It is Tuesday 26th February and the Premier League’s relegation battle is hotting up with only 11 games to go.
Before Saturday’s round of fixtures i would have said my beloved Reading would be favourites to beat the drop with upcoming matches against those around them at The Madejski Stadium, and a recent upturn in form.
Disaster struck for the Royals with a crushing 0-3 home loss to relegation rivals Wigan Athletic on Saturday, where they were outplayed from start to finish, and if it wasn’t for the impressive Adam Federici, it could have been much much worse.
To add to the capitulation, Russian International forward Pavel Pogrebnyak was sent off and will now undertake a three match ban, where he misses the clubs crucial home tie against Aston Villa.
Reading are in big trouble, and it pains me to write that, it really does. The result could completely destabilise our season, similar to how we turned things round in positive fashion after an emphatic late comeback at home to West Brom.
With Noel Hunt, Adam Le Fondre and Nick Blackman being the only forwards available for the next few games, i honestly can’t see where the next points will come, although you can’t write the former biscuitmen off!, especially with ten minutes to go, ahem.
They have the fixtures to survice, and have a much easier run in than all their relegation rivals, though due to their poor ability to hold the ball for long periods, and the demoralising loss at home on Saturday, it will be difficult to turn the season around once again.
Queens Park Rangers are down as well, and being 7 points off safety with many daunting games to come i don’t think even Harry Redknapp can keep them up this season. Bringing in the likes of Christopher Samba for big wages, and large transfer fees were ridiculous. The giant defender has been caught out on a number of occasions already this season due to his lack of fitness and natural acceleration.
They do have some talented individuals with the likes of Adel Taarabt, Loic Remy and Junior Hoilett, but with only two wins all season and 11 games to go, i think it’s a gap which is just to hard to claw back.
With Reading and Queens Park Rangers destined for a return to Englands 2nd tier, the battle for the final relegation spot will be between Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic.
Both sides have the experience to survive this season, and equally have some fantastic talents who could prove the difference between Championship football and a new increased revenue stream from the Premier League next season.
The likes of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann for Aston Villa, and equally Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo for Wigan, are the players who can offer that extra bit of quality which gives them a chance of survival.
Wigan completely battered Reading on Saturday, and their philsophy which has been implemented by Roberto Martinez was a joy to behold, with close, intracate passing triangles being evident from back to front throughout the match.
The problem with Aston Villa is their consistency in the Premier League. They have won at the likes of Anfield where they have played some breathtaking football under Paul Lambert, and recently drew at Goodison Park and narrowly lost at the Emirates Stadium.
I hear you thinking, well who does he think is going to go down? well it all goes down to the last day of the season.
What an easy analogy to transcribe i hear you mutter under you breath, though i am telling the truth, and hear is why. On the final day of the Premier League season Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa have a must win game, and one in which they will feel can keep them up.
If you haven’t already guessed, then i will tell you now. The magic of last season ladies and gentlemen will be down the bottom on the final day as Roberto Martinez goes head to head with Paul Lambert. Wigan Athletic host Aston Villa in what can only be described as a playoff final in itself at the DW Stadium.
It will come down to that game, and i honestly think Wigan will do what they do best, and come through the pack and survive on the last day once again.
Goodbye Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Aston Villa, and welcome Cardiff City.