As we count down the days before Liverpool lift the Premier League title, you wouldn’t blame anyone for losing interest in the top of the table. The lack of title race, is, however, compensated for by what looks like one of the most exciting relegation battles in years, with at least seven teams fighting to avoid the three relegation spots.
We’ve turned to our trading model to help predict who’s facing the Championship next season. Here’s what our model tells us will happen…
Their early-season efforts should just about keep them up as another win or two will see them safe. Their FA Cup win in midweek saw them finally score again too, but they should be wary of a cup distraction – Wigan found that out back in 2013.
The bad news is most of their points have come from games where they have been dominated by most metrics. They’ve failed to score in their last four Premier League outings as well. Over the last 10 games, they are rock bottom of the form table, and the xG figures they have posted all season is a massive concern: bottom on Expected Goals (22.57) and Expected Points (19.15).
Despite this, they’re somehow seven points clear of the drop and almost 13 points better off than where the stats would have them – we currently rate them as the worst side in the league! With only 12 goals from open play, they really struggle to break sides down, so home games in this run-in against Villa and West Ham will be make-or-break.
Our model predicts: They will survive…just. Look to get them to go down next season if there aren’t wholesale changes
While Graham Potter has gained plaudits for his football philosophy, being winless so far in 2020 has seen his Brighton side dragged into the dogfight. Potter’s men rank fifth in possession stats, sixth in terms of pass completion, ninth in the xG table and tenth in the expected points table. So where is it all going wrong?
For all their good play, the Seagulls struggle to create clear-cut chances, and when they do they aren’t ruthless enough in front of goal, and they haven’t got the rub of the green recently either. Neal Maupay has returned a respectable eight goals, but next best is Leandro Trossard and centre half Adam Webster with three each.
We still rate them a cut above the rest, but one worry is the upcoming run of fixtures – in six of their next seven games they face Wolves, Arsenal, Leicester, Man United, Liverpool and Man City.
Our model predicts: It will be close, but they are good enough to stay up. If they do survive I think it’s by the skin of their teeth
To say this season has been a disaster on and off the pitch would be an understatement. Fan protests are growing against the owners, while David Moyes’ second stint at the club saw victory in his first game but only one more win since.
Their recent effort at Anfield provided more to be optimistic about despite the 3-2 loss, and last weekend Moyes channelled his inner Mike Bassett – West Ham played 4 4 f**king 2 and beat Southampton. Sebastian Haller had bodies around him – something he has been crying out for all season.
The big Frenchman has won more aerials duals than anyone in the league this season (198), so going direct with willing runners off him makes sense. Jarrod Bowen also grabbed a goal on his first start. It’s the exact definition of the ‘West Ham way’ but getting it forward fast to Haller and attacking their way to safety is their best hope because their leaky defence is a lost cause.
Our model predicts: It will be close again, but the Hammers have enough firepower to survive
Nigel Pearson’s men produced the shock of the season last weekend as they dismantled the previously invincible Liverpool. It’s hard to believe they are fighting for their Premier League status. Gerard Deulofeu’s injury was one negative from that game, but Ismaila Sarr looked worth every penny of a record-breaking transfer and is more than capable of filling the void.
Sarr has missed spells through injury and at times has looked lightweight for the league, but, under Pearson, he has started eight times – scoring four and assisting three goals – and the Hornets have won five and drawn two of those games. The Senegal winger and Troy Deeney are key to safety for them.
Watford will feel they have a good run-in. Home games against Norwich and Newcastle are mixed in with games against Palace, Southampton and Burnley, who will likely be thinking about a beach when they play.
Our model predicts: Watford to stay up, probably comfortably
For years now, Bournemouth have been overachieving, but things have really taken a turn for the worse this season. Back-to-back wins over Brighton and Aston Villa looked like the catalyst for change but two defeats quickly followed. The Cherries showed plenty of spirit in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea. It’s clear how important their home form will be if they are to have any hope.
Looking ahead at their fixtures, the final 10 games of the season see them up against Wolves, Man Utd, Everton, Tottenham and Leicester, who all still hold ambitions of European football. And then there are away trips to Liverpool and Man City.
Our model predicts: The run-in is too much of an ask. Bournemouth to go down (4/7)
Defensively, the Villans just haven’t been up to it this season. They have conceded more than anyone in the league with 52 goals against, the expected goals against stats look even worse at 58.47. It doesn’t come as any surprise to see Villa top the shots conceded per game table either – giving up an average of 18.2 shots on their goal per game.
Injuries to key players like Wesley, Tom Heaton and John McGinn haven’t helped, but this Villa side is over-reliant on their star man – Jack Grealish. He is at the heart of almost everything they do. If he doesn’t tick, neither do the team. His seven goals and six assists this season is a great return given the team he is playing in.
Like Bournemouth, Villa’s run-in is lined with foes challenging for European football. I expect them to give a brave showing in the remaining games – as they did in the Carabao Cup final last weekend.
Our model predicts: Time is up. Villa are going down (8/15). They give up far too many goals to survive
We’ll keep this short and sweet. While they are great value to watch, especially at home, this squad isn’t good enough. With only one away win and the second-fewest goals scored in the League it’s no surprise the Canaries find themselves rock bottom.
A win last Friday night against Leicester gave a brief glimmer of hope but positive results for the teams above the means a six-point gap to safety remains.
Our model predicts: Norwich finish bottom (4/9)
*All odds correct at time of publication