Date: 4th April 2012 at 1:50pm
Written by:

Savvy Monkey on the run-in of those threatened by relegation. Is mid-table mediocrity a time for celebration? You betcha.

I love this time of year. It always feels like you have more time as daylight stretches on and on, and suddenly it`s much easier to feel optimistic about everything, even football.

I remember reading a report a couple of years ago that compared football results in the warmer months compared to the winter months. In the report, we came out as one of the top ‘summer` performers and a whole lot worse throughout winter – which seems to backup the view I had at the time that a lot of the time our players just didn`t fancy long dark trips to far flung places in the North of England.

This time of year is usually when the football season is reaching a climatic conclusion, and normally results in a relegation battle, or as in recent years, a surge for promotion. In fact, it hasn`t been since the final full season with Nigel Worthington at the helm that we`ve had such a comparatively stress-free end of the season to look forward to. Or do we?

The traditional points target for Premier League safety is 40 points. Three times in recent memory has 40 points not been enough – West Ham went down with 42 points in 02/03, whilst Bolton went down with 40 points in 97/98 and Sunderland the same total in 96/97. We of course went down in 94/95 with a whopping 43 points, but that was when there were 22 teams in the Premier League.

39 points isn`t always enough as Birmingham and Blackpool will testify from last season, and as we`ve seen 40 is by no means a guarantee. So how many points do we need and who`s going down?

Wigan:

I can`t see Wigan getting anything out of their next 3 fixtures, and can only see them getting 6 points from the others, which gives them 34 points and relegation.

Chelsea v Wigan

Wigan v Man Utd

Arsenal v Wigan

Fulham v Wigan

Wigan v Newcastle

Blackburn v Wigan

Wigan v Wolves

The other place for me goes to one of QPR, Blackburn or Bolton. QPR`s fixtures are difficult but they seem to be coming good at the right time and I fancy them over-achieving in the London derbies. I have them getting another 7 points and finishing with 35 points.

Man Utd v QPR

QPR v Swansea

West Brom v QPR

QPR v Tottenham

Chelsea v QPR

QPR v Stoke

Man City v QPR

Blackburn seemed to be out of trouble and I have a lot of respect for the way Steve Kean has handled the negativity from their fans, but they are right back in it. It`s likely though that they`ll get the 2 wins and a draw they need to gain 35 points? just.

West Brom v Blackburn

Blackburn v Liverpool

Swansea v Blackburn

Blackburn v Norwich

Tottenham v Blackburn

Blackburn v Wigan

Chelsea v Blackburn

Bolton are my tip to join Wigan and Wolves in relegation. They`ll perhaps beat Fulham at home, but I can`t really see them getting anything much else out of their remaining fixtures, so have them finishing on 34 points too, with a couple of draws from their other games.

Bolton v Fulham

Newcastle v Bolton

Bolton v Swansea

Aston Villa v Bolton

Sunderland v Bolton

Bolton v Tottenham

Bolton v West Brom

Stoke v Bolton

It`s tight but Wigan have the most difficult run-in, and it`s whether QPR, Bolton or Blackburn have the most resilience to get the points they need.

Even the most pessimistic outlook for us (perhaps 3 points at home to Villa), will see us finish on 42 points and well above any dog fight.

Let`s not take this lightly. In my view, and Paul Lambert`s as well, staying in the top flight surpasses anything this current team has achieved to date. It will be a monumental achievement and secures the future of the club for the foreseeable future. Let`s not get carried away with ourselves and get greedy. We really don`t know how long this will last as it can all go wrong so quickly – just ask Wolves fans.

Lambert, Culverhouse, Mcnally, Delia et al have done an amazing job in getting us this far. Phase 2 is for another day.

OTBC!

 
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