In what could potentially earn clubs in the region of around £200 million, Premier League survival is arguably the most lucrative reward in all of football.
By February, it is easy to gauge which teams are in a relegation battle and whether they have under achieved or over achieved throughout the year.
And in a season where we’ve seen some bizarre results and more away wins than home wins so far in the campaign, there is still all to play for in the fight to survive the drop and guarantee another year of football in the world’s most watched league. These are the six teams up against it this year and their chances of pulling it off.
After a slow start to the season, Burnley seem to have found their mojo again to grind out important results as they do best. Their strong and compact defence that is so typical of a Burnley side wasn’t there for the first quarter of the campaign, conceding five at Manchester City, four at Leicester and three at Newcastle that has set the tone for a survival scrap.
Their goalscoring has been missing with Chris Wood the highest scorer at just four goals, albeit they’ve usually been a team that survives due to their defensive skillset. Since the Christmas period, Burnley have managed to turn a corner and look like their old selves again.
Nick Pope is playing as a top contender for the England’s number one slot at the Euro’s next summer, with James Tarkowski leading from the back and building back the confidence in the Burnley back line.
Despite impressive wins over Liverpool and Arsenal in the last several weeks, they’re still only a place above the relegation zone and there is still work to be done just yet.
It was always going to be a struggle this season with a lack of investment in the playing squad, but Sean Dyche is a manager who can get results with limited resources. Their recent form has shown they are capable of beating the drop yet again, and I think we’ll see that again come May.
Most people have written off Fulham since their promotion was confirmed, tipping them to head straight back down to the Championship.
They’ve only won two games all season and can’t seem to turn draws into wins which has left them stuck in the relegation zone since the start of the campaign. The London side have only scored 17 goals in the Premier League, with their top scorer in the Championship Aleksandar Mitrovic failing to replicate his form and being used sporadically from the bench.
There are signs that Fulham could still stay up, the summer loan signings of Ademola Lookman and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been their best players this season and give them more of an attacking spark with Bobby De Cordova-Reid leading the line.
Scott Parker is still a novice in football management and is still learning on the job almost up until this point, but seems to have gained the respect of fans for how he conducts himself and tries to prove the majority wrong.
Out of the teams currently in the relegation zone, I think Fulham have the best chance to escape the drop which could go down to the wire. However, I think their leaky defence will prove costly and will ultimately go back down.
Brighton have really picked up their form recently, and are now unbeaten in their last five games including a 1-0 win at Anfield at the start of this month.
They will need to continue this form if they want to sit comfortable come the end of the season, with the club 15th but still 15 points away from the magic 40 points total. Brighton only won one home game in 2020, and have already equalled that so far in 2021.
Playing usually with a five at the back, they have plenty of central defenders which keeps them tight at the back, so much so that six foot seven Dan Burn is now a wing back and last season’s stand out Championship centre back Ben White now plays in a midfield role.
Scoring goals has been the downside to this Brighton team, who can create chances but fail to find the back of the net more times than not. If they can get to the summer without falling into the relegation zone, which I think they eventually will given the form of teams below them, signing a top number nine must be a priority for Graham Potter to avoid a repeat of this next season.
Out of all the teams competing in the Premier League this year, West Brom have arguably been the worst with their lack luster performances and poor defensive record that has seen them concede the most goals of any team.
The Baggies have conceded five times in a game on four occasions this season, and their lack of creativity and attacking threat has made it a recipe for disaster for the newly promoted side.
Sacking Slaven Bilic bizarrely after a great point away at Manchester City hasn’t done them any favours either, with survival expert Sam Allardyce getting ever so close to his first relegation on his managerial record.
Big Sam is known for his ability to make sides defensively stable to ensure any chance of staying up, but his team has conceded 28 goals since his arrival which is the joint most of any Premier league manager from their arrival after 10 games.
The club were active during the January transfer window, picking up shrewd signings in Robert Snodgrass and Ainsley Maitland-Niles who will help create chances and inject some much needed creativity into the team. However, their sloppiness at the back would be difficult to correct by any football manager, and relegation back down to the Championship seems inevitable for the Midlands clubs.
Its been a frustrating last several years for Newcastle, whose fans are relentless about their disapproval of the ownership, investment, managerial appointments and on field performances and this has been no different this campaign.
After some clever summer signings in Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser, performances have been dull and uninspiring which lands them just currently 16th in the table. Steve Bruce is a manager that is capable of keeping teams in the division with his vast experience in the game, although it comes with a price of grinding out games and getting the most out of his defensive resources.
Allan Saint-Maximin is one of only a few players who goes against this trend, with the Frenchmen adding pace and power to the side that they have missed with his absence through injury throughout the season.
Fabian Schar has been their stand out defender in keeping them in games and gaining important points on the board, however is now injured for the foreseeable future which could make them much more vulnerable at the back in their remaining games.
That being said, The Magpies should have enough to survive the season and to keep afloat for now, but no matter how it ends the Newcastle fans will be hoping for a summer clear out in most departments at the club in May.
The writing has been on the wall for Sheffield United for most of the season, picking up just two points from their first 17 games and recording the worst start in Premier League history after that amount of games.
The Yorkshire side were so impressive in their last campaign finishing ninth, but the same players underperforming and their unusual attacking style of football being found out has played a part for their fall from grace this season.
The Blades look to have found a bit of form at the wrong time, winning three of their last six games including a surprise victory at Old Trafford. They invested heavily in young prospect Rhian Brewster who is yet to score in the Premier League, which put pressure on the 20 year old striker to deliver the goods when a more developed and reliable striker for the money they spent would have been wiser in hindsight.
Sticking with Chris Wilder throughout the process, Sheffield United should be given credit for their loyalty to the local boy managing his home team who was crucial in their previous success.
Although, any charge for survival seems to be too late and if he can keep them up now from the position they’re in, he would be given the keys to the city in what would be a miracle Premier League fairytale.