Does anyone remember when ‘Pukki fever’ was taking over the Premier League? It feels so long ago. In fact, Norwich’s 3-2 win over Manchester City back in mid-September was their first win of the league season and a brief highlight in a torrid campaign in which the Canaries have compiled just four victories since.
They beat Champions League-chasing Leicester City in February – a 1-0 win courtesy of Jamal Lewis – but find themselves bottom of the table on 21 points. This leaves Norwich four points from Aston Villa and six from safety. Norwich would need to nearly double their current points total in the remaining nine games to reach the mythical safety of 40 points, but even a reasonable total of 35 points looks a bridge too far for Daniel Farke’s side.
Aston Villa may historically be a Premier League staple, but they have not experienced a welcoming return to top-flight football in 2019-20, and are sitting two points from safety with a game in hand. Their game with fellow newly-promoted Sheffield, who have surpassed all expectations under Chris Wilder, may define their run-in.
Villa have conceded the most goals in the Premier League, and their loss total is bettered – or worsened – only by Norwich City, which suggests that an instant return to the Championship is on the cards. Aston Villa will be hoping their talisman Jack Grealish can pull them to safety – and his future at his boyhood club may well depend on it.
Bournemouth have been a welcome addition to the Premier League ever since earning top-flight status ahead of the 2015-16 season, earning plaudits for their attractive style of play under Eddie Howe. However, Bournemouth haven’t quite clicked into gear this season as they find themselves in 18th position, occupying the final relegation spot due to their poor goal difference of -18. They have 27 points, tied with Watford (9/4) and West Ham United (15/8).
The Hammers have certainly had a year to forget after making big-money signings, such as the £24 million move for Pablo Fornals and the undisclosed deal for striker Sebastien Haller. Haller has had an underwhelming season thus far, scoring seven goals in 24 appearances, but West Ham fans will be desperate for the Frenchman to find his form when the action resumes. West Ham, who still have to play Wolves, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United, are under serious threat of relegation.
Just two points ahead of the struggling trio, Brighton and Hove Albion (11/4) are the final team in this relegation battle. The Seagulls are five points behind Southampton, and whilst the Saints (33/1) are by no means safe, it appears likely that three of the aforementioned teams will be sent down to the Championship for next season.