Premier League Relegation: Assessing Each Club's Chances of Survival
Who's getting relegated from the English Premier League this season?
The title race is over, but the race to beat the drop is as absorbing, exciting and tumultuous as ever before—unless you're a fan of one of the seven clubs involved, in which case it's a complete nightmare.
We assess the latest fortunes of each team embroiled in the scrap. The article will consider Reading and Queens Park Rangers too far adrift for consideration of staying up.
Wigan Athletic are a truly unpredictable outfit under Roberto Martinez—season after season, they avoid the drop, but occasionally drop a real stinker and lose 4-0 at home.
Their presence in the relegation fight, coupled with the two games in hand they've accrued thanks to FA Cup exertions, make the entire situation an incredibly difficult thing to predict.
Recent history, however, may make a good argument in favour of them staying out of the relegation zone. Their run-in is tough given the amount of games they have to play in such a short space of time, but the Latics remain the very definition of the form team in the bottom half.
Second only to Wigan Athletic in the form table among teams "in the mixer" is Aston Villa, whose recent renaissance has restored faith in survival hopes.
Three wins from five games, including crucial three-point hauls over Reading, Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City, have lifted them temporarily clear of the drop zone and within touching distance of a lofty 13th place.
Paul Lambert's men are in a confident mood and will feel they could and should have beaten Fulham at the weekend. Their schedule is not as ominous as most of the teams around them.
After an immense start to the season characterised by a typically solid defence, Stoke City have fallen to pieces in 2013.
Their only league win of the year has come against lowly Reading, and after six defeats in seven games, Potters fans are wondering where the next point will come from.
The next three games will likely decide their fate: ties against Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland and Norwich City loom, and should they fail to find a win somewhere in there, many will feel they're destined for the drop.
What a difference a week can make!
Paolo Di Canio's baptism of fire as Sunderland manager took a turn for the better after a stonking 3-0 victory away to fierce rivals Newcastle United.
It halted the Black Cats' absolutely horrendous run of eight games without a win and restored faith, passion and belief on Wearside.
Their new Italian manager has them running on mental stimulation, and it all depends on how long he can keep it going—it should be noted they weren't far and away the better side on Sunday.
Many have felt Norwich City to be safe for quite a while, but the fact remains they can't score goals or win games with any semblance of consistency.
Looking at league fixures only, the Canaries have only managed to beat Wigan Athletic and Everton in the past five months—a period spanning 17 games, nine losses and seven draws since beating the Latics.
Their last win came in February, and if Chris Hughton's men fail to beat Reading at home this weekend, alarm bells will be ringing rather loudly in East Anglia.
Newcastle United have the talent to pull themselves well clear of the relegation zone but simply refuse to make life easy for themselves.
Enduring a quarterfinal-long campaign in the UEFA Europa League this season has been testing and drained the squad, while injuries have played their part too.
An exit to Benfica in Europe displayed plenty of fight, but at the potential cost of fatigue. A 3-0 defeat to Sunderland has mired the Magpies right back in despite sitting in 13th place—they are just two points ahead of 17th-placed Aston Villa.
With five games to go, the battle is outrageously close, but there are two clear factions in the mix.
Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic have been in form for more than a month, while Sunderland could be turning a corner with a new manager.
Newcastle remain just as furiously inconsistent as ever, while it's very hard to see where Norwich and Stoke are even considering grabbing their next win from.
Wigan's games in hand make this a difficult situation to predict, but Stoke City are looking well and truly out of gas.
Tony Pulis' men have the following fixtures left on the calendar: QPR (H), Norwich (H), Sunderland (A), Tottenham (H), Southampton (A).
How many points are they realistically looking at from those five games, especially when you consider their current haul of one win in 2013?