Southampton and Stoke must start winning, now, if they are to catch faltering relegation rivals that are drifting within reach.
We wrote recently how Brighton had to make themselves safe, with home games against Leicester and Huddersfield, before their final 5 games all being against top 7 sides.
The Seagulls blew their best chance of safety by losing to Leicester. We then wrote how they and Huddersfield couldn’t then afford to draw against each other, or both would remain in range of any rivals below. They drew.
Southampton and Stoke have yet to take advantage and both recently had to endure a hiding to nothing by visiting Arsenal, but they cannot afford to mope. The Gunners won both matches, but the Saints and the Potters both played well at the Emirates and each could have won.
There is now no time to lose. Southampton and Stoke have to believe in safety and they have to play to win, as momentum now could make all the difference.
Brighton and Huddersfield are in bad enough form that they can drift low enough to be caught. Swansea are stagnating, while Crystal Palace lose every time they face a tough match and often concede late goals.
But Palace are now emerging from their final run of harsh matches and should get enough points from their final games to be safe. West Ham’s plight depends on how well they can service Marko Arnautovic, so they should pull clear in the coming weeks.
The fact remains that Brighton could lose all their remaining matches. That puts them in Southampton and Stoke’s reach, if – and it’s still a big if – those two can start to win.
That is not easy for clubs who have spent the season losing, but the gap could shrink alarmingly fast if both can start to win now.