After nearly two-thirds of a season, you would think Watford (the tenth placed team in the Premier League) would feel reasonably comfortable and positive. 

However, despite being in the the top half, with just 14 games remaining Watford are facing the real possibility of an imminent relegation battle. Seven losses in their last nine matches led to the sacking of yet another Premier League Manager, this time Marco Silva.

Watford are eight places above the dreaded relegation zone, but with their recent poor form, only four points separate them and 18th-placed Southampton.

Swansea, bottom of the league, are only two further points off 18th after they surprised when they beat Liverpool .

All of this makes for a relegation battle involving more teams than ever before. Interestingly, in two Premier League seasons - 2005-06 and 2007-08 - more than 25 points separated 10th and 20th at this stage of the campaign. 

The six points separating the bottom 11 teams is the tightest the bottom of the table has ever been after 24 games. Even Everton who are sitting in ninth place could still be pulled into the feared relegation battle. 

What's changed in 2017-18?

Arguably, Manchester City are running away with the title creating a mini battle amongst the big teams underneath them.

At the same time, there is no team rooted to the foot of the table. At the start of the season, Crystal Palace failed to get points on the board with seven consecutive defeats leaving many pundits tipping them for certain relegation. However, Palace are now in 13th place, after finding some form with the arrival of Roy Hodgson at the helm.

By way of contrast, in 2005-06 Mick McCarthy's woeful Sunderland were fixed to the bottom and in 2007-08, Derby struggled horribly and ended the season with the lowest-ever points tally in Premier League history.

Who will stay safe and who will go down?

Swansea has been bottom since December 13 and has been no higher than 19th since October; perhaps they could be the team to slip away. West Brom. and Southampton have been lacking form for weeks, but they are certainly not down and out; they still have every chance of survival despite slipping into the bottom three.

Newly-promoted teams Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield both started the season well, but are now just one and two points above the drop zone, respectively.   The last part of the season will be telling for both these sides, as they look to strengthen their squads to try and combat fatigue and injury which newly promoted teams so often struggle with.

Where’s the consistency?

Newcastle are the only team of the bottom 11 teams to have strung together more than two wins in a row all season. Newcastle won three in a row in August/September, but have only won three times in 19 games since.

Contrastingly, West Ham, Brighton, Stoke, Southampton and Swansea have failed to win successive games all season.

A pattern is emerging; each time any of the teams at the bottom begin to look like they might make a run for safety, they seem to fall at the very next hurdle.

How tight?

Extremely tight; 11 teams are bunched so closely together -  more than ever before. 

With 14 rounds to go, without doubt, they are all in a relegation fight. This is the tightest and most broadly contested competition against relegation the Premier League has ever seen.

Categories: Analysis | Premier League

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