The Premier League title race may have come to an end after Liverpool were crowned champions on Thursday, but the battle to avoid relegation is still very much alive.
The bottom six: Brighton, Watford, West Ham, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich are all fighting for survival with just one point separating the teams from 16th to 19th.
Daniel Farke has admitted only a miracle can save his Norwich side from relegation back to the Championship with the Canaries six points adrift at the bottom of the table. But could his side complete a great escape? With seven games to go, Sportsmail assesses the chances of each club fighting the drop.
The battle to avoid relegation is still very much alive after Liverpool were crowned champions
Norwich and Aston Villa occupy the bottom two places and face an uphill task to stay up
BRIGHTON – 15TH (33 POINTS)
Brighton went into lockdown having not won a league game in 2020 and they looked vulnerable ahead of the restart with four of the top six still to play.
So if you’d have offered Graham Potter four points from their opening two games against Arsenal and Leicester, he’d have bitten your hand off.
A 2-1 victory over the Gunners was followed up with a 0-0 draw against third-placed Leicester. It could have been even better for the Seagulls had Neal Maupay’s penalty not been saved by Foxes’ goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Neal Maupay scored the winning goal against Arsenal but missed a penalty against Leicester
The fixtures don’t get much easier for Potter with the in-form Manchester United the next side to visit the Amex but home games against Manchester City and Liverpool may not seem so daunting now the title race is over.
City also have the Champions League, and possibly the FA Cup, to focus on which could affect Pep Guardiola’s team selection.
The Seagulls have four very winnable fixtures against Norwich, Southampton, Newcastle and Burnley – who they face on the final day. They will also play four of their final seven games at home and they are one of the teams who seem to have benefitted from playing at their own ground, despite having no fans.
Brighton now have a healthy five-point gap between them and the bottom five and have already navigated two of their most difficult remaining games. The form of the teams below them indicate they can afford to drop a few points along the way.
Remaining fixtures: Manchester United (H), Norwich City (A), Liverpool (H), Manchester City (H), Southampton (A), Newcastle (A), Burnley (A)
WATFORD – 16TH (28 POINTS)
Nigel Pearson was visibly frustrated after his side fell to a 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Thursday.
After all four teams below them were beaten on Tuesday and Wednesday, a victory would have put some distance between themselves and their rivals.
But his side failed to capitalise against a Burnley team who were missing several key players and had been thrashed by Manchester City three days earlier.
Pearson has done an admirable job since taking over from Quique Sanchez Flores in December. The Hornets had looked doomed during the early stages of the campaign until the return of captain Troy Deeney helped lift them out of the bottom three.
Watford failed to extend their lead over their rivals as they suffered a 1-0 defeat by Burnley
But just one point separates them and the teams sitting in 17th, 18th and 19th.
Compared to the teams around them, Watford have a favourable run-in with games against Southampton, Norwich, Newcastle and West Ham all to come. But a defeat by Burnley after drawing with high-flying Leicester shows Pearson’s side do not always pick up points when they’re expected to.
The club also have to navigate fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. The trip to Stamford Bridge looks tricky but it remains to be seen whether the Gunners will need anything on the final day – and what team Guardiola will field in their penultimate fixture.
Remaining fixtures: Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Norwich (H), Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Man City (H), Arsenal (A)
WEST HAM – 17TH (27 POINTS)
David Moyes looked like a manager under pressure following his side’s 2-0 defeat by Tottenham.
The opening games always looked difficult with Wolves and Spurs chasing Champions League football and it doesn’t get easier with Chelsea next up for the Hammers.
But that fixture is followed by a run of four winnable games against Newcastle, Burnley, Norwich and Watford – they simply have to pick up points in each.
Moyes admitted their final day showdown with Villa could be the match which decides their fate but they will want to be outside of the bottom three at kick-off.
West Ham have lost both of their opening games 2-0 against Wolves and rivals Tottenham
They have shown they can pick up points when they need to with convincing victories over Southampton and Bournemouth as well as a draw against Brighton just before the coronavirus shutdown.
January signing Jarrod Bowen has looked lively since the restart but he’s been fairly isolated and bereft of service from those around him while Michail Antonio has been deployed as a makeshift striker in the absence of Sebastien Haller.
Haller and Angelo Ogbonna could return from injury in the next week which would be a welcome boost for Moyes.
The Hammers have enough in their squad to get themselves out of trouble but they might have to crawl their way to survival.
