With 14 games left to go, we’re almost done with the first two-thirds of the 2016/17 English Premier League Season, which means that the table is slowly starting to assume its final shape, and teams are starting to get an even better idea of what position they’ll be able to finish in, when the final match-day comes to an end. (Barring a catastrophic capitulation in the coming weeks) this year’s trophy should already be somewhere on the road to Stamford Bridge, which means we’ll be turning our attention briefly to the other end of the table, where there’s everything left to fight for. With a relatively small number of games left to go, and with only ten points separating the teams in 20th and 11th, there’s ample room for significant ascents and descents on the table, and there are at least 7 managers who should be reasonably concerned about their team’s chances of survival, in the coming weeks.
Even though we could have a very high number of teams in the thick of the relegation battle, there are only a few of them who are relying heavily on the performances of one specific player, in order to achieve whatever “success” will come to them, and we’re going to be referring to these players as the “Field Marshals of the Relegation Battle” (because they’re the highest ranking players in the fight for survival, duh). All 3 of these players have been selected based on their current values to their team (statistical and otherwise) and ranked in ascending order.
In summary, this article will foreshadow the launch of a three-part series of write-ups, where we’ll be taking a look at Alvaro Negredo, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jermain Defoe (the three most significant players in this year’s relegation battle), and the roles they’ll be playing in the survival efforts of Middlesbrough, Swansea City and Sunderland, respectively, and we’ll be referencing statistics from whoscored.com, through all three articles. We hope you enjoy it.
Before we get to each of the aforementioned players, we’ll wrap this article up by quickly running through our list of “Honourable Mentions”; other players with high stakes in the relegation battle, whose roles will most likely fall short of our Top 3. In no particular order, we have:
1. Tom Heaton:
-Premier League leader in saves made.
-Has often been the difference between a loss and a draw.
There have been two different Burnley teams in the 2016/17 EPL season.
Depending on what week it is, they’re either; “Burnley, the 3rd best home team in the League” (currently behind only Chelsea and Tottenham, with 28 home points from a possible 39), or, “Burnley; the absolute worst away team in the League” (with only 1 away point from a possible 33).
Tom Heaton has been their first choice goalie through 22 of those 24 games, and even though he has had a very impressive season, thus far, Burnley’s survival (which isn’t in as much doubt, right now) will be more dependent on which one of the two, distinct Burnley teams hangs around for the longer portion of time.
Will it be (a) Good Burnley; where Mr. Heaton has conceded only 9 goals in 12 home games, or (b) Bad Burnley; where he has conceded a staggering 22 goals, in just 10 away games?
(Kindly click on the appropriate number, below, to view the next page.)