Premier League Relegation Battle UpdateBy: phil | May 7th, 2012
After Sunday’s heavy slate of matches, the battle against relegation from the Premier League was starting to come into focus. QPR’s big win over Stoke helped the Rs out of the relegation zone temporarily, while Bolton’s failure to hold onto their 2-0 hurt them immensely. There was still one more important match to consider, though: today’s battle between Wigan ‘Latics and Blackburn.
Well, after today’s Wigan victory on the road, the picture is much more clear. Climb aboard as we sort out what’s what:STAYING UP:
Even a draw today would have left them in great shape, but Wigan made it a sure thing and scored a victory. All credit to Wigan: they were down and out a few months ago, and clawed their way back, with wins over Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool, and Newcastle in recent weeks. Wigan will be playing in the Premier League next season. Robert Martinez and his boys did a great job in the past 2 months, and will probably finish as high as 15th.
Another club that’s now safe, but Villa has a lot left to be proud of. They were a mid-table team in February. But their 9-match winless streak (going all the way back to March 10) put their survival in doubt and gave AVFC supporters a few sleepless nights. At the end of the day, though, they’re staying up, and they can get a win over Norwich this weekend to finish on a still-respectanle 41 points.
This has been a foregone conclusion for weeks, as Wolves needed everything to go right to stay up and instead got a run of bad luck. They’ll probably finish on 5 wins for the season. They do have a few decent young players, though, and with the parachute money I wouldn’t be against them returning to the Prem sometime soon.
I hate to be critical of a club that has a few guys I like, but the past few weeks have been just awful for Blackburn. Facing must wins against Spurs and Wigan, they showed up sluggish and tentative. They don’t have much firepower up front and get bossed around in the midfield. Hard to blame Steve Kean for everything, because there were some injuries, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get the sack.
Losing that 2-goal lead to WBA last week really hurt Bolton. Now they need to go on the road against a decent Stoke team, and a draw does them no good: facing a 2-point deficit, they need a win. And they won’t be helped by the fact that defender David Wheater is out with a knee injury. Still, 6 of Bolton’s 10 wins this season are on the road, and Stoke isn’t a giant by any means. If Bolton can get an early goal, expect them to try to hold on for dear life.
The boys are in a much better position this week – deservedly so, having earned that gutty win on Sunday in front of the home fans. If we can pick up even a point against City, we’re safe. A tough task, no doubt, but we did fight pretty well against City in our earlier match this season.
In that last match, Joey Barton and Alejandro Faurlin performed surprisingly well against Man City’s midfield, and we didn’t get pushed around at all. If it weren’t for a few great individual plays from Dzeko and Silva, we could have had a draw in that one. So don’t think the Rs are going to be intimidated going into the match.
Tune in later this week for a more complete preview, and then we’ll be here this weekend with coverage and video highlights.