Four into Two Doesn't Go: Who Will Survive the Relegation Battle?

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer IMay 23, 2009

HULL, ENGLAND - MAY 09:  Phil Brown, manager of Hull City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Stoke City at the KC Stadium on May 9, 2009 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Another Premier League season will be coming to a close tomorrow afternoon and, with things wrapped up at the top of the table, the focus is shifting to those fighting relegation.

There are two relegation places left, with West Brom already down, and four clubs who seem to be doing everything in their power to try and occupy those two spaces.

Of those four sides, Sunderland are in the best position. Their two-point lead over 18th place Newcastle is by no means comfortable, but for them to go down, Newcastle would have to win and Hull would have to get at least a point.

Hull's plight in the Premier League has been a roller-coaster to say the least. A magnificent start to the season saw them top of the table at one point, but since Christmas time, they have shown the type of form many expected of them before the season began.

A draw may be enough for them to stay up, but that is easier said than done when Manchester United are your opponents.

Sure, the champions will be resting a lot of players, but those who come in won't be too shabby either. Add to that the desire to prove your Champions League final credentials to Sir Alex Ferguson, and you have a very tough opponent on your hands.

While these two teams may not be in enviable positions to those who are looking down on them, at least their Premier League fate is in their own hands.

That is more than can be said for Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

Newcastle's season has been a shambles. Little over a decade ago they were 13 points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. Earlier this decade they were qualifying for the Champions League.

So where did it all go wrong?

Many will point to the dismissal of Sir Bobby Robson. Certainly, they are yet to regain that sort of managerial stability and prowess.

Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, Keegan, Kinnear, and Shearer have all sat in the dugout in that five year period, and it seems as if their fall from grace may be completed tomorrow afternoon.

There is a glimmer of hope available for the Toon Army, however. Should Hull lose to Man Utd, then Newcastle would only need a draw against a stuttering Aston Villa to stay up.

Even Newcastle's situation looks rosy compared to their North East neighbours Middlesbrough, however.

Middlesbrough need a win, for Hull and Newcastle to lose, and a five-goal swing in terms of goal difference between themselves and Hull. It really is looking bleak for Gareth Southgate's men.

Personally, I think Middlesbrough will definitely go down, and Sunderland will stay up. I'm still undecided on who will get that final spot of safety, however.

I think Hull will lose to Manchester United, and I can see Newcastle grabbing a point at Aston Villa. Then again, I can also see the opposite happening.

Considering I backed Hull to finish 11th at the start of the season, however, I'm going for the Tigers to stay up.

Whatever happens, it promises to be a nail-biting finish to a magnificent season and I, for one, can't wait!


Quiz Question No. 3:

Who was the manager of Newcastle last time they were relegated from the top flight?