score in 10 appearances, although the 29-year-old has once again been troubled by injury problems. Leeds just need to tighten up at the back and take more of their chances to turn draws into wins and defeats into draws.

Room for optimism?

Rodrigo has scored 10 goals in 16 Premier League games so far this season, so Leeds really need the former Valencia and Benfica forward to maintain his form, especially with Bamford still struggling for form and fitness. Leeds have pace and flair up front with wingers Jack Harrison and teenager Wilfried Gnonto and, when coach Jesse Marsch’s team click, they can deliver big results as when beating Chelsea and winning 2-1 at Liverpool. Successive draws against Newcastle and West Ham in their past two games points to Marsch steadying the ship, but to escape relegation, Leeds need Bamford back quickly to share the load with Rodrigo.


Leeds are unpredictable and can be defensively naïve under Jesse Marsch, so it will be an anxious period ahead. The Elland Road atmosphere will help, but Leeds will be locked into a relegation fight all the way until the end of the season.


15th, 17 pts, -21 GD

Why they are struggling

Forest signed 22 players last summer after winning promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 1999, and it has taken time for manager Steve Cooper to build a team with all of the new arrivals. But after a promising start which saw them collect four points from their opening three games, Forest lost six and drew two of their next eight which dropped them into the bottom three and they only climbed out for the first time since with their win at Southampton on Jan. 4. Forest are facing the same issues that most promoted teams have to overcome in that the intensity and quality of the Premier League has been a shock to the system, especially after so long in the Championship.

Room for optimism?

Over their last eight league games, Forest would be comfortably mid-table in the form guide, so Cooper is now getting consistency from his players and the team has settled in the Premier League. There is a sense of positive momentum building at the club, and with owner Evangelos Marinakis prepared to make further investment in the squad this month, Forest have the ability to strengthen again. With Jesse Lingard yet to score in the league after arriving as a free agent from Manchester United in the summer, any uptick in form by the former England player will be a much-needed boost for Forest.


Forest lack a reliable goal scorer, so they will remain in danger if they fail to address that issue this month.


16th, 16 pts, -21 GD

Why they are struggling

Bournemouth have, by some distance, the worst defensive record in the Premier League — largely down to a 9-0 defeat at Liverpool in August — and they have managed just 18 goals from 18 games. A lack of goal threat combined with a poor defensive record is always a recipe for trouble, so Bournemouth have all the classic ingredients of a side facing a relegation battle. They even sacked their manager, Scott Parker, after just five games, despite the former Fulham boss guiding the club to promotion last season. Seven defeats in their last eight league games and no goals in their last four is a worrying trend for manager Gary O’Neil’s team.

Room for optimism?

Bournemouth have won just four league games all season, but three of those came in encounters with direct rivals in the relegation battle — Leicester, Forest and Everton — so they have an ability to beat the teams closest to them. If they are to stay up, picking up points against teams in and around them will be crucial, so Bournemouth can take confidence from their record in that sense. The completion of the takeover of the club last month by an American consortium led by Bill Foley ends uncertainty over the future and could lead to investment in the squad this month.


Bournemouth fans should be worried. Teams with the worst defensive record usually always go down, so the outlook isn’t good.


17th, 15 pts, -9 GD

Why they are struggling

A bad start — two straight defeats — and five defeats in their last six games have left West Ham firmly in the relegation battle. But for a team that spent £120m on new players in the summer, including the club record £51.3m deal for Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta, and was able to hold on to star player Declan Rice, there can be no obvious explanation for West Ham’s awful season to date. A hangover from last season, when they reached the Europa League semifinals and blew the chance to qualify for the competition again on the final day of the campaign, is perhaps a factor, but West Ham really should be nowhere near the drop zone.

Room for optimism?

All of the reasons why West Ham shouldn’t be in trouble are why they should be optimistic of escaping the mess they are in. David Moyes is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League, and the Hammers have quality throughout the squad. At some point, underperforming forwards Jarrod Bowen (two goals), Gianluca Sciacca (3) and Michail Antonio (2) will surely find some form. If only one of them hits a scoring patch, West Ham should pull clear.


West Ham’s next two league games are against Wolves and Everton. Win those and they can target a top-half finish, but manager David Moyes needs to inject some positivity into the team.


18th, 15 pts, -10 GD

Why they’re struggling

A combination of issues has put Everton in real relegation danger, but the failure to adequately replace Richarlison following his £60m summer move to Tottenham Hotspur and the absence of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin for much of the season due to injury have seen Frank Lampard’s team score just 14 goals in 18 games. The lack of firepower is the root of the team’s problems on the pitch and Lampard has been unable to find a solution, with Neal Maupay, the low-budget replacement for Richarlison, scoring just once and proving to be well below the standard required. But Lampard is simply not getting enough from a squad that has a highly rated goalkeeper, two England centre-backs and a number of quality options in midfield.

Room for optimism?

Optimism is rarely in good supply around Goodison Park, and there are real concerns that Everton could be relegated this season for the first time since 1951. One positive is that Calvert-Lewin appears to be over his injuries, but he has only scored once since returning to action, so the England forward has to find some form to boost Everton’s prospects. A change of manager could ultimately be the course of action taken by the owners, with Lampard losing 21 of his 41 games in charge since arriving last January. The former Chelsea boss is under mounting pressure following eight defeats in his last 11 games in all competitions.


Everton are in big trouble and Lampard looks to have run out ideas. This could be the year when Everton’s luck runs out.


19th, 14 pts, -16 GD

Why they’re struggling

Wolves have the worst scoring record in the Premier League, having netted just 11 goals in 18 games so far. Diego Costa has failed to score for the club since arriving in September, while midfielder Ruben Neves and winger Daniel Podence are joint-highest scorers with just four goals apiece. The poor results led to Bruno Lage being fired as manager in October and interim boss Steve Davis lasted just a month before the club hired former Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui. The managerial upheaval has done little to help Wolves find consistency on the pitch.

Room for optimism?

Lopetegui is regarded as one of best coaches in Europe, outside the elite of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti, so Wolves now have a manager with a proven track record who can get the team functioning successfully. Under the Spaniard, Wolves have lost just one of their four games in all competitions and that defeat was a narrow 1-0 loss to Manchester United. Striker Raul Jimenez is now back in action after injury, so Wolves can also look forward to their best forward being in the team again.


Lopetegui will get Wolves organised and Jimenez is a proven goal scorer, so their situation right now could prove to be the low point before climbing the table.


20th, 12 pts, -18 GD

Why they’re struggling

A weak squad which narrowly avoided relegation last season needed summer reinforcements, but Southampton instead gambled on signing players without Premier League experience and unproven youngsters — Romeo Lavia, Juan Larios and Samuel Edozie arrived from Manchester City for a total outlay of £26.5m and have started just 11 league games between them. But while Southampton were struggling under former manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, the surprise decision to replace him with Luton boss Nathan Jones has backfired on the club’s owners. Jones, who was fired after 10 months in charge of Stoke in 2019, has lost all five of his Premier League games and seems out of his depth in the top flight, with fans already turning against the 49-year-old.

Room for optimism?

In short, very little grounds for optimism at St Mary’s. The squad is arguably the weakest in the Premier League, and the manager is a rookie at the top level and struggling to have an impact. Unless the club make significant signings this month and add players with top-level experience, Southampton are going down.


Doomed to relegation. The appointment of Jones was almost an acceptance that a rebuild is needed in the Championship.

Predicted bottom three at end of season

18: Everton
19: Bournemouth
20: Southampton

Source :

Share with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get The Latest Sports News
Straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.