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10th – 20th in the Premier League. The six point gap

The main talking point this Premier League season has been regarding the considerable gap Manchester City have generated at the top of the Premier League, currently with a 12-point gap at the top, this is six more points than the gap sitting between Watford in 10th and Swansea in 20th.

After Swansea’s courageous win at home to Liverpool last Monday night, incredibly, they are closer to Arsenal who sit in 6th, then Arsenal are to the City in 1st. With 14 Premier League games remaining in the season, 42 points are on offer, and 90MAAT takes a closer look at the bottom 10 teams and their fight for survival.

10th – Watford (26 points)

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Watford’s abysmal form of one win in eleven Premier League games lead to the departure of Marco Silva last week. Yet, Gino Pozzi, owner of Watford FC quickly appointed replacement in Javi Guardi who has significant experience in lower-league Spanish football. Unfortunately for Guardi, Watford still face travels to four of the current top six and gaining any points on their travels here will be demanding. What’s important for the Hornets is that they pick up points at Vicarage Road against their relegation rivals and even more imperative is that Guardi gets off to a positive start as he takes his side to Stoke in his first Premier League fixture.

After their remarkable start to the season, Watford only lost one of their first eight games under Silva. It’s fair to say Watford have the talent in their ranks to find form again and reach the 40-point mark which is considered by many, safety. After their loss to Southampton in the FA Cup this weekend, they now only have the Premier League to worry about and all focus will be on retaining their league status.

11th – West Ham (26 points) 

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There is no doubt that before Moyes’ arrival, questions were looming over the London clubs spell in the Premier League. A mid-season dip in form was enough for West Ham and ex manager, Slaven Bilic, to part company and for Moyes to be bought on-board. Since leaving Everton, David Moyes has struggled to settle down and after spells at United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland he took the task of managerial duty at the London Stadium.

The Hammers have not lost a Premier League game in five games, and there is no doubt they will be safe at the end of the season. What’s most worrying for Hammers fans is their inconsistency in performances. After their impressive performance in a 4-1 win away to Huddersfield they only drew 1-1 to Bournemouth in their following outing, for the fans this a game where they would expect three points, especially with the team at Moyes’ disposal. After an embarrassing FA Cup performance which resulted in exit at the hands of Wigan, Moyes will be looking for a response mid-week as they face Crystal Palace at the London Stadium. However, West Ham will likely be without defender Arthur Masuaku after his ‘despicable’ incident at the DW with him spitting out at Wigans Nicks Powell.

Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario has joined West Ham on loan recently and it is also reported Moyes is looking to add to his squad with a bid expected for highly rated Norwich midfielder, James Maddison. Both would make good additions to the squad and a top 10 finish must be the aim.

12th – Bournemouth (25 points)

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Arguably, if any team deserve credit in the Premier League on the basis of the last few seasons, it is Eddie Howes Bournemouth. This is certainly a great position for the Cherries to find themselves in, they just have to be cautious of the teams around them and the likelihood of falling into the battle. Like West Ham above them, Bournemouth have also not lost a competitive Premier League fixture in the last 5 outings.

The form of Callum Wilson may be essential in the coming weeks for the Cherries, however with only 6 goals to his name and being the clubs highest goal scorer this season, having a strike partner to assist him in the goals is pivotal. The arrival of Defoe in the summer thrilled many around the South Coast, yet with only 3 goals to his name, the Englishman has struggled to provide many inspiring moments for his side. It is worth noting though his goal of the month against Crystal Palace back in December. More goals like that will quickly make him a fan favourite.

13th – Crystal Palace (25 points)

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Losing their opening 7 games of the season, life in the Premier League for Frank De Boer was far from pretty. With his withdrawal from the English game, Roy Hodgson was bought on board. From his 17 games at Palace, he has only lost 4 games and their Premier League season took a satisfactory change in fortunes.

Wilfred Zaha is imperative to Palace’s form and it is vital that Palace find a consistent goal scorer for the remainder of the season. With Palace only mustering up 22 goals this campaign, the goal-scoring return of Christian Benteke, who is supposedly their lead striker, is simply depressing. The Belgian has only managed one goal this season and it is no surprise to see a striker in high demand at Palace. What’s equally worrying is the defense at Palace. Conceding 37 goals this season, it is clear that focus this transfer window has been on the defense and Palace have acquired the services of Poland centre half, Jaroslaw Jach, and Spanish goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita, to bolster this department. The Eagles have also made an improved bid of £16m for Lille defender, Ibrahim Amadou, yet this has again been rejected by the French side.

