The English Premier League is seriously heating up now. And while league title races and UEFA Champions League positions take up much discussion, we must never forget that another war is being waged down the other end of the table.
This war matters just as much as the ones up top.
There’s money to be won and lost; pride and respect on the line and the hopes and prayers of thousands of fans who wish to avoid the dreaded relegation zone.
Five sides currently sit within two points of each other. The equation is simple: the bottom three drop out and lose all funding and support while the other two remain contenders in the English Premier League for next season.
Which teams will stay up and which teams will drop out? Here’s my final predictions below.
Wolverhampton Wolves (currently 16th)
Another hapless season from Wolves who once again are fighting to avoid relegation. Their home form has been terrible this year and were it not for the four draws they’ve salvaged since Christmas, they would be in serious trouble.
With an easier run home than some, Wolves should do just enough to avoid relegation – something they are becoming the masters at.
But because they cannot seem to find a win at home, and appear lucky to gather a point on the road, it may be one time too many down this end of the table for Wolves. Throughout the season, there have been games Wolves need to deliver a strong performance in, and they just haven’t.
They will be lucky to win a single match in their final eleven weeks in the Premier League, let alone avoid relegation.
Final prediction: 29 points (19th)
Queens Park Rangers (currently 17th)
Queen Park Rangers have proven that they are capable of scoring goals all season; they are just incapable of preventing at the other end of the pitch. However, without a win since October, they have slumped to 16th on the table and are in serious danger of being relegated this season.
Out of the five sides remaining, they have the toughest schedule ahead. They only have one game against a team in the bottom four, and must also face Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Sunderland on the road.
Throw in to that mix tough home games against Liverpool and Arsenal, QPR will do well to avoid the bottom three. Although there will be some anxious moments in their loss in the final week to City, they will survive the relegation zone simply because there are some worse sides in the league.
Final prediction: 30 points (17th)
Blackburn Rovers (currently 18th)
Out of all the clubs in bottom five, Blackburn Rovers have had the best form since Christmas, and that includes a 7-1 drubbing to Arsenal and a recent demolition by Manchester City.
They somehow took all three points at Old Trafford and have also won two of their past three home matches. With the form of Yakubu continuing to impress, and Blackburn steadying at home, they may well just avoid the drop zone in 2012.
Rovers get to play the bottom three sides in Wolves, Bolton and Wigan, and if they can manage to find at least five points in those games, they will make it home with room to spare.
Final prediction: 31 points (16th)
Bolton Wanderers (currently 19th)
Even with a shock victory over Liverpool under their belts, you couldn’t make a case for a strong Bolton season, with only two wins at home and conceding an average of more than two goals per game.
While their run home does include the big names of Manchester City, Tottenham and a tough away trip to Sunderland, Bolton don’t have the worst schedule of the lot.
Not that it will help a whole lot, as the likes of Aston Villa and Stoke City will prove too good for another struggling club and condemn them to a season outside of the Premier League.
Final prediction: 29 points (18th)
Wigan Athletic (currently 20th)
There hasn’t been much joy for Wigan this year and it’s not going to change.
They will be relegated.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle all await. And if they lose all those games, then it’s all over for Wigan. I’ve got them down to have four draws and no wins.
And I think I’ve been a little too generous.
Final prediction: 23 points (20th)