After an arduous but entertaining eight-month season, the 2021-22 Premier League campaign has come down to a span of four days for a battle between three clubs to see which two sides will remain in the Premier League next year.
Just a single point separates 18th from 17th and 17th from 16th, and with games in hand, the permutations become innumerable. Here's how the table looks at the moment, with Everton, Leeds and Burnley occupying 16 through 18th, respectively:
The race for safety is tight, and over the last 10 matchweeks, it has been just as close. Everton has earned 14 points, Burnley 13 points and Leeds 12 points during this span.
Now, let's turn to the week ahead. Everton and Burnley both have make-up games on Thursday before all three sides have simultaneous fixtures on Sunday.
- Thursday, May 19: Aston Villa vs. Burnley
- Thursday, May 19: Everton vs. Crystal Palace
- Sunday, May 22: Arsenal vs. Everton
- Sunday, May 22: Brentford vs. Leeds United
- Sunday, May 22: Burnley vs. Newcastle
Of these opponents, Arsenal is the only one in the top half and also the only side with something to play for (a potential Champions League bid), making for a difficult season-ending match for Everton.
Per FiveThirtyEight's predictions, Everton will finish 16th with 38 points, while Burnley and Leeds will finish level with 36 points — with Burnley staying up on goal difference. Analytics can make predictions, but they can't measure the immense pressure these three sides are under right now as they battle for Premier League survival. Here's how it could all go down.
Premier League Relegation Permutations
For Everton to Stay Up
Leeds Loss or Draw vs. Brentford
Burnley earns one point or less in remaining two matches
Draw vs. Crystal Palace and Arsenal
Win vs. Crystal Palace or Arsenal
Odds of Survival: 92 percent (per FiveThirtyEight)
Even after picking up a pair of red cards in a 3-2 defeat to Brentford over the weekend, Everton still has the best survival odds with a 92 percent chance to stay in the division. The blueprint for the Toffees is simple: Win vs. Crystal Palace or Arsenal, and you're safe. This means the Merseyside Blues could be safe as soon as Thursday.
Things will get complicated though should the two-point gap between Everton and Burnley remain or decrease following the mid-week fixtures. Currently, Everton's goal difference is two goals worse than that of Burnley, and if the Clarets cut the gap, that disparity in GD will increase and the Toffees would lose in a tie-breaking situation. Things are looking good for Everton at the moment, but the club is not out of the woods yet.
For Leeds to Stay Up
Burnley loses both remaining matches
Draw vs. Brentford and Burnley loss and draw in remaining two matches
Win vs. Brentford and Burnley earns three points or less in remaining two matches
Win vs. Brentford and Everton earns one point or less in remaining two matches
Odds of Survival: 46 percent (per FiveThirtyEight)
Everton is not the only club that can stay up without earning a point — Leeds earns survival if Burnley loses its last two fixtures. That's the good news. The bad news for Leeds is its minus-38 goal difference — 18 goals worse than Everton and 20 worse than Burnley. The Peacocks have also won just once in their last eight home matches as Elland Road — the site for Leeds' final match of the season — has not been welcoming for Jesse Marsch's side.
Burnley and Everton also have played one fewer match than the Yorkshire-based side, leaving Leeds in a precarious position as it waits for the mid-week results from its two lower-table foes. A win at Brentford would be massive, but Leeds knows that as of today, Premier League survival is out of its hands.
For Burnley to Stay Up
Win vs. Aston Villa and Newcastle
Draw vs. Aston Villa or Newcastle and Leeds loss vs. Brentford
Earn at least two points in remaining two matches and Leeds draw vs. Brentford
Draws vs. Aston Villa and Newcastle and Everton losses vs. Crystal Palace and Arsenal
Win vs. Aston Villa or Newcastle and Leeds draw vs. Brentford
Win vs. Aston Villa and Newcastle and Everton earns one point or less in remaining two fixtures
Odds of Survival: 62 percent (per FiveThirtyEight)
While Burnley can't gain safety solely from Everton and Leeds losses, the Clarets will be pleased to know they still control their own destiny regardless of other results. Burnley is in 18th now but has a 65 percent chance of survival thanks to its game in hand against Leeds and numerous escape paths.
Burnley closes the season against Aston Villa and Newcastle, and while the 14th- and 12th-place sides are ideal opponents on paper, Burnley dropped both of the reverse fixtures and has lost two straight matches. Can the side rediscover its recent revival of form and claw its way to salvation?