Leicester 2-2 Everton: what draw means as relegation pressure ramps up

Relegation rivals Leicester and Everton played out a pulsating 2-2 draw with significant ramifications in the battle for Premier League survival on Tuesday night.

Everton had the best of the early running, going close and looking a threat from corners. However, it was a penalty that gave the Toffees a lead within the first quarter of an hour. Timothy Castagne’s clumsy attempt at thwarting Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the referee no choice but to award a spot-kick.

Calvert-Lewin dusted himself down and lashed in the penalty; this was just his second Premier League goal of the campaign.

But, as is typical in these relegation games, Everton’s lead was fragile, and Leicester took less than ten minutes to draw level. Despite slipping, Caglar Soyuncu was able to bundle the ball past Jordan Pickford to equalise.

Leicester were always a threat on the counter, with Jamie Vardy a nuisance running in behind. The Foxes then made the most of this outlet when James Maddison fed through Vardy, who rounded Jordan Pickford to give Leicester the lead.

Maddison wasted a further opportunity to make it 3-1 by hitting a penalty straight at Jordan Pickford just before the break.

The hosts were then left ruing their missed chances when Everton made it 2-2 following the interval. This time, Wout Faes’ header failed to get the ball clear from a cross, giving Alex Iwobi the opportunity to fire it home.

Both sides gave their all during an energetic second half, yet the game finished all square.

Leicester and Everton are still embroiled in a gripping relegation battle as a result of the draw.

How the bottom of the table looks with four games left to play

All of the sides from 16th down to 20th have played 34 matches, meaning we now have a clear view of the clubs most at risk.

First of all, Southampton are well and truly in the mire. The Saints are rooted to the foot of the table, six points adrift of Leeds in 17th. They are even five points behind Everton, who are 19th on 29 points.

There are then three teams ahead of the Toffees that are all on the same points (30pts). These are Nottingham Forest (18th), Leeds (17th), and Leicester (16th), where goal difference separates them. The Foxes draw with Everton means that Leicester managed to move out of the relegation zone, though.

So, these five teams appear set to battle it out to avoid relegation. Above Leicester, West Ham (15th) are four points clear of the Foxes, plus have a game in hand.

Who does each relegation candidate have left to play?

There is just one match left in 2022/23 where two bottom-five clubs face each other. This is Nottingham Forest, who host Southampton on 8 May in the definition of a six-pointer.

Forest then see out their season with a trio of London sides. Firstly, Chelsea on 13 May could provide points given the Blues’ struggles. However, Arsenal the week after is a much different beast. Forest play Crystal Palace on the last day of the season.

Southampton, meanwhile, face three top-half sides following their trip to Nottingham. These are Fulham, Brighton, and Liverpool – all tricky fixtures for the Saints.

Everton also have to play Brighton after drawing with Leicester, as well as current leaders Manchester City. But after this, their last two games are against sides that have just about escaped the relegation drama in Wolves and Bournemouth.

Leeds wish that their fixtures were as favourable. The Yorkshire side have arguably the toughest run-in of any relegation-threatened club. They visit the Etihad to play Man City first before hosting Newcastle at Elland Road. A trip to West Ham follows, after which Leeds play Spurs on the final day.

It is hard to see Javi Gracia’s side coming up with the points required to stay safe from those fixtures.

Finally, Leicester’s hugely underwhelming season ends with games against Fulham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and West Ham. With the talent available in their squad, the Foxes could get results from any of these. But their defence – which has not kept a clean sheet in 2023 – will likely continue to be a huge problem.

Bottom five’s remaining PL fixtures – in short

16th – Leicester: Fulham (A), Liverpool (H), Newcastle (A), West Ham (H)
17th – Leeds: Man City (A), Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Spurs (H)
18th – Nottingham Forest: Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H), Crystal Palace (A)
19th – Everton: Brighton (A), Man City (H), Wolves (A), Bournemouth (H)
20th – Southampton: Nottingham Forest (A), Fulham (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H)

Featured image credit: Getty