A Villa Fan's Guide to the Relegation Run-In

Mark Thompson

As the days grow longer, a long Premier League season is about to end. With the title long decided, the intrigue shifts to the relegation battle, as 7500 to Holte takes a look at the non-Villa fixtures that could decide which club spends the next season in the Championship.

With the win over Norwich City last weekend pushing Aston Villa to the vaunted 40-point plateau, a lot of Villa supporters seem to think the relegation battle is all over. A look at the Premier League table and some basic math will show that that is not the case. To that end, we here at 7500 to Holte have provided you with this handy guide to your rooting interests as a Villa fan, as the season draws to a close.

Wigan vs. Swansea (May 7)

With Wigan trying to stay up and Swansea having absolutely nothing to play for it's hard to imagine the Swans grabbing all three points here. Wigan is more than capable and has to be the scariest bottom three club I can remember. However if you believe in Villa and Wigan does win, suddenly Villa look top-half bound should they win out. Also, root for Wigan if you hate Tyne-and-Wear clubs. If you don't believe in Villa, root like hell for Swansea.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham (May 8)

Put on the Chelsea kits, Villa fans, because this match means a great deal to us. If Chelsea get all three points, that means they've clinched a Champions League spot. They show up at Villa Park on May 11, four days before they play Benfica in the Europa League final in Amsterdam. Now, Rafa Benitez might be crazy, but even he will see the strategy behind playing a weakened side against Villa if Chelsea already have the CL spot sewn up.

QPR vs. Newcastle United (May 12)

Villa fans took a lot of delight in the last Newcastle relegation. What better way for them to escape that horrible fate than a match against ‘Arry's Rangers in London? QPR is a steaming turd of a club that spent more money than anyone could imagine to get relegated. They'll be in League 1 in two seasons. A Newcastle win would also put a foot to the throat of rivals Sunderland.

Sunderland vs. Southampton (May 12)

Southampton have been viewed as unassailably safe for months now, but they've found themselves below Aston Villa after an indifferent April where they seemed to take their foot off the gas. That said, Villa fans should hope they turn that around and keep Sunderland's heads under water going into the final weekend.

Arsenal vs. Wigan (May 14)

This is a huge fixture if Arsenal still need a win to confirm their Champions League status for next season. Aside from Chelsea-Spurs, this could be the most consequential non-Villa match between now and the end of the season. If Wigan manage to beat either Arsenal or Swansea, the match against Villa could actually mean something, which is something none of us wants to deal with on the final day.

Manchester City vs. Norwich (May 19)

If it isn't Wigan, I think the team most likely to join QPR and Reading in the Championship next season might be Paul Lambert's old club. I think it's incredibly unlikely that they beat either Manchester City or West Brom, and if they lose either game, they could be screwed. It's hard to think of two Premier League clubs Villa fans would loathe to support more than those two, but we might have to swallow our pride and pull against Norwich.

Newcastle United vs. Arsenal (May 19)

It's really hard to believe that Newcastle United have found themselves in a relegation battle, and no one seems to believe it less than the Newcastle United players, who sleepwalked against West Ham after getting hammered by Liverpool. If they've beaten QPR, they won't really have to worry about getting a result in this match, because most people seem to think 41 points should be enough to survive. That said, if they don't beat QPR, they don't really deserve a spot in the Premier League next season. Arsenal could go a long way to help Aston Villa stay in the Premier League if they manage to beat both Wigan and Newcastle, but that would require relying on Arsenal to actually do what is expected of them, and our jangly-nerved friends at The Short Fuse can tell you what manner of hell that is.

Tottenham vs. Sunderland (May 19)

If Spurs still have a shot of making the Champions League by this point, they'll have to turn on the gas and could blow Sunderland away. Paolo Di Canio will be hoping that they'll have already saved themselves against Southampton. That said, Spurs have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot in the most embarrassing way possible, so you wouldn't necessarily back them getting an important win against poor opposition.

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