The Relegation Battle: One Week Left | Infographics

The Relegation Battle: One Week Left | Infographics

1gtgrelegationcandidates

After months of play, it has all come down to this. All the games of football, every pass, save, goal and card has resulted in one week of the Premier League season left. The top of the table is all but decided, but at the bottom, one spot remains for a team that will accompany Burnley and Queens Park Rangers down the Championship. One of Sunderland, Newcastle and Hull will go down, and they have only one week left to save themselves. In this article I assess the candidates for relegation and their chances at saving themselves, as well as their season’s high and low points.


sunderland 2 gtg

Recent Form

It’s been a rocky road to recovery for Sunderland under Dick Advocaat. After picking up one solitary win during the months of February and March, results were sparked into life after a crucial derby win over Newcastle. Although Sunderland went on to lose their next game 1-4 at home against Crystal Palace, they recovered quickly and picked up eight points in their next four games.

Last games

Sunderland’s biggest boon in their survival bid is the fact that they have two games in hand to their rivals’ one. Unfortunately, these two games are against truly heavyweight opposition, with Arsenal away first up, and then Chelsea away on the final day of the season. Whilst neither of the London clubs have been in all-conquering form recently – Chelsea have dropped four points in their last five games and Arsenal seven – and Chelsea have nothing to play for past pride, man for man they are clearly better teams than the Mackems.

Chances of staying up

High. Sunderland are three points clear of the drop with a game in hand and two teams in terrible form sitting beneath them in the table. A point against either Arsenal or Chelsea will be enough to save them, but even without that it’s hard to see Newcastle and Hull both winning their games.

High Point of the season

Beating your bitter rivals, away from home, with a last minute winner? Doesn’t get much better than that. A hard-fought match saw both sides under the cosh over the course of the match, before Sunderland broke late on and Adam Johnson’s left footed strike handed them a 0-1 win over Newcastle.

Low Point of the season

A Sunderland side who had drawn five of their first seven fixtures nevertheless came into their away match against Southampton in a bouyant mood following their first win of the season a week prior over Stoke. What happened next was scarcely believable, as the in-form Saints shredded Sunderland’s defence and scored eight unanswered goals. Graziano Pelle’s two goal haul was overshadowed by Dusan Tadic’s goal and three assists as the Southampton attack carved up a shell-shocked Sunderland defence time and again. The next week’s 0-2 home loss to Arsenal looked like a great result in comparison.

Key Player

Lee Cattermole is just coming into his prime as a defensive midfielder, and Sunderland are reaping the benefits of their captain’s quality. Cattermole is second only to Sebastian Larsson in total tackles made by Sunderland players this year with 74, and is likewise only behind John O’Shea in interceptions made with 64. Cattermole is also a reasonably reliable – if unambitious – passer, posting an accuracy of nearly 81%. As always, however, there’s plenty to be criticised about his discipline, as he leads the league in yellow cards with a whopping 14. That said, Cattermole hasn’t picked up a red yet this season, so hope springs eternal.

newcastle 1gtg

Recent Form

There’s plenty of words to describe Newcastle’s recent form, but ‘ugly’ is probably the most accurate one. Directly after Alan Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace, Newcastle were sitting in 9th position; hardly challenging for Europe, but far far away from the relegation scrap at the bottom of the table. However, form immediately started to wobble, with only one win and three draws in the next seven games. Then they got worse. A 1-0 home win over struggling Aston Villa was then followed by EIGHT straight losses, including a derby loss to rivals Sunderland. As the club plummeted towards the relegation zone, they Ayoze Perez rescued them a 1-1 draw against West Brom, only for the team to lose against already-relegated QPR directly after.

Last game

A home game against West Ham beckons for John Carver and his team. Sam Allardyce’s West Ham have also endured a rather tough second half to the season, but they lie in 11th spot in the Premier League and Allardyce’s teams always have reputations for being spiky, difficult to beat teams when playing away from home. There’s no question that Newcastle have the individual quality to give the Hammers some tough competition, with the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Remy Cabella and Ayoze Perez lending some attacking potential to a workmanlike midfield. The real problem, however, is at the other end of the pitch, where the quality of Tim Krul in goal is not matched by the players in front of him.

Chances of staying up

Uncertain. Despite being two points clear of Hull, Newcastle are in such historically bad form that it’s hard to see them taking anything from the game against West Ham, which leaves them relying on Hull City to pick up no points at all from their final game, given Hull’s +7 goal difference over Newcastle.

High Point of the season

There’s slim pickings in such a chaotic season for Newcastle, but the most memorable win was probably the 2-1 win over champions Chelsea. Despite going down to ten men with ten minutes to go, the Magpies held on after Papiss Cisse’s brace for a famous victory.

