With Champions League matches turning most of the media’s attention to the Big Clubs who get enough already, we thought it a good time to look at the more exciting end of the Premiership table.
Watford’s draw with Manchester City at the weekend has ended whatever slim mathematical hope they had of surviving in the Premiership this season. The remaining two spots are fairly open, however, thanks to West Ham’s win over Everton and Charlton’s draw with Sheffield United. Who’s got the best of the run-in, and who’s doomed to life in the Championship next season?
We’ve put together a quick look at the final fixtures for the relegation candidates and how we think things could pan out:
Middlesbrough — forget about Boro. Though there is still a mathematical chance they could be caught by all the teams below them, they won’t. Just.
Fulham (36 Points, -19 GD)
Remaining Games: Arsenal (A), Liverpool (H), Boro (A).
Fulham are just three points away from the drop zone, and it won’t be a massive surprise if they don’t get another point this season. The decision to fire Chris Coleman five games before the end of the season was a bit confusing to us, and hasn’t become any easier to understand after Fulham’s solitary point in their last two games. Blackburn at home, and a tiring Reading side away were Fulham’s best chances at getting another victory this season.
Final standing: 37 points, -22 GD.
Wigan (35 Points, -19 GD)
Remaining Games: West Ham (H), Boro (H), Sheffield United (A).
Wigan’s destiny is truly in their own hands. Three games against the bottom six to go, two of them at home, its not unreasonable to expect they claim 4 of the 9 points on offer. Then again, this is the Wigan team that gave up a lead three times at Tottenham. And the same team that showed no spirit at Anfield, seemingly accepting a defeat as given. Paul Jewell’s side were safely off the relegation places last season, but this season will show whether he’s the man that can make them lift their game a notch with their backs against the wall. Looking at the schedule however, the odds are in their favour.
Final standing: 40 pts (DWD), -18 GD.
Sheffield United (35 Points, -20 GD)
Remaining Games: Watford (H), Villa (A), Wigan (H).
Neil Warnock’s side are the other club in a great position to save itself. Jon Stead’s equaliser against Charlton brings back memories of his form when he first arrived late in the Premiership season and kept Blackburn up. With a home game against Watford coming up, Sheffield United can now make it very difficult for West Ham and Charlton to catch them. Watford’s relegation may work against Neil Warnock’s team however — the team that comes out next weekend with the pressure off, nothing to lose, and players auditioning for other Premiership clubs. Martin O’Neill will have Aston Villa hoping to finish the season strongly and looking to send a message. 2 points.
Final standing: 37 pts (DLD), -21 GD.
West Ham United (32 Points, -30 GD)
Remaining Games: Wigan (A), Bolton (H), Man United (A).
Curbishley’s poor start to his managerial reign may have left West Ham with just too much to do. Their performances of late have been very impressive, but their inability to get points in the six-pointers against Watford and Charlton may prove very expensive. The game against Manchester United is worth writing off – United will either be playing for the title or playing their coronation game at home. Wigan aren’t a great home team of late, but West Ham’s away record is worse. Bolton’s are in a slump but Allardyce will have them fighting for that UEFA cup place.
Final standing: 34 pts (DDL), -33 GD.
Charlton Athletic (33 Points, -21 GD)
Remaining Games: Blackburn (A), Tottenham (H), Liverpool (A).
We’ve left Charlton till the end in the hopes that we could come up with some way that Charlton could beat the drop. We like Alan Pardew given how he’s handled everything thrown his way this year, and he’s certainly put Charlton in with a hope with three weeks to go – more than most Addicks fans could surely have been expecting. That said, the last three games don’t offer up a lot of hope. Sheffield United’s equaliser was a crushing blow (though fairly deserved on balance). More from our hearts than our heads, we’re going to go with two wins out of three despite the fact that Spurs are chasing a UEFA cup spot and Liverpool have only been beaten by Man United at Anfield this season.
Final standing: 39 Points, -19 GD. (Realistic prediction: 34 points, -24 GD).
So just by looking at the final fixtures, we’ve got the Premiership’s bottom three staying as they are (ignoring extreme optimism for Charlton). But there’s almost certainly a few more twists left and the form book goes out the window at the most fun end of the table.
Read more Everton news on the Everton section.