An enticing and mouth watering list of football fixtures await us as the relegation battle heats up at the Barclays Premier League. With more than 5 teams namely, Blackburn, Wolves, Wigan, Blackpool and Birmingham locked in a tussle to avoid the drop and with all the matches commencing at the same time, a fascinating duel is expected tonight.
Blackburn has witnessed their aspirations take a tumble following the high profile takeover by Venky’s hatcheries. Starlets like Ronaldinho and David Beckham were rumuored to be coming to Ewood Park. But these surreal expectations have resulted in a poor performance from Blackburn Rovers. Added to their woes was the appointment of first team coach Steve Kean who is yet to prove his detractors wrong. They would be facing high flying Wolves who under Mick McCarthy have suddelnly experienced a new lease of life at the later stages. Form is favouring them with back to back wins and a win is a likely prediction for Wolves. With pundits predicting a draw, even that might not be able to save both of them if results go elsewhere.
Blackpool have always been on the news either due to their topsy turvy season or due to their charismatic coach Ian Holloway. They had experienced a very good first half of the season but after that everything fell apart. However led by their inspirational captain Charlie Adam, all is not lost for them as they face a relatively weakened Manchester United side who would be wishing to bid farewell to Van Der Sar with a win. With Manchester United unbeaten at Old Trafford, Ian Holloway and his men have their task cut out.
Birmingham like Blackpool have endured a mixed season. With a high of a Carling Cup triumph, they slowly faded away and the team displayed some lackluster performances, most notably a 2-0 tame loss to Fulham last week. And going down into the Championship would seriously deter their Cup triumph. They would be facing Tottenham Hotspur who have their own Europa League Aspirations. Even a defeat might propel them to Europe but they would definitely like to avoid the playoffs.
Wigan have their task cut out against a Stoke side who have nothing but pride to play for. Yet their home fans would like to sign off with a win as amply said by Tony Pulis. And with Wigan weak in aerial defence, Stoke might have it easy against them.
Elsewhere Chelsea face Everton at Goodison Park with nothing to play for. Both teams would be ready to experiment. This might also be the last match for Ancelotti wherein speculations have been very high about his sacking. Arsenal faces Fulham in a London Derby at Craven Cottage. With the last automatic champions league spot still up for grabs, Arsenal cannot afford to rest and must garner maximum points. Manchester City, currently sitting third face Bolton Wanderers.
Who will face the drop? Who will get the last Europa League place? Who will come third? All is there to be answered tonight.