As we enter the dying embers of the Premier League season, the fight to survive relegation is certainly heating up.
With Norwich City’s and Watford’s relegation to the Championship already confirmed, there is one spot remaining – with Everton, Burnley and Leeds United all looking to avoid the drop.
Despite Frank Lampard’s appointment in January, Everton’s fortunes largely had not changed. That was until a run of form recently that has seen the Toffees pick up three wins from their last five games, including wins against Manchester United and Chelsea in that time.
16. Everton – 35 pts
17. Burnley – 34 pts (ahead on GD)
18. Leeds United – 34 pts
The Premier League relegation battle has been flipped on it's head as Everton get their 2nd straight win and Leeds fall to Arsenal 👀 pic.twitter.com/hxf4g81Q4y
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 8, 2022
Everton have not been relegated since the Premier League was formed in 1992 and have not played in the second tier of English football since 1954 so, of the teams fighting for their Premier League status, the team from Merseyside would be the biggest name to drop into the Championship.
The Toffees have the most games remaining out of the three sides with the most favourable run in. Their remaining fixtures see them travel to already-relegated Watford, before taking on Brentford and Crystal Palace at home and finish the season with a trip to Arsenal.
With the momentum Lampard’s side have gained in recent weeks, they will be confident of picking up a result at Watford, as well as fancying themselves against Brentford and Palace who have already secured survival and have nothing really to play for in the remainder of the season.
With Arsenal fighting to secure a top-four spot, however, Everton will hope their survival has been confirmed by this point, as the Gunners may well need to pick up points in that game to ensure Champions League football next season.
When Burnley sacked Sean Dyche just over three weeks ago after nearly 10 years in charge, many in the world of football saw this as a sign of defeat, accepting their fate would be relegation, seemingly looking to appoint a new manager to try and bring them back up from the Championship at the first time of asking.
However, since Under 23’s manager Mike Jackson has been in caretaker charge, the Clarets have picked up ten points in the five games under his stewardship. Burnley are in their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League and, if results continue in the same trend under Jackson as they have in his first few matches in charge, then they will back themselves to extend that run.
Credit where it’s due. It was a ballsy decision to sack Sean Dyche, and my god is it paying off for Burnley. Looking like a masterstroke of a decision.
— Matt Debono (@MattDebonoAC) April 30, 2022
Much like Leeds, the Lancashire side have three games left to save their Premier League status, but will have their work cut out to pick up points in those matches. Their next game sees them visit Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur, before a trip to Aston Villa and finishing the season with a match at Turf Moor against Newcastle United.
Tottenham under Antonio Conte have proved to be a very efficient outfit and will be energised by their surprising point at Liverpool. Their final two fixtures away at Villa Park and at home to Newcastle will be the games Burnley will be focusing on to pick up maximum points.
The decision to sack Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds was not taken lightly and was not well received by the fanbase.
It might be dark days once more but why Leeds United SHOULD NOT sack Marcelo Bielsa:
– Returning players✋
– A bizarre league/circumstances
– Lost too many players (small squad)
– Disruption, employs his own backroom staff!
– Who'd do better?!
– HE'S FANTASTIC💛💙🤍#LUFC #Leeds pic.twitter.com/OSALDozXLs
— Gary Bingham 💙🤍💛🏳️🌈🧎🇺🇦 (@Gary__Bingham) February 26, 2022
Despite the Argentinian being seen as a God like figure in Yorkshire, the Leeds board ultimately decided that ‘Bielsa-ball’ was not the way forward for the team, as although the system dominated the Championship, in the Premier League that style left the team exposed, highlighted by the fact that Leeds have conceded a staggering 74 goals so far in 35 games.
Since the appointment of American Jesse Marsch, the Yorkshire side have picked up 11 points in his nine games in charge but most recently have suffered defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal. On paper it would seem that Leeds have the hardest run in of the three relegation threatened sides.
Their next two games take place at Elland Road with Chelsea and Brighton the visitors, before a final day trip to Brentford. Although Thomas Tuchel’s side have been in mixed form as of late, the squad has the capability of turning up on the day and blowing teams away, evidenced by their 6-0 win away at Southampton last month.
With Brighton picking up wins at both Arsenal and Spurs in recent weeks, as well as dispatching of Man Utd 4-0 last weekend, defeating the Seagulls will be no easy task for Leeds.
Everton 2-1 up, we’re 2-0 down with 10 men. Jesse Marsch talking about Europe in his 3 year plan, he’s in for a shock when we rock up at Cardiff and Swansea next season.
— Ash (@ashlaurenn_) May 8, 2022
With current form in consideration and the games remaining for each team, it would appear that Leeds are the favourites currently to be playing in the second tier next season.
With a their next two matches at home however, and with the Elland Road crowd always acting like a 12th man, Marsch will be hoping to repay the faith shown in him and lead his team to safety.