‘Sur­vival Sun­day’ looms

PPRREEMIIEERR LLEEAAGGUUEE:: Al­lll eeyy­eess oonn tthhee rreelleeg­gaat­ti­ioonn bbaattt­tllee

Weekend Witness - - Weekend -

LON­DON — Five teams will be fight­ing for sur­vival to­mor­row as the English Premier League reaches its cli­max with what is poised to be one of the most fraught rel­e­ga­tion bat­tles in years.

WithWith Manch­esterManch­ester United wrap­ping up a record 19th ti­tle last week, the fi­nal day of the 2010/2011 sea­son will be dom­i­nated by events at the foot of the ta­ble, where only one point sep­a­rates five teams.

West Ham were the first side to be rel­e­gated af­ter they slumped to a dra­matic de­feat at Wi­gan on Sun­day.

The Ham­mers’ exit has left Black­burn, Wolves, Birm­ing­ham, Black­pool and Wi­gan fac­ing a nerve-jan­gling fi­nale.

For Wolves and Black­burn, who face each other at Mo­lineux, the equa­tion is sim­ple: vic­tory will guar­an­tee their Premier League sta­tus for an­other sea­son.

The two clubs sit just above the rel­e­ga­tion zone with 40 points, fol­lowed by Birm­ing­ham, Black­pool and Wi­gan, who all have 39 points.

Wolves had looked doomed for much of the year, but have climbed out of the drop zone af­ter a draw with Birm­ing­ham that was fol­lowed by back-to-back wins over West Bromwich Al­bion and Sun­der­land.

Wolves man­ager Mick Mc­Carthy said­said hehe had told his play­ers to ig­nore the pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tions and stay fo­cused on Black­burn.

“Ev­ery­one’s been in our ear­holes — the me­dia, mums, dads, kids, friends, say­ing what if this hap­pens or this hap­pens,” Mc­Carthy said.

“But I just told them that if we won our games there was noth­ing any­body else could do about it. We’ve done that and have got to go and do it again against Black­burn.”

Black­burn boss Steve Kean’s prepa­ra­tions could scarcely have been worse.

The Rover­sRovers man­ager­man­ager was charged with drunken driv­ing fol­low­ing his team’s 1-1 draw with Manch­ester United last week, and was sub­se­quently sum­moned to In­dia for an un­sched­uled meet­ing with thethe club’sclub’s own­ers.

Bri­tish press re­ports mean­while have sug­gested that Kean, who took over as man­ager fol­low­ing the con­tro­ver­sial dis­missal of Sam Al­lardyce in De­cem­ber, may be sacked even if Rovers man­age to stay up.

The fate of Birm­ing­ham, Black­pool and Wi­gan may hinge on re­sults else­where.

Black­pool face the tough­est task, trav­el­ling to Old Traf­ford to face Manch­ester United know­ing they will need to get a re­sult to have any chance of staying up.

Al­though the build-up has been dom­i­nated by talk of United field­ing a weak­ened team ahead of next week’s Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal Man U Chelsea Man C Arse­nal T'ham L'pool Ever­ton Ful­ham Stoke Bolton W Brom N'cas­tle Villa S'land B'burn Wolves B'ham B'pool Wi­gan W Ham

STAND­INGS PW D L GF GA GD Pts 37 22 11 4 74 35 39 77 37 21 8 8 69 32 37 71 37 20 8 9 58 33 25 68 37 19 10 8 70 41 29 67 37 15 14 8 53 45 8 59 37 17 7 13 59 43 16 58 37 12 15 10 50 45 5 51 37 11 15 11 47 41 6 48 37 13 7 17 46 47 -1 46 37 12 10 15 52 54 -2 46 37 12 10 15 53 68 -15 46 37 11 12 14 53 54 -1 45 37 11 12 14 47 59 -12 45 37 11 11 15 42 56 -14 44 37 10 10 17 43 57 -14 40 37 11 7 19 44 63 -19 40 37 8 15 14 36 56 -20 39 37 10 9 18 53 74 -21 39 37 8 15 14 39 61 -22 39 37 7 12 18 43 67 -24 33 against Barcelona, Seasiders man­ager Ian Hol­loway has backed his team to defy the odds.

“We’ve got to go to Manch­ester United and prob­a­bly get a win, and that might not even be enough.

“I be­lieve it will be, though, be­cause Wolves are at home to Black­burn. I’ve had some strange things hap­pen in my life and maybe the mainmain manman upup therethere hashas writ­ten a story that would prob­a­bly beat Cin­derella,” said Hol­loway.

Birm­ing­ham man­ager Alex McLeish has called on his team to be fear­less when they travel to White Hart Lane for a daunt­ing tie with Tot­ten­ham, who are chas­ing fifth place and a Europa League berth.

“It’s a tough game but the play­ers have got to go and not fear it,” said McLeish. — Sapa-AFP. To­mor­row’s Fix­tures: Aston Villa v Liver­pool; Bolton v Man City; Ever­ton v Chelsea; Ful­ham v Arse­nal; Man Utd v Black­pool; New­cas­tle v West Brom; Stoke v Wi­gan; Tot­ten­ham v Birm­ing­ham; West Ham v Sun­der­land; Wolver­hamp­ton v Black­burn.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

Wolves man­ager Mick Mc­Carthy will be one of five Premier League man­agers fight­ing rel­e­ga­tion dur­ing to­mor­row’s fi­nal fix­tures of the sea­son.

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