Yesterday I outlined everything that Villa fans should cheer for in Sunday's matches. For the most part, nothing went as we'd all like. Norwich, who we would have loved to have seen lose, absolutely demolished West Bromich Albion (AN Albatross) by a final score of 4-0 at Carrow Road. The Canaries now have 41 points and are guaranteed to be back in the Premiership next year.
At Loftus Road, QPR gave us hope by taking an early 1-0 lead on a dubious penalty, but promptly gave Newcastle a penalty back and then conceded a second. Despite going down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes, Newcastle managed to hold on for the win. That's not saying much though, since QPR's attack relied on the creative skill of one Jermaine Jenas. At 41 points the Magpies, too, are safe for the season.
That leaves seven teams sitting at the 40-point or below mark. In order from worst to best: QPR, Reading, Wigan, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham, and Southampton. QPR and Reading are already gone, and barring some freak incident in goal differential, Fulham and Southampton are safe. (And by freak, I mean Fulham would have to lose by 11or more and Southampton would have to lose by 13 or more. Remember, before you cry foul on this math, the only way goal differential would come into play is if Villa lose, so you have to add on -1 to theirs. Also, the next tie-break [goals scored] would likely not break in Villa's favor.)
So all of this leaves three teams eligible for relegation: Wigan, Villa, and Sunderland. Let's look at the scenarios:
Wigan lose to Arsenal on Tuesday
This would be it. They'd be able to get no more than 38 points on the season, and would be the final team relegated from the Premier League.
Safe: Aston Villa, Sunderland
Wigan draw Arsenal on Tuesday
This, mathematically, would keep Wigan alive. Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez' team, they'd only have a chance if crazy goal differential things happened in the final weekend. Realistically, a draw ends the race too:
Safe (Mathematically): Aston Villa
Safe (Realistically): Sunderland
Out (Realistically): Wigan
Wigan beat Arsenal on Tuesday
Well this would put a wrench in everything, wouldn't it? If Wigan win on Tuesday, all three teams are still absolutely in danger heading into the weekend. Wigan would be sitting at 38 points. So if this happens, nothing changes from now. So let's be officials with our Safe and Out and then take a look to what would happen on Sunday.
In danger: oh god, why is this happening!?
If Wigan beat Arsenal on Tuesday: Sunday scenarios
Were Wigan to win on Tuesday, we'd come into the weekend with Wigan and 38, Sunderland at 39, and Aston Villa at 40. Giving us:
Villa's Road to Safety:
Villa would be able to assure themselves of safety with a win or a draw at Wigan. Regardless of what happened elsewhere, this would be enough. If, however, they lost, Villa could still be safe if Sunderland lost at Tottenham, who will be looking to try and sew up a Champions League spot.
Villa are Safe if: they win or draw and/or Sunderland loses
Villa Drop if: they lose and Sunderland draws or wins
Sunderland's Road to Safety:
If Sunderland can get a win or a draw at Tottenham they will not only make themselves a guaranteed member of the Premier League next season but they'd put some real pressure on Spurs. But for us, we only care about what happens to Sunderland. If they draw at Tottenham and Wigan do the same with Villa, Tottenham would have the goal differential advantage. Should Sunderland draw and Villa lose, Sunderland would have the edge on differential.
Sunderland are Safe if: they win or draw and/or Aston Villa do the same.
Sunderland Drop if: they lose and Wigan wins
Wigan's Road to Safety:
As much as this has us all worried, even if they win on Tuesday, the only way Wigan can be safe is by following that up with a win on Sunday. This one is simple. I suppose if Tottenham just absolutely demolish Sunderland in an unprecedented fashion (by eleven goals, to be precise), Wigan could stay up with a draw. But that's not happening.
Wigan are Safe if: they win
Wigan Drop if: they lose or draw
* * * * * *
So there you have it. Aston Villa are still very much in the best position of the teams eligible for relegation. They only way they drop is if Wigan wins on Tuesday and beats Villa on Sunday AND Sunderland manages a win or a draw at Tottenham on Sunday. As much as today's results didn't go how Villa fans wanted, things aren't as bad as they seem. Bottom line: let's all cheer like crazy for Arsenal on Tuesday. That'd put this all behind us.
Let me know in the comments if you find any mistakes here! These sorts of things are always trickier than they seem.