The battle for Premier League survival is fast approaching the point of no return with only one place remaining after the latest round of fixtures.
Watford will join Norwich in next season’s Sky Bet Championship as a result of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but with Aston Villa, Brentford and Newcastle all nine points clear of the bottom three and effectively, if not yet mathematically safe, the field for the final push is now taking shape.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the runners and riders.
Position: 14th P: 34 Pts: 42 GD: -7
Remaining games: Norwich (h), Watford (a), Chelsea (a), Southampton (h)
Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat by resurgent Everton extended the Foxes’ miserable run of form, but their fate remains firmly in their own hands. They face the relegated Canaries and Hornets in their next two fixtures and while it would take a remarkable combination of results to drag the beaten Europa Conference League semi-finalists into the mire, victory in either would ease them across the finishing line with games to spare.
Position: 15th P: 36 Pts: 40 GD: -20
Remaining games: Liverpool (h), Leicester (a)
Like Leicester, the Saints are all but safe having reached the 40-point mark, but a return of just five points from the last 30 on offer has left them looking anxiously over their shoulder. They face title-chasing Liverpool three days after the Reds’ FA Cup final clash with Chelsea on Saturday, and then head for Leicester on the final day knowing events elsewhere in the meantime could have significantly eased any lingering fears.
Position: 16th P: 34 Pts: 35 GD: -19
Remaining games: Watford (a), Brentford (h), Crystal Palace (h), Arsenal (a)
Frank Lampard’s men looked to be in serious trouble as they approached a difficult run of fixtures a month ago, but wins over Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester have signalled a return to form and piled the pressure on the teams around them. They remain in the thick of the battle, but have given themselves a fighting chance and perhaps crucially, have a game in hand on their closest rivals.
Position: 17th P: 35 Pts: 34 GD: -17
Remaining games: Tottenham (a), Aston Villa (a), Newcastle (h)
Sean Dyche’s departure last month came as a surprise to many, but interim boss Mike Jackson presided over a draw and three victories in his first four games before Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa. Currently outside the bottom three only by virtue of goal difference – and that advantage over Leeds could yet prove invaluable – they travel to top-four hopefuls Tottenham and top-10-chasing Aston Villa in their next two fixtures before Newcastle head for Turf Moor.
Position: 18th P: 35 Pts: 34 GD: -35
Remaining games: Chelsea (h), Brighton (h), Brentford (a)
Leeds looked to have eased themselves out of trouble as new boss Jesse Marsch steered them to wins over Norwich, Wolves and Watford after replacing Marcelo Bielsa at the Elland Road helm, but the situation has taken a decidedly bleak turn since. Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, during which Luke Ayling was sent off to incur a ban which means he will not play again this season, saw them slip into the relegation zone for the first time since October and set the alarm bells ringing.