Bournemouth pulling clear

February 3rd, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

The relegation struggle in the Premier League may well last until the final round of fixtures and there will be many desperate encounters between now and the final curtain in May.

Swansea have surprised everyone by beating Liverpool and Arsenal and much will depend on whether they can pick up a few away points, as well. To me, the bottom club of all, West Brom, are, if not underrated, certainly a bit unlucky to be propping up the rest.

When they play Southampton, it will be a question of the team with strikers – Daniel Sturridge and the in-form Jay Rodriguez against his former club – up against an outfit whose shortcomings in front of goal have been obvious for the better part of a year.

Southampton have a nucleus of players superior to some of the other troubled teams but it may not save them. Also, after playing Liverpool ay St Mary’s, they have a run of four straight away games. I’m a little surprised that some 5/1 about going down was available before the typically frustrating 1-1 draw against Brighton.

If West Brom click into gear here, the Saints’ situation will look even more worrying. They strike me as a club without proper leadership and that can be fatal. I have no doubt that 13/8 about West Brom is fair.

Brighton fought hard in midweek and I should think the game against West Ham will be another bruising encounter. In the end, David Moyes will achieve all that Gold and O’Sullivan could have hoped for when they let Slaven Bilic go – survival.

The point has been made often enough, not least on this page, that Bournemouth are a far better team than their league position suggested. I’m not saying I thought they’d win at Chelsea but the latter look a tired outfit to me and Bournemouth, having sensibly eased out of the FA Cup (something that could yet cost Brighton and Southampton more than they imagine), met them at exactly the right time. Another win, against Stoke on Saturday, would more or less guarantee another campaign at the highest level and 10/11 looks reasonable. Like Huddersfield and Swansea, Stoke still have plenty to do to wriggle clear of danger and this trip will be far from straightforward.

WEST BROM 20 units at 13/8 to beat Southampton

BOURNEMOUTH 15 units at 10/11 to beat Stoke

Brighton v West Ham 10 units THE DRAW at 21/10