Sunderland has wasted one of its best chances to make a move towards safety with Monday’s 2-1 home loss to West Ham United, which has all but settled its fate in the 2014/15 Premier League.
Let’s take a look at what’s happening at the bottom of the table as Survival Sunday is six weeks away.
JPW has a thorough write-up of the math behind who could survive, but we’ll do a bit of an examination of who’s left on the schedules of relegation scrappers in 2014.
|West Ham United||32||10||7||15||36||42||-6||6-3-7||4-4-8||37|
|West Bromwich Albion||31||5||14||12||36||48||-12||3-8-5||2-6-7||29|
Well, well, well West Ham. Supporters of the Irons can boo Sam Allardyce all they want, but the club is all-but-safe after spending most of the first half of ths season struggling for breath without marquee addition Andy Carroll. There are still four very tough matches left for the Hammers — Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Man City are all left on the menu — but even so they should be fine.
Villa has a seven game run-in, with four against bottom-half teams, while Swansea and Hull are also more than two wins above the break. The latter two each have three top-half teams on their schedule.
Norwich’s schedule is a Premier League inferno. After two relegation scraps with West Brom and Fulham, the Canaries host Liverpool before traveling to Manchester United and Chelsea, finishing the season at home against Arsenal. Yuck.
West Brom’s slate isn’t easy, either, with Spurs, Man City and Arsenal on the list before finishing up with Stoke City. Tony Pulis’ Crystal Palace still looks ahead to seven matches, three against Champions League contenders in Everton, Man City and Liverpool.
As for the current bottom three, Cardiff has a manageable final six matches. Their stiffest tests come at Southampton and Newcastle before finishing the year at home against Chelsea. Remember, the Bluebirds have been miserable at home — just one PL win — and have a horrific goal differential for which to account.
Fulham may be five points from safety with six matches to play, but don’t write them off entirely. They’ll face teams ranked No. 10 or worse aside from an April 19 match against a floundering Spurs side at White Hart Lane.
Finally, Sunderland. At Spurs, home Everton, at Man City, at Chelsea, home Cardiff, at Manchester United, home West Brom, home Swansea. Yes, those are more matches than any other team but the Black Cats do not have a ton of depth for a congested schedule.
Now, allowing that any match involving a relegation candidate is important, let’s take a look at the most critical six-pointers remaining on our “Survival Slate”:
Aston Villa vs. Fulham
Cardiff City vs. Crystal Palace
Hull City vs. Swansea City
Norwich City vs. West Bromwich Albion
Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa
Fulham vs. Norwich City
West Ham vs. Crystal Palace
Fulham vs. Hull City
Swansea City vs. Aston Villa
West Brom vs. West Ham
Sunderland vs. Cardiff City
Aston Villa vs. Hull City
Sunderland vs. West Brom
Fulham vs. Crystal Palace
Sunderland vs. Swansea City