Low Point of the season

Conversely, there’s many choices in this category. The 5-0 loss to Manchester City, perhaps, or the heartbreaking double derby defeats against Sunderland. That said, the most grimly inevitable defeat was to a resurgent Leicester, who busy pulling themselves out of the relegation zone as Newcastle fell towards it. Leicester’s Leo Ulloa scored within the first minute and things only got worse from there as Wes Morgan scored off a set-piece and Ulloa added another one from the spot. Mike Williamson then got himself sent off with a tackle so foolish John Carver accused him of doing it on purpose, as Newcastle got absolutely obliterated across the pitch. Only Jonas Gutierrez, constantly running and harrying, was a credit to his side, as every other single Newcastle player was thoroughly outclassed by their opponents. To cap it off, Daryl Janmaat then got sent off in the dying minutes to take the Magpies down to 9 men as they succumbed to a 3-0 loss. 

Key Player

Jack Colback has been one of the few Newcastle players to maintain his form over the course of the year. The geordie’s controversial move between the rivers Tyne and Wear has nonetheless paid dividends for his boyhood club, as the energetic midfielder has proved his worth at both ends of the pitch. Colback is Newcastle’s third top scorer, coupling his goal threat with nearly 100 successful tackles and a stellar pass accuracy of 87.7%. He’s second only to Lee Cattermole in yellow cards with 12, but he’s also managed to win 55 fouls over the course of the season, testament to his drive and determination.

hull city 1gtg

Recent Form

Compared to Newcastle’s highs and lows, Hull’s season has been a model of consistency, albeit consistently poor. The extra demands of the Europa League were an excuse early on, but Hull’s form in the second half of the season, whilst a slight improvement, was not enough to pull them away from the relegation zone. After a run of three straight defeats, hope was restored by two back to back wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool, but Hull promptly lost three in a row and Leicester picked up points left right and centre to drop the Tigers into the relegation zone. 

Last game

There’s a certain romanticism in Steve Bruce’s side fighting for their survival against the very team where their manager made his name. Hull’s last fixture is against Manchester United at home, and with United not having much to play for after securing a top four spot. Hull are goalless in two games, but with forwards like Dame N’Doye, Abel Hernandez and Nikica Jelavic scoring goals will likely not be the problem. The veteran Steve Harper is a reliable pair of gloves in goal and his defensive centre back trio of James Chester, Michael Dawson and Paul McShane are all solid, experienced Premier League defenders. Where Hull have struggled is in midfield, where Tom Huddlestone has been attempting to hold together a central midfield trio that doesn’t quite match his quality. Of his usual partners, Stephen Quinn has been one of the worst starting central midfielders in the Premier League this year, and Jake Livermore has been suspended by the club following his positive test for cocaine. His likely replacement, David Meyler, is unfortunately mediocre.

Chances of staying up

Better than they look. Despite being two points adrift and with their final game coming against Manchester United, the Hull players and fans clearly still have faith in their manager and believe they can pull it off. With Newcastle in such terrible form, Bruce must know that a win gives them a very good chance at beating the drop despite their current position.

High Point of the season

Winless in six and heading towards relegation, Hull knew they had to get a result against a Crystal Palace team that was on a roll under Alan Pardew. The Tigers went to Selhurst Park under pressure and pulled off a 0-2 win, with the powerful Dame N’Doye scoring once before netting a one on one late on the break to revitalise Hull’s chances. That they then followed the result up with a 1-0 win over Liverpool is merely icing on the cake. 

Low Point of the season

There haven’t been a huge amount of completely embarrassing defeats in Hull’s season, but being dismantled 0-3 at home by a John Carver-led team has gone to be one of them. Hull hadn’t scored in four games prior to the Newcastle match, and it showed as Remy Cabella belied left back John Robertson’s promising first season in the Premier League to run the game from his spot on the right wing. Hull were utterly outmatched in midfield as Abel Hernandez and Nikica Jelavic stayed too high up the pitch to help out, and Newcastle’s trio in midfield – aided by Cabella’s drifts inside – simply controlled the centre of the pitch. 

Key Player

Whilst Hull’s central midfield has been under par, the same can’t be said for their wingers. Robbie Brady has been a capable winger on the left, and on the right Ahmed Elmohamady has spearheaded most of what has been good about Hull’s offence. Elmohamady isn’t slow, but his lack of elite top end speed has forced him to adapt his game to suit, and the result is a player who is equally comfortable staying wide or coming inside. Elmohamady has the vision to pick out a pass on the inside, as well as the good delivery to produce consistently threatening crosses. He’s picked up five assists as well as 63 key passes, and Hull will need him to test United’s left back – presumably one of Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo – on Sunday if they have any hope of troubling United.