With Swansea’s comeback slamming the brakes on Wigan’s recent surge, it’s given a touch of distance between the relegation zone and the middle of the table. A touch.
However, watching how each team’s fortunes changed with every goal that hit the back of the net shows just how closely packed this season’s relegation battle is, and how many squads are involved.
Fans of about 7 teams are shaking in their boots, knowing at any moment, it could be their club that out of nowhere winds up in that 18th position come the final day’s whistle.
Take Fulham, for instance. Just one month ago, they beat arch rivals Queens Park Rangers and recently after drew with Aston Villa to go on 40 points, 9 ahead of the drop zone with 6 to play. 40 had always been the generic safe number, and it seemed things were well past them. Not so.
Now, after 4 successive losses, the Whites remain at that “magic number” of 40, with fixtures left against Liverpool and at Swansea, and just 2 goals scored by their own players over those 4 matches (actually 2 goals in their last 6 altogether). They’re in 12th still, but somehow in this mess still very much a candidate to go down, especially considering the form.
On the other side of the coin, we have Aston Villa. Fresh off their near-miss last season having stayed up by 2 points, they seemed back in the thick of things this year as well. It was only 2 months ago they sat in 18th place, and had completed a stretch of 11 matches where they mustered a miserable 6 points, which started with an 8-0 shellacking at Stamford Bridge all the way back in December. Now, Villa have picked up 16 points in the 8 matches since, losing just twice during that span.
Those two teams are currently even on 40 points.
Queens Park Rangers and Reading are already down, leaving one spot left. Just one.
But that one could be anybody from the pool of Wigan, Newcastle, Norwich, Sunderland, Southampton, Aston Villa, or Fulham. All those clubs sit just a measly 5 points apart. Had Wigan held on for the win (they were up 1-0 and 2-1), the difference between 18th and 12th would have been two points.
Let’s repeat that: had Wigan held on, the distance between 18th and 12th would have been just two points.
That’s how important every goal is in the final matches of the season. Hold on tight folks.