Twenty3’s Tactics Truck: What to watch out for in the Premier League’s relegation showdown

The Premier League is preparing for its grand finale weekend — the champions are already decided, but the relegation battle will go down to the wire.

Two of Everton, Leeds United and Leicester City are set to drop down the Championship, with only one capable of retaining their place in the English top flight next season.

Ahead of a nail-biting final round, we used Twenty3’s Toolbox to analyse the trio’s final fixtures and all the possible permutations.

Everton v Bournemouth

Team: Everton
Position: 17th
Points: 33 
Goal difference: -24

Everton have the most straightforward task thanks to Yerry Mina’s last-gasp equaliser against Wolves, which handed them a precious point.

A win against Bournemouth would ensure their safety, regardless of the results in fixtures elsewhere, though they could still stay up even with a defeat if neither Leeds nor Leicester claim victory.

Encouragingly for the Toffees, the Cherries arrive at Goodison Park on a three-match losing streak, being beaten by Chelsea, Crystal Palace, and then Manchester United.

If Sean Dyche’s side draw, they would go down on goal difference if Leicester win or on goals scored if Leeds win by a margin of three goals.

Alex Iwobi has arguably been Everton’s most important player, starting 37 games this season – joint-top with James Tarkowski.

The Nigerian playmaker has scored two and assisted seven in the Premier League this term, averaging a team-high 0.57 completed through-balls and 0.75 shots on target assisted per 90.

Importantly, he also works hard without the ball, recording 0.67 dangerous ball recoveries in the opponents’ half per 90.

However, Everton’s Achilles heel this term has been the absence of a prolific goalscorer, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin looking unlikely to return from injury, they will need another member of the squad to step up and finish the chances Iwobi and his teammates create.

Leicester City v West Ham United

Team: Leicester City
Position: 18th 
Points: 31 
Goal difference: -18

Leicester almost took the driving seat in the relegation race before Nick Pope produced a stunning save to stop Timothy Castagne’s volley from rippling the back of the Newcastle United net late on in their last outing.

However, following their 0-0 draw on Tyneside, the Foxes’ Premier League survival is now out of their hands and their only route to survival is a victory over West Ham United coupled with Everton failing to beat Bournemouth.

The Hammers come into this match off the back of a 3-1 win against Leeds, though David Moyes may rotate with one eye on their Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina next week.

Dean Smith’s side will look to take full advantage if that is the case and are at their most dangerous in transition, racking up an impressive 5.7 expected goals from counter-attacking situations and attempting 1,609 pressing duels in an attempt to force opponents into errors.

Additionally, the Foxes won the reverse fixture 2-0 in London and they will hope to channel that performance at the King Power Stadium, backed by home support.

James Maddison scored the opening goal of that game in the eighth minute and has been the Foxes’ leading light in a dreary season, with 10 goals and nine assists in the English top flight – four of those contributions coming in his last five games.

The Englishman leads his team for shots (2.72), dribbles completed (2.65), successful through-balls (0.45) and shots assisted (2.06) per 90 in the competition.

Maddison will have to produce his brilliant best at the King Power Stadium if Leicester are to have any hope of staving off the drop.

Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur

Team: Leeds United
Position: 19th 
Points: 31 
Goal difference: -27

After a 3-1 loss to West Ham last weekend, Leeds are sitting on the precipice of relegation — even if they claim all three points against Tottenham Hotspur, it may not be enough.

If Everton avoid defeat or Leicester win, Sam Allardyce’s side will be relegated regardless of their result.

A Toffees defeat coupled with the Foxes dropping points would give the Whites a clear path to safety if they can beat Spurs, but if Dyche’s side draw, Leeds would require a three-goal margin of victory or better to stay up on goals scored or goal difference.

With top scorer Rodrigo and first-choice centre-forward Patrick Bamford both struggling with injury, the Yorkshire club look light on goal threat.

“It now depends on the injuries,” Allardyce said. “If both Rodrigo and Patrick miss out, it is a big ask. We may have to play a completely different system.”

Wilfried Gnonto could be the man to shoulder that burden, having scored two and assisted four in the Premier League this season.

He is also an explosive ball-carrier, averaging 3.48 successful dribbles and 3.12 progressive runs per 90 – more than any of his teammates.

However, it is not just in attack where Leeds have problems, as Allaryce explained.

“From a defensive point of view, we need to work on keeping Harry Kane and Son [Heung-min] quiet,” he said.

The Whites have been among the worst performers at the back, keeping just five clean sheets and conceding 74 goals.

Additionally, they have struggled to hold on even after going in front, dropping 25 points from winning positions this term.

With Harry Kane – the division’s second-highest scorer on 28 goals ahead of the final day – lining up on the opposing side, those defensive frailties could well be laid bare.

Leeds have no choice but to go on the front foot as they need to win – and possibly by three goals – but that approach could suit their opponents and lead to a relegation-sealing defeat.

All visualisations and Smart Reports in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.