With Palace crashing out to rivals Brighton in the FA Cup in round three, there is no hope of a cup run at Selhurst Park. With all focus on England’s top league, they will be hoping to be far from the bottom 3 come March/April and begin planning on another season in the top flight.

14th – Huddersfield (24 points)

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All credit goes to Wagner and Huddersfield for their first ever season in the Premier League. After their phenomenal promotion campaign from the Championship last year, they are sitting highest of all promoted sides and have been displaying some impressive performances up to date, most notably matches against both Manchester clubs, where they successfully took 3 points of United and suffered a late loss to City.

With this being said, their last few matches have shown signs of lacking Premier League savvy and the club may find themselves drifting closer to the dreaded bottom 3. They have lost their last 3 performances and have not won in 6, with tests against Liverpool and United upcoming quickly, this will leave only 36 points to play for. Their last four Premier League fixtures are against Chelsea, Everton, City and Arsenal and the Terriers are now odds on for relegation. David Wagner does not agree though and backs his current squad to pick up the points to remain safe.

A striker may be needed in the transfer window though and the inconsistency between Mounie and Depoitre have resulted in only 19 Premier League goals, nowhere near enough to pick up critical points to lead them to safety.

15th – Newcastle (23 points)

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Undoubtedly, Newcastle United do belong in the Premier League. They are a club with significant support and history. They have a manager who has proved himself to be a trusted manager, not just in the Premier League, but in European football too. Benitez also has players who are capable of going onto achieve big things at the club. With all this being said, problems off field have been the major cause of concern over the last few seasons in the North East. It was believed that Amanda Staveley of PCP partners struck a deal with British business tycoon, Mike Ashley, to obtain ownership of the club. Yet, this deal fell through. It is fair to say there is a certain hatred around Newcastle for their owner and if you asked a Geordie fan what they thought of the current state of their football club, I’m certain the answer wouldn’t be fit for publication.

A 3-1 defeat to Manchester City last week was far from embarrassing and although this defeat was the Magpies 13th loss of the season, there will be many who are not concerned at Newcastle’s Premier League status for the remainder of the season and going into next. There has been no significant transfer movement from Benitez and this will be no surprise with Ashley’s desire to sell the club, but the squad they have is certainly good enough to maintain their Premier League place.

16th – Brighton (23 points)

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A 4-0 defeat to Chelsea last weekend was thoroughly undeserved. Although, it can’t be forgotten about Brighton’s poor run of form recently and they are edging nearer to the dreaded bottom 3. The Seagulls have only won one of their last 13 Premier League games, drawing 5. There is no two ways about it, this is relegation form and if they don’t pick up wins quickly they will find themselves dropping and back into England’s second tier.

Brighton’s last 4 games this season include 3 against the current top 5 as well as a difficult trip to Burnley. This is worrying for all involved on the South Coast and points need to be found soon, and quickly. The club did break their club record transfer fee last week in signing Jurgen Locadia from Dutch club PSV though which shows their desire to remain in the Prem. The striker was bought in for £14 million and he has netted nine goals in 15 games in the Eredivisie this season. With only 17 goals in 24 outings, this department is troublesome for Brighton and Hughton will be relying on their new signing to provide the Seagulls with some goals and points, otherwise a return to the Championship is on the horizon.

17th – Stoke (23 points)

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Cast your mind back to the last few Premier League seasons and you will no doubt be able to remember Stoke City sitting in mid table; no flashy football, no big-name players, just picking up the points they require. The worry for the Potters this campaign is their ability to handle the relegation battle. This would concern me as a Stoke fan yet there is cause for optimism as new boss Paul Lambert pulled off a debut victory against fellow strugglers, Huddersfield, last weekend. Lambert was for some a questionable appointment, yet the only man right for the job due to many managers being reluctant to undertake the position at the Bet365 Stadium.

The 2-0 win against the Terriers lifted Stoke out of the bottom 3 and the performance and victory was very much needed to provide the team with a much-needed confidence boost and a much needed 3 points. With 50 Premier League goals conceded this season, this is the most of all 20 teams, it is this shocking stat that Lambert will be determined to fix. Yet, as long as Stoke pick up points against their close rivals and make the West Midlands a hard place to visit, they should find themselves above the dreaded bottom 3 come May.

