Aston Villa’s tasty 6-1 defeat of Sunderland a few days ago has set up the race to avoid relegation into a frenzy but with QPR and Reading all ready knowing their fate which clubs from Wigan, Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle will join them.
It was interesting to read in today’s tabloids that Newcastle haven’t included ‘buy-out’ clauses into their new five French players contracts but having suffered the drop previous and a huge question mark then hanging over them concerning finances it came as a shock that this time round they hadn’t taken these things into account. They didn’t believe in 2009 that they would be relegated, do they believe the same now?
It can be difficult to decide on who will be relegated, only one more team can fall in the trap door and with four games remaining who wouldn’t bet against Wigan repeating the great escape which has become a custom season in, season out. However they face stiff competition with a trip to West Brom this Monday who are five points behind the pack but with a game in hand.
The Baggies can no longer chase a European spot so many be in ‘holiday’ mood but that won’t write them off, it will be a tricky tie for the Latics who I believe will draw at the Hawthorns before facing Swansea City (h), Arsenal (a) and lastly a crunch match against Aston Villa at the DW Stadium. They will be hoping that the FA Cup Final with City won’t plague too much on the players’ minds.
Sunderland arguably have the hardest run-in to end the season and that could be there downfall, the utopia that dragged them through the North East Derby a few weeks ago (and a win over Everton) following the appointment of animated manager Di Canio may have seen an early end to the honeymoon period and could struggle against fellow red and white striped teams Stoke City (h) on Monday and Southampton (h) before ending the season at Tottenham (a) – two home games could be there saving grace but unless the Italian can fire the Black Cats up then they could well be back in the Championship next season.
After that 6-1 drumming of Sunderland Villa look like doing the business, it’s a situation that they shouldn’t have put themselves into but after a few years of neglect and not replacing key players they have forced themselves into this position, but with the firepower of Christian Benteke who has been a very shrewd buy from Genk this season has rewarded the Villa faithful with 22 goals and they might well struggle to keep hold of him this summer.
But he is with Villa now and his striking prowess will prove vital in the games to come, five points ahead of Wigan they have just two away games left, trips to Norwich City (this Saturday) and Wigan on the final day will prove vital, a home game with Chelsea sandwiched between these two games could earn them a point if they set there stalls out correctly but it will be that game with Athletic which will prove the decider.
However, should Wigan apply themselves yet again then should they succeed then I believe that Newcastle will fail. Their North East counterparts may have a tough fixture list but they hold a more superior goal difference and this could prove vital also in the final running. The Toon travel to West Ham this weekend were a point is possible but the Magpies are credited for having a terrible time in the capital over the years and that may show again and also in there follow up match at already down QPR.
They face the might of Arsenal at St James on the final day, they may need points to stop up but the Gunners too may require maximum points to retain their Champions League place. It’s always difficult to predict which teams will stop up and which ones won’t, in their hour of need hero’s are made and villains made accounted for and with the Premier League being such big business no one can afford to be the latter.