In the 20-year history of the Premier League just one side has sat bottom of the table at Christmas and avoided the drop come May: West Bromwich Albion in 2004/05.
With that ill-fated statistic in mind, there will be some clubs around the relegation zone frantically seeking to put some points on the board before the clock ticks past Dec. 25.
The busy festive period kicked into action this week as Crystal Palace faced off against West Ham Tuesday, with the other 18 sides set to clash Wednesday night.
Read on for a look at the teams that will try in vein but ultimately fall further under pressure when Matchweek 14 concludes.
|EPL Week 14: Wednesday Predictions|
|Sunderland vs. Chelsea||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-2|
|Liverpool vs. Norwich City||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||3-1|
|Arsenal vs. Hull City||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-0|
|Southampton vs. Aston Villa||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-0|
|Stoke City vs. Cardiff City||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-1|
|Swansea City vs. Newcastle||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-2|
|Man United vs. Everton||Dec. 4||19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-2|
|Fulham vs. Tottenham||Dec. 4||20:00 GMT/15:00 ET||1-2|
|West Brom vs. Man City||Dec. 4||20:00 GMT/15:00 ET||1-2|
|Schedule via premierleague.com|
Fulham’s free fall continued on Matchday 13, with a dismal 3-0 defeat to fellow relegation strugglers West Ham.
The Cottagers failed to register a single shot on target over the 90 minutes, and the service to striker Darren Bent was nonexistent at times. Per BBC’s Match of the Day, Bent had just one touch of the ball in the opposition box, which sums up Fulham’s all-round performance.
Not only are Fulham struggling to find the net, but they are also leaking goals at the back. The 11 players who started the game for West Ham had mustered just two goals between them in the league this season, yet they managed to ship three past Fulham, and in reality, it could have been even more.
Ever since Steve Sidwell and Pajtim Kasami’s wonder goals saw off Crystal Palace, Fulham have struggled. They have lost five league games on the trot, conceding 14 in that time frame and scoring just two.
Rene Meulensteen takes charge of Fulham for the game at home to Spurs Wednesday evening, and the Dutchman will be desperate to put some points on the board. In the lead up to Christmas, Fulham face Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester City, and there’s a real possibility they could get nothing from those games.
Spurs, too, have a point to prove, and they will see the game against Fulham as the perfect opportunity to pick up three points.
Expect the cloud of pressure to remain over Craven Cottage for a while yet.
Sunderland have started to show signs of consistency in recent weeks, but a tough few weeks lie on the horizon for Gus Poyet’s men.
Matchweek 14 sees them entertain Chelsea at the Stadium of Light, and it’s difficult to see them upsetting the Blues. Jose Mourinho’s side will see the Christmas period as a chance to close some ground on league leaders Arsenal, and they will know that games against those in the relegation zone are must-win encounters.
The Black Cats currently lie second from bottom, one point clear of Crystal Palace and two adrift of Fulham. They have conceded 24 goals this season, which is tied with Fulham for the worst record in the league.
With Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Norwich and Everton in their next five games, Poyet will know that the Christmas period represents a crucial time for his squad.
The Uruguayan has been boosted by the return of Wes Brown. Sunderland have looked a more solid unit since his return to the fold alongside former Manchester United teammate John O’Shea. Their experience will be crucial in Sunderland’s battle for survival but expect things to get worse this week before they get better.
Norwich’s victory over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace at the weekend put some breathing space between the Canaries and those below them. But Chris Hughton will be wary of the challenges that lie ahead for his side as they go in search of some precious points this month.
Their next three games see them face off against Liverpool, West Brom and Swansea, before two crucial encounters away to Sunderland and at home to Fulham either side of Christmas Day.
Norwich, however, will be focused on the first hurdle, which is quite a high one, on Wednesday night. Hughton takes his team to Anfield to face a wounded Liverpool, who will be desperate for all three points after defeat to Hull City.
The Reds put 10 goals past Norwich in their two games last season, and while it’s a tall order to anticipate such a glut of goals this time around, a win for Liverpool will be expected.
Norwich currently sit 14th in the table, but they lie just four points clear of the relegation zone.
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