Resting on the edge of the bottom three, Downtown Phil Brown’s Hull side have a bit of work to do if they want to escape the drop and break out another song on the final day of the season. Their next two games are away to Everton and home to Arsenal. Two games from which you wouldn’t bet on Hull to take many points but from then on there are definitely points on offer for the tanned one’s side.
Key Games: Portsmouth (away) Burnley (home) Sunderland (home)
Key Player: Jimmy Bullard: If Bullard can return from injury and stay fit for the rest of the season he could be the difference between survival and relegation.
Despite expectations being high, it’s been a season to forget for Rafa’s Reds this time round. And they face a fight to the finish for fourth place but with a fit Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres they should be more than capable of pipping Tottenham, City and Villa to the precious Champions League spot. And with Torres and Gerrard in tow, expect them to have a major say in the title race as they visit Old Trafford and host Chelsea at Anfield.
Key Games: Man Utd (away) Chelsea (home) Birmingham (away)
Key Player: Fernando Torres: In his first game back from injury Torres showed exactly what Liverpool were missing since January. If he stays fit for the remainder of the season he can fire his team to fourth spot.
Maybe the most interesting team of the season, Mancini’s men are right in the middle of the fight for fourth, currently level on points with Spurs with a game in hand. If they can keep getting results like the one they got at Chelsea they could make the Champions League but their run- in is much more difficult than Liverpool’s which swings the fight back in the Reds’ favour.
Key Games: Man Utd (home) Arsenal (away) Villa (home)
Key Player: Carlos Tevez: Tevez has been one of the best players in the league this year and there was a huge difference in City’s performances when he left for Argentina for a couple of weeks and his impact was highlighted by the difference he made on Saturday against Chelsea.
The key for United from now till the end of the season will be whether they can cure their big game blues. Defeats at Liverpool Chelsea and Everton and home to Aston Villa have shown united to be vulnerable against the better sides in the league and with games against Liverpool Chelsea and the trip across the city to Eastlands coming up, they might find it tough to make it four in a row.
Key Games: Liverpool (home) Chelsea (home) Man City (away)
Key Player: Wayne Rooney: He has a poor record against the top sides, namely Liverpool and Chelsea, can he put that to bed and fire United to another title?
If the nine point deduction for entering administration goes through Pompey are gone, even if it doesn’t they look pretty much doomed. But don’t let that fool you, Portsmouth, as proven against Burnley on Saturday the day after entering administration, will keep on fighting and they have some talent in the squad. They could surprise a few before the end of the season.
Key Games: Hull (home) Blackburn (home) Wolves (home)
Key Player: Kevin Prince Boateng: The ex-Spurs man has been one of the names mentioned along with David James as players Pompey could look to move out to make some money. The Ghanaian may relish the spotlight and play for a move elsewhere.
Another great season so far for Stoke who only need a couple more wins to rubber-stamp their survival for another season. They can spend the rest of the season trying to climb as a high up the table as they can.
Key Games: Villa (home) Hull (home) Bolton (home)
Key Player: Robert Huth: Tony Pulis pulled off a great coup in the summer when he brought Huth and Tuncay from Middlesborough to Stoke for peanuts and it’s proved a great success.
Steve Bruce’s men should never have gotten into this situation, but now that they’re in this relegation fight it’s going to be tough to get out of it. It’s extremely hard to halt a frightening slide down the table when results aren’t going your way but Sunderland should have the talent to turn it around in the nick of time.
Key Games: Bolton (home) Birmingham (home) Burnley (home)
Key Player: Kenwyne Jones: The big man may have had his head turned by interest from Liverpool in January, now he needs to get back to the form that sparked the initial interest and help maintain Sunderland’s Premier League status.
Consistency is the key for Tottenham, who, although they are currently joint fourth are the least likely of the teams in the hunt to end the season there. Too many silly points have been dropped at home and with games against United, Arsenal and Chelsea to come they might just fall away.
Key Games: Chelsea (home) Arsenal (home) United (away)
Key Player: Luka Modric: The little Croatian playmaker has been their best player all year and has the ability to unlock even the best defences.
West Ham United
While the club has found secure pornographic hands in the David’s Gold and Sullivan, on the field West Ham still have a battle for survival on their hands. They lie three points above the drop zone but what could prove important is that their goal difference at the moment is the best of the sides in the relegation fight.
Key Games: Bolton (home) Wolves (home) Sunderland (home)
Key Player: Carlton Cole: Cole has developed in to a fine centre forward under the tutelage of Gianfranco Zola and his goals and all round play will be essential to the Hammers if they are going to stay up.
Wigan sit perched on the edge of the relegation zone and they will be hoping to make the most of their home matches and make the destroyed DW stadium pitch work to their advantage. They will probably survive but only by the skin of their teeth.
Key Games: Bolton (away) Burnley (home) Portsmouth (home)
Key Player: Charles N’Zogbia: N’Zog has looked like the Wigan player most likely to create something and has looked a threat all season long.
Things were always going to be tough for Wolves this season. They’ve fought and battled in every game…except at Old Trafford…but it might not be enough for Mick McCarthy’s men. Over the next few weeks they play United, with their first team this time, Arsenal, Everton and a Derby with Aston Villa so things aren’t going to get any easier.
Key Games: Burnley (away) West Ham (away) Portsmouth (away)
Key Player: Kevin Doyle: Wolves have scored fewer goals than anyone else in the league and to survive they’re going to have to find goals from somewhere and Doyle might just be the man to do it.
Read the first part of Donal’s look at the last ten games.