18th – Southampton (22 points)

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This is the surprising package in the bottom 3 of the Premier League. What doesn’t help Southampton is their inability to hold onto players, with the whispers of Van Djik’s future being focused on for a lot of this campaign, finally his departure to Liverpool can be the past and the club can begin to move forward.

With this in mind, Southampton put in a terrific performance when Spurs visited the South Coast last Sunday and it is this Southampton everybody knows about. All credit goes to the owners of Southampton, as most of the clubs who are around them have ruthlessly struck at the management and taken responsibility upon themselves to sort their respective clubs form. Not Southampton, they have stuck with manager, Pellegrino, and if the club perform as they did against Tottenham then they will soon find themselves out of trouble.

This week Southampton agreed a deal with Monaco to sign striker, Guido Carrillo for £19.1m. With the inconsistency in their strike force, the signature of the Argentinian, could fix their lack of goals and as their record transfer, there will be some pressure placed on the 26-year-old to prove his worth. He made his debut from the subs bench in a fourth-round FA Cup victory against Watford and will be looking for a name on the starting XI team sheet against Brighton on Wednesday.

19th – West Brom (20 points)

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After a good performance away to Everton at the weekend, there is hope in the Midlands for the Baggies. After winning their opening two games of the season, fans would have been booking their planes to Europe yet their form has taken a dramatic dip and it’s not been pretty at the Hawthorns this season. After the sacking of Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew was given the task to guide West Brom to safety, but it certainly won’t be an easy proposition.

After a superb performance at Anfield in the FA Cup, they are now in the hat for the fifth round and an FA Cup run could be all that West Brom need to provide some much-needed confidence and some much-needed stability. In terms of incomings in the Midlands, there is not too much being said. The focus remains on the future of centre half, Johnny Evans. With his future being discussed in the Summer, West Brom held on to the Northern Irishman. But, it is reported that Arsenal have shown a key interest in the 30-year-old. It is vital for me that he is kept onto. His leadership abilities alongside his defensive prowess will be a vital part of West Brom’s fight for survival, but time will tell as to whether he will remain at the Hawthorns.

20th – Swansea (20 points) 

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If there was a team in the bottom 10 who needed a gutsy and determined performance in the last game week, it was the Swans. Before their 1-0 triumph over Liverpool, it was dull and bleak down at the summit of the Premier League table. However, 3 points has put them right back in the pack and will certainly have given the fans and players down in Wales a much-needed boost.

Swansea’s problem is the lack of goal threat that their opposition face this season. There have been little glimpses of Swansea’s attacking prowess this season and it will be the job of new manager, Carlos Carvalhal to fix this problem. It is being rumoured that Swansea are in the market for Atletico Madrid’s attacking midfielder, Nicolas Gaitan, and he could make a good addition to the squad. It is suggested that West Ham are also linked with the Argentinian so his move to the Premier League could be on the cards. Swansea only have until Wednesday to make any extensions to their squad and I would certainly expect some transfer movement in Wales this week.

Written by Eamon Kitching.

Eamon Kitching

21. Loughborough University Student developing my writing skills with 90MAAT. Leicester City fan still holding onto our 15/16 Premier League success.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Liverpool 29 27 1 1 82
2 Manchester City 28 18 3 7 57
3 Leicester City 29 16 5 8 53
4 Chelsea 29 14 6 9 48
5 Manchester United 29 12 9 8 45
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 29 10 13 6 43
7 Sheffield United 28 11 10 7 43
8 Tottenham Hotspur 29 11 8 10 41
9 Arsenal 28 9 13 6 40
10 Burnley 29 11 6 12 39
11 Crystal Palace 29 10 9 10 39
12 Everton 29 10 7 12 37
13 Newcastle United 29 9 8 12 35
14 Southampton 29 10 4 15 34
15 Brighton & Hov… 29 6 11 12 29
16 West Ham United 29 7 6 16 27
17 Watford 29 6 9 14 27
18 AFC Bournemouth 29 7 6 16 27
19 Aston Villa 28 7 4 17 25
20 Norwich City 29 5 6 18 21

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