Remaining fixtures: Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A), Burnley (H), Norwich (A), Watford (H), Man United (A), Aston Villa (H)
BOURNEMOUTH – 18TH (27 POINTS)
Josh King limping off against Crystal Palace perhaps summed up Bournemouth’s season.
The Cherries have been unlucky with injuries with several key players spending time on the sidelines at different stages of the campaign.
King missed a key period of the season over January and February while David Brooks, star of the 2018-2019 season, has only just returned to fitness after an ankle ligament injury.
The club have also not been helped by being unable to convince Ryan Fraser to sign a short-term contract extension to finish the season, meaning he will depart the club on June 30.
Bournemouth have suffered several setbacks this season including injuries and contract issues
Eddie Howe has always been commended for the job he has done at Bournemouth and this is the first time the club have been in the thick of the relegation battle since their promotion to the top flight in 2015.
They may have been starting to look like an established Premier League side following the end of last season but few clubs are immune from falling into trouble – Stoke had 10 years before they returned to the Championship.
Too many things seem to have gone wrong for the club this year – injuries, players wanting to leave as well as the distraction of Howe being linked with the Arsenal and Everton jobs earlier in the season.
The Cherries have been poor since the restart and have provided little evidence they can turn their fortunes around. With Manchester United, Spurs, Leicester and Manchester City all to play, the club are facing an uphill battle to avoid the drop.
Remaining fixtures: Newcastle (H), Man United (A), Tottenham (A), Leicester (H), Man City (H), Southampton (H), Everton (A)
ASTON VILLA – 19TH (27 POINTS)
You need a little bit of luck when you’re at the bottom, as the saying goes.
Dean Smith must have thought the football gods were watching over him after a goal-line technology malfunction awarded his side a fortuitous draw against Sheffield United in their first game back.
It looked like Villa might build on that luck when they raced into a 1-0 lead against Chelsea in the following game, only to be pegged back in the second half with Frank Lampard’s side claiming a 2-1 victory.
Then a defeat to former manager Steve Bruce looked to be on the cards after Dwight Gayle’s goal but a late equaliser from Ahmed Elmohamady salvaged a point.
Aston Villa need their captain Jack Grealish to be on top form if they are to avoid relegation
Villa were put in deep trouble in the relegation zone following a 1-0 defeat by Wolves on Saturday.
The next two fixtures look difficult with Liverpool and Manchester United the opponents but there is a possibility to pick up points against Crystal Palace, Everton and Arsenal before the final day clash with the Hammers.
If Villa are going to beat the drop they must be more clinical in front of goal. Injury to £22million summer signing Wesley has seen Keinan Davis and Mbwana Samatta battling it out to start up front.
But the pair have just 18 Premier League appearances between them and it remains to be seen whether either can weigh in with the goals needed to get Villa out of the bottom three.
Jack Grealish has been the stand-out man for Smith’s team this season and you feel they always have a chance while he is on the pitch. The captain has six games to work his magic – but he can’t do it on his own.
Remaining fixtures: Liverpool (A), Man United (H), Crystal Palace (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H), West Ham (A)
NORWICH – 20TH (21 POINTS)
With one German at the top of the table, another is struggling at the bottom and looks resigned to the fact his side will be competing in the second-tier next season.
Six points adrift with back-to-back defeats in their opening fixtures, the Canaries look doomed and Farke has admitted it will take a miracle for them to avoid the drop.
But the Premier League is never straight forward and Norwich have seven games – or ‘seven cup finals’ as some managers would say – to save themselves.
Three games in July will decide their fate. They host Brighton on July 4, travel to Watford on July 7 and then host West Ham on July 11. Nine points are probably needed from those fixtures if they are to give themselves a chance of staying up.
Norwich manager Daniel Farke has admitted it will take a miracle for the club to avoid the drop
The club need their leading goalscorer Teemu Pukki and impressive midfielders Todd Cantwell and Emiliano Buendia to find form again but all three started on the bench for the 1-0 defeat by Everton on Wednesday.
The Canaries don’t look like a team of players who believe they can get themselves out of the relegation zone and even the manager looks resigned to their fate.
Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United may provide some distraction but next Wednesday’s game with Arsenal is where their attention should be. A point at the Emirates would give them a lifeline before three must-win games.
Remaining fixtures: Arsenal (A), Brighton (H), Watford (A), West Ham (H), Chelsea (A), Burnley (A), Man City (A)