We’ve never seen a relegation battle like this


Everton fans - REUTERS / Carl Reisen

The Premier League’s relegation battle has never been like this. Four teams Fighting to avoid two places With two games to go it’s not unusual. But all four clubs have been, in relatively recent history, fighting for the biggest prize at this stage of the campaign: They were all champions. They all have a rich pedigree and honors board.

More recently, in 2016, it was Leicester City who won the title. Before that was Leeds United In 1992, Everton in 1987 and Nottingham Forest in 1978.

To put that into perspective, only seven other clubs have won the Premier League, either in the old First Division or the Premier League, in the 45 years since Forest’s triumph.

“This is it. Do or die. Fight and fight to the end,” said Leeds interim coach Sam Allardyce, epitomizing how dramatic it can be and how it can simply be about teams holding their nerve.

According to Nielsen sports analyst Gracenote, Leicester have an 83 percent chance of relegation. Leeds have a 72 per cent chance; Everton 29% and Forest 17% seems like a reasonable assessment. But it can change quickly.

Football also changes quickly, or sometimes very slowly, and Leeds have only returned to the top flight for two seasons after an absence of 16 years. Forrest has been exiled for a longer period and this is his first pregnancy since 1999. Leicester returned in 2014 after being out for a decade.

Leicester with the Premier League title - AFP / Adrian Dennis

Leicester with the Premier League title – AFP / Adrian Dennis

For Everton, of course, it’s different, and it would feel more earthquake if they lost their place for the first time since 1951, and returned in 1955.

To put this in perspective, Everton have only been relegated twice before in their 136-year history. Just Arsenal I stayed in the upper tier for a while longer.

But these are all clubs with fanbases, big old names, and scale, who would expect more. It is as if there are more stakes than usual in the last two rounds of matches. with After Southampton finished his 11-year spell It will in fact be the first time since 2017-18 that the three promoted teams in the event Forest have survived.

It’s tight. Only four points separate the four teams and two points will surely drop. “There’s a little league going on in our part of the table and we want to keep the bottom line where we are now,” said Forest manager Steve Cooper, before adding: “There’s a lot that can happen in the next couple of games and we’ll have to focus on what we can control.” and focus on the present.

It will be a big story whatever happens between now and the final whistle next Sunday although things are complicated by the stuttering pole times this weekend. All four will play at different times over the next three days, with Leicester’s Dean Smith speaking of how unfair his side had to catch up with three straight games on Monday. In fact, that seemed defeatist from Smith and, unfortunately, there is a general sense of resignation at Leicester, the only team in Europe’s top five leagues not to keep a clean sheet since the World Cup, who finished eighth last season but have since fallen apart. .

It can work both ways, of course. But, in theory, Everton could claim a huge advantage if they win Wolverhampton Wanderers away at three o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. By the time Forest take on Arsenal at home at 5.30pm on the same day, they will know if Everton have overtaken them.

On Sunday, Leeds will be aware of both results, and where to leave them as they play West Ham United team away at 1.30pm. They could go down with a loss, while Leicester could leave bolstered by their predecessors or know that if they lose to Newcastle on Monday night, they will be relegated if the other three win.

Reuters/Andrew Canridge: Leeds could go down this weekend if they lose to Newcastle on Sunday

Reuters/Andrew Canridge: Leeds could go down this weekend if they lose to Newcastle on Sunday

While Smith suggested it was unfair, Everton manager Sean Dyche was more pragmatic about scheduling. “You can look at it either way. You can dress it up. I’ve been on both sides of it. The last club, this club. When you feel like the game is the right day, the wrong day,” Daichi said. “That’s the way it goes. At the end of the day the schedule is what it is and you have to deal with it.”

It’s the failure to ‘handle it’ that has left all four teams in this position – although Forest, despite massive spending from owner Evangelos Marinakis, may have taken the position early in the season; Their fate rests in their hands.

Relegation should also, given that they have just emerged, affect Forest less and affect Everton the most. Leeds and Leicester argue they are prepared for the possibility. But whoever goes down will have massive repercussions. Not least the return of two big names to the tournament.

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