It is hardly a surprise that the upper reaches of the Premier League is receiving the lion’s share of the media’s coverage at present.

Arsenal are in serious contention to win the unlikeliest title since Leicester in 2016 while Newcastle’s transformative takeover has already placed them among the elite. Liverpool and Chelsea meanwhile are struggling against type. 

Understandably these gripping narratives are getting top billing.

Should we venture further south however, we are immediately drawn into an engrossing soap opera that might well have us hooked until the final credits, as one of the fiercest-fought and closest relegation battles in living memory plays out. 

Presently, just six points separate Everton, who are third from bottom, with Leicester who are stationed in mid-table and if the sports betting informs us the Foxes are relatively safe a single loss would quickly have us believe otherwise.

That’s because at this juncture, with a little over a third of the campaign left, the harsh reality is that eight clubs are scrapping for their top-flight lives.

If the sheer volume of participants, and the closeness of the overall gap, makes this potentially a vintage relegation dogfight, the intriguing variety of clubs involved is also a factor. 

Included in the mix are promoted sides such as Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest which is often the way, but firmly entrenched in trouble are two who were expected to be nowhere near the drop-zone when 2022/23 opened for business. 

For the last two seasons, David Moyes has taken West Ham to sixth and seventh respectively and another sterling year was anticipated. Instead, the Hammers have won just five of their 23 games, a bluntness in attack proving costly. 

As for Everton, while few predicted great things from a limited squad and a manager in Frank Lampard who divides opinion, fewer still tipped them to languish in the bottom three for the most part of a miserable campaign. 

Elsewhere, Southampton have been consistently poor and reside rock-bottom while Leeds and Wolves endeavour to change direction after enduring periods of mismanagement.

On that note it’s pertinent that five of the current bottom six have sacked their managers in recent weeks, with Southampton looking for their third inside a season, and this once again illustrates what is at stake, and the extreme measures clubs are prepared to take to survive.

The Saints and Bournemouth both spending a small fortune in the transfer window is another example of this as panic sets in and the Championship looms.

So who from the main candidates will ultimately drop? That’s the question that pervades every aspect of this captivating story-arc that may not reach a satisfying conclusion until the final day. 

Certainly, a rousing late escape that we’ve witnessed from struggling teams before feels beyond Southampton, while their South Coast neighbours Bournemouth are short-priced in the Premier League relegation betting for a reason.

That reason being they can’t stop haemorrhaging goals. 

Which leaves a single undesired spot to be filled by one of a trio of Midlands clubs, Everton, West Ham or Leeds. 

Watch this space. It’s going to be drama of the highest magnitude, tense, tight and unmissable.


Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.