State of play for Brighton, Newcastle and Fulham - How the Premier League relegation battle stands
With bottom two Sheffield United and West Brom appearing destined for relegation, who are the other clubs scrambling to avoid the trapdoor?
Who is involved?
For Sheffield United and West Brom the race is all but over. The Blades, 14 points from safety, have never recovered after making the longest winless start to a Premier League season (17 matches), while the Baggies, 10 points from safety, have fared little better.
Fulham’s hopes of leap-frogging Newcastle out of the bottom three last weekend were dashed by defeat to Leeds. But the Magpies failed to capitalise and lost further ground on fellow relegation rivals Brighton. Burnley and Southampton, both on 33 points, are not yet safe.
Who is safe?
Leeds, in 11th place, celebrated Friday’s win at Fulham with extra gusto as it lifted them to 39 points, 13 above the Cottagers, with nine games to play.
Crystal Palace, 12th, and Wolves, 13th, are 11 and nine points above the bottom three respectively and both should comfortably reach the 40-point mark, which would require Fulham to win at least five of their remaining eight games to overhaul them. It would appear that this season’s survival battle has boiled down to a seven-horse race.
What about each club’s run-in?
As the bottom two gear for life back in the Sky Bet Championship next season, the run-in could prove decisive for the five clubs clambering above.
FA Cup semi-finalists Southampton face five sides in the bottom half of the table in their last nine matches, while Burnley have still got to play the Saints, Newcastle, Fulham and Sheffield United.
Brighton, who come up against Manchester United, Chelsea, West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal in their last nine fixtures, have arguably the toughest run-in.
What about Newcastle and Fulham?
Newcastle, two points above Fulham with a game in hand, also have a daunting run-in. They must play top-six sides in four of their last nine games, plus Liverpool at Anfield and Arsenal.
The Magpies will also face Burnley and Sheffield United and a potentially decisive trip to Fulham in their final match.
Scott Parker’s side have eight games left and have yet to play at London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, plus Manchester United, before survival could all hinge on Newcastle’s visit on the final day of the season.