It may be very early on in the season, but the table is slowly starting to take shape. The relegation battle, by the looks of things, is going to be extremely fascinating. Last season, the supremacy of the top 7 was stupendously on show. Seventh placed Everton finished an incredible 15 points ahead of eighth placed Southampton. On the other, the difference between the Saints and 17th placed Watford was just 6 points.
This year, if anything, it looks like the concentration is going to be even larger. Everton are well and truly out of the running, while the rest of the bottom half teams doesn’t look all that improved. The top 6 of the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs may develop a huge gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
In situations like these, it is hugely important for teams in the bottom half to take games against each other with paramount importance.
Must-win games even at this stage
Swansea City host newly-promoted Huddersfield Town in what is a very very big game for Paul Clement’s men. They have lost each of their 3 home games thus far, and the 1-0 away defeat at West Ham United last week saw them slip into the relegation zone. In their last couple of games at the Liberty Stadium, they succumbed to losses against Watford and Newcastle United. In a season where the margin for error promises to be so low, such results are almost unpardonable.
The Swans must get nothing lesser than three points against Huddersfield, who have had a bright start to the season following their promotion to the top-flight. David Wagner’s men are placed 11th, but are also winless since the second gameweek of the season. They have managed to pick up points here and there in the form of draw.
Brighton & Hove Albion will be looking to make it three home wins in a row when they host a struggling Everton side. The Seagulls are in 14th place, and it looks like home form will be the determining factor in whether they survive their first season in the top-flight. Everton, on the other hand, can’t catch a break right now. Despite a lavish summer spending spree, they are in 16th place. Last week’s home defeat to Burnley only added to Ronaldo Koeman’s woes, and the Dutchman is certainly fighting for his job even at this early stage in the season.
Seventeenth-placed Leicester City host West Bromwich Albion on Monday night, and desperately need a win here. Craig Shakespeare’s men haven’t played all that badly, and individuals like Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire have shined. But the 2015/16 champions are in 17th and the danger of slipping back into the Championship just two years after winning the Premier League is very much real.
Fifteenth-placed West Ham United travel to Turf Moor to take on the surprise package of the season, Burnley. The bottom two, on the other hand, face gargantuan tasks – Crystal Palace (20th) host champions Chelsea, while Bournemouth (19th) travel to Wembley to take on Spurs.