x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Relegation battle to beat the drop in Premier League

With the Premier League title and top four all but decided, the relegation zone is where it is all going on. A look at each team's chances of survival.

Manuel Da Costa, the West Ham United defender, has seen his side lose five and draw one of their last six matches to leave them bottom of the Premier League with just two matches left.
Manuel Da Costa, the West Ham United defender, has seen his side lose five and draw one of their last six matches to leave them bottom of the Premier League with just two matches left.

With the Premier League title and top four all but decided, the relegation zone is where it is all going on. Thomas Woods analyses each team's chances of survival

Blackburn Rovers 39 pts

Points will probably be scarce for Blackburn for the rest of the season. Manchester United travel to Ewood Park on Saturday - a tough enough assignment in any case, but United are on a wave and need a point to win the title. The chances are United will win.

The last day sees Blackburn travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Four of the pair's last five meetings at Molineux have ended in a draw, making that the most likely result. Still, 40 points should keep Blackburn up.

Birmingham City 39 pts

Birmingham also have no need to worry about going down. The visit of Fulham on Sunday is more than likely to yield the points they need.

Fulham have only won twice away in 35 matches, Birmingham have lost only four of their 18 home games. They should get at least the point they need, which will enable them to relax when they visit Tottenham Hotspur on the last day of the season. Spurs have struggled to beat teams in the bottom third.

Wolves 37pts

A big win over local rivals West Bromwich Albion on Sunday took Wolves out of the bottom three for the first time in nine games. Yet confidence might be premature.

They visit Sunderland next, who, although they have a plethora of injuries, have a magnificent record against Wolves at the Stadium of Light. The last four meetings there have seen four Sunderland wins. Wolves have not won on Wearside since 1993.

With Mick McCarty's side then likely to draw with Blackburn, as pointed out above, it will leave them on 38 points, one per game.

Blackpool 36 pts

Blackpool have been gradually slipping down the table since their early season start - they were fourth after four games. Bolton Wanderers are the visitors on Saturday.

Blackpool have the league's worst defensive record at home, leaking 1.89 goals per game and keeping just one clean sheet. They also have the worst record at home full stop, losing half their games.

Then follows a trip to Manchester United. The assumption is that United will rest players for the Champions League final, presuming they have already won the league. This does not mean an easy game for Blackpool though.

In 2007, United rested players and lost to West Ham United 1-0 on the last day of the season, but still had 25 shots on goal. A season later an even more second-string side beat Hull City 2-0 away. Blackpool cannot expect any favours.

Wigan Athletic 36 pts

Roberto Martinez's side have been showing signs of form in recent weeks, taking the lead twice - against Everton and Aston Villa - before drawing 1-1. On Sunday they take on the team with the worst form in the league - West Ham - at home. The Hammers have lost five and drawn one in their last six, whereas Wigan have only lost two in six. Wigan have also won two of their last three at home to West Ham. If they beat Avram Grant's side, Wigan have a great chance of staying up, and it would render their final game at Stoke City irrelevant.

West Ham United 33 pts

Gloom and doom are the words that best sum up West Ham's situation. They realistically need to win both their games - the aforementioned trip to Wigan followed by Sunderland at home.

Saturday's 1-1 draw with Blackburn ended a run of five defeats, they have not won in seven games.

Their attack is the 16th worst (just 1.14 goals per game) and their defence is 18th (1.78 conceded per game). If as predicted, they lose to Wigan, they will go down.

twoods@thenational.ae