The Premier League relegation battle has come down to seven games. Four teams, eight days, seven games.
That’s because Southampton conceded a gut-wrenching equalizer to Everton in the final minute of Saturday’s final game.
The Saints, who entered the day in 18th, jumped out of the relegation zone with the point. But they could have had three. They could have jumped all the way to 16th. They could have had the crucial victory that would have given them a great shot at survival.
And they seemingly did when Nathan Redmond game them a second-half lead:
They seemingly did when Alex McCarthy flew across his goal to save a Leighton Baines free kick in the fourth of four minutes of added time; when they had the ball in the Everton corner in the fifth of four minutes. But in the sixth of four minutes – a result of the 90 seconds Cedric spent down on the turf getting treatment for an injury in the 91st and 92nd minutes – Tom Davies’ deflected strike dealt a crushing blow to Southampton’s survival hopes.
It also gave West Brom yet another dramatic lifeline. Southampton’s draw was the sixth of 10 results that the Baggies need to stay in the Premier League. Without Everton’s equalizer, West Brom would have been relegated.
With it, and with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Watford, Brighton and West Ham now safe, and Stoke going down, the relegation battle has come down to Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Swansea and West Brom. Two will go down. Two will stay up.
The Saints’ draw, coupled with Swansea’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth and West Brom’s 1-0 win over Tottenham, left the Premier League table looking like this (number of games played in parentheses):
16. Huddersfield — 35 | (35)
17. Southampton — 33 | (36)
18. Swansea — 33 | (36)
19. West Brom — 31 | (37)
Huddersfield plays Manchester City on Sunday. Assuming the Terriers can’t nick a point or three off the champions, that is how the table will look heading into the final week of the season.
The decisive match will likely be Tuesday’s. Southampton travels to the Liberty Stadium to play Swansea. If Southampton wins, it would be all but safe. If Swansea wins, it might need a point on the final day of the season to secure.
If Tuesday’s game ends level, West Brom stays alive, and goes into the final day needing a win over Crystal Palace, a Swansea loss to Stoke, a Southampton loss to Manchester City, and a goal differential swing of four between itself and the Saints.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, can only go down if Southampton and Swansea win at least one game apiece over the final week. It can also take itself clear of trouble with a win over City on Sunday, Chelsea on Wednesday or Arsenal the following Sunday.
So Huddersfield is in good shape. West Brom still isn’t. Southampton would have been. Instead, the final spot in the bottom three is right in the balance.
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