In the last few weeks, the race for Premier League survival has taken a major twist courtesy of an unlikely regaining in form of Norwich City. The Canaries look to be dead and buried when it comes to top-flight survival at one stage.
However, a 2-1 home win over Everton last weekend and a 3-0 hammering of relegation rivals Watford on home soil has blown the fight for survival wide open.
Norwich back from the dead
So often is the case with the fight for survival in the Premier League that a team that looked destined for the Championship make a late dash and hit form. The two wins may or may not help the Canaries secure safety, but it is certainly a start for a team that everybody had written off as relegation fodder.
USA international Josh Sargent seems to have finally found his feet in a yellow shirt. The youngster had not produced any attacking returns this season until he got an assist against Everton. His brace against Watford was even better. Maybe now he has broken his duck he can thrive.
The win at Vicarage Road moved Norwich out of the bottom three, two points clear of safety. There is a caveat though, as the Canaries have played more games than all the bottom three. In fact, Burnley have five games in hand on the team from Norfolk. Watford and Newcastle have played two fewer games than Dean Smith’s team.
Everton could be sucked into the relegation dogfight
Norwich’s back-to-back wins may just suck more teams into the relegation battle. For instance, Everton are now just three points clear of the Canaries in the table. However, the men from Merseyside have three games in hand on the team from Norfolk.
More importantly, they have recently sacked unpopular head coach Rafa Benitez and replaced the Spaniard temporarily with club hero Duncan Ferguson. The last time the Scot took charge on an interim basis, the Toffees saw an upturn in fortunes. Everton host Aston Villa in the early Premier League kick-off later today.
There is likely to be an improvement in performance and results under the temporary head coach. The Toffees will then appoint a new head coach on a full-time basis, which could well lead to a new manager bounce.
There is another positive factor for Everton in that they now have a near fully-fit squad, which wasn’t previously the case under former boss Benitez. The return of key players should in theory improve results in the coming weeks.
Four into three doesn’t go
Unless Everton, Leeds or Brentford have horrendous runs over the next month or so, it seems that it will be Norwich, Watford, Newcastle, and Burnley battling it out to avoid the drop. It’s difficult to predict who will suffer relegation at this point in time. Burnley may have games in hand, but time is also running out for them to fit the games in. That means that the Clarets will be playing lots of games in a short amount of time.
Newcastle may well strengthen their squad further in January. However, they will need to bring in far more quality if they are to escape the drop this season. Watford looks to be in freefall after a poor recent run of results. Norwich may still well go down this season. The two straight wins have at least given the Canaries a chance of survival. The fight for survival has certainly been made more interesting by recent results and could well go down to the wire.
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Which three teams will suffer relegation to the Championship this season?