it's a wrap

Could it come down to goal difference? Top-flight relegation battle becomes clearer

Catch up with this afternoon’s Premier League action right here.

THINGS ARE WELL and truly heating up at the bottom of the Premier League table.

Following today’s fixtures, it’s Swansea City, Middlesborough and Sunderland sitting in the bottom three, but several others are within distance of the drop zone.

Watford v Swansea City - Premier League - Vicarage Road PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Swansea City’s survival hopes suffered another blow as Etienne Capoue’s first-half goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road.

Capoue capitalised on an error from defender Alfie Mawson before beating Lukasz Fabianski at the second attempt to secure an eighth home win of the season for Walter Mazzarri’s side.

The result all but secures Watford’s place in the top flight for another season, although they were a touch fortunate to down a battling Swansea side for whom Gylfi Sigurdsson twice went close.

Despite improving upon their lacklustre display at West Ham last week, however, Paul Clement’s men were ultimately unable to avoid a sixth successive away defeat and their 13th on the road this season.

The Welsh side have now taken just one point from their last six outings and remain two points adrift of safety with only five games left to play. Their sole consolation from another tough away afternoon came in the form of 17th-placed Hull City also losing, beaten 3-1 at Stoke City.

Stoke City v Hull City - Premier League - bet365 Stadium Barrington Coombs Barrington Coombs

Xherdan Shaqiri marked a fantastic individual display with a thunderous long-range effort as Stoke City all but sealed their Premier League status for another season with victory over Hull City.

Stoke took the lead in the sixth minute thanks to a fierce Marko Arnautovic strike but struggled to build on it as Mark Hughes’ men sought to end a run of four consecutive defeats.

Hull, without an away win under Marco Silva, responded well and spurned a number of chances to level in an entertaining first half at the bet365 Stadium.

Harry Maguire eventually took advantage of some poor Stoke defending at a corner to level matters in the 51st minute. The visitors’ momentum was checked, though, as Hughes’ decision to send on Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters paid dividends when the latter set up the former England striker to make it 2-1 a quarter of an hour later.

Lee Grant made a crucial save to deny Kamil Grosicki an equaliser and Walters struck the woodwork but Shaqiri put the game to bed with a marvellous swerving effort into the top-left corner from 30 yards.

The win sends Stoke 11 points clear of the bottom three, while 17th-placed Hull remain just two points above the drop zone with five games left.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League - Stadium of Light Owen Humphreys Owen Humphreys

Sunderland gave themselves the faintest of lifelines in the battle against relegation after a late Fabio Borini goal saw them draw 2-2 with West Ham on Saturday.

Goals early in each half from Andre Ayew and James Collins had looked set to secure all three points for the visitors at the Stadium of Light and make it back-to-back wins for Slaven Bilic’s side for the first time since January.

Sunderland had drawn level through Wahbi Khazri and they snatched a point through Borini’s late strike, although a first win since February 4 was not to be as chants in opposition to manager David Moyes were heard in earnest for the first time this season.

Ayew opened the scoring after only five minutes but Khazri marked his first league start since October by scoring straight from a corner as Sunderland celebrated their first league goal in 701 minutes to head into the break on level terms.

Moyes’ side conceded in the first minute of the second half in last week’s 3-0 loss to Manchester United and they seemed not to have learned their lesson, as Collins headed West Ham back in front soon after the break.

Didier Ndong wasted a clear chance to equalise but Sunderland, who lost Billy Jones to a worrisome head injury, levelled in the 90th minute as Borini pounced on an error from Darren Randolph.

West Ham are surely safe, having moved nine points clear of the drop zone, but Sunderland’s hopes of survival look slim despite closing to within nine points of 17th-place Hull City, having played a game less.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League - Selhurst Park Adam Davy Adam Davy

Goals from Yohan Cabaye and Christian Benteke helped Crystal Palace to a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Leicester City at Selhurst Park after Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy had handed the reigning champions a two-goal lead.

The visitors appeared to be on their way to victory after Vardy had made it 2-0 early in the second half, but a resurgent Palace dug deep as Cabaye quickly cut the deficit and Benteke earned a deserved point for Sam Allardyce’s side 20 minutes from time.

Palace were high on confidence heading into Saturday’s encounter after winning five out of their last six games, including victories over Chelsea and the 3-0 home triumph against Arsenal last time out.

Leicester, meanwhile, came off the back of defeats versus Everton and Atletico Madrid after winning their previous six games under new boss Craig Shakespeare.

The contest did not initially go to form, though, and Huth put the visitors ahead after just six minutes, before Vardy’s goal finally stirred Allardyce’s charges into life. Cabaye pulled one back within just two minutes and it fell to Benteke to head in the leveler, with Palace looking the more likely to seal a win late on, though Leicester held firm.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League - Selhurst Park Adam Davy Adam Davy

The result leaves Palace seven points clear of the relegation zone with six games remaining, while the Foxes are two points better off.

Results in full:

  • Crystal Palace 2-2 Leicester City
  • Watford 1-0 Swansea City
  • Stoke City 3-1 Hull City
  • Sunderland 2-2 West Ham

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