The only team that finishes in 17th position will remain in the Premier League. At the bottom, two of Bournemouth, Watford and Villa will join already relegated Norwich in the Championship next season.
Villa have the upper hand with a three-point lead on Bournemouth and a marginally better goal difference than Watford, but it could get really messy down at the bottom with goal difference coming into the picture.
How can Aston Villa survive?
Fixture: West Ham United (A)
Dean Smith’s men have momentum after a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday and travel to a West Ham side now sure of their place in the Premier League next season.
A win will guarantee safety for Villa if Watford fail to win at Arsenal. If Watford win at the Emirates, Villa would have to either match or better Watford’s winning margin against West Ham. Draw for both teams would see Villa remain in the Premier League next season.
“Results went our way in the week and we’re above the dotted line at the moment,” said Smith.
“The most important thing is to be above that dotted line on Sunday and we know we have to win to guarantee that.”
A defeat for Villa would leave them in danger of going down but they could be bailed out by results elsewhere if Bournemouth fail to beat Everton or Watford lose by a margin that’s not better than that Villa’s by two clear goals. A one-goal goal difference swing in favour of Watford would put the two teams level on goal difference but Villa would survive on virtue of more goals scored.
How Watford can survive?
Fixture: Arsenal (A)
Watford’s sacking of Nigel Pearson with just two games of the season remaining did the Hornets little good in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday and they travel to Arsenal needing to better Villa’s result.
The Hornets will survive if they better Villa’s result but in case both teams win or lose, Watford will have to make sure there is a two-goal swing in their favour as far as the goal difference is concerned to stay in the top flight.
How can Bournemouth survive?
For Bournemouth the situation is clear. They must win to harbour any hopes of survival and hope both Villa and Watford lose their respective games. A point for either side would end Bournemouth’s Premier League stint even if they beat Everton at Goodison Park.
“The next game is the biggest game of all our careers,” said Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.