18 WIGAN (Played 34, 32pts, Goal Difference -23)

Saturday West Brom (a)

May 7 Swansea (h)

May 14 Arsenal (a)

May 19 Aston Villa (h)

Kings of the 'Great Escape', is this to be the season when Wigan's luck finally runs out? After the events of the last two weekends, it is starting to look that way.

In claiming just one point from matches against West Ham and Tottenham, Wigan have ceded any room for error that might otherwise have existed. Roberto Martinez's side are playing well enough, and still have a game in hand, but five points is a big gap to make up at such a late stage.

Saturday's trip to West Brom is surely crucial, and it will be hard to see Wigan getting out of trouble if they lose at the Hawthorns. Win though, and their game in hand against Swansea suddenly becomes a potential opportunity to get out of the bottom three.

Their next outing after that is the FA Cup final, and it will be interesting to see whether their Wembley date proves an inspiration or distraction. A midweek trip to Arsenal looks daunting, before Aston Villa visit the DW Stadium on the final weekend for a game that could well decide everything.

17 NEWCASTLE (Played 35, 37pts, Goal Difference -23)

Saturday West Ham (a)

May 12 QPR (a)

May 19 Arsenal (h)

It is more than a month since Alan Pardew claimed Newcastle United were safe, a pronouncement that was as premature as it was ill-advised. The Magpies are far from safe, indeed in the wake of Saturday's catastrophic six-goal defeat to Liverpool, they appear by far the most bedraggled of the relegation candidates.

Their key performers are simply not performing, they lack leadership qualities throughout the side and Pardew's position is coming under increased pressure. Hardly the ideal environment in which to mount a successful survival push.

Their first opportunity to put some space between themselves and the bottom three comes on Saturday, but a trip to West Ham, with all the baggage that entails, is fraught with the potential for further embarrassment. Having watched Newcastle's defence implode against Liverpool, one imagines Andy Carroll will be licking his lips.

After that, Newcastle return to London for a game with already-relegated QPR that surely represents their best chance of scrambling a victory. A final-day home game with an Arsenal side that could well have to win to qualify for the Champions League looks daunting.

16 ASTON VILLA (Played 35, 37pts, Goal Difference -22)

Saturday Norwich (a)

May 11 Chelsea (h)

May 19 Wigan (a)

After looking doomed for large periods of the season, Aston Villa have hit form at just the right time. Monday's thumping of Sunderland felt like a game changer, and Paul Lambert's side will be carrying a great deal of momentum with them as they tackle their final three games.

In Christian Benteke, they boast the best striker at any of the clubs involved in the relegation battle, and their young defence finally appears to have got to grips with the demands of the top-flight.

They are not safe yet, but they will fancy themselves to keep their good recent run going at Norwich this weekend in a game that could have major repercussions for both sides.

Their final home game against Chelsea looks tough, before they travel to Wigan for what could still be a winner-takes-all encounter on the final afternoon. At least it now looks as though they will be going into that game ahead of their rivals though.

15 SUNDERLAND (Played 35, 37pts, Goal Difference -12)

Monday Stoke (h)

May 12 Southampton (h)

May 19 Tottenham (a)

Monday's dramatic capitulation at Aston Villa removed the sense of security that had been increasingly evident at Sunderland in the wake of Paolo Di Canio's arrival. Suddenly, survival is not being taken for granted any more.

The anticipated absence of Stephane Sessegnon is a major blow, although the strength of Sunderland's goal difference means they are effectively six points clear of Wigan despite their Villa Park collapse.

Their fixture list also provides cause for optimism, with back-to-back home games against Stoke and Southampton – two sides pretty much safe – representing an inviting opportunity to claim the victory that would surely guarantee the Black Cats' survival.

They wouldn't want to leave it to the last day, however, as Tottenham will almost certainly have something to play for at White Hart Lane and it is hard to see Sunderland taking anything from their final fixture.

14 NORWICH (Played 35, 38pts, Goal Difference -21)

Saturday Aston Villa (h)

May 12 West Brom (h)

May 19 Man City (a)

From a position of relative security at the turn of the year, a run of two wins from 15 matches has seen Norwich City slide back into the relegation mix. It would still be a surprise if the Canaries were to end up in the bottom three, but the possibility can no longer be discounted.

A lack of goals has been Norwich's main problem in recent weeks, with Grant Holt struggling for form and Kei Kamara still to really settle into life in the Premier League.

On paper, Saturday's home game with Aston Villa represents an ideal opportunity to pass the 40-point mark, but the relative form of the two sides makes it difficult to predict a home win with any certainty.

The same can be said of the following weekend's game with West Brom, but Norwich might have to take something from one of the matches given that the final weekend will see them travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City.

13 SOUTHAMPTON (Played 35, 39pts, Goal Difference -10)

Saturday Tottenham (a)

May 12 Sunderland (a)

May 19 Stoke (h)

After a recent run of three successive victories, Southampton can breathe fairly easily on the 39-point mark. However, it is not inconceivable that a club could end up relegated on that points tally if Wigan produce their traditional end-of-season surge.

The Saints were soundly beaten by West Brom last weekend, but they continue to carry a threat up front and should be reasonably confident of claiming something from their last three matches.

It might not come this weekend, as Tottenham will be desperate to claim three much-needed points to aid their ongoing pursuit of a Champions League place, and the following weekend's trip to Sunderland is difficult to predict given the Black Cats' fluctuating form.

Regardless of what happens, Southampton could be safe going into the final day, but if they're not, a home game with Stoke should still provide an excellent opportunity to put things to bed once and for all.


12 Southampton 43

13 Sunderland 41

14 Aston Villa 41

15 Norwich 41

16 Stoke 40

17 Newcastle 38

18 Wigan 37

19 QPR 26

20 Reading 25