This weekend’s round of Premier League games could prove vital in the battle to beat the drop into the Championship.
A host of the teams in the bottom seven face each other and some of their rivals face clubs who are looking safe at the moment.
Cardiff visit relegation rivals West Brom, while compatriots Swansea host fellow struggler Norwich at the Liberty Stadium. On Monday night Sunderland host West Ham at the Stadium of Light.
These three games could dictate how the relegation battle shapes up for the rest of the season.
If Cardiff win at West Brom it would put the Welsh side on level points with the Baggies and make it a very nervous end of season for Pepe Mel’s side.
Swansea and Norwich are just clear of the relegation zone, but both know that they will still need to pick up points to make certain that they are not dragged back into the relegation dogfight.
Monday night’s game is a massive one for Sunderland. Monday’s visitors West Ham have moved nine points clear of the drop zone in recent weeks, but Sunderland have two hands in hand on the Hammers. If the Black Cats beat Sam Allardyce’s side then they could also be dragged back into the relegation battle.
Also Stoke host Hull at the Britannia Stadium. The pair looks likely to secure their Premier League status, with Stoke on 37 points and Hull on 33. A win for the home side would most likely confirm their top-flight status for next season.
Bottom of the table Fulham and 17th place Crystal Palace both have difficult games to come this weekend. The Cottagers host in-form Everton at Craven Cottage, while Palace visits title contenders Chelsea.
The prospects of either team picking up points this weekend looks very bleak indeed. Everton arrive in London on the back of four straight Premier League victories and Roberto Martinez’s men now have fourth place Arsenal firmly in their sights.
The Toffees 3-0 victory at midtable Newcastle in their outing was probably their best away display of the season and with a chance of making the top four they look very unlikely to slip-up at the bottom club.
The Eagles meanwhile face the daunting task of attempting to gain points at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have the best home record in the Premier League and also the best defensive record, so Tony Pulis’ men face an uphill task to claim anything from their trip across the capital.
The battle at the bottom of the Premier League is just as exciting as the battle at the top. Realistically nine teams could still get relegation from the Premier League this season, but I suspect it may well be down to five in the final few weeks of the season.
I think the likes of West Ham, Norwich, Swansea and Hull will probably just about have enough to stay away from the dreaded bottom three. West Ham and Norwich have the experience of surviving in Premier League relegation battles, while Swansea and Hull have strikers that will get them goals in Wilfried Bony and Nikica Jelavic respectively.
I would however be worried if I was a fan of those other five teams at the moment. All five teams have the chance to make gains on their rivals though, as there are still a number of head-to-head clashes to take place between the sides fighting for their lives.
With so many six-pointers to take place between now and the end of the season it is sure to be as exciting at the bottom of the table as it is at the top.
With so many of the teams at the bottom facing each other this weekend the battle for survival may become slightly clearer. The relegation dogfight in the Premier League is always a fascinating one. Although this weekend’s fixtures could be important, the race for survival looks set to go down to wire, as teams look to escape the drop down into the Championship.
Which of the bottom teams will prosper this weekend in the Premier League?