With only nine games left to go in the Barclays Premier League Season (ten for Bolton and Villa) the relegation battle is shaping up nicely, with five teams vying to keep their place in the division.
Wolves, Wigan and Bolton currently occupy the relegation places with QPR and Blackburn just above them. Just six points separate all five teams in this relatively low point-scoring season.
Blackburn are easily the most in-form side with three wins in the last five games and five points ahead of Bolton in 18th place. The games they have left to play are: Bolton, Man Utd, West Brom, Liverpool, Swansea, Norwich, Spurs, Wigan and Chelsea.
Although they still have to play four of the top seven, there are winnable games in their run-in. The most important of which are against Bolton this coming weekend and Wigan. In the games against West Brom and Norwich there is certainly potential of picking up at least one point, if not all three.
What will save them this season is having Yakubu up front. With 14 goals this season he’s shown he knows where the net is and it could make the difference come the last couple of games. It would be great to see Steve Kean keep Blackburn up to answer his critics, the man deserves a chance under the difficult circumstances he has faced at Ewood Park.
QPR are one of the teams on the slide, they started off the season relatively well and have not been able to maintain that progress but now sit just two points outside the relegation. The games they have left to play are: Sunderland, Arsenal, Man Utd, Swansea, West Brom, Spurs, Chelsea, Stoke and Man City.
Rangers have by far the hardest run-in of any of the teams at the bottom. They have to play seven of the top nine teams, the lowest placed team they play is West Brom, who are currently 13th. You have to wonder where QPR will pick up a solitary point from these last nine games, all are tough fixtures not helped by the fact they have only won two of the last seventeen.
There has been a lot of change at Loftus Road: new owners at the start of the season and a recent manager change with the sacking of Neil Warnock and hiring of Mark Hughes. QPR have failed to impress this season and they lack the squad to be able survive this run of games. Sadly it is a case of too many Championship players trying to play in the big league.
Bolton may still be recovering from Fabrice Muamba’s collapse during last week’s cup match with Spurs, but they must compose themselves as quickly as possible as they face the very real threat of relegation. Currently 18th, they have 10 games still left to play against Blackburn, Wolves, Newcastle, Spurs, Swansea, Sunderland, West Brom, Stoke and Aston Villa.
Bolton have the easiest run-in, with almost every game having the potential for picking up points. With just two wins in their last eight it will be no easy task but they have a game in hand over their rivals against Villa, a perfectly winnable match.
With Owen Coyle as manager it is hard to see Bolton going down, and he has the best squad to choose from. His side will be able to grind out the results when they need them and should stay in the Premiership.
Currently lying second from bottom, Wigan have just 22 points from their 29 games. The games they have left to play are against: Liverpool, Stoke, Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Fulham, Newcastle, Blackburn, Wolves.
It’s difficult set of games for Wigan and although they play Blackburn and Wolves in the last two games of the season, it may be too late for them. Having won just one of their last 14 games, Wigan supporters can’t be filled with hope for their remaining games.
Wigan have narrowly escaped relegation on a few occasions and Roberto Martinez has tried to get them playing good football on a menial budget. But they have outstayed their welcome, their support is a joke for a Premier League side and it is time they got relegated.
At the foot of the table we have Wolverhampton Wanders. They also sit on 22 points from 29 games. Their run-in is as follows: Norwich, Bolton, Stoke, Arsenal, Sunderland, Man City, Swansea, Everton and Wigan.
Although there are some games in which they could pick up points, their current form would suggest they are destined for the drop. With just one win from the last 15 league games, Wolves are bottom of the form table as well as the actual table.
It has been a bit of a calamity at Wolves this season, with the sacking of Mick McCarthy and subsequent appointment of Terry Connor, which has delivered no improvement in results and there appears to be little hope. They have looked poor this season and lack the quality of players to be able to keep themselves in the division.
The three teams that I believe will get relegated to the Championship this season are Wigan, Wolves and QPR. All in all it has been a poor season points wise for teams. 40 points is usually the benchmark for safety, and it is a real possibility a side will stay up with just 30 this time around.