The Premier League relegation battle and the race for a top-four finish get tighter by the week but Saturday’s matches could go some way to deciding both situations.
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Bolton did their hopes of escaping the relegation zone the power of good on Tuesday night when they won one of their two games in hand at Aston Villa. Having fallen behind, Owen Coyle’s men showed great spirit to bounce back to win the game 2-1, lifting them to within a point of escaping the drop zone.
While the Trotters appear to be rallying, their opponents on Saturday Sunderland, are drifting towards mid-table mediocrity after a dreadful recent run of form, winning just one of the last nine in all competitions. The goals have dried up for Martin O’Neill’s men and their failure to score in the last four games will be music to the ears of Bolton’s leaky defence.
If there were any doubts about Aston Villa being in a relegation battle then Tuesday’s defeat to Bolton put an end to those. Alex McLeish’s side have won one of the last 13 matches and find themselves just three points outside the drop zone.
Saturday’s derby match with West Brom looks as though it could deal another blow to Villa’s survival hopes, with the hosts probably relishing the chance to deepen their neighbours gloom having made sure of another season in the top flight.
Two of the form sides in the Premier League clash at the DW Stadium on Saturday when Wigan host Newcastle, with both still having plenty to play for. Wigan looked dead and buried in February but 12 points from the last 18 has catapulted them out of the relegation zone, albeit only by a point.
Newcastle are likely to provide another bump in the road for Roberto Martinez’s men having won their last six on the bounce. Alan Pardew’s team is purring at the moment and with no new injury concerns it is likely to be the same starting XI that blew away Stoke last weekend.