Tensions are rising at the bottom end of the table as the fight for survival is delicately poised to become excruciatingly intense over the next couple of weeks due to the few number of fixtures remaining before the denouement of the 2015/2016 Premier League season.
The bottom-five will be keen on amassing as many points as possible in order not to be dragged into a last-gasp relegation battle on the final matchday as witnessed last season when Newcastle stayed up at the expense of Hull City.
In recent years, the race to beat the drop has proven to be a tight one, although this season might be an exception due to the below-par performances that rock-bottom Aston Villa has put up since the start of the season.
Villa’s problems bottom end with the sound of the final whistle in the game against Bournemouth.
A flurry of bad results which followed the Bournemouth game caused the Villa Board to send Tim Sherwood packing, thereby appointing former Arsenal player Remi Garde.
Garde’s appointment will undoubtedly be viewed as a terrible mistake by Villa fans now considering how far gone they are in the fight for Premier League survival, although things aren’t quite done and dusted yet.
Aston Villa still have a slight chance of staying up; that is of course if they can conjure the sort of performances that saw Leicester make an epic jump out of the bottom of the table last season.
Leicester now finds themselves at the top of the pecking order; their league position is somewhat of a summary of just how absurdly entertaining this season is.
Most would argue that Aston Villa lacks the competitive edge to play in the Premier League, they struggled last season to preserve their Premier League status; surely only a miracle can save them from the impending doom of relegation.
From Alan Pardew’s exit to John Carver’s dismissal and the unexpected relegation scare, last season was undoubtedly one to forget for the Newcastle fans.
The arrival of Steve McLaren seemed to be the start of a new era at St’ James’ Park with the fans and pundits alike expecting nothing short of a mid-table finish for the Magpies.
But Newcastle’s early season expectations is most definitely a far cry from their current league predicament as they’ve been drawn into yet another relegation battle within the space of a year.
The Magpies found themselves in an uncomfortable position last season when they had to drag things out at the bottom-end of the table up until the final matchday in which they escaped relegation by an inch.
A club of Newcastle’s stature and spending ability is supposed to be in and around the top half of the table, not the relegation zone, so a second consecutive relegation battle most definitely comes as a shock to fans of the club.
It’s evident that Steve McLaren didn’t have what it takes to lead Newcastle back to glory.
Mike Ashley will be hoping that his recent acquisition of Rafa Benitez will be enough to keep Newcastle up this season.
Newcastle will be looking to climb out of the bottom three when they take on local rivals Sunderland in what is sure to be an intense relegation clash; the derby factor also adds to the intrigue and importance surrounding the game.
Alex Neil will be hoping that his side didn’t secure promotion back into the Premier League just to get relegated in their return season.
The Premier League’s youngest manager certainly raised a few eyebrows with his failing tactics at the start of the season.
Since then Neil has introduced a few new philosophies into the team in a bid to finish the season strongly.
The reality of relegation has begun to close in on Norwich, and it will take a massive effort from both the players and the Manager to survive through their return season.
But taking their recent results into consideration, it looks like Norwich will be playing Championship Football next season.
The Black Cats are quite fond of edging results at this time of the year, and with Sam Allardyce’s wealth of experience, this might just be another great escape for Sunderland.
Sunderland have been caught up in a number of intense relegation battles over the past few seasons with the most memorable of them all being the 2012-13 season where Connor Wickham’s last minute heroics saved the club from the agony of relegation.
Although Sunderland can no longer boast of the services of Wickham, they have one of the Premier League’s greatest strikers at their disposal, Jermaine Defoe.
Sam Allardyce will be hoping Defoe’s experience, and dexterity is enough to lead the fight for survival this season.
Judging by the looks of things, Sunderland’s chances of survival are pretty high because they have a manager with knowledge of all the survival antics in the book and a prolific striker to go with it.
The four relegation candidates look set to drag things out till the bitter end, and they might just be joined in the next couple of weeks by Swansea City, although the Swans seem to be back on track which makes the possibility of Swansea being drawn into a relegation battle quite unrealistic.
Swansea City had a terrible start to the season which saw Swans’ favorite, Garry Monk get axed from his managerial role despite his achievements in the previous season.
The Swans are 9 points away from the dreaded drop zone, so I reckon it’ll take a string of bad results for the prospect of relegation to become a real threat to them.
If they can maintain their current form and reach the 40 point mark, Andre Ayew and company will have nothing to worry about In May.