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The Survival Race: The Runners And Riders

We take a closer look at the teams scrapping away at the foot of the Premier League and assess each club's chances of beating the drop with a closer look at their run in.

The only way is up?
The only way is up?
Jamie McDonald

With the New Year now in full swing we thought it worth a look to cast an eye over the runners and riders in the relegation race at the foot of the Premier League table and assess the chances of those scrapping away for their lives with a closer look at their respective run-ins.

It's probably worth noting that at this stage we are just going take a look at fifteenth spot downwards, however we'll likely return at some point in the future to reassess the situation as the weeks and months pass by.

Below we will detail each of the club's fixtures and also provide a prediction as to the result to help calculate an overall points total.

15th Norwich

Played: 21

Goal Difference: -18

Points: 20

  • Norwich vs Hull - 14/01/14 (D)
  • Norwich vs Newcastle - 28/01/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Norwich - 01/02/14 (W)
  • Norwich vs Manchester City - 08/02/14 (L)
  • West Ham vs Norwich - 11/02/14 (D)
  • Norwich vs Tottenham - 23/02/14 (L)
  • Aston Villa vs Norwich - 01/03/14 (D)
  • Norwich vs Stoke - 08/03/14 (W)
  • Southampton vs Norwich - 15/03/14 (L)
  • Norwich vs Sunderland - 22/03/14 (D)
  • Swansea vs Norwich - 29/03/14 (D)
  • Norwich vs West Brom - 05/04/14 (W)
  • Fulham vs Norwich - 12/04/14 (L)
  • Norwich vs Liverpool - 19/04/14 (L)
  • Manchester United vs Norwich - 26/04/14 (L)
  • Chelsea vs Norwich - 03/05/14 (L)
  • Norwich vs Arsenal - 11/05/14 (L)

Predicted Points Total: 34

Looking at Norwich's run in it becomes glaringly obvious how important it is for Chris Hughton's points to pick up the necessary points before they hit a nightmare final four games from which few would predict the Canaries to pick up a single point given the opposition they face.

The 22nd March stands out as Sunderland make the trip to Carrow Road.

Good away form in February could prove pivotal for Norwich as they travel to fellow strugglers Cardiff and West Ham and their could well be slim pickings at home during this spell as Manchester City and Tottenham come to town.

16th Fulham

Played: 18

Goal Difference: -24

Points: 20

  • Arsenal vs Fulham - 18/01/14 (L)
  • Swansea vs Fulham - 28/01/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Southampton - 01/02/14 (L)
  • Manchester United vs Fulham - 09/02/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Liverpool - 12/02/14 (L)
  • West Brom vs Fulham - 22/02/14 (D)
  • Fulham vs Chelsea - 01/03/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Fulham - 08/03/14 (D)
  • Fulham vs Newcastle - 15/03/04 (W)
  • Manchester City vs Fulham - 22/03/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Everton - 29/03/14 (L)
  • Aston Villa vs Fulham - 05/04/14 (D)
  • Fulham vs Norwich - 12/04/14 (W)
  • Tottenham vs Fulham - 19/04/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Hull - 26/04/14 (W)
  • Stoke vs Fulham - 03/05/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Crystal Palace (D)

Predicted Points Total: 32

Fair to say that I wasn't impressed one bit with what I saw from Fulham during Sunderland's recent away victory at Craven Cottage and their frail defence certainly won't do them any favours. Indeed, I am predicting a tumultuous few weeks for Rene Muelensteen and can't see his side pick up another point until the end of February which would surely leave them in a right old mess.

Fulham's goal difference could also play a massive hand in their bid to avoid the drop and currently standing at -24 it is by far and away the worst in the division.

The final game of the season springs out from the list as a game which could have huge ramifications for both sides involved - so naturally I've gone for a draw.

17th West Ham

Played: 21

Goal Difference: -9

Points: 18

  • Chelsea vs West Ham - 29/01/14 (L)
  • West Ham vs Swansea - 01/02/14 (D)
  • Aston Villa vs West Ham - 08/02/14 (D)
  • West Ham vs Norwich - 11/02/14 (D)
  • West Ham vs Southampton - 22/02/14 (L)
  • Everton vs West Ham - 01/03/14 - (L)
  • West Ham vs Hull - 08/03/14 - (W)
  • Stoke vs West Ham - 15/03/14 (L)
  • West Ham vs Manchester United - 22/03/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs West Ham - 29/03/14 (L)
  • West Ham vs Liverpool - 05/04/14 (L)
  • Arsenal vs West Ham - 12/04/14 (L)
  • West Ham vs Crystal Palace - 19/04/14 (W)
  • West Brom vs West Ham - 26/04/14 (D)
  • West Ham vs Tottenham - 03/05/14 - (L)
  • Manchester City vs West Ham - 11/05/14 (L)

Predicted Points Total: 28

I really fear for West Ham and Sam Allardyce. In fact I would be pretty surprised if he was to last out the season in charge of The Hammers.

