relegation zone

VIDEO: PST Extra ponders the drop zone; JPW pegs his bottom three

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Guys and girls, ladies and gents, oxen and fishes, it’s your lucky day: Joe Prince-Wright has dropped another PST Extra on the site.

[ MORE: PST Extra archive ]

In this video, JPW digs into the relegation zone and its murky waters, tabbing six teams as still in the mix to go down.

But who gets his dark vote for a drop into the Championship? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Felix Magath suggests Fulham have just now realized they’re battling relegation

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Fulham are currently dead last in the Premier League table, sitting four points from safety and fearing what might happen if Sunderland make good use of their three games in hand.

Well, fans are fearing, that is. Apparently, the Fulham players themselves only recently realized that they’re in a fight to avoid relegation. At least, that’s what manager Felix Magath has suggested.

“The whole season they haven’t realised that they are at the bottom of the table,” Magath said. “At the beginning of the season nobody thought about a relegation fight. The team was not built for a fight against relegation. Now they realise.”

The German, who’s yet to win a match in his three games at the helm, revealed just how complacent Fulham’s players have been. “The players tell me ‘oh, we have 12 games left (on Magath’s appointment), we have an easy schedule, we are able to manage this.'”

Now, the Cottagers are down to nine games left in the season, and Magath is targeting six wins from those remaining matches – which would bring Fulham’s total points up to 39.

At a guess, Magath doesn’t see his side beating Manchester City, Everton, or Tottenham. That means they’ll need to take all three points from Newcastle today, then go on to beat Aston Villa, Norwich, Hull, and Stoke (at the Britannia) before clinching a win over Crystal Palace at the Cottage on the final day of the season.

This plan seems awfully ambitious for a man whose side has picked up just one point under his leadership, from a draw with fellow fighters West Brom. They’ve conceded 65 goals and have a -36 goal difference, which won’t do much to help should safety come down to a tie-breaker. Kostas Mitroglou has yet to make any real contribution and last weekend Magath gave a start to 19-year-old Cauley Woodrow, who’d just returned from a stint in League Two.

In other words, it looks like if Fulham clinch safety at the end of the season, their next couple months will closely resemble the plot of an uplifting Disney film. Or do you think the Cottagers have the talent and skills necessary to lift themselves up?

Gus Poyet backs his Sunderland players for relegation fight, says some critics “haven’t got a clue”

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No one wants to be in a relegation scrap, but Sunderland boss Gus Poyet says his Black Cats are motivated to leap out of the drop zone as soon as possible.

And even through controversy from his player selection and Sunderland’s subsequent dismissal from the FA Cup quarterfinals at the hands of Hull City, Poyet maintains that the battle for Premier League survival will be enough for his club ahead of its massive Saturday match-up with Crystal Palace.

“If I was a player, going to play the team three points ahead, I wouldn’t be affected or down just because there is no more cup and no more Wembley.”

“If there are weak players in the dressing room feeling sorry, I assure you they will not play.”

The fans and some pundits have hit back at Poyet for his changing of the lineup between Sunderland’s March 1 loss to Manchester City in the League Cup final and Sunday’s aforementioned loss to Hull.

He had strong words for them as well.

“People will criticise, but you cannot go back – some of them haven’t got a clue what goes on behind the doors.”

“Wes Brown and Craig Gardner were injured, Jozy Altidore and Valentin Roberge ill, Emanuele Giaccherini started and he is one of our most expensive players, Steven Fletcher is coming back and Ignacio Scocco needs to play.

“There are no excuses from me, if someone wants to look for some, then fine. I’m man enough to say we played 11 first-team players that were certainly good enough to win the match.”

So there are some more answers for those questioning why Altidore wasn’t suiting up for the Hull match.

Sunderland sits in 19th place with 24 points, one point back of Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion. The Black Cats have played three less matches than the Bluebirds and two less than the Baggies. A win over Palace would land them even with the Eagles.

West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United: Baggies in real danger after loss (video)

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After coming from behind to draw even in each of their last four home matches, West Bromwich Albion must’ve been confident when they went into halftime down by just a goal. Instead Manchester United managed to tear them apart in the second, leaving the Baggies even closer to the drop zone. They’ll be praying that Cardiff – Fulham finishes in a draw (and Pepe Mel will likely be praying he’s still got a job).

West Brom spent the majority of the first half sitting deep, inviting pressure from the visitors. They had an excellent chance in the 11th minute, when a quick counter allowed Victor Anichebe space to get behind the United defense. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones managed to stop his run, but Jones immediately gave the ball away. Unfortunately for the hosts, Chris Brunt could only aim his shot into the side netting.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup – Chelsea clear at the top, Man United click, Cardiff bag huge win)

From that point on, the first half belonged to Manchester United, as the Red Devils continued to wear down West Brom. In the 16th minute, a shot from Marouane Fellaini bounced off Brunt, but Youssouf Mulumbu was there to clear off the line.

The turning point came in the 34th minute, when Brunt fouled Rafael. It was Robin van Persie that stood over the ball, putting a lovely free kick into the midst of the red shirts. Jones got on the end of it, barely needing a touch to flick his header past Ben Foster and into the back of the net.

Then, in the 42nd minute, Foster handed us all a nice, big, talking point, one that will surely be discussed by pundits for the next few days. The Albion keeper came out to deal with the ball, but appeared to handle it just outside the area. The linesman was nearby, but no call was made. West Brom got away with one, as it certainly looked like Foster should have been sent off.

Early in the second half, United breathed their own sigh of relief when, minutes after being booked for a late challenge on Morgan Amalfitano, van Persie escaped a second yellow for a foul on Steven Reid.

Possibly mindful of West Brom’s tendency to come back and snatch a late equalizer in the dying minutes of the match, Wayne Rooney decided to knock in a second for his side in the 65th minute. Rafael, getting forward once more, put in the cross, with Rooney getting on the end to head home.

And that was game-set-match for the Baggies, whose spirit seemed broken by the second goal. Thus the third United goal came as little surprise. Danny Welbeck, on for van Persie shortly after the booking-that-wasn’t, put the ball in after a lovely move that saw Fellaini and Rooney exchanging passes as they made their way up the pitch. It was Rooney that provided the assist, a through ball that Welbeck pounced on to slide into the bottom right corner of Foster’s goal.

West Brom: Foster; Reid (Sessegnon 60), McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob (Morrison 40), Mulumbu; Amalfitano, Gera, Brunt (Berahino 66), Anichebe

Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael (Vidic 87), Smalling, Jones, Evra, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Rooney, Januzaj (Kagawa 76), van Persie (Welbeck 63)

Goals: Jones 34′; Rooney 65′; Welbeck 82′