Premier League relegation battle set for gruelling final day showdown
With Burnley and, more recently QPR, sealing their immediate return to the Championship, only one more relegation place remains in the Premier League, as Hull City, Newcastle United and Sunderland battle it out to avoid the daunting drop down divisions.
Nigel Pearson’s Leicester City rallied to an impressive season run-in, securing their top-flight status for another season and becoming the only promoted team to stay up, despite seemingly looking like facing relegation early in the campaign.
The three struggling sides set to fight it out lie in similarly hapless positions, but none more so than Steve Bruce’s Tigers, who occupy the final drop zone spot in 18th, while the Magpies sit a narrow two points above (11/2 with Coral to face drop).
Of this treble of top-flight strugglers, Dick Advocaat’s Black Cats hold the most promising position, or so it would seem, with a game in hand over their fellow relegation rivals.
Sunderland will face an in-form Arsenal at the Emirates during midweek, knowing that a point would save them from needing a result during the lottery of a final-day meeting with recently crowned champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Wearside outfit’s fate looks destined to be settled against Jose Mourinho’s Blues, though, having failed to emerge victorious away at the Gunners since 1984, and have managed to net only 13 goals in the 16 meetings since that rare triumph (9/1 to win).
Although, Sunderland have been scrapping by in previous seasons, and are capable of stunning Arsene Wenger’s men on their travels to London, having rediscovered some crucially rejuvenated form in recent weeks. Their change of fortunes is a stark contrast to that of Hull and Newcastle, having managed two wins in between a couple of vital draws, while John Carver’s Magpies have catastrophically endured their worst ever top-flight run of 10 games without a victory, including nine defeats.
Newcastle’s disillusioned self-proclaimed best Premier League coach Carver will need to overturn that futile form in order to pick up a first win since February, three points which would guarantee their survival, even if Hull manage to edge past Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United on the final day.
The Geordie outfit were dumped out of the top-flight in 2009 and could face a familiar scenario if West Ham United show their earlier season form, but Allardyce’s Hammers are chasing a win which could secure a top 10 finish, so things do look bleak for the Toon.
Sunderland toppled the Red Devils on the penultimate game of last season, who were temporarily taken charge of by Ryan Giggs, and United have a recent history of losing out on the final day when there is nothing to play for; with Carlos Tevez’ famous Hammers strike also proving there is a glimmer of hope for the toothless Tigers.
Although, their situation is reliant on Newcastle losing out to West Ham, meaning a stunning final day triumph over United at the KC Stadium could all be in vain.
This three-horse race could soon become a one-on-one battle if Sunderland secure a sensational win over Arsenal in midweek, but Bruce’s Tigers are undoubtedly in the most daunting position, despite the Toon’s torrid term, and are odds-on 2/9 to go down.
Betting tip: Sunderland to be relegated @ 17/2