Friday, April 19, 2013

Vital Relegation Saturday In English Premier League

The final couple of weeks are usually the time where the relegation focus comes into full view in the English Premier League, but the importance of the weeks leading up to the season climax is often over-looked. The fact is that now is the time where teams can really cement their EPL status. Nobody wants to leave it until the  last weekend. Every weekend from here until the end is equally important for teams battling to stay in England's top flight.

With that in mind, the Carnage Report previews this weekend's Premier League action from the perspective of the relegation battlers.

Norwich v Reading

Reading have a maximum of 15 points left on the table. It's not impossible that Nigel Adkins' side could secure their EPL survival, but it is now looking highly improbable.

Norwich have enjoyed a pretty decent 2012-13 season. A win in this game would put relegation fears pretty much to bed and it is an excellent opportunity at home against bottom of the league. A win would put them on 38 points with four games to play and needing to be overtaken by at least four teams.

A loss would make life just that little harder for Chris Hughton's team. That's not a scenario that the manager will be entertaining heading into Saturday.

QPR v Stoke

Harry Redknapp has been defiant in public over the past couple of weeks. He will know that QPR are in all likelihood heading towards Championship football. If they are going to pull off a miraculous escape then a home win against fellow strugglers Stoke is pretty much a must.

In 16 away games this season Stoke have managed just one win and only nine goals. There could hardly be a better time for a second away win, but at the very least Tony Pulis will be looking for a point from this fixture.

Sunderland v Everton

Paolo Di Canio's side set the EPL alight with a 3-0 road victory against Newcastle in their last game. What can the divisive figure produce against Everton this weekend? There should be no lack of motivation from David Moyes' group as they are very much in the running for a Europa league place and even still in contention for the Champions League.

Strong play at home in the last few weeks is critical to success. How Sunderland compete and battle in this contest might be as important as the result.

West Brom v Newcastle

Nobody really expects Newcastle to get relegated, but they have to be in the discussion after a weak display against Sunderland at home in their last outing. It's pretty clear that the focus of St James Park has been elsewhere and the Premier League is just being willed to a close.

West Brom haven't won a premier league game since March 9, but they are still a challenging opponent especially at home.

West Ham v Wigan

Roberto Martinez engineered a great escape last season and this year he has managed an underdog team all the way to an FA Cup Final appearance. The problem is that Wigan now face a tightly-packed schedule to close out the season, they have a tough set of fixtures left and are currently in the bottom three.

In that context Saturday's game at West Ham could hardly be more important for this group. West Ham are the lowest team in the standings that Wigan will face until their last game and a win here would really put some pressure on the teams above them. The only problem is that Sam Allardyce's team play competitive football. They are extremely tough to score against at home.

Man Utd v Aston Villa (Monday)

Aston Villa will benefit from seeing Saturday's action before taking on Man Utd at Old Trafford. April has been a pretty good month for this young side and their two games after this contest are against teams immediately around them.

It will be interesting to see the approach that Paul Lambert adopts in this game. Man Utd might be a little de-motivated as they cruise to the EPL title. It might be possible to snatch a valuable point.

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