Relegation looms for Premiership basement clubs

THE reckoning of the Premier League relegation battle comes down to the last day of the season tomorrow when two of three clubs will join Norwich City in the drop to the Championship next term.

Bournemouth, Watford and Aston Villa are candidates for the dreaded chop and it could, perhaps, be safe to say that the first two clubs are the most likely to also go down.

Bournemouth, 19th in the standings and with 31 points, travel to a rejuvenated Everton needing maximum points, and will hope that the other two strugglers come unstuck.

Watford, who are 18th and have 34 points, visit Arsenal, while Villa, who also have 34 points, are away to West Ham. Norwich have a paltry 21 points from their 37 matches and have long known their fate.

Bournemouth’s task of trying to escape looks the most difficult because of the three-point deficit they have compared to Watford and the Claret and Blue Army. Even if they do win, Eddie Howe’s side will need to improve their goal difference. Presently they are minus-27, the same as Watford, while Villa are minus-26.

Everton will be keen on finishing their season on a high after losing only one of their last four matches — highlighted by the 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on Monday. Home advantage for Carlo Ancelotti’s outfit should also hold them in good stead.

Watford’s trip to the Emirates also appears to be a tough task. The Gunners were undone by the narrow 0-1 defeat at the hands of Villa in midweek. But it came after impressive wins over both Liverpool and Manchester City, in the league and FA Cup, respectively, which no doubt took their toll on the squad.

There is no denying that Arsenal have the quality to see off a Watford side that conceded seven goals against City (4) and West Ham (3) in the past week.

West Ham should prove a tough call for Villa, but sheer grit and determination could see the visitors over the line. Their form in their last three games has yielded decent results, which include wins over Arsenal and Crystal Palace, and a drawn match at Everton.

These battles for survival are like cup games for the strugglers and anything can happen, but one gets the feeling that Villa should scrape through, and the likes of the much sought-after Jack Grealish could well be playing in the Premier League again next season — even if it is for another club.

Should the formbook hold fast, it will be Bournemouth and Watford who follow Norwich into the Championship next season.

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