Premier League Survival Sunday: 10 Players with Huge Responsibilities
The final round of the Premier League beckons.
The title race is down to the wire, while the race to finish third (and fourth) will also be decided on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the league, one of QPR and Bolton will be fighting their last match in England’s top flight, at least for a season.
After Wolves confirmed their relegation a few weeks ago, Blackburn followed suit on Monday night with a loss to Wigan, whose three points and Aston Villa’s solitary point against Tottenham over the weekend have reduced the relegation fight to just two teams.
How fitting, then, that the outcome of the title race may very well have an impact on who becomes the third and final team to be relegated to the Championship.
QPR travel to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on Sunday, while Bolton need three points at Stoke.
And here are 10 players with huge responsibilities on QPR and Bolton if they are to enjoy another year in the Premier League.
Nedum Onuoha (QPR)
Let’s first start with QPR, whose defenders will have their work cut out trying to stop the Premier League’s leading scorers.
Nedum Onuoha will be tasked with stopping City’s world-class attack on his return to Manchester City.
While his attacking instincts have always been praised, it is his defensive game that will be put to the test on Sunday.
Joey Barton (QPR)
Who else but Joey Barton?
If there is one player who is capable of winding up the Manchester City midfield, it is Joey Barton.
His track record shows that he is capable of agitating opponents via constant physical harassing to regain possession, and on his day he can also provide excellent set-piece deliveries.
Mark Hughes will hope to see Barton’s good side and not his combustible self.
Jamie Mackie (QPR)
A firm fan favorite, Jamie Mackie has proven his importance to this QPR side in the closing months of the season.
Suddenly, he’s become a key attacking outlet for Mark Hughes’ team.
His work ethic, pace and finishing have the potential to cause trouble to City’s defenders.
And he carries the hopes of QPR fans on his shoulders.
Adel Taarabt (QPR)
In recent weeks, Adel Taarabt has fully reestablished himself in Mark Hughes’ plans.
And he’s finally lived up to the reputation he built up during last year’s Championship-winning season.
As one of the few players capable of the magical and spectacular, he will hold the key to unlocking City’s defence.
Djibril Cisse (QPR)
Finally, there is the phenomenon that is Djibril Cisse.
He has proved an important cog in the QPR machine since arriving in January, but his love for controversy and for the red card has mired him in some trouble.
Just like Joey Barton, he will have to show his productive side over his destructive tendencies.
Adam Bogdan (Bolton)
As for Bolton, they might face an easier task on paper, but they need a win against Stoke, who are well known for their ability to cause problems to even the best defences.
So Bolton’s goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan, will need to be on top form, if only to be commanding in the air against Stoke’s famous long throws.
Tim Ream (Bolton)
In front of Bogdan, new defensive addition Tim Ream will be a key player in the Bolton defence.
Ream has proven a solid Premier League defender since arriving in January, but he will be facing the considerable aerial threat posed by all of Stoke’s strikers.
Bolton need a sturdy defence, especially at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium, if they are to get any points on board.
Ryo Miyaichi (Bolton)
Arsenal’s on-loan winger Ryo Miyaichi has shown his prodigious talent while on loan at Bolton, like so many other youngsters before him.
To break down a resolute Stoke defence, Owen Coyle will need an all-action performance from Miyaichi.
He might just be able to provide that turn of pace, that all-important trick to breach Asmir Begovic’s goal.
Martin Petrov (Bolton)
On the opposite flank, if Martin Petrov shakes off his injury worries, he needs to continue his habit of providing Bolton’s spark from midfield.
His crossing will need to be picture perfect to beat Stoke’s defenders.
And he will need to combine with Bolton’s midfield to great effect.
Kevin Davies (Bolton)
Kevin Davies will have to resume his role as Bolton’s trusty leader from the front.
It hasn’t been his best season by any means, but he has the experience to lead Bolton through what is surely one of his toughest games in the top flight.
If they come away keeping their Premier League status, the Bolton skipper can rest assured he’s done all that has been asked of him.
QPR or Bolton?
Who do you think will retain their Premier League status on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in my Premier League Team of the Year. Please also check out my writer’s profile, where you can find more of my work, and my blog, The Red Armchair, for Liverpool match reactions and opinions.
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