With relegation a looming prospect for six clubs in the Premier League, every match counts. Up at the top of the table you've got Arsenal and the two Manchesters battling it out for spots 2-4 but down here at the bottom it's an equally fierce scrap to avoid the drop. Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers, Burnley, Aston Villa, Hull City, and Sunderland were all in action this weekend and with as bad as everyone has been playing recently, a win could totally alter the landscape and a draw could help tread water.
And unfortunately for Aston Villa, they were one of two clubs from that six who got nothing. We've got your weekly run-down of the relegation fight. I was looking at the schedule, and you can probably expect this column to start including some more numbers once we hit five matches left. You know, unless Aston Villa shock us in the next few matches and make this whole exercise irrelevant. So here, from the bottom up, are you relegation contenders.
Points/Goal Difference: 22/-20
This Weekend's result: A 2-1 home win against West Ham.
Next up: at West Bromwich Albion, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
If any team could win without worrying us too much, it was Leicester. But my worry is that they could gain a bit of momentum. Their run-in of eight matches only includes three against top-half teams. Hopefully they can doom themselves before the final two weeks and then pick up a couple of meaningless (to them) wins over Sunderland and QPR.
In other news, remember when West Ham were the darling of the league who were playing so well and oh my they're just great. Yep. The real West Ham is back.
Queens Park Rangers
Points/Goal Difference: 25/-20
This Weekend's result: A 1-4 win at West Bromwich Albion
Next up: at Aston Villa, Wednesday, 7:45 PM GMT; home against Chelsea, Sunday, 1:30 PM GMT
I can't even begin to parse this one out. QPR have now won two of their last four matches on the road, but they are still a terrible road team. And then West Brom decided to roll over, play dead, and do the most un-Tony Pulis thing possible: let up four goals. They should, by all logical thought, be sitting dead last right now. But noooooo.
My only explanation is that the Baggies wanted to screw over Villa. I hope that somehow this kickstarts the greatest collapse in league history and sees the Baggies relegated when everyone thought they were safe two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, QPR will be playing for their lives tomorrow night at Villa Park. No way that can go wrong, right?
Points/Goal Difference: 26/-23
This Weekend's result: A goalless draw against Tottenham.
Next up: Arsenal, Saturday, 5:30 PM GMT
Tottenham, in the past two match-weeks, have nearly lost to Leicester and drawn with Burnley. I hate Tottenham. Now that they've put in two sub-par performances, expect them to trounce us at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
But this is about Burnley. They've shown some pluck lately, nabbing the win at home against Manchester City and the draw this weekend. Villa fans should be hoping that they kick the sudden habit of playing well against Arsenal and Everton in the next two weeks, because from their it's an easy run to the final day of the season at Villa Park. We've talked a lot this year about Villa hopefully being safe not because they're good but because others are bad. If the others stop doing that, we may be in trouble.
Points/Goal Difference: 28/-22
This Weekend's result: A 3-1 loss at Old Trafford to Manchester United
Next up: QPR, Wednesday, 7:45 PM GMT; at Tottenham, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
This picture sums us up perfectly:
The somebody doing something would be beating QPR tomorrow. If we don't, we drop below them and into the relegation zone. I hate football sometimes.
Points/Goal Difference: 28/-14
This Weekend's result: A 3-1 loss at Swansea
Next up: at Southampton, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
Oh thank heavens, one result that went entirely our way. And they've still got Southampton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United to play. Just think, if Paul Lambert hadn't taken Villa to a 2-0 loss at Hull and instead gotten the win that we all expected, the Tigers would be at 25 points and in the drop zone with that schedule left. You're welcome, Hull. Villa are literally the only reason you have a pulse right now.
Now go and lose again. And again. And again....
Points/Goal Difference: 29/-20
This Weekend's result: A 1-0 victory over Newcastle
Next up: Crystal Palace, Saturday, 3 PM GMT
They can't do it two years in a row, right? Sunderland, looking dead set on relegation, cannot pull off the last-minute escape twice in as many attempts. Right? PLEASE?
If they're going to do it, they had better get results quickly. They close the season with trips to Arsenal and Chelsea and they've got Southampton left, too. I sure would love to see the Black Cats finally succumb to their own ineptitude, but their win this weekend puts that a bit in doubt. Ah, there's always next year.