Over the past two years, no club has experienced more incessant relegation danger than Swansea City. It’s why the Welsh club went through five managers in less than 24 months. It’s why countless articles have been written about it straying from its on-field identity, scrambling to solve problems rather than proactively avoiding them in the first place.
But for the second straight year, it appears the fire-fighting has been successful. The Swans look set to complete another escape, especially after a thorough 4-1 victory over West Ham that took them three points clear of the relegation zone.
Just over two months ago, they sat in the Premier League basement, without a manager, and seemingly without much hope of staying up. But just a year after Paul Clement engineered a remarkable turnaround, Carlos Carvalhal appears to have done the same.
The Portuguese boss, days after being sacked by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, was appointed in late December with Swansea in 20th. Saturday’s resounding win, via goals from Ki Sung-Yueng, Mike van der Hoorn, Andy King and Jordan Ayew, was Carvalhal’s fifth in nine games, and it took Swansea all the way up into 13th.
It pulled the Swans firmly onto the right side of a relegation battle that is increasingly looking like a scrap between eight teams to avoid two spots.
West Brom sinking
That’s because West Brom looks destined for the Championship. Its fire-fighting has gone terribly, terribly wrong. It foolishly sacked Tony Pulis – he of the spotless relegation record – in November. It appointed Alan Pardew, and has won just one game since.
Its fifth loss in a row came Saturday at Watford. Troy Deeney bagged a second-half winner for the second week in a row, and, if reports are to be believed, might have condemned Pardew to unemployment.
Elsewhere around the Premier League …
Tottenham rode two Son Heung-Min goals – and two lovely assists, one apiece from Dele Alli and Harry Kane – to a straightforward win over Huddersfield.
Son broke a shoddy Terriers’ offside trap in the first half, and finished with aplomb:
He then latched onto a majestic deep cross from Kane in the second to bury Huddersfield:
Tottenham is now unbeaten in its last 17 games in all competitions, and is rolling toward Champions League qualification.
Everton and Big Sam struggling
For about a month after his appointment, Sam Allardyce drew rave reviews at Everton. He had lifted the Toffees up into the top half of the table, and seemingly stabilized a club that had been flirting with turmoil.
Two months later, traveling Everton supporters chanted “f— off Allardyce” at Burnley. Oh, and also, “You’re just a fat, greedy bastard!” Home fans, meanwhile, taunted the Everton boss with choruses of, “You’re getting sacked in the morning!”
The toxic atmosphere at Everton has seemingly returned as winning ways haven’t. The attack remains incoherent and impotent. Allardyce’s side ranks 20th in almost all chance creation categories since the Englishman took over. The whole situation is putrid.
And it got worse on Saturday at Turf Moor. Cenk Tosun put Everton ahead with a 20th-minute header, but that was just about the only positive for the visitors. A Kevin De Bruyne-esque pass from Matt Lowton released Ashley Barnes for a second-half equalizer:
Ashley Williams – Everton captain Ashley Williams, that is – then threw away a point and foiled his own team’s comeback plans in the span of six or seven minutes. He failed to track Chris Wood on a corner, and the Kiwi striker headed Burnley into the lead:
Williams then got himself sent off with a childish swing of his right arm:
Everton isn’t in much danger of relegation, mostly because it nicked three points from a few games in which it was outplayed. That’s why Big Sam’s start seemed so promising. Since, Everton has regressed to the mean, and that mean is, quite frankly, terribly low given the club’s wage bill and expectations.
Mahrez saves Leicester
Leicester, seemingly a clear favorite for seventh place after a strong run in December and January, has hit a snag. For over an hour at home against Bournemouth on Saturday, it was on its way to another defeat – and to just two points from its last five league games.
Three points from five games isn’t much better. But that’s what Riyad Mahrez got the Foxes with a dramatic free kick in the seventh minute of stoppage time:
Stoke 0-0 Southampton