FanZone's Southampton blogger Oliver Chanot is not convinced his beloved Saints are safe yet - and reviews the relegation battle.
This week, I am going for a different approach to my blogs, instead of just focusing on Southampton, I will be reviewing the teams in the fierce relegation fight that is one of the most unpredictable scenarios in the League (no disrespect to the fight for fourth)
Manchester United last week won the Premier League for the 20th time by beating Aston Villa 3-0. For the Manchester side it sums up a great season, but for the rest of the teams at the bottom of the table, it is far from over. Reading and QPR are in the Championship for next season, but not many people can confidently say who will be joining them.
Here are the contenders:
Wigan (currently 18th): They were able to get a draw at home against Tottenham, a game in which they could have won, but this game was a warning sign that Wigan may be able to get a good run of results and survive another season in the Premier League. They have done it for a couple of seasons now, and have got themselves a reputation of performing the great escape. Four games left for the FA Cup finalist, first they travel to a West Brom side who are looking to finish the season with a new points total, the rest of their games are far from easy, they have to entertain Swansea, then travel to The Emirates and finish the season in a mouth-watering clash with fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the DW. I think they will go down, but I am not going to put any money on it, as they did it last year and before that, but this year they have an FA Cup final, something the Wigan fans will love, but will the heartbreak or the celebrations get in the way of their Premier League survival?
Aston Villa (currently 17th): They have got a tough tie today by hosting a rejuvenated Sunderland side. Their other games go from playing against Norwich, who are desperate to confirm survival in the Premier League, then they host a Chelsea side who are also desperate, but their aim is to finish in the top four. Then their final game will be at the DW as stated before. This year I think they have not really got going. They have a very young squad which may be good in the long term, but I think many Villa fans would have rather invested in experience, as this year that is what has been lacking. I think they do need to get at least four points from their final games for survival, if not they may be in a lot of trouble at the end of the game at the DW Stadium
Newcastle (currently 16th): It's a strange one, if someone would have said to me last year, Southampton will be higher than Newcastle after 35 games, I most probably would have laughed. They have been under performers this year, whether it's playing a lot more games as they had a good run in the Europa League or missing Demba Ba, but I personally believe they have a lot of quality players and with that should be higher in the table. Their last three games are all winnable games from my point of view, they travel to West Ham, then host an already-relegated QPR, then on the final game of the season they host Arsenal. If they play to the level they can, I personally believe they can win the next two games and get a draw against Arsenal. I dont think they will get relegated but from any view point, this season has been far from expected.
Sunderland + Norwich (currently 15th + 14th): Going to be brief with both Sunderland and Norwich as I am confident they will both stay up. Di Canio has put some life in to the Sunderland squad, he came in with a lot of criticism due to his history, but his side is performing a lot better and have got new confidence. I think we should judge Di Canio at the end of the season as opposed to after a few games, but you cannot lie, what he has done so far is better than Martin O'Neill.
Norwich are a team that play good football (maybe except against us and Holt does a dive against an up-and-coming 17-year-old Shaw). They have themselves a good manager who is doing all he can to get Norwich to safety, I think we have reached a point in the season that if you have around four teams below you in the relegation fight, it is very unlikely you will go down. I am confident that they both will stay up, but football may do what it does best and perform the unexpected.
Finally, my beloved Southampton (currently 13th): We had a hard time at the beginning, but we have picked up some form in the season especially at home against Man City and Liverpool. These are games that if we stay up, we can look back and say "these were the games that made us a Premier League side for another year to come". We still have a long way to go as the 3-0 thrashing against West Brom shows. Fox and Ramirez both got sent off, and are surely not going to play again this season, this may even be the last game for Fox as his performances this year have been far from expected. Our next game is against Spurs in London, a game I am not expecting much from, but to fully guarentee our survival and allow me to sleep, we need to win at least one of our next three games. Our last game will be at home in an already sold-out St Mary's Stadium, a game every fan will want to be part of. It is against Stoke, hopefully we will be safe by then, but if not, it will surely be the longest 90 minutes of my life.
This year I will hopefully be able to look back on a good start to Premier League life, but I am not counting on anything just yet.
Either way, the season is far from over and although there are only 21 days until the season is over, for the teams at the bottom half, it will be a long 21 days and seem like an eternity to reach the finish line.