Premier League survival: Who can beat the drop?
An analysis of the remaining games for the bottom five Premier League teams
The Premier League prides itself in creating a scrap to survive; this year is shaping up to be a classic. Southampton, Wigan, Reading, Aston Villa and QPR have all found themselves in this season's survival battle, so, who will survive and who will play in the Championship next season?
Last 9 games
Liverpool (h), Chelsea (h), Reading (a), West Ham (h), Swansea (h), West Bromwich (h), Tottenham (a), Sunderland (a), Stoke (h).
If I had written this in November, I would have had Southampton as a definite to go down with just one win in nine games and were five points adrift. But fortunately the Saints found form and hauled their way out and were in good form until Nigel Adkins was sacked in favour of Mauricio Pochettino.
Since then, Southampton's form has been inconsistent to say the least, picking up an amazing win against Manchester city but succumbing to defeat at home to QPR.
Worryingly, the Saints have a tough run in and only face one side that currently sits below them. The game against Aston Villa is undoubtedly a must-win. Other must-win games include Norwich and West ham but overall I think Southampton should be safe come the last day of the season.
Last 10 games
Newcastle (h), Norwich (h), QPR (a), Swansea (h), West ham (a), Tottenham (h), West Bromwich (a), Arsenal (a), Aston Villa (h). Manchester City (a) (TBA).
Wigan have been become survival experts over the last few seasons and they have always managed to scrape through on a season-by-season basis, but luck has to run out at some point.
Roberto Martinez's men have got a number of important games ahead, including relegation ties against QPR and Aston Villa. Wigan have to sort out their priorities and choose between the FA cup and Premier League survival. Astonishingly, I can see Wigan defying all the odds for yet another season. I think Wigan will beat Aston Villa on the final day to survive.
Last 9 games
QPR (h), Liverpool (h), Stoke (a), Fulham (h), Manchester United (a), Sunderland (h), Norwich (a), Chelsea (h), Wigan (a).
Aston Villa have been below par in the last few seasons and have dropped off from the days of competing for fourth place substantially. The fans may look at Christian Benteke as a beacon of hope but one man cannot keep a team going.
Although they gained three crucial points against Reading I can't see Aston Villa in the top flight next season.
Last 9 games
Manchester United (a), Arsenal (a), Southampton (h), Liverpool (h), Norwich (a), QPR (h), Fulham (a), Manchester City (h), West Ham (a).
Reading have enjoyed their season back in the top flight, and have treated their fans to some good matches at the Madejski, with Adam le Fondre making his name as the team’s super-sub but he won't be able to save Reading.
The fixture list has been unkind to Reading, seeing them play three of the top five in their last ten games, for this reason alone Reading will struggle to survive and if they do it'll be at Wigan's expense.
Queens Park Rangers
Last 9 games
Aston Villa (a), Fulham (a), Wigan (h), Everton (a), Stoke (h), Reading (a), Arsenal (h), Newcastle (h), Liverpool (a).
Loftus Road is the most optimistic place on the planet at the moment, with hopes that Harry “Houdini" Redknapp can drag them out of the drop zone like he did with Portsmouth and Tottenham. But this time he has bitten off more than he can chew. QPR have the squad capable of survival but Mark Hughes left them in free-fall and they have left it too late to recover.
In my opinion it will be Aston villa (18th), Reading (19th) and QPR (20th) to go down.
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