Hull and Boro may go with Albion

11 March 2009 01:03
This season's battle against the drop promises to be the tighest in history as, with just 10 games remaining, just six points seperate third-bottom Blackburn from Bolton in 11th. Now TEAMtalk takes a look at all 10 teams still in trouble and predicts which teams will keep their heads above water, and which three will sink into the Championship. Bolton (11th) Defeat at Stoke last time out keeps the Trotters in the mix but three wins from the four games before that gave them a bit of breathing space, while home games against Fulham, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Hull should see them accumulate enough points to maintain their mid-table position. Four away wins so far this season suggests they could be good for a few points on the road as well so their form, plus the experience of relegation fights of Gary Megson and the club as a whole means they should be fine. TEAMtalk Prediction - 11th Tottenham (12th) Few people expected Spurs to be in this situation and even fewer, if any, expect them to actually go down. Their squad is undoubtedly the most talented in the bottom half and the recent 4-0 thrashing of Middlesbrough gave everyone a timely reminder of that. They are now unbeaten in three league games and took Manchester United all the way in the Carling Cup final so it would be a major surprise to see them slip back into real trouble. However, their fixture list is not particularly kind so they must beat the likes of West Ham, Newcastle and West Brom at White Hart Lane to better last season's 11th-placed finish. TEAMtalk Prediction - 12th Sunderland (13th) Ricky Sbragia has steadied the ship since taking over over but one point from two games has got fans on Wearside worried again. They probably only need another two wins for survival but Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea are all due at the Stadium of Light meaning points will be needed on the road. Their away form is better than most of their rivals, though, and the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Djibril Cisse and Kieron Richardson should get them the goals to retain their Premier League status. TEAMtalk Prediction - 14th Hull (14th) Hull enjoyed a fantastic start to life in the top flight and finished 2008 in eighth spot on 27 points, meaning they had five full months to grab the other 13 they'd probably need. However they picked up just two points in January and February and remain one of the bookies' favourites to go down. They did end an 11-game winless streak with a superb 1-0 win at Fulham to edge five points clear of third-bottom Blackburn. but their form still shows just two wins in 19. Their record at the KC Stadium is the worst in the league too, and Geovanni's reaction to being substituted recently suggests some dressing room discontent. Games against Newcastle, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Stoke offer the chance of points but they will be in deep trouble if they lose to the Magpies this weekend. TEAMtalk Prediction - 18th Stoke (15th) Stoke's win over Bolton lifted them to 15th in the table and a nice run-in to the season gives them a good chance of maintaining that position. Their home form is among the best in the league and remaining Britannia clashes against Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Wigan should see a fair return of points. They also travel to Hull and West Brom, meaning at least seven of their final 10 games are winnable. Their January business was arguably better than their rivals' too - James Beatite in particular has been an inspired signing - and a run of just one defeat in five suggests they are hitting form at the right time. TEAMtalk Prediction - 13th Newcastle (16th) Newcastle have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games - against hapless West Brom - and so fans on Tyneside are rightly concerned. Their fixture list is about as difficult as it could get and the absence of Joe Kinnear from the dugout is hardly likely to help matters. They undoubtedly have a squad full of talent but the Magpies have been in trouble for much of the season so an overnight change seems unlikely. Their survival could well depend on what they do at Hull this weekend because they play Arsenal and Chelsea after their trip to the KC before going to Stoke and then Tottenham. TEAMtalk Prediction - 17th Portsmouth (17th) Portsmouth are another team facing a big six-pointer this weekend, at Middlesbrough, and a run of one win in 12 will not fill the Fratton Park faithful with hope. Their run-in is not too bad, but home fixtures against West Brom and Bolton must be won if they are to survive. Trips to Hull, Newcastle and Blackburn could prove crucial, too. Paul Hart has been handed the managerial reigns until the end of the season and that much-needed stability, plus a squad containing the likes of Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Jermaine Pennant, should keep them up. TEAMtalk Prediction - 16th Blackburn (18th) Blackburn looked like certainties for the drop under Paul Ince but Sam Allardyce's appointment has proved a wise one with Rovers losing just two league games since he took over. A few too many draws has kept them firmly in trouble but the Lancashire side will be confident of picking up enough points at Ewood Park with the likes of Wigan, Portsmouth and West Brom yet to travel there. Roque Santa Cruz, El-Hadji Diouf, Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts offer Allardyce decent options up front and his rigid formation means they have shorn up at the back too. TEAMtalk Prediction - 15th Middlesbrough (19th) Boro were hammered 4-0 in their last outing at Tottenham but their performances have improved of late. The previous league game saw them beat Liverpool 2-0 and that was preceded by an FA Cup win over West Ham, so confidence in the camp may not be too badly hit by the game at White Hart Lane, in which they actually played well. Their next five fixtures are all winnable but much could depend on what they do against Portsmouth this weekend. Three points would give them confidence and possibly take them out of the relegation zone, but defeat could see them cast adrift with West Brom. Gareth Southgate will be hoping Stewart Downing can keep up his good form, but Tuncay and Afonso Alves will have to find some more goals or Boro will go. TEAMtalk Prediction - 19th West Brom (20th) Albion still talk about their Great Escape from 2005 but even their staunchest fans have given up hope of a repeat this season. Their style of play has earned them plenty of praise but few points, and just one point from their last 18 has effectively sealed their fate. Home games against the likes of Bolton, Stoke and Sunderland offer the chance to pick up a few points but they could need 18 points, just four short of what they have now, to survive. TEAMtalk Prediction - 20th Barclays Prem - Relegation Trios Win Outright: West Brom, Middlesbrough, Hull 14/1  

Source: Team_Talk