With Aston villa almost certainly down with only a miracle turn in form able to save them now, the question turns to what other two teams will join them in the Championship next season. Five teams are caught in the fight – Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich, Swansea and Bournemouth with West Brom, Crystal Palace and Chelsea likely to have done enough so far to be safe. Whilst it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen given the volatile nature of this season so far, we decided to take a look at the remaining eleven fixtures that these five sides face and predict the results they will obtain. Totaling up the points gives us their final league position and reveals what the table will look like come May 15th. So with that here is what we are forecasting will happen.
Sunderland ( Currently 19th) – 12 points (Relegated 18th on GD)
Its not been an easy season for Sunderland who finally succumbed to years of mismanagement and strange board room decisions. Big Sam it turns out has been the right appointment but arrived too late to save Sunderland from the drop this time. Added into this their over dependency of striker Jermain Defoe for goals ultimately cost them dearly. A bad knock in the draw with Newcastle ruled him out of several weeks and dented their chances too severely to survive. Wins over West Brom, Norwich and Watford plus key draws against Crystal Palace, Everton and Newcastle were not enough to save Sunderland from the drop. In the end it came down to goal difference with Swansea staying up.
Newcastle (Currently 18th) – 12 points (Finishes 16th)
The league’s highest spenders were hardly impressive this season under Steve McLaren. Despite spending a small fortune on a variety of players, primarily in the form of attackers, Newcastle failed to spark and click. There were some glimmers of hope throughout the campaign thanks to some stellar performances but ultimately a lack of goals led to Newcastle being caught in this battle to avoid the drop. Like Sunderland, grabbing goals was always an issue but found new signing Georginio Wijnaldum is sparkling form especially in the remaining twelve games. Valuable wins over Bournemouth, Norwich and Villa plus points against Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Tottenham who had nothing to play for on the last day were enough to keep Steve McLaren’s side in the Premier League. It wasn’t good enough to keep McLaren in a job who was sacked shortly after the season finished
Norwich (Currently 17th) – 9 points (Relegated 19th)
The writing was on the cards early on for Norwich as they struggled to find form throughout a topsy turvy season. With the second worst run in of the bottom five (excluding the already condemned Villa), Norwich only managed wins over Crystal Palace and Watford plus draws against West Brom, Everton and an out of sorts Manchester United were not enough to stop the drop. Alex Neill received plaudits for his approach, often going for it late on in games as his side searched for an equalizer but his efforts were in vain. A lack of a constant scorer upfront and a leaky defence, weakened by an injury to Russel Martin was ultimately their downfall.
Swansea (Currently 16th) – 8 points (Finish 17th)
Swansea’s run in was the worst possible and it showed with The Swans picking up only eight points from a remaining thirty six. Wins over fellow strugglers Norwich and Aston Villa plus draws against Bournemouth and West Ham meant that form wise Swansea would have been relegated. But with a tight defence led by the outstanding Ashley Williams, Swansea conceded less goals than Sunderland ultimately saving them on goal difference and condemning Sam Allardyce team to relegation. Williams would play his last game for the club against Manchester City before departing before joining Everton in the summer as a replacement for John Stones.
Bournemouth ( Currently 15th) – 10 points (Finish 15th)
After spending well in the January window, Bournemouth survived the drop thanks in part to the goals from new signing Benik Afobe. The former Arsenal and Wolves striker scored five times in the remaining twelve fixtures including important strikes in the wins over Watford, Aston Villa and Everton. Eddie Howe’s side picked up additional points at home to West Brom and Swansea as Bournemouth secured a comfortable 16th place finish. Howe was linked with the opening at Newcastle along with several other openings before signing a new contract keeping him at the club for next season.