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We assess the 12 candidates in the biggest Premier League relegation scrap ever

The title is surely in the bag for Manchester City, so the real drama over the remaining 14 games is going to be at the opposite end of the Premier League table.

By our reckoning, there are 12 teams — over half the league — at risk of relegation to the Championship, with Everton in ninth place but just five points head of fourth-bottom Stoke.

Who is likely to suffer the drop in May? Well, a study of the past five seasons shows the two clubs with the worst goal differences have always been relegated.

And in two of those five seasons, the relegation places were filled by the clubs with the worst goal difference.

That puts huge pressure on Stoke, Huddersfield and Swansea at the moment.

The other key relegation factor hits the goal-shy teams.

Over the past five seasons, every club that ended up with the lowest goals-for tally was relegated.

That will worry this season’s goal-shy trio, Swansea (15 goals), Brighton (17) and West Brom (19).

Here, we look at the 12 sides sweating on their top-flight futures as the scrap takes a break for this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round ties.

EVERTON

MANAGER Sam Allardyce (since November).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Allardyce has never been relegated and they have splashed out on Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL They have gone six league games without a win and Big Sam admits their confidence has plummeted.

WHAT THEY SAY Defender Ashley Williams: “We did OK when the gaffer came in and now obviously we’ve gone the other way a little bit, so it’s about turning that momentum again and trying to get a bit of a run going. We’ve got to get back on track, perform better, get results, get clean sheets and win games.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES February 10 v Crystal Palace (h), March 10 v Brighton (h), March 17 v Stoke (a), April 14 v Swansea (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 40-1.

WATFORD

MANAGER Javi Gracia (since Sunday).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Never been in the bottom three (after more than four games) since being promoted in 2015.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Never been in a relegation scrap under any of the club’s 10 head coaches since 2012.

WHAT THEY SAY Striker and captain Troy Deeney: “The club have never wanted to be regarded as just established (in the Premier League), but ambitious as well.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES April 21 v Palace (h), April 28 v Tottenham (a), May 5 v Newcastle (h), May 13 v Manchester United (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 9-1.

WEST HAM

MANAGER David Moyes (since November).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Seven match unbeaten run which puts them mid-table despite a crippling injury list.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL That crippling injury list. Marko Arnautovic has now been added to it with hamstring damage.

WHAT THEY SAY Moyes: “I said from the start I will get the boys working as hard as I can. I want us to play better and I can’t change that in two months. But we can attempt to do that, we can ask them to play better.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES January 30 v Palace (h); February 3 v Brighton (a); February 10 v Watford (h); February 24 v Liverpool (a); March 3 v Swansea (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 12-1.

BOURNEMOUTH

MANAGER Eddie Howe (since October 2012).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Have a history of surviving after flirting with relegation and are on a five-game unbeaten run.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Eventually, that luck will run out. Have generally struggled for wins both at home and away too.

WHAT THEY SAY Howe: “Every year we’ve been in the Premier League, it’s been incredibly tough to stay in it.

“When I look back over the past two seasons, we’ve had some really difficult periods and it’s about being mentally strong enough to go through those and come out the other side.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES February 3 v Stoke (h), February 11 v Huddersfield (a), March 17 v West Brom (h), April 28 v Southampton (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 13-2.

CRYSTAL PALACE

MANAGER Roy Hodgson (since September)

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Wilfried Zaha is the best attacking player in the bottom half. Bakary Sako and Andros Townsend are also threats.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Their terrible start – seven consecutive defeats – means they cannot afford another blip. Long injury list, too.

WHAT THEY SAY Hodgson: “We are still in a relegation battle. We haven’t achieved anything as yet after a disastrous start to the season. That is the message we pass onto the players on a regular basis.

“We know the moment we drop our guard and don’t keep our performances at the level they have been for the last couple of months we will find ourselves down the bottom of the table again. Everyone would like it to be easy but I know it’s not going to be and I hope the players understand that too.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES April 21 v Watford (a), April 28 v Leicester (h), May 5 v Stoke (a), May 13 v West Brom (h).

RELEGATION ODDS 8-1.

HUDDERSFIELD

MANAGER David Wagner (since November 2015).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Wagner has fostered a real team spirit and his promoted Terriers are all fighting for each other.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL They lack that bit of quality and have nose-dived, taking just three points from their last six games.

