Two six-pointers in a weekend that could define the relegation scrap


This season, the battle against relegation has never been quite so desperate and the extreme anxiety felt between the involved quintet could go either way this weekend: a miserable season could suddenly take a turn for the better but, equally, it could take a turn for the worse, for this weekend there is not one, but two six-pointers – the odd team in five not involved in such frantic fracases is Wigan and they take on Norwich.

Many would’ve expected Norwich to be down the wrong end of the table exchanging swipes and trading punches: however, The Canaries are positioned 11th and the gap between them and the relegation zone – 13 points – is greater than that between them and a European spot – 11 points. In fact, so estranged are the bottom five, that the gulf between 15th place Aston Villa and 16th place Q.P.R. – 8 points – is wider than that of Villa and in-form Fulham, who sit in 8th with 36 points.

Last season, which saw Birmingham, Blackpool and West Ham relegated, two of the forsaken trio went down with a points tally of 39. This season, the wretched five piece, which is comprised of Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn, Wolves, Bolton and Wigan, are destined to achieve no more than 31 points. Undoubtedly, the bottom end of the Premier League has never been so poor.

At the current rate of gain, the most points collected would fall to QPR, Blackburn and Wolves at 30.96, with the latter two escaping the plight to the less lucrative nPower Championship thanks to the goal scoring rate of Ayegbeni Yakubu, signed for just £1.3m in the summer, who has scored 13 goals in just 17 starts and has the best conversion rate of shots into goals of any regular player in the Premier League this campaign at 38%, and the continual investment into playing staff at Loftus Road. Bolton and Wigan won’t be quite as fortunate. If their collection of points so far continues at the same rate until May, they’ll pick up just 28 points and nothing will save them from relegation.

Last season, the expected points tally of all five teams involved in this year’s relegation dogfight would’ve led to demotion. In fact, since the Premier League became a 20-team division for the first time in the 1995/96 edition, the lowest points total for a team who has survived relegation to the second tier of English football was achieved by West Bromwich Albion in 2004/05.

That year, 34 points was enough to ensure The Baggies kept afloat in the cash rich Premier League. This time round, not one of the bottom five are expected to reach that total. On current form, the quintet would be relegated in any other 20-team Premier League that has taken place to date. For English football, it’s a stark reminder that the top flight isn’t the competitive free for all that some would have us believe. For the teams concerned, it’s a luxury that may afford them survival despite the lowest ever points haul to do so.

This weekend, a rare opportunity to collect three points, whilst their nearest survival rivals do not, presents itself to four of the bottom five: Bolton take on QPR at The Reebok and The Molineux plays host to Wolves versus Blackburn. In the bottom five’s past 10 games, over 40 fixtures in total, just seven wins have been recorded. It is in the interest of all four teams going into their weekend game to increase it by one and one only. For each of Wolves, Bolton, Blackburn and QPR, the best result would be a win in their respective tie and a draw in the other.

Firstly, QPR travel north to take on Bolton in the midday kick off. For Rangers, bitter memories still exist from their baptism of fire to the Premier League: on the opening day of the season, Bolton showed no remorse in welcoming the London side back to the Premier League for their second visit, hammering four past a helpless Paddy Kenny with no reply.

In QPR’s last season in the Premier League, the London club did the double over Wanderers – this time round, expect the points to be shared. Bolton have failed to score a single goal in their past three games in all competitions and in the Premier League, Bolton have scored just one since beating Liverpool 3-1 back in January. However, if Bolton score first, expect them to win: so far this season, Wanderers have never lost having taken the lead, winning 5 of 6 from leading positions.

In the other fight for survival, Blackburn Rovers take on Wolves in the Midlands and, similarly to the other six-pointer, the two teams have not faced each other since the opening day of the campaign. On that occasion, at Ewood Park, the visitors scored twice to win the goal by the odd one in three. However, since then Wolves have only won once on the road and three times at home. It is miserable reading for any football fan: yet, Blackburn, the visitors this time, have an even worse away win ratio, taking all three points on just one occasion this season, drawing and losing six a piece in their other away games.

Going into the game, Blackburn have 4 points from the past available nine, whereas the home side have just one. Considering Blackburn’s struggles to win games on the road, only doing so when they remarkably beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve, one would expect Wolves to be the favourites to win: however, with Terry Connor at the helms and the entire absence of new manager syndrome – probably because he’s hardly a new face on the scene, having been around for the past 13-years – I expect a Blackburn side, galvanised in adversity, to take all three points with Yakubu proving the difference.

One goal separates three of them and two points separate all five. This weekend could well prove to be the be all and end all of two of the teams involved: however, one shared interest between all four teams is that two draws are in no-one’s interest.

Written by Jordan Florit for For more articles visit my website or my Twitter @JordanFlorit

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Budding Football journalist who blogs at daily as well as writing here for ThisisFutbol and on the England fan's page. Outside of writing is more football. I work at Southampton F.C and I manage a men's football team on Saturdays.