No team has ever won the Premier League and been relegated in the following season. Leicester are just two points above the drop zone and face a tough fixture against Manchester City at home on Saturday. This match comes on the back of a 5-0 defeat in Porto, which was the heaviest defeat by an English side in the 61-year history of Europe’s Premier competition.
There was always going to be a reaction to creating the biggest shock in sport in winning the Premier League at 5,000/1 last season. Leicester are safely through to the knockout stages of the Champions League but in domestic football they look nothing like the dynamic team that kept on delivering last season. The Christmas period could be crucial and Claudio Ranieri cannot afford too many more poor performances.
Club owners are fickle and the Thai hierarchy that funds Leicester could panic if relegation remains a possibility. The Leicester story is remarkable and they could make history by either sacking the manager less than one season after being champions or even win the Champions League and be relegated in the same season. Playing Manchester City even at home is not the best way to embark on a crucial period of fixtures.
City are having a mini-crisis themselves. With Champions League qualification for the next round assured the home draw with Celtic this week was not a major concern. However, losing to Chelsea at home in the Premier League was a significant reverse despite the circumstances. City had over 60% of the possession, five shots on target compared to four and won nine corners to two. They are now four points behind the leaders Chelsea but would be two points clear if they had won the fixture.
City have the best away record in the Premier League this season. They have won six of seven matches, scoring 17 goals and conceding seven. Only Arsenal and Tottenham have a better defensive record on the road and only Arsenal have scored more goals on their travels. Leicester have won just three of seven home league fixtures so this match looks like one of the away bankers of the weekend.
Everton are three places and two points above Watford who they visit on Saturday. However, that could change because Watford are fancied to win this fixture. The Hornets have won three, lost three and drawn one league match at home this season, scoring and conceding 10. That suggests an average home team but Everton are a below average side away from home and the hosts can prevail.
Watford were one of the biggest overachievers in the Premier League last season. They were the only team to start the season odds-on to be relegated but they finished 13th and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Even so Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked and replaced by Walter Mazzarri. The new man had been out of work since 2014 after flopping at Inter Milan. Watford could be at his level and he can bring them mid-table safety.
Everton made a great start for Ronald Koeman but are on a poor run of results. He looked a good managerial appointment but maybe this is a stepping stone to Barcelona. Everton have lost four of their last five League games, scoring two conceding 10. They won a point at Manchester City but the home side missed two penalties. Everton made two semi-finals but generally had a shoddy campaign in 2015-16. There hasn’t been a great deal of improvement under Koeman and things could get worse with a defeat at Watford.
The Sunday fixtures can produce a home team double. Chelsea will have too much for West Brom at Stamford Bridge but Tottenham’s match at Old Trafford with Manchester United looks more difficult to call. Jose Mourinho may be a poor loser but the fact is his side have played better than the number of League points won suggests. Everton had two shots on target when United visited Goodison Park last Sunday and one was the penalty converted in the 89th minute to secure a point.
No team has lost fewer games than Tottenham in the league this season but six of 14 fixtures have been drawn, including four on the road. If United keep their heads and continue delivering solid performances results should improve and that process can begin with a home win over Tottenham on Sunday.