This is tight, tense and getting horrible for the three teams battling it out at the bottom.
We know Aston Villa has already been relegated but three teams — Norwich City, Sunderland and Newcastle United — are in a dogfight to avoid relegation.
Three into two doesn’t go.
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Just two points separates the three aforementioned teams going into the final two weeks of the season. Plus, Crystal Palace isn’t out of the picture either as they have 39 points but Alan Pardew‘s side should be fine. Just.
Newcastle United is the form team as Rafael Benitez’s side is now unbeaten in four games and grabbed a huge 1-0 win against Palace on Saturday, while Sunderland is solid under Sam Allardyce and have lost just once in eight games but have six draws in that span.
Below is a look at the relegation picture, plus the remaining fixtures for all three teams as Newcastle have just two games left, while both Sunderland and Norwich have three.
Who do you think will survive out of these three teams?
Newcastle United – 17th place, 33 points
May 7 – Aston Villa (A)
May 15 – Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Sunderland – 18th place, 32 points
May 7 – Chelsea (H)
May 11 – Everton (H)
May 15 – Watford (A)
Norwich City – 19th place, 31 points
May 7 – Manchester United (H)
May 11 – Watford (H)
May 15 – Everton (A)
Looking at the schedules above, Newcastle has a great chance of getting at least three points from their remaining two games with an away trip to Aston Villa up next, plus if Tottenham is out of the title race heading into the final game then it may be a great chance to pick up another three points at home.
Sunderland will find it tough going against Chelsea and Everton but home advantage will be key, while the final game away at Watford, a team who has nothing to play for, could be the crucial one. They hold their own destiny in their hands. Win all three and they will stay up.
As for Norwich, they won’t expect much against Manchester United next up but they will fancy their chances of picking up at least four points against Watford and Everton in their final two games. Simply put, nobody knows which of these two teams will go down and it’s likely to stay that way until the final minutes of the season.
- Gunners scoreless streak ends at 200 mins
- Welbeck subs on to score
- Norwich stay 19th
Danny Welbeck‘s second-half goal was enough to give Arsenal a much-needed three points from Norwich City’s visit on Saturday.
The Emirates Stadium started with protests, and the Gunners didn’t do a ton to quiet Arsene Wenger‘s critics in the 1-0 match.
Arsenal does, however, pull three points clear of fourth place Manchester City, which plays Sunday at Southampton.
Norwich, meanwhile, is two points back of Newcastle and one point back of Sunderland as the race for 17th continues in England. Newcastle has played one more match than each of its competitors.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
Arsenal couldn’t find a way through Norwich City’s defense in the first half, entering the break without scoring a goal in 187 minutes. After taking a 2-0 lead in the 38th minute against West Brom, the Gunners were blanked in the second half, then in a 0-0 draw with Sunderland.
Norwich had a chance or two during a late 10-minute run of play, but couldn’t beat Petr Cech. Both sides had 7 shots, but Norwich was the only to put any on frame with three.
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0 – None of Arsenal’s seven shots in the first half against Norwich were on target (including blocked). Misfire.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 30, 2016
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
The Gunners still carried the play, though the chance for a pivotal point lurked with every Canaries moment of possession.
Mohamed Elneny took a phenomenal shot that Ruddy met with a similar save, when, in the 83rd minute he used the outside of his foot to swerve an effort that forced Ruddy into flight just to force a corner. Good-looking stuff.
“Time for Change” read the sea of placards outside the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as Arsenal fans protested the continued employment of its legendary manager.
Many consider this season a wasted opportunity for Arsenal to lay claim to a first Premier League title since 2003-04, and have laid the blame at the feet of manager Arsene Wenger.
There were some expressing support for their beloved boss, and we’ve got all that and more below. The match is scoreless as halftime, as Arsenal continues to have trouble scoring against relegation threatened rivals.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 30, 2016
And some had some pretty good fun with the protests:
Arsenal protests only third or fourth most effective this season
— Paul McCarthy (@PaulMcCarthy66) April 30, 2016
Arsenal protest? Ha! You’ll hear bigger protests down your local nunnery. What a pathetic and entitled bunch of spoils brats
— James Corrigan (@jcorrigangolf) April 30, 2016
The Black Cats netted a last-gasp penalty kick via Jermain Defoe to move onto 32 points but slipped into the relegation zone courtesy of Newcastle United’s huge home win against Crystal Palace.
[ MORE: Deeney “sticks it to Villa” ]
Sunderland have a game in hand over Newcastle but they are a point behind. Things are getting very tight as two from Sunderland, Norwich and Newcastle will be relegated.
Speaking after the game, Allardyce feels his side continue to get unlucky with calls from officials and it is starting to wear thin with Big Sam.
“The disappointment is, how many points do they take away from us in this battle against relegation that cost us so dear?” Allardyce told Sky Sports. “All this rubbish about people saying it evens itself out, that’s the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard in my life.
“We’ve had countless opportunities ourselves to win games, so we’ve got ourselves to blame as well but the last thing we want at this stage of the season, with so few games left, is to not get what we deserve. In the last two games, today and last week we certainly didn’t get what we deserved off the officials as far as I was concerned. But I am pleased he was brave enough in the last minute to give a penalty in against Jermain Defoe.”
On reflection, Allardyce agreed that it was a “brilliant point” for his team and but he still couldn’t resist another moan at the officials.
From the BBC:
“It is a brilliant point in the end but for me one that could have been a win rather than the draw,” Allardyce said. “Obviously they didn’t deserve their goal because it was a blatant foul on Younes Kaboul and we should have had a penalty when Geoff Cameron flicks the ball with his hand and referee and his assistant don’t see it. Those things have gone against us today which has not allowed us to be in a position to win it. It is a very precious point and in the end the referee was brave and good enough to make the right decision for us for the penalty.”
The incidents in question are certainly debatable. For Stoke’s goal it did appear that Peter Crouch had his arms on Kaboul when he nodded down for Arnautovic and Allardyce can have complaints about that. Last week a handball decision against Per Mertesacker didn’t go Sunderland’s way and if you add up those two calls, that’s an extra four points for the Black Cats.
[ VIDEO: Townsend scores screamer ]
However, with Sunderland not really at the races at Stoke and still managing to grind out a point to keep their PL fate in their own hands, he has to be happy enough.
They now have home games against Chelsea and Everton coming up, with the final game of the season away at Watford. Seven points from that will see Newcastle unable to mathematically finish above them.
It’s a big ask but what if Big Sam starts getting some big decisions in Sunderland’s favor?