February is undoubtedly a huge month for West Ham and while I have opted for a trio of draws Hammers fans will have this period of fixtures circled as a set of must win games. I just don't know whether they can do it based on recent events and form.

One thing West Ham do have in their favour is a very decent goal difference for a club sat just above the drop zone, which could be worth an extra point on its own come May.

18th Cardiff

Played: 21

Goal Difference: -19

Points 18

  • Manchester City vs Cardiff - 18/01/14 (L)
  • Manchester United vs Cardiff - 28/01/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Norwich - 01/02/14 (L)
  • Swansea vs Cardiff - 08/02/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Aston Villa - 11/02/14 (W)
  • Cardiff vs Hull - 22/02/14 (D)
  • Tottenham vs Cardiff - 02/03/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Fulham - 08/03/14 (D)
  • Everton vs Cardiff - 15/03/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Liverpool - 22/03/14 (L)
  • West Brom vs Cardiff - 29/03/14 (D)
  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace - 05/04/14 (W)
  • Southampton vs Cardiff - 12/04/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Stoke - 19/04/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Cardiff - 26/04/14 (L)
  • Newcastle vs Cardiff - 03/05/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Chelsea - 11/05/14 (L)

Predicted Points Total: 27

Cardiff have been a veritable circus this season and for the sake of all football fans I sincerely hope that Vincent Tan pays the price for his meddling ways and indeed I can see the Welsh outfit making an immediate return to the Championship.

Cardiff fans will look to April as a month from which they can pick up some serious points and indeed there are some games where they may well just do that but I am, personally, unsure if they have enough to take points off Southampton and indeed Sunderland on the road. Home games against Crystal Palace and Stoke look huge here as they are taking nothing from May's fixtures.

19th Sunderland

Played: 21

Goal Difference: -15

Points: 17

  • Sunderland vs Southampton - 18/01/14 (D)
  • Sunderland vs Stoke - 29/01/14 (W)
  • Newcastle vs Sunderland - 01/02/14 (D)
  • Sunderland vs Hull - 08/02/14 (D)
  • Manchester City vs Sunderland - 12/02/14 (L)
  • Arsenal vs Sunderland - 22/02/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs West Brom - 01/03/14 (W)
  • Liverpool vs Sunderland - 08/03/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Crystal Palace - 15/03/14 (W)
  • Sunderland vs West Ham - 29/03/14 (W)
  • Tottenham vs Sunderland - 05/04/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Everton - 12/04/14 (L)
  • Chelsea vs Sunderland - 19/04/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Cardiff - 26/04/14 (W)
  • Manchester United vs Sunderland - 11/05/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Swansea - 11/05/14 (D)

Predicted Points Total: 38

I did my best to remain impartial for this piece, I really did, I just feel that Sunderland's home fixtures will be absolutely crucial and with Gus Poyet's side now playing with some swagger and confidence from their Cup Competition exploits I can see us getting the business done on home turf.

March looks as though it could be a particularly profitable month for The Black Cats with only a single, tough, away trip and three very, very, winnable games.

20th Crystal Palace

Played: 21

Goal Difference: -18


  • Crystal Palace vs Stoke - 18/01/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Hull - 28/01/14 (D)
  • Arsenal vs Crystal Palace - 02/02/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs West Brom - 08/02/14 (W)
  • Everton vs Crystal Palace - 12/02/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Manchester United - 22/02/14 (L)
  • Swansea vs Crystal Palace - 02/03/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Southampton - 08/03/14 (L)
  • Sunderland vs Crystal Palace - 15/03/14 (L)
  • Newcastle vs Crystal Palace - 22/03/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Chelsea - 29/03/14 (L)
  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace - 05/04/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa - 12/04/14 (W)
  • West Ham vs Crystal Palace - 19/04/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Manchester City - 26/04/14 (L)
  • Crystal Palace vs Liverpool - 03/05/14 (L)
  • Fulham vs Crystal Palace - 11/05/14 (D)

Predicted Points Total: 25

Wow, what a run-in for Crystal Palace, especially the month of March where I am struggling to see where they will pick up a single point.

As with every club looking to avoid the drop, Crystal Palace will be looking to their home form to save them from relegation especially in front of their vociferous fans crammed into Selhurst Park. However despite the slight turn around in fortunes brought around by Tony Pulis I don't know if the former Stoke gaffer has enough magic left under that baseball cap of his.

Final League Standings

15th Sunderland 38
16th Norwich 34
17th Fulham 32
18th West Ham 28
19th Cardiff 27
20th Crystal Palace 25

So there we have it. Sunderland's home form should prove to be enough to see Gus Poyet's men successfully negotiate the drop with Crystal Palace, Cardiff and West Ham condemned to the Championship.

Obviously this table only includes the six teams which we focused on and indeed you would expect, as is customary, for one club currently residing around the mid table positions to be dragged into the mix with anyone from Hull, Aston Villa, Stoke, Swansea and West Brom far from safe as things currently stand.

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