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With Sheffield United’s inevitable relegation edging closer by the game, the next question is which two clubs will follow them into the Sky Bet Championship?
West Brom and Fulham still have work to do if they are to stay up but they will be trying to drag the likes of Newcastle, Burnley and Brighton into the dogfight.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the teams involved in the battle for Premier League survival.
Albion’s recent revival could prove to have been a case of too little, too late as they look to pull off another great escape. Their 2005 achievement will always be remembered as the Premier League’s most unlikely rescue act but should Sam Allardyce, who has never been relegated from the top flight, manage to keep West Brom up this time it would undoubtedly top even Bryan Robson’s feat from 16 years ago.
Back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Southampton, across which the Baggies have scored eight goals, have given them a glimmer of hope heading into three huge midlands derbies against Leicester, Aston Villa and Wolves. If Allardyce’s men remain in the hunt after those matches, a tricky run-in with games against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Leeds awaits them.
Until recently, Scott Parker’s side looked the most likely of the bottom three to get themselves out of trouble. Either side of the international break, the Cottagers missed chances to climb out of the relegation zone as they were beaten by Leeds and then Villa. A fourth straight defeat to Wolves at the weekend tempered the optimism that had been previously built by a run which saw them suffer only two defeats in 10 matches.
Fulham have played a game more than all of their rivals and next face back-to-back London derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea as they bid to halt their losing run. A huge clash with Burnley on May 8 will be pivotal to any chances they have of staying up before trips to Southampton and Manchester United. If Parker’s team were offered a winner-takes-all clash against Newcastle at Craven Cottage on the final day of the season then they would surely take that scenario.
As timely wins go, Sunday’s at Burnley was as good as it gets for the Magpies. Not only did it come on the back of Fulham’s loss to Wolves, but it also halted a seven-match run without a win and saw Steve Bruce’s side open up a six-point buffer over the Cottagers.
Newcastle may need that cushion, with a daunting run of five games to come that sees them take on West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City. Bruce will be hoping they have the job done by the time Sheffield United go to St James’ Park in the penultimate round of fixtures, otherwise a tense finale and survival shoot-out at Craven Cottage awaits.
The home defeat to Newcastle was an unwanted setback, especially coming straight after the loss at Southampton, but the Clarets’ seven-point cushion above the bottom three should be too much for either Fulham or West Brom to claw back. Sean Dyche’s men had been in steady form before those back-to-back defeats, winning at Crystal Palace and Everton and earning draws against Fulham, West Brom, Leicester and Arsenal.
Burnley take on Manchester United, Wolves and West Ham before travelling to Fulham on May 8, where avoiding defeat is likely to be enough to ensure another season of Premier League football. Home games against Leeds and Liverpool follow and a final-day trip to Bramall Lane to face the Blades.
Like Burnley, Brighton are seven points clear of the drop zone but arguably face the most difficult run-in of the relegation candidates: with games against Chelsea, Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves, West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal to come.
Successive victories against Southampton and Newcastle last month breathed new life into Albion’s survival bid and came at just the right time. Graham Potter’s side are hugely competitive and have the useful knack of being able to stay in matches, having been beaten by more than one goal only once in the Premier League since October.