Monday’s fixtures brought a major shakeup in the relegation battle, as wins by Everton and Nottingham Forest sunk Leeds and Leicester into the relegation zone. Four of the five teams that are hovering around the drop were in action on Monday. The high-scoring affairs make for serious drama over the remaining three games of the campaign.
At the beginning of the day, the bottom five were as follows. Southampton sat in last, all but assured of going down. Everton was in 19th followed by Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Leicester through 16th. Of those, Leeds was the only club not playing. The Whites played at Manchester City at the weekend, losing narrowly, 2-1.
By the end of the day, Southampton remained at the bottom. However, Leeds dropped to 19th, and Leicester is in the drop zone at 18th. Forest climbed to 16th, while Everton is on the outside looking in at 17th.
In total, the three games yielded 21 goals. Here is how those fell in a wild day of Premier League action.
Everton, Forest into safety; Leeds and Leicester threatening relegation
Fulham 5-3 Leicester City
Leicester City was always going to be an underdog at a Fulham side that will likely finish in the top half of the table. Marco Silva’s side lost its last three, and it saw Leicester as the team to bounce back against. Fittingly, a quick start from the Cottagers sunk Leicester from the start. Three first-half goals built a mountain for Leicester to climb to salvage anything from this game.
Early in the second half, it was a four-goal cushion. Although Leicester tried to climb back into the game with a goal, Fulham snuffed out any dramatic comeback. After Bernd Leno saved a Jamie Vardy penalty, Willian delivered a sumptuous goal from well outside the 18-yard box.
Leicester tried a late comeback, scoring two after the 80th minute. But, by then, the damage was done. It is the ninth loss in the Foxes’ last 13 games.
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-5 Everton
The best way to describe this result is shocking. For Brighton and Hove Albion, this is a huge blow for a team that controlled its own destiny to get into the Europa League. Plus, with Manchester United’s inconsistent form, the Champions League was not far off. However, this leaves the Seagulls seven points back of Liverpool in fifth, even though Brighton does have two games in hand.
This is Everton’s best game this year, and that included a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Goodison. Everton, like Fulham, scored three first-half goals to develop a stranglehold on the contest. Despite the attacking talent Brighton possesses and its midfield consistency, it was all Everton throughout the game. Of the Toffees’ seven wins this season, this is just the second to come by multiple goals. The other, for reference, was a 3-0 trouncing of Crystal Palace in October.
Dwight McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucouré both secured braces at the American Express Stadium. Not only does this take Everton out of the drop zone, but it is a massive morale boost. With games against Wolves and Bournemouth to close the season, Everton will see the potential to get something out of those games.
Nottingham Forest 4-3 Southampton
The Nottingham Forest Southampton game was the most exciting of Monday’s triumvirate of contests. However, for much of the game, it seemed a repeat of what happened in the two earlier fixtures. Forest jumped out to a comfortable first-half lead of 3-1, symbolic of the two previous games. One of those three was a great volley from Taiwo Awoniyi.
Yet, Southampton got one back via a corner in the first six minutes of the second half. Forest ballooned the lead back to two with a fantastic team goal capped off by Danilo.
It would not be out of the question for Southampton to give up. Forest thought it scored a fifth via Felipe, but the play was offside. However, the Saints came marching back. James Ward-Prowse converted a penalty in the 96th minute to make the last four minutes nervous around the Community Stadium. Despite a handful of corners and shades of chances, Nottingham Forest hung on.
With three games left, Southampton is now eight points from safety. Therefore, it is all but sent down to the Championship. Nottingham Forest, though, is three points above the drop. Yet, the road is not so clear. Forest still has Chelsea and Arsenal on the schedule before concluding against Crystal Palace.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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