Prem relegation scrap set to go down to the wire

Date published: Tuesday 18th April 2017 10:08

Oumar Niasse: At the double for Hull.

The battle to avoid relegation looks like going right down to the wire as just two points separate Swansea and Hull with six games to go.

It is a lot closer than the title race and looks a lot more interesting: so much is at stake for these two clubs and the fight to beat the drop will probably go to the final day of the season.

Sunderland look dead and buried, nine points below 17th placed Hull with just six games to go. Middlesbrough could force their way back into contention to beat the drop with their game in hand, but it is unlikely. Equally Bournemouth could be sucked back into it, but that is just as unlikely as their five-point cushion looks healthy.

Swansea are on 28 points and Hull are on 30, and each team has just five games remaining. Youwager has odds for Premiership matches, and shows that neither team is expected to win many of their remaining games, as they are often the underdogs.

But Hull probably have the easier run-in. It is not easy by any means, but it does not sound as bad as Swansea’s. Hull play Watford at home, Southampton away, Sunderland at home, Crystal Palace away and then Tottenham at home.

You can probably write off the Spurs game as they are in sensational form and gunning for the title and even though Chelsea may have secured the league by the last day of the season Tottenham will be a dangerous opponent regardless. But the other games are winnable. Watford are tenth and Southampton are ninth. Neither team will be relegated, nor can they break into the top seven. Sunderland are bottom of the table and in horrendous form, doomed for the drop.

Palace have improved of late but are still poor defensively and Hull can give them a game. If they can beat a very erratic Watford side and take three points from Sunderland, plus a draw against Palace, it should be enough to keep them up. Seven points from a possible 15 is a realistic goal for Hull, who have fought bravely for Marco Silva since he was appointed.

Swansea’s fixture list looks trickier. They are at home to Stoke, then away at Man Utd, at home to Everton, away at Sunderland and at home to West Brom. Again, they will look at the Sunderland game as one they need three points from. Stoke, currently 11th in the table, are another side with nothing left to play for this season and are therefore beatable due to a lack of motivation.

They will struggle to get anything from games against Man Utd and Eveton. The Toffees have more points than any Premiership team apart from Tottenham in 2017, while Man Utd are on a long unbeaten run. But if they do enough to stay in contention come the last day of the season, they have a great chance.

If we get to May 21 and either team could go down, Swansea will be more confident of getting a result against West Brom than Hull will be against the league’s form side, Tottenham.

Hull really need to secure survival before then and they have been battling hard since Silva took over. Swansea enjoyed a brief revival under their third manager of the season, Paul Clement, but have since fallen away again and have taken just one point from their last six games.

At this stage of the season, and in the situation they find themselves in, that is really worrying form. Hull have taken nine points in that time, including a 2-1 win over Swansea, and that could prove crucial as we near the end of the season. It all makes the 8/13 on Swansea to go down look a good bet.

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