This season has thrown up one of the most intriguing relegation dogfights in Premier League history. Six points separate the bottom 11 teams, but of course only three can go down.
Its likely to come down to five teams going into the final stretch of the season: Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Fulham, West Ham and Cardiff.
Each team has its own struggles, and the teams above simply put have more quality and cohesion about them, so it would be no surprise to see three of mentioned teams get relegated.
To start let's look at Fulham. An ageing squad and a leaking defence has made the west London team looking increasingly likely to drop down a tier. Not only have they conceded more goals than anyone else (48) they have lost more games than everyone else (15). The defence is arguably the poorest in the league with Risse, Reither, Hangeland and Senderos struggling for form and fitness.
Their next two fixtures are the very definition of six-pointers, if they fail to get at least four points against Swansea and Southampton, then a unforgiving run of games into mid-march could seal their doom.
Fulham need to sign players, and sign them now, before its too late.
West Ham are also on course for relegation, despite the signings of Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello, the style of play is hardly awe-inspiring.
Many fans seem disillusioned with the manager Sam Allardyce; however, he could be their saving grace due to his experience in relegation battles. Their biggest problem is that no four defenders seem to be fit at the same time, it seem their is a different back four combination for each game, the lack of consistency is taking its toll.
West Ham need consistency, the return of Andy Carroll will be a boost, but it could be too little too late.
The other club set for the drop has to be Crystal Palace. The team have only scored 14 goals this season, and are looking increasingly like a club consigned to do the classic promotion/relegation one-two.
Tony Pulis did a wonderful job at Stoke; however, it doesn't seem to be working for him in London. The club does not have the spending power like other clubs in the same position, and this could ultimately send them down.
Sunderland have become a lot more difficult to beat under Gus Poyet, and they are carrying enough momentum to take them away from the drop zone. The Capital One Cup is only a minor distraction - all they have to do is keep grinding out results.
Cardiff have the money to spend to keep them out of trouble, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the owners backing (for the present), with players expected to arrive shortly it will provide a boost to the whole club.
Prediction: Both safe
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