It seems like an obvious thing to say, but in a relegation battle as tight as in this season’s Premier League, momentum is everything.
With five games of the season remaining, there are realistically eight teams in the mix for the drop. If we are to assume that even with the greatest of late rallies, QPR and Reading will succumb to relegation, there are still six teams battling to avoid that final place in next season’s Championship.
In recent years Wigan have become the masters of leaving it late to secure their Premier League survival, and while it is currently they that occupy 18th spot in the league table, they have amassed seven points from the last nine and reached the final of the FA Cup. Wigan are by no means finished, and with two games in hand on the teams around them, many will fancy them to survive. Many more will wonder why they can’t play the whole season like they do the last two months.
Aston Villa are another team in form, and with an impressive front four of Benteke, N’Zogbia, Weimann and Agbonlahor, it is likely that they will stumble over the line. Similarly, the arrival of the controversial Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland should (if Sunday’s demolition of Newcastle is anything to go by) help them to safety.
The team in real trouble though are Stoke City. They have momentum, but it is unrelenting downward momentum. Only one win in their last 14 games suggests that Stoke have fallen apart at the very worst moment. With a must win game away to relegation rivals QPR up next, Stoke’s players must rediscover whatever it was that famously made them so hard to beat. Otherwise, their five year stay in the Premier League will surely be over.