The Premier League 2020-2021 season is coming to an end. With eight more match days to go, teams are giving it their all to end on a high note. This couldn’t be any more true for five teams at the time of writing: Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham and Everton are in contention to snag a top four spot and secure a place in the Champions League.
This time however, I won’t be talking about the upper half of the league. I think it’s time to pay some respect to the lower half before three teams get sent down to the EFL Championship.
Currently, Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham occupy the relegation zone, but Fulham is in a spot where they can climb out of the area. Their only obstacle to achieve this is Newcastle, who, while having their own problems at the moment, sit above the London club in 17th place with 29 points.
It doesn’t help that Fulham lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on Sunday, especially when you consider that Aleksandar Mitrovic’s opening goal in the 62nd minute was followed by his incapability of holding on to the lead for 30 minutes. At the same time though, if it weren’t for the defeat, they probably wouldn’t be the topic of this week’s column.
Even Fulham’s head coach Scott Parker noted the final 15 minutes was bound for Villa to take over.
“You can’t brush [the last 15 minutes] under the carpet,” Parker said. “Sometimes in football, there are certain things that happen with games coming thick and fast … From there, as always when we’ve had bumps, we’ve come back.”
I will say this: I think they could manage to stay in the top flight for another season, should Newcastle continue to screw up.
I wouldn’t say Fulham has a terrible side, just one that’s been fairly unlucky this season, like many others. Take Wolves, for example, and compare where they sit in the table with injuries that have taken a toll on their most important players.
Fulham has a bit of a rough road to face until the season’s over. Some of their unlikely matches to win will come from Arsenal and Chelsea, while they could share some points with Wolves, Burnley and Southampton. They shouldn’t focus on what’s on paper though, given Wolves’ dwindling form and Southampton only recovering from an all right form with a 3-2 win against Burnley; they can use their flaws to their advantage. If anything, Fulham should focus on only getting wins against both those clubs if they want to stay up.
As mentioned, Newcastle is in Fulham’s way to not get relegated, but the Magpies are facing their own issues: some of which could cause them to be demoted. On top of them being on the verge of relegation, it seems as if coach Steve Bruce has started losing faith from within the dressing room and fans alike. Yes, they did pull off a comeback against Tottenham, but that will only take a team so far.
While the Magpies will face Burnley this coming Sunday, their biggest troubles will follow soon after with remaining fixtures against West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester. Given the poor style of soccer Steve Bruce has been playing, they will have to pull off a miracle to not slip and be demoted from their four-year run in with the Premier League. It should be noted that Newcastle has only managed to get two wins since the turn of the new year.
Even though I had hopes of Newcastle to perform decently well this year, they’ve done absolutely nothing to prove that statement. To see them relegated would be a bit disappointing to see, but shows how much of a rebuild they desperately need.
Fulham should take notes on Newcastle’s fall to the Championship should it happen, however, as they’ll need to prove themselves capable of staying in the Premier League again next season. Otherwise, they can meet the same fate as the Magpies.