Are mid-table Premier League teams ‘on the beach’ this weekend – how would you know?


The sun is out, the nights are longer, another Premier League season is drawing to a close and three words have re-entered the football lexicon, as they do at this time of year: on the beach.

Essentially, this means that a team with nothing to play for is busy thinking about their vacation, rather than approaching the final few games with the usual nerves.

You probably know this feeling yourself, whether you’re counting your notice period at a particularly heartbreaking job or playing Hungry Hippo on the last day of the school year.

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Squeaky bums and bottle jobs: How to talk football at the end of the season

The Premier League is a slightly different beast as these are professional athletes in one of the most demanding arenas of elite sport.

You don’t want tens of thousands of fans in the stadium questioning your attitude and application at any point during the season – not to mention the millions on social media. The prize money for each league position is also no less than £3.1 million ($3.9 million).

But these players are just flawed human beings like us who might sometimes call in a report if they can get away with it. Heading into this weekend, the eight top-flight teams have arguably little to play for in their remaining two to three games. Sometimes, you can tell.

This can be a liberating experience. It’s time to break free, experiment with team options and tactics, and generally play with a sense of abandonment.

Or, when nothing is happening, it could be a time to question the purpose of football. Why chase the loose ball? Why track that runner? Why not, metaphorically speaking, apply a factor of 30 and bask in the sunshine of a safe, stable, largely unobtrusive season?

Competitor Watch as all eight Premier League teams move safely into mid-table this weekend to see if they have laid out the towel…


Bournemouth (lost to Brentford 1-2)

Bournemouth completed their 2023-24 home duties with a bizarre defeat to Brentford, with all three goals scored after the 85th minute. The game certainly had a lot of elements of a beach game: the sun was scorching hot, fans were watching with their hands above their eyes, and no one was worried about live league conditions.

But Andoni Iraola didn’t look like the kind of manager willing to take it easy – he spent the first half complaining about Dominic Solanke’s goal, which was ruled out for handball earlier in the game He received a yellow card in the first half after being overturned by VAR. It wasn’t one of his team’s best performances of the season, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Looking at the numbers: The football club of this town located entirely on the beach lost its final home game for the fourth time in the past five seasons.


Andoni Iraola: Dependable and intense (Robin Jones/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

Brentford (beat Bournemouth 2-1)

The chance to play close to the beach with two games remaining is a positive for Brentford after suffering relegation fears in the spring, but Thomas Frank’s side have expertly Negotiating the end of the season: it was their third win in the last five games and their third win in the last five games. They scored their latest winning goal in the Premier League since Manchester City’s famous winner.

Of course, that can manifest in a number of ways on the beach, and if a point is crucial in the relegation battle, Brentford may not be pushing for the final victory.

Looking at the numbers: 22% of Brentford’s goals in the final five minutes of the season came against Bournemouth on Saturday.


Brighton (1-1 draw with Newcastle)

It was Brighton’s longest journey of the season but they were rewarded with good weather on the Sussex beaches in Newcastle. It was all set for Roberto De Zerbi’s side to put on their flip-flops, but that certainly happened in their last game away to Bournemouth South Coast (where they lost 0-3 dropped the game), not this game.

Against a team fighting for three points for European qualification, Brighton’s draw was valuable.

Looking at the numbers: Brighton’s performance saw them commit the second-highest number of fouls on the road in the Premier League this season (16).


Joel Veltman celebrates Brighton’s goal at St James’ Park (George Wood/Getty Images)

Crystal Palace (beat Wolves 3-1)

Crystal Palace’s start at Molineux had a beachy vibe compared to the high standards of the previous five games, but it was a very high standard. After a slow start, they burst into life and found their rhythm, led by the triple threat of Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe Matata.


Currently, Eberechi Eze is more likely to be on a plane than on a beach (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Oliver Glasner will never settle for anything less than total commitment and that’s what he got in the 3-1 win over Wolves, even if the overall performance was more disjointed than it has been in recent times.

Looking at the numbers: Crystal Palace’s expected goals total is 2.7, the highest number in a Premier League away game since April 2023 against Leeds United.


Everton (beat Sheffield United 1-0)

Everton on the beach? The chances are good with Sean Dyche in charge. It was a tight contest and Jack Robinson pushed Dominic Calvert-Lewin, sparking a melee that threatened to break out. Dyche kept coaxing his players to keep up the pressure, with Idrissa Gueye earning applause for a late tackle.

But with safety ensured, the atmosphere was more relaxed than at other recent finals at Goodison Park. Everton had more possession and played some good football, particularly in the build-up to Abdoulaye Doucoure’s winner. Against the relegated Sheffield United, they no longer need to step on the accelerator.

Looking at the numbers: 84% equals Everton’s highest pass completion rate in the Premier League this season.


Fulham (lost to Manchester City 0-4)

Flying kites and fishing on social media before the big game? What follows is a 0-4 defeat? On the surface, Fulham were screaming on the beach this week, but despite the scoreline, their performance on Saturday painted a different picture.

Marco Silva’s side worked tirelessly to keep City relatively quiet for over an hour, religiously sticking to the center of their defence, but as fatigue set in, City overwhelmed them with their imperial dominance.

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Tempting as it may be, there are no beach balls or flip-flops on display at Craven Cottage.

Looking at the numbers: Fulham may have had just one shot on goal – but that’s more than four in 16 successive defeats to Manchester City.


West Ham United (beat Luton 3-1)

The home side looked like they were reminiscing about the summer in the first half against Luton Town. At halftime, they were booed by the fans outside the field, but after the break, their performance improved significantly, playing with a sense of urgency and confidence, and eventually won 3-1.

The players looked to secure victory in David Moyes’ final home game as manager and that was ultimately what happened. Go from happy employee to dedicated employee in 90 minutes.


George Ersey celebrates his first Premier League goal (Alex Davison/Getty Images)

Looking at the numbers: West Ham United’s total shots (7), good chances (5) and expected goals (2.63) in the second half all hit season highs.


Wolves (lost to Crystal Palace 1-3)

For the first time in recent weeks, Wolves played a run of games that – for much of the first half – suggested floral shirts and cocktails. Gary O’Neill’s side lacked intensity and were careless on the ball, which was very inconsistent with how they had been earlier in the season.

But they did drag themselves out of their couch in the second half and at least create more urgency – even if it wasn’t enough to turn the game around – so maybe the first 45 minutes weren’t entirely due to holiday daydreams.

Looking at the numbers: Wolves conceded 1.62 expected goals in the first half, the third-highest total in the Premier League this season.


Wolves boss Gary O’Neill is stepping up the pace (Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Reporting by Mark Critchley, Andy Naylor, Matt Woosnan, Patrick Boylan, Peter Rutzler, Roshan Thomas, Steve Madeley and Duncan Alexander

(Above: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)



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