As many as seven Nigerian players are in danger of suffering the ignominy of being relegated with their respective club-sides even as the 2022/23 Premier League season goes down to the wire.
With nine matches more to go before the campaign comes to an end, it is such a sad thing to know that of all the eight Nigerian players in the Premier League, only one is safe at the moment.
That is none other than Frank Onyeka whose club, Brentford enter the weekend ninth on the Premier League table, level on points with eighth-placed Liverpool who have a game in hand and one behind Aston Villa in the seventh and potentially final continental spot.
The Guardian Sports hereby takes a look at the seven Nigerian football players who are in danger of being relegated with their respective clubs from the Premier League into the Sky Bet Championship…
Emmanuel Dennis & Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest)
For Emmanuel Dennis, it is looking like a second straight relegation as he and fellow Nigerian compatriot and attacker, Taiwo Awoniyi are at risk of going down with Nottingham Forest this season.
Dennis on his own part will, however, be more troubled as another drop this season will make it twice in a row with the forward having also suffered demotion with Watford during the 2021/22 term.
On that occasion, he was the only shining light in the midst of a totally insipid group of Watford players who did not put up any fight whatsoever to stay up after scoring twelve Premier League goals.
It has, however, been a totally different song for Dennis so far this campaign as he has found it difficult to pin down a regular shirt at Forest whom he joined from Watford during the summer window.
He did bag an assist which was not enough, though, as relegation-threatened Forest suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Leeds United in Tuesday’s Premier League game which took place at Elland Road.
Dennis set up Forest goal which was scored by Orel Mangala in the 12th minute before being replaced by Andre Ayew in the 71st minute. Dennis has made 16 appearances, bagging two goals and two assists.
Awoniyi who recently came back from injury was brought on for Danilo in the 56th minute. Awoniyi is actually supposed to be fighting for a top-four finish with Union Berlin in the Bundesliga this season.
Rather, the Super Eales striker is having a serious headache as to how he could help Forest which is now winless in their last five games and occupying the 17th spot to retain their Premier League status.
Wilfred Ndidi & Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Wilfried Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho’s current relegation troubles at Leicester City this season could be looked at from the saying, “how time flies” as they were top-four contenders only a few years ago.
Not only that, Leicester which won the Premier League during the 2015/16 season also carted home their first FA Cup ever only two years ago with Iheanacho playing a prominent role in their success of 2021.
Fast forward to the 2022/23 Premier League season and the Foxes are really battling to keep their place among the elite clubs in England even as they are now without Brendan Rodgers who was recently sacked.
Only during the mid-week, Ndidi was in action but Iheanacho was benched as Leicester lost 2-1 at home to Aston Villa at the King Power stadium to compound their relegation woes as they are 19th on the table.
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
Alex Iwobi has seen it all at Everton since joining the Merseysiders from Arsenal during the summer transfer window of the year 2019 but it could be said that the Nigerian winger has witnessed more of sad days.
Iwobi has so far battled against relegation in at least three of the four seasons he has spent at Everton with the club only surviving the drop on the very last day of the 2021/22 campaign under Frank Lampard.
After Lampard left, Sean Dyche came and won Everton fans over with three home wins against Arsenal, Leeds United and Brentford while claiming a point versus Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Tottenham Hotspur at home.
A fired-up Goodison park can indeed act as Everton’s 12th man during the run-in just like it did last season but for the Toffees to stay up, they need to start winning games quickly so as to leave the 16th position.
Paul Onuachu & Joe Aribo (Southampton)
The Nigerian duo of Paul Onuachu and Joe Aribo appear to be doomed already with their club, Southampton currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League standings after registering a hugely disappointing 23 points.
Onuachu’s situation could be deemed to be pathetic, though as he is supposed to be playing to win the Belgian First Divison A title with his goals leading the club to the top but here he is fighting against demotion.
Aribo on his own part has been more of a salary earner at Southampton with the midfielder having failed to make the match-day squad in recent times even as they suffered a damaging 1-0 loss to West Ham United on Sunday.
The Saints face the Premier League’s top two, Manchester City and Arsenal in their next three games but the matches against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest will be pivotal in their battle to stay up.