Premier League relegation fight: We analyse the prospects for the teams at bottom

Jermain Defoe on the attack at Old Trafford. Picture by FRANK REID

Jermain Defoe on the attack at Old Trafford. Picture by FRANK REID

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Sunderland reach the mid-point of the season on Saturday when they visit fellow relegation rival Burnley.

The Black Cats could even celebrate the arrival of 2017 outside the drop zone should they win at Turf Moor.

The New Year programme will not decide safety or relegation but it will be a key part of the season

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The New Year programme will not decide safety or relegation but it will be a key part of the season, going into the FA Cup weekend on January 7-8.

Here how the teams at the bottom end of the Premier League look going into the two games.

20th Hull City

Games: 18, Pts 12, Goal Difference: -25

Last six games: LLLDLD

New Year Programme: 30: Everton (H), 2: West Brom (A)

Prospects: In one word, bleak. The Tigers went through all sorts of turmoil in the summer, with boss Steve Bruce baling out at the start of the season and, despite winning their first two games, they slid to the bottom end and do not look like moving anywhere fast.

Whether manager Mike Phelan has any money to strengthen his threadbare squad could be crucial to their hopes, but before then they have two difficult fixtures.

19th Swansea City

Games: 18 Pts: 12 Goal Difference :-20

Last six games: LLLWLW

New Year Programme: 31: Bournemouth (H), 3: Crystal Palace (A)

Prospects: Poor, given the way the rate they concede goals, the Sunderland game aside.

Talking of poor, you must pity Bob Bradley, out after just 85 games.

Where the Swans go to replace the American could decide their fate, but the two relegation-proof bosses are in work, Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis.

But not a bad New Year programme for a new boss to come into.

18th Sunderland

Games: 18 Pts: 14 Goal Difference: -15

Last six games LWLLWL

New Year Programme: 31 Burnley (A), 2: Liverpool (H)

Prospects: A tough New Year awaits – a trip to a club with one of the best home records and then a match against a title chaser.

If the Black Cats can get anything over the three days it will be a boost. The side is looking better but the fact it’s unlikely to see any investment is a worry.

They do have the best goalscorer in the teams at the bottom in Jermain Defoe and, at the other end, an in-form keeper in Jordan Pickford, that could be vital – if fit.

17th Crystal Palace

Games: 18, Pts: 16, Goal Difference: -4

Last six games: DLLDWL

New Year Programme: 1: Arsenal (A), 3: Swansea (H)

Prospects: Extremely bright. The worst possible news for Cats fans was the sacking of Alan Pardew and the installation of Big Sam at Selhurst Park.

Pardew, for all the talent at his disposal, had overseen a woeful year and had the Eagles in trouble. Allardyce will soon have them flying you suspect and a home game with Swansea will be a welcome sight for him.

16th Leicester City

Games: 18 Pts: 17, Goal Difference: -8

Last six games: LDLWLD

New Year Programme: 31: West Ham (H), 2: Boro (A)

Prospects: You would say fair, but their thrashing of Man City aside, it’s still not ‘happening’ for the champs.

Not a bad New Year double for Claudio Ranieri to negotiate, though the away form is still far from great so they may hang around in the wrong half of the table.

Bizarrely, progress in the Champions League could hinder them.

15th Middlesbrough

Games: 18, Pts: 18, Goal Difference: -4

Last six games: LWLLWD

New Year Programme: 31: Man United (A), 2: Leicester (H)

Prospects: Not bad. Organised and well-drilled are two watchwords when talking about Boro and Aitor Karanka.

Their defence, Victor Valdes’s blunder at Burnley aside, is pretty strong but do they score enough goals? Only Hull have found the net fewer times – if Alvaro Negredo bags some goals they should be OK.

14th Burnley

Games: 18, Pts: 20, Goal Difference: -11

Last six games: WLLWLL

New Year Programme: 31: Sunderland (H), 2: Man City (A)

Prospects: Good, providing their home form remains as it is because their away form is dire.

However, they are probably ‘just’ six wins from safety and, potentially, they could collect all of them at Turf Moor, so perhaps their record on the road might not matter. Saturday’s date with the Black Cats is huge.