Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Relegation! Shows Excitement! And Emotion!

While Liverpool fight to keep the EPL title in doubt there is, as always, another competition at the ass end of the table. There lies the fight to see who'll be traveling to locales such as Coventry, Swansea, and, the good lord willing, Norwich next season to play their football.

Ah relegation. North America, when will you ever learn that losers can provide as much teeth-gnashingly brutal entertainment as the teams desperate for trophies?

Probably never. You can't charge people $1 Billion to join your club then send them to the minor league, but we digress.

Anyway, for all of the mid-season clutter at the bottom of the table, the relegation battle in the Prem is likely to be fairly uneventful. One team is all but done. And two others are clinging to some combination of hope and delusion.

Follow along after the jump as we read the remaining fixtures, do some math and try to play Kreskin.

First, it's not going to take 40 points to reach safety this season. Thirty-seven is likely the magic number (Schoolhouse Rock lied to me yet again). Although just for good measure, if you're Blackburn or Hull you might want to scrounge up an extra point some place so your goal difference doesn't become a factor.

Working from the bottom up, West Brom are done. At 25 points, they would almost have to run the table to reach safety and seeing how they have Liverpool and Tottenham left on the schedule that ain't happening. Although, they might have fun in helping to drag someone down with them as they still get Sunderland (currently 15th on 35 points) at home and go to Blackburn (17th on 34) to finish the season. But, the Baggies are not a good side, and those two teams are probably penciling their matches against WBA as wins.

Newcastle on 30 points might—might—have 7 points left in them. Let's call the home games against Portsmouth and Fulham a win and a draw respectively (and that might be giving generously). That leaves the home match versus Middlesbrough as a must-win. It's actually a must win for both clubs as a draw probably sends both to the Colaship. But if Newcastle can win that—and they would probably be slight favorites as Boro have but two wins and two draws away from the Riverside this season—they get to 37 and likely safety.

Middlesbrough are also done. They go: to Arsenal (L), host United (L), to Newcastle (?), host Villa (L), and to West Ham (L or D).

Since we've already given Newcastle the head-to-head, that's five potential losses Dr. Teeth is starting at. Even with a win at St. James' Park, that still only takes them to 34 points. And the two teams currently on 34 already have a better GD. That's not likely to change if 'Boro take four of the last five on the chin. Failing a win against Newcastle, the best case scenario maybe has them drawing with West Ham and Newcastle. That's still only 33 points. And that's first class ticket on the Good Ship Sodapop.

Cheer up, Red Army. Coke adds life.

The three other teams under 37—Sunderland on 35, Hull City on 34, and Blackburn on 34—might be safe not through their own doing, but because 'Boro and Newcastle will fail to not fail. It's not unfathomable for both Boro and Newcastle to top out at 33, meaning that everyone above the zone is already safe. Yippee!

Oh wait, that actually kind of takes the fun out of this. So, let's assume that one of current relegation dwellers gets to safety, putting one of those next three at risk.

Sunderland's problem is that the three games they can pull points from—West Brom, Bolton, Portsmouth—are all on the road, whereas their home games against Everton and Chelsea are imminently losable. But, Bolton and Portsmouth will probably be safe when Sunderland plays them (if they aren't already), meaning they're facing an opponent that doesn't give much of a shit for anything save for their next tee times or if they can play through their hangovers.

Blackburn Rovers finish up at home against West Brom. They could lock up safety before then, but if not, that's about the best insurance policy that a team one spot above the drop could possible hope for. Win that and Blackburn get to 37, even if they take squadoosh from the other 4 fixtures. Their biggest fear is that if multiple teams are on 37 they've got an awful GD at -20. Currently only 'Boro and West Brom are worse.

If any team outside the zone can play their way down to the bottom three, it might be Hull City, mostly because they fucking suck total ass right now. They can't score. They have but one win this calendar year. They have three certain losses (Liverpool, Villa, United) in their last five. And their manager has orange skin from his fake tan. Okay, not relevant, but creepy nonetheless.

Again, working in Hull's favor is that, when they go to Bolton, the Wanderers will have nothing to play for. But even better is they get Stoke, also a team that will have packed it in, at home May 9. Win that and Hull probably stay up. But they share Blackburn's GD concerns as they are also on -20. Villa, Pool, and United could easily up that to -26 or worse.

Realistically it's five teams in play for two spots. The two teams currently in those spots have to be the favorites to keep them. But if there is a winner in the Boro v. Newcastle match, then Phil Brown might visibly become a beiger shade of bronze.


The Fan's Attic said...

Relegation--The Battle To Determine The Most Successful Failing Team.

Precious Roy said...

The really petty part of me prays that Hull goes down with Blackburn. I would get more than just a giggle with Allardyce and his apprentass going down to the Colaship.

But the unemotional part of me thinks it's pretty much a done deal for WBA, Boro, and Newcastle.

Spectator said...

If Newcastle and Middlesbrough go down, I believe that would leave Sunderland as the sole Prem team from the Northeast.