WHAT THEY SAY Defender Scott Malone: “We’re not looking at the table. We’re going into every game fighting and scrapping away. We’ve all got belief and we need to keep going. I’m really positive we’ll accumulate enough points from now for us to stay up.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES February 24 v West Brom (a), March 10 v Swansea (h), March 17 v Palace (h), March 31 v Newcastle (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 10-11.

NEWCASTLE

MANAGER Rafa Benitez (since March 2016)

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Good team spirit, a young side learning quickly and guided by stable, experienced boss.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Don’t score enough goals, takeover talk has been a distraction, and are vulnerable to a slump.

WHAT THEY SAY Forward Ayoze Perez: “We now need to start picking up points again. It’s getting close own at the bottom of the Premier League and there’s one less game for us now. It’s getting tight.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES January 31 v Burnley (h), February 4 v Palace (a), February 11 v Manchester United (h), February 24 v Bournemouth (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 9-4.

BRIGHTON

MANAGER Chris Hughton (since December 2014)

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Albion have just spent a club-record £14million on Dutch striker Jurgen Locadia’s to solve their goal-scoring problems. Only three defeats at home.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL One win in 13 games, nine of them without scoring, has left them one point off the bottom three. Sixteen goals have been conceded from set-pieces — the most in the Premier League

WHAT THEY SAY Goalkeeper Mat Ryan: “We have the belief that we have the quality that is required to survive in this league.

“We have been punished by making too many mistakes from set-pieces. We have got to fix these weaknesses as soon as we can. We would have loved to have scored a couple more goals but it only takes one game. If we come and score a couple of goals this weekend then all of a sudden we don’t have a goal-scoring problem anymore.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES January 31 v Southampton (a), February 3 v West Ham (h), February 10 v Stoke (a), February 24 v Swansea (h).

RELEGATION ODDS 6-4.

STOKE

MANAGER Paul Lambert (since January 15th)

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Lambert has dispelled the mood of despair at Stoke by beating Huddersfield in his first game.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL They have the Premier League’s worst defence and don’t score enough goals.

WHAT THEY SAY Captain Ryan Shawcross: “We’ve simply not been good enough at the back this season. As defenders you have to look at yourselves because clean sheets are what you are paid for. From now until the end of the season, it’s all about doing things the right way and clean sheets are going to be vital to provide a platform for us to push up the table. Hopefully Saturday can be a catalyst for that.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES January 31 v Watford (h), February 3 v Bournemouth (a), February 10 v Brighton (h), March 3 v Southampton (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 9-4.

SOUTHAMPTON

MANAGER Mauricio Pellegrino (since June).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL The players are still behind Pellegrino who has cash to spend this month following sale of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Their winless run is now up to 11 games and they have struggled for momentum all season.

WHAT THEY SAY Defender Wesley Hoedt: “We have to stick together, not only the team but the fans. It’s been difficult for them because we haven’t taken many points but they have to stick behind us and together we can do it. There are still 14 games left and we have to fix this.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES January 31 v Brighton (h), February 3 v West Brom (a), March 3 v Stoke (h), March 10 v Newcastle (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 9-2.

WEST BROM

MANAGER Alan Pardew (since December).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL The best defensive record of any side outside the top eight, and five teams have a worse goal difference than them.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL No Premier League team has fewer than the Baggies’ three victories this season.

WHAT THEY SAY Pardew: “We’re starting to fire up front and the momentum is with us.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES March 3 v Watford (a), March 10 v Leicester (h), March 17 v Bournemouth (a)

RELEGATION ODDS 5-4.

SWANSEA

MANAGER Carlos Carvalhal (since December).

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL The Swans have had an upturn in form under Carvalhal, losing just one game in six.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL Where will the goals come from to keep them up? The lowest scorers in league with just 15.

WHAT THEY SAY Defender Federico Fernandez: “We are only three points from safety and we can do it. The boss gave the clear message from the first day. He wants to help us on the pitch and it is working at the moment. We are more aggressive and we need that, we must believe.”

KEY RUN OF FIXTURES February 24 v Brighton (a), March 3 v West Ham (h), March 10 v Huddersfield (a), March 17 v Southampton (a).

RELEGATION ODDS 1-2.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/whos-going-down-assess-twelve-11903118

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