- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

LONDON (AP) - The fight to avoid relegation from the English Premier League is as intense as the race at the top.

With 14 matches and four months of the season to play, the bottom six sides are separated by just two points: Sunderland (19 points), Crystal Palace (19), Hull (20), Swansea (21), Leicester (21) and Middlesbrough (21).

Bournemouth, on 26 points in 14th place but without a league win this year, could yet be dragged into the scrap.

Reaching the 40-point mark is regarded as the target to ensure safety, although West Ham was relegated on 42 points in 2003.

No team has ever got to 43 points and gone down. Sunderland finished one place above the relegation places in 2016 and 2013, on both occasions staying up with 39 points. In 2014, 36 points was enough for West Brom to stay up.

Here is a brief look at the bottom six teams:


MIDDLESBROUGH (15th place, 21 points)

Boro, without a league win since mid-December, do not concede many goals but do not score many either having notched a league-lowest 19 so far.

Manager Aitor Karanka signed strikers Rudy Gestede and Patrick Bamford last month in a bid to add potency to an attack led by Alvaro Negredo, who is top-scorer on just six.

Boro, which plays Everton at home on Saturday, has been warm-weather training in Spain this week to help foster team unity.

LEICESTER (16th, 21 points)

The storm clouds were circling the champions until manager Claudio Ranieri received a vote of confidence this week, the club offering “unwavering support” to the Italian.

The Foxes have won just five league games amid reports of increasing dressing room unrest and a rift between manager and players.

A much-needed victory in its FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday against second-tier Derby has at least given some cause for optimism.

“The win in the Cup will give us more confidence and we have to keep going,” Ranieri said.

Leicester plays at fellow struggler Swansea on Sunday.

SWANSEA (17th, 21 points)

Paul Clement has been named the manager of the month for January after wins over Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Southampton.

Clement was appointed only in early January but seems to have galvanized the Welsh side which gave Manchester City a tough match in its last game, only to lose in injury time.

On facing Leicester, Clement said: “We go into this game with a lot of confidence and a belief that we are going in the right direction. There will not be a team in that region of the table who don’t think they can do it.”

HULL (18th, 20 points)

Much improved since Marco Silva was appointed manager last month, Hull plays all the sides in the bottom six between now and the end of the season.

A draw at Manchester United was followed by a home win over Liverpool, but the tough run of fixtures continues on Saturday with a trip to Arsenal.

“We need to continue to do our work to progress our performances,” Silva said. “The same spirit, the same attitude, and the same team performance need to be shown.”

CRYSTAL PALACE (19TH, 19 points)

Palace has lost seven of its last 10 matches, and was jeered off in its last game after capitulating at home to relegation rival Sunderland 4-0.

“I keep preaching the same thing: If you can’t win, don’t lose. But we keep losing! We need to get a result, got to pick points up,” said manager Sam Allardyce ahead of Saturday’s match at Stoke.

“I haven’t been relegated from the Premier League in my entire career, so it’s the last thing I want. This team has a great chance of survival.”

SUNDERLAND (20th, 19 points)

The impressive win at Crystal Palace brought some respite for manager David Moyes, who hopes for more of the same from on-loan Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj. He created both of Jermain Defoe’s goals last weekend and is relishing their partnership.

“In the last few games, we’ve linked really well,” he said. “We’re enjoying playing together and hopefully he can score many more goals.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide