Leicester City are to be relegated from the Premier League exactly seven years after winning the English top flight title unless they beat West Ham United on Sunday and results elsewhere go in their favour. Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes were the toast of the beautiful game in 2015/16 when Jamie Vardy, Kasper Schmeichel, Ngolo Kante and Riyad Mahrez defied 5000-1 odds to claim the only title in their history. Monday’s goalless draw at Newcastle United left the former champions clutching onto straws.
They must get maximum points at home to the Hammers and hope both Everton and Leeds United lose to survive the dreaded descent into the Championship. Two fifth place finishes under Brendan Rodgers, one of which came as recently as 2021, a year in which they also beat Chelsea to lift the FA Cup title, had King Power Stadium fans purring with anticipation. But as the game’s cognoscenti fell over each other in praise of a squad that was described as better than the class of 2016, the Foxes hierarchy took their eyes off the ball.
Influential skipper Schmeichel left for Nice in French Ligue One without being replaced and Rodgers was sacked after repeatedly questioning the club’s ambition following their failure to make significant forays into the transfer market. Leicester City were one of only four clubs to make a profit in last summer’s transfer window after realising £72m in player sales while spending only £42m. Only Brighton and Hove Albion spent less.
Everton are another side that could rue their miniscule transfer market ambitions. The Toffees banked a profit of £22.45m after registering an income of £103.6m and spending just £69.13m. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, the eight time English top flight champions can beat the drop if they overcome already safe Bournemouth at Goodison Park. Leeds United must beat Tottenham Hotspur just to have a sniff.
In the upper echelons of the division, most positions are settled with the country’s Champions League positions decided. Title winning manager Pep Guardiola will try to make the delicate balance between resting players for next weekend’s FA Cup final against Manchester United and putting out a competent outfit when his Manchester City side make a trip to Brentford. Second placed Arsenal can meanwhile arrest an alarming slump in form if they overcome Wolverhampton Wanderers in a battle between Spanish tacticians Mikel Arteta and Julen Lopetegui.
Arsenal v Wolves,
Aston Villa v Brighton,
Brentford v Manchester City,
Chelsea v Newcastle United,
Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest,
Everton v Bournemouth,
Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur,
Leicester City v West Ham,
Manchester United v Fulham,
Southampton v Liverpool