December is a tricky month for those clubs lingering around the relegation zone.
Who is most likely to be relegated this season?
The turnaround between games is shorter than at any other point in the season and few have the luxury of being able to rotate their squad.
The festive period can make or break some clubs’ survival hopes. Just one team in the history of the Premier League—West Bromwich Albion—have sat bottom at Christmas and survived the drop in May.
Sunderland, who currently sit 20th, have some work to do if they’re to avoid being that ill-fated team this year.
Here’s a look at a full slate of predictions before we delve a little deeper into those clubs that will fall further under pressure this weekend.
|Man City vs. Arsenal||Dec. 14||12:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace||Dec. 14||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-0|
|Cardiff vs. WBA||Dec. 14||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|West Ham vs. Sunderland||Dec. 14||3 p.m. GMT/ 10 a.m. ET||1-1|
|Everton vs. Fulham||Dec. 14||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||3-1|
|Newcastle vs. Southampton||Dec. 14||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Hull vs. Stoke||Dec. 14||5:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET||2-0|
|Norwich vs. Swansea||Dec. 15||1:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET||2-2|
|Aston Villa vs. Man United||Dec. 15||1:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Tottenham vs. Liverpool||Dec. 15||4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET||2-2|
Schedule via premierleague.com
Since taking charge, Tony Pulis has picked the Crystal Palace players up off the floor and put them back on their feet again.
The immediate surge in performance when a new manager takes the reins has been in full effect around Selhurst Park. The Eagles have collected six crucial points over fellow strugglers West Ham and Cardiff City in their last two games.
But despite Pulis’ noteworthy efforts so far, the honeymoon phase may be coming to an end.
Palace face off against Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Manchester City between now and Jan. 1, and it’s difficult to envision them picking up many points in that period.
Pulis has the experience to turn things around in South London. He never received the praise he fully deserved at Stoke due to their style of play, and he will be determined to prove a point with Palace.
But their limited squad will be stretched to the max in the coming weeks. Getting out of the relegation zone before the turn of the year will be a tough ask.
Similarly to the Pulis effect at Palace, Rene Meulensteen seems to have had a positive impact since he took over from Martin Jol.
In the Dutchman’s first game in charge, Fulham suffered a narrow defeat to Spurs before they brought an end to their six-game losing streak by beating Aston Villa at the weekend.
Meulensteen has his team playing with more commitment and passion than they did under Jol, and he has the experience in his squad to help them in a relegation battle.
31 - Fulham's starting XI today is the first time this season a PL team has named one with an average age of more than 31 (31y 25d). Golden.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 8, 2013
But up next for Fulham is Everton and Manchester City, two of the Premier League's most in-form sides, and the Cottagers will struggle to pick up anything from the two games. Everton have lost just once this season, while City will be looking to keep pace with league leaders Arsenal.
It could be a very nervy Christmas period for the Craven Cottage faithful.
Gus Poyet has made Sunderland a more resilient side since he took over from Paolo Di Canio. Six of their last seven league games have been decided by a goal or less, and they are starting to show signs of improvement.
But, unfortunately, points on the board are all that matter when it comes to a relegation battle, and the Black Cats have picked up just one of those in their last four games.
11 - Sunderland have lost 11 points from winning positions this season, the most in the Premier League. Lapse.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 7, 2013
They have two vital games away to West Ham and at home to Norwich before Dec. 25 and they can’t afford to suffer defeat in either of them.
Sunderland are odds-on favourite to be rooted to the bottom come Christmas Day. The Black Cats sit five points adrift of Crystal Palace with two rounds of matches to be played, and despite what they do on Matchday 16, they will remain under pressure.