With only four rounds to go in the Premier League, things are looking pretty clear at the top of the table with Leicester City being just three points away from writing history.
Following Leicester’s comprehensive 4-0 triumph over Swansea, Foxes extended their lead in front of Tottenham, who failed to beat West Brom as the Baggies held Spurs to a 1-1 draw on Monday. Seven points clear of Pochettino’s men, Claudio Ranieri’s charges could clinch their first ever Premier League title as early as Sunday if they manage to claim the maximum three points at Old Trafford.
Things are not that simple at the other end of the table as there are three teams struggling to avoid sharing Aston Villa’s faith and dropping down to the second tier.
With just one point separating Newcastle United, Norwich and Sunderland, relegation fight is going down to the wire.
Who will stay up?
Black Cats seem like the most likely club to survive the relegation struggle and stay up in the Premier League.
The experienced managerial veteran Sam Allardyce has been in this situation before and is no stranger to Premier League pressure. His side moved out of the relegation gutter with a valuable home point from the game against out-of-form Arsenal last time out and are making promising strides towards the safe land.
Black Cats have gained valuable confidence with the comprehensive 3-0 away win over Norwich in the previous week and the momentum is currently with Sunderland in these crucial times in the league.
Allardyce’s men travel to Stoke in the next round, before playing back-to-back home games against Chelsea and Everton. Black Cats wrap up the Premier League campaign away at Watford in the final round and will be hoping to secure the survival before the final round. What is more, Sunderland are given the highest odds of 1/1 to be relegated to the Championship.
Next three wins would get them to the magical mark of 40 points, but the experience has taught us that we should not be too convinced of success.
Sunderland’s porous defence had to be sorted out and it seems that Allardyce has done enough to make Sunderland tough to break. January signings have proved to be crucial in the struggle and team’s tireless work-rate is not to be underestimated however.
The Canaries have failed to recover from the 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland and this results could have been the breaking point for Alex Neil’s men, despite their own 3-2 win over Newcastle United early in April.
Back-to-back defeats have been a huge blow to Norwich survival charge and a difficult set of matches that lies ahead is likely to put the team under even more pressure.
The Canaries are due to play at Arsenal in the next round, against Arsene Wenger’s team who are left fearing for their Champions League berth and are bound to hit the Canaries hard to the ground. Next up is a home game against Manchester United, who are also hopeful of a European finish and have plenty to fight for in the remaining rounds.
Watford at home in the penultimate Premier League round is somewhat an easier job, while Norwich are ending the season at Goodison against Everton.
The Canaries did their best to avoid getting relegated and even spend £20 million in January, but it left them with no results to account for as Norwich only managed to collect 11 points from 15 Premier League games since the turn of the year.
Another team from the north is struggling to put their feet firmly on the ground after a summer and winter of major investments.
Seeing the Magpies spend a great sum of money to bolster the team during summer with Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba leading the line it has been a rather disappointing affair as Newcastle struggled to live up to the expectations.
Mike Ashley splashed out in January as well having brought Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend, Henri Saivet and Seydou Doumbia but the results did not change.
Steve McClaren paid the price and Rafa Benitez was brought in to save the club from going down. The Spaniard failed to make an impact during first couple of weeks of his reign, but former Liverpool manager did succeed in his efforts to change the mentality of the team lately.
Their last game against Liverpool was the most obvious proof.
With the Magpies being destroyed in the first half few could have expected Newcastle to get back with such ease in the second half. But, Rafa Benitez made all the necessary tactical changes to close Jurgen Klopp’s pressing team and to get back to life for a 2-2 draw that hold great importance.
Newcastle have only three games to play until the end of the season and next two will be crucial.
Crystal Palace at home and Aston Villa away are enough of a reason to give fans plenty to hope for with a match against Tottenham in the last round also a chance, more so if Leicester wrap up the title this week, which means Pochettino’s men will have nothing to fight for in the last week.
What is your opinion – who stays up and who goes down?
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