Relegation focus: Hull, QPR and Sunderland look in wrong shape to avoid dreaded drop
With Chelsea having all but sewn up the title, attention is increasingly turning to the English Premier League relegation battle. Here we run the rule over the remaining fixtures of the six clubs who find themselves in the survival dogfight - and predict those most likely to come out smiling:
Tim Sherwood’s side have lifted themselves clear of the drop zone and have a favourable enough run-in to suggest things will stay that way. Even an upcoming trip to an admittedly ailing Manchester City need not concern them as with back-to-back home games against Everton and West Ham to follow, the points they need are there for the taking.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 25 Man City A; May 2 Everton H; May 9 West Ham H; May 16 Southampton A; May 24 Burnley H.
KEY GAME: Everton H
VERDICT: 38 pts, 14th
The Black Cats’ confidence levels will be rock bottom after another home humiliation and they need to act fast if they are to save their season. Hard to see where they will pick up the points they need ahead of a daunting double-header of away games at Arsenal and Chelsea which round off another dreadful campaign.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 25 Stoke A; May 2 Southampton H; May 9 Everton A; May 16 Leicester H; May 20 Arsenal A; May 24 Chelsea A.
KEY GAME: Leicester H
VERDICT: 32 pts, 20th
Steve Bruce’s men have been in free-fall for some months and with a tough-looking run-in and the sides below them stirring, things don’t look good for the Tigers. Even victory in a huge clash with Burnley at the KC Stadium next month is unlikely to be enough to serve up survival.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 25 Palace A; Apr 28 Liverpool H; May 4 Arsenal H; May 9 Burnley H; May 16 Tottenham A; May 24 Man Utd H
KEY GAME: Burnley H
VERDICT: 32 pts, 18th
Chris Ramsey’s men might be showing signs of improvement but they go into the run-in having played one more game than most of their rivals and that could prove crucial. A number of winnable games will give them justifiable hope, but the Hoops are likely to fall just short of the required total.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 25 West Ham H; May 2 Liverpool A; May 10 Man City A; May 16 Newcastle H; May 24 Leicester A
KEY GAME: Leicester A
VERDICT: 32 pts, 19th
Having emerged from a horror sequence against the top clubs relatively unscathed, Burnley will relish their run-in and boss Sean Dyche remains bullishly defiant about his side’s survival chances. With a number of their key rivals ailing, the Clarets stand every chance of avoiding the drop.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 18 Everton A; Apr 25 Leicester H; May 2 West Ham A; May 9 Hull A; May 16 Stoke H; May 24 Villa A
KEY GAME: Leicester H
VERDICT: 33 pts, 17th
Dead and buried two weeks ago, Nigel Pearson’s (pictured) men now go into the dying stages of the season with a game in hand over their rivals, and a run-in to relish. Enough points are there for the taking for the Foxes although they are likely to have to hold their nerve and win against QPR on the final day in order to survive.
REMAINING FIXTURES: Apr 18 Swansea H; Apr 25 Burnley A; Apr 29 Chelsea H; May 2 Newcastle H; May 9 Southampton H; May 16 Sunderland A; May 24 QPR H
KEY GAME: QPR H
VERDICT: 34 pts, 16th