Log In

Reset Password

Brighton may lose out in battle at the bottom

Looking forward: Rafa Benítez has enough nous to keep Newcastle up (Photograph by Adam Davy/PA/AP)

Aside from West Bromwich Albion, who need the type of miracle not seen since the days of the New Testament to avoid relegation, it is anyone’s guess who will be dropping into the Sky Bet Championship next season.

With just six points separating the teams in eleventh and nineteenth, and a host of famous clubs attempting to avoid the drop, now is the time to put a neck on the block and predict the bottom three teams come the end of the season.

So who will join West Brom, who are as good as down? They need to win three games to get out of the relegation zone and have won once since August.

Stoke City have a massive game against Southampton this weekend and must pick up all three points if they are to avoid the drop. Scheduled to face Manchester City, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham after their visit to St Mary’s, it’s not hard to envision them losing confidence and hope of survival after facing those top-half teams.

Southampton, West Ham and Swansea should just have enough quality to keep out of trouble, which leaves Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton looking over their shoulders.

Crystal Palace have fallen back into trouble after suffering massively with injuries. Their survival depends on getting Wilfried Zaha and Reuben Loftus-Cheek back on the pitch.

Rafa Benítez should have enough tactical nous to keep Newcastle United in the division and Huddersfield Town have one of the game’s brightest young managers in David Wagner.

That leaves twelfth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, who are about to embark on a tough run of fixtures and have overachieved so far. They should fall a few places this month and they will be doomed when referees finally cotton on to striker Glenn Murray’s diving and stop awarding him penalties.

11am kick-offs unless stated


Burnley v Everton, 8.30am

Two sides struggling for form. Everton are woeful on the road under Sam Allardyce, while Sean Dyche’s Burnley have failed to win in 11 matches. An obvious draw, surely. Prediction: 1-1

Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth

The home team are one of the most difficult sides to predict and are always involved in tight games at home. Bournemouth will feel they only need to eke out a couple more wins to ensure their safety, but they will not get one of them here. Prediction: 2-1

Southampton v Stoke City

A massive game at the foot of the table. Southampton appear to have turned the corner after being unbeaten in their last six games and can pick up a crucial win. Prediction: 2-1

Swansea City v West Ham United

Swansea will fancy their chances against West Ham, who were thrashed 4-1 by Liverpool last week, but the visitors can return to winning ways with Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic pulling the strings. Prediction: 0-2

Tottenham Hotspur v Huddersfield Town

What Wembley curse? Tottenham have lost just once at home this season and are capable of steamrollering their opponents ahead of their huge Champions League second leg clash with Juventus on Wednesday. Prediction: 3-0

Watford v West Bromwich Albion

Watford eased the pressure on new manager Javi Gracia by beating Everton last week and they can pick up another victory against the worst side in the division. West Brom’s new manager Alan Pardew could well be their former manager by this time next week after another defeat. Prediction: 2-0

Liverpool v Newcastle United, 1.30pm

Newcastle manager Benítez is sure to receive a rapturous welcome at his former club before he attempts to park a huge black-and-white bus in front of the Kop. Liverpool will not have to rest players before their Champions League match against Porto on Tuesday, having won the first leg 5-0, so a comfortable win is expected. Prediction 2-0


Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal, 9.30am

Arsenal have won just three of 14 matches away from the Emirates this season — a truly woeful return from a team marking time until Arsène Wenger’s departure at the end of the season. They will win here though. Prediction: 1-2

Manchester City v Chelsea, noon

Chelsea will lose in Manchester for the second time in a week. Having lost to the red side of the city, they will now lose to the blue side. Prediction: 2-0


Crystal Palace v Manchester United

Injuries are hampering Roy Hodgson’s attempt to keep Palace in the league and they may have to give best to José Mourinho’s men here. Prediction: 0-1