EPL Relegation Battle Going to Be a Thrill, Like Always
For life at the bottom of the English Premier League, the final few weeks can be a thrilling period of nervy matches, exciting victories, hard-fought draws, emotional bursts of relief, or the ultimate sinking of despair. Welcome to the annual relegation battle. What makes European soccer leagues so enthralling is the prospect of the bottom three clubs getting sent down to the lower leagues. Instead of tanking the season in order to gain a top draft pick, these teams are scraping for survival. The financial ramifications of relegation can be brutal while survival can ensure the opportunity to buy top quality transfer targets and maintain team pride.
This year is no different than any other. While Sunderland remain well off the pace with just 25 points and are a near certainty to drop, the other two clubs currently in the drop zone, Cardiff City and Fulham, could very well fight their way out. Aston Villa, Norwich City, Swansea City, and West Bromwich are just a handful of points ahead and a few big wins or big losses by the right teams could change the entire landscape of the EPL’s bottom three!
So who of these teams looks most likely to stay afloat? This is probably the most inexact science in all of pro sports. Each of these teams have been largely struggling this year (there’s a reason why they are at the bottom!) and will be against the odds in most of their matches coming up.
We can look at recent form to get a gauge of what may happen. Fulham has won 2 games in a row while West Brom hasn’t lost in 3 games. Meanwhile clubs like Aston Villa, Norwich, and Swansea City are slumping with recent runs of losses. While such poor form suggests they may be in serious trouble, we all know how a single game can change anything. A fluke red card, penalty, or miraculous stoppage time goal can completely turn the relegation race on its heels.
Another important thing to look at is the schedules for these teams. West Brom may be in big trouble with upcoming matches against Arsenal and Manchester City (both away). Those two teams are involved in the Championship race and the fight for fourth so they will surely be pressing hard for victories. While still technically safe, West Brom will surely need the points against Sunderland and Stoke City.
Aston Villa could be in trouble as well. Having now lost 4 straight games they are right in the thick of the relegation battle. With a trip to fellow battlers Swansea ahead, Villa will have to finish the season away to both Man City and Tottenham. Things could get awfully sticky if they need a result come May.
But the most enjoyable matches are the ones between the sides struggling to stay up top. Fixtures like Swansea vs. Aston Villa, Swansea vs. Sunderland, and Cardiff City vs. Sunderland will take on an extremely tense feel. But as the dust settles on the 2013-2014 EPL season, there will surely be a group of thrilled teams that have won just enough to ensure survival as well as scores of heartbroken fans bemoaning what could have been if just a few close games had gone their way. Expect a wonderful relegation battle to close out the season, just like every other year!