Following on from our midweek match against Manchester United comes our second home game in quick succession against Wigan, a team that perennially seem to be fighting the drop.
If we assume for a moment that we’ll get the points needed to ensure survival into next season (fingers crossed), and we also assume that Reading and QPR are likely to be relegated, there’s one relegation place up for grabs. But who is likely to fill it come the end of the season? Here are the likely runners and riders. We begin with our opponents Wigan. They’ve some difficult matches coming up, including at home to Tottenham and away to Arsenal.
However, they’re also playing Swansea, who have tailed off lately, and they’re away to West Brom too, which are fixtures that they could get points from with both those teams are already eyeing the beach this summer. Given their previous form when it comes to flirting with relegation, and the fact that they always seem to survive, I’d back them to do the same again.
Sunderland are a side who’ve really struggled this season, and will be hoping that Paolo Di Canio will be putting a rocket up the team. In May, they have two winnable home matches against Stoke and Southampton; win those and they’ll be edging towards safety, but if they struggle in those matches, they’ll struggle to survive given other matches away to relegation-threatened Aston Villa (not easy) and at home to Tottenham on the last day of the season.
Speaking of Aston Villa, they’ve probably got the toughest run-in of the lot – away to Manchester United, home to Chelsea – and all their other matches are against teams fighting for their survival. They will need to pick up points against Wigan, Norwich and Sunderland in order to secure safety, which won’t be easy. Finally, there’s Norwich on the assumption that Newcastle will pick up the points needed.
With home matches against Reading, Aston Villa and West Brom, you might think that the Canaries will get over the line. They’ll need to get points in those matches, as they are unlikely to pick any up at Manchester City on the last day of the season. By the time you read this, the picture will probably be a bit clearer as to who’s really in the mix. It’s really quite difficult to predict, but there’s one thing for sure: it’ll most likely go to the wire, with the relegation picture not finally settled until the last game of the season.
Which is great viewing for those not involved in the relegation battle – let’s just hope there’s nothing riding on our home match against Reading on the last day of the season.