A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the Premier League relegation battle. Teams have played three games since then and it is time to revisit the crystal ball. Remember that in the past 37 points have been enough for survival in eight of the last 10 seasons and only one side has been relegated with 39 or more points in the same period
Who is safe?
It has been two great weeks for Stoke City who have picked up 4 points and will be staying in the Premier League another season. I believe that Bolton and Portsmouth are also safe. Bolton have games left against Wigan, Sunderland, Hull and Manchester City and I cannot imagine a scenario where they do not pick up 3 more points.
Portsmouth are in a similar position where they control their own destiny. With games against Newcastle, Sunderland and Blackburn I expect them to pick up the three points they need for safety.
On the bubble
Sunderland is the one bubble team. Last weeks win over Hull was huge, but at 35 points they probably need 1 more victory. There schedule is not too bad (West Brom, Bolton and Portsmouth), but the problem is that all three of these games are away from home where Sunderland has only won three times this season. Ultimately I think Sunderland will survive, but it will be close.
That leaves four teams fighting for survival and two of them will go down. Earlier this month I wrote that: Hull’s season comes down to the next three games as they are all huge relegation battles. They play Portsmouth at home then go to Boro and Sunderland. If Hull can pick up four points from these three games then I think they will have the confidence back in the squad to survive. If they pick up less than three points then I will think Hull will go down.
Well Hull picked up one point from those three games and they still have to play Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester United. Standing on 33 points unless Hull can beat Stoke at home and get a point at Bolton away, I cannot envision a scenario where Hull stays up.
Also sitting on 34 points is Blackburn. Big Sam really has his work cut out as Rovers face Wigan (H), Man City (A), Portsmouth (H), Chelsea (A) and West Brom (H). They need at least four more points and I expect that Blackburn’s fate will be settled on the last day of the season at home to West Brom.
Sitting in the 3rd relegation spot on 31 points is Middlesbrough and things are looking really tough for Boro fans. With their next two games away to Arsenal and home to Man United, Boro will have little opportunity to close the gap on the teams directly above them. That means the last three games take on even more importance. The big derby against Newcastle is huge on May 11th. Win at Boro might stay up. Anything less and Boro are going down.
Middlesbrough who still have to face Aston Villa, Manchester United and Arsenal. Boro need to pick up at least six points against fellow strugglers Newcastle, Bolton and Hull if they are going to avoid relegation.
The big wild card is the relegation battle is Alan Shearer and Newcastle. I wrote three weeks ago that: To reach 37 points Newcastle will need maximum points from its three homes games against Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham. It is a tough task but I expect Shearer to further cement his legacy in Newcastle and keep them up.
It is a tough task for Newcastle, but I expect them to grab the 7-9 points they need to avoid relegation.
Already planning next seasons trip to Coventry.
So with five games to go I am sticking by my prediction that that Boro and Blackburn will join West Brom in the Championship next year. Do you agree or disagree?