Premier League Preview: The ferocious fight for survival reaches boiling point

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With the majority of talk surrounding the title race and which one of Arsenal or Manchester City will come out on top in the most epic race for the Premier League’s crown we have witnessed for years, it is easy to neglect the fact that there is still a wide open relegation scrap ongoing at England’s top table. 

Sheffield United officially succumbed to the drop last weekend, ending what has been a miserable season for the Blades back in the top flight but there are still two more slots left to fill and three teams fighting tooth and nail to avoid them. 

Burnley looked dead and buried a matter of weeks ago and still have a job on their hands to avoid an immediate return to the Championship next term. The Clarets have found life difficult in the Premier League after winning the second tier last season, and lie 19th in the table with just five wins to their name all season. 

Their ability to nick a point from games is what has kept them in contention for survival up until this point, however. The Lancashire side have shared the spoils on nine occasions so far, with their latest point coming away at Old Trafford on Saturday in what was an extremely positive return in Manchester.

Vincent Kompany’s men find themselves just two points from safety with three games left to play out, with a final day clash against 17th placed Nottingham Forest potentially proving decisive in each team’s bid for survival. Newcastle are up next for the Clarets and this is a game that could not have come at a worse time, with Eddie Howe’s side heading into the fixture in a rich vein of form having lost just once in their last six, putting five past Sheffield United last time out. 

Burnley then face Tottenham in London – a team they have not beaten away from home since 1974. Even the most optimistic of fans could be forgiven for having doubts about their side’s chances of staying up, but as we have seen numerous times before throughout what has been a hugely entertaining but extremely unpredictable campaign, it’s not over until it’s over. 

18th placed Luton have put in a string of credible performances this season, after many wrote off their chances of survival before a ball was even kicked last summer. The Hatters are valiantly battling the drop, and still find themselves in with a strong chance of staying up should they finish the campaign well. 

A dip in form has come at the worst possible time for Rob Edwards’ side, with four defeats from their last five making up the formbook as they head into a do or die clash against Everton on Friday evening. A win at home to the Toffees would take them out of the drop zone and into 18th, for a day at least, with Nottingham Forest not in action until Saturday afternoon. 

A defeat in this one could prove catastrophic, however, with two challenging fixtures against West Ham and Fulham left on the agenda from now until May 19th. With Everton securing their top-flight status for another season last weekend, though, the foot may be somewhat released from the pedal by Sean Dyche’s men and with a raucous Kenilworth Road crowd behind them, Luton will have every chance of getting a result in Gameweek 36’s opener. 

Nottingham Forest are the final team in the relegation mix, and whilst the East Midlanders are the best placed side of the three – with the strongest goal difference – they are by no means home and dry. Much like Luton, this weekend’s fixture is the mother of all six-pointers, with a trip to relegated Sheffield United taking place on Saturday at 3pm. 

On paper, it is a game Forest would perhaps expect to win comfortably, but with the pressure now off the Blades and all on themselves, this one is tough to predict. Forest came out on top, narrowly, with a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture earlier this season and a repeat performance here is necessary if they are to keep themselves away from the impending drop of doom.

If Forest can obtain three points here, and Luton and Burnley both falter, it could just secure them safety. Slip up, though, and the tension in the basement will only intensify.

Premier League Gameweek 36 – Fixtures in full:

Friday 3rd May 

Luton vs Everton 8pm

Saturday 4th May

Arsenal vs Bournemouth 12.30pm

Brentford vs Fulham 3pm

Burnley vs Newcastle 3pm

Sheff Utd vs Nottm Forest 3pm

Man City vs Wolves 5.30pm

Sunday 5th May 

Brighton vs Aston Villa 2pm

Chelsea vs West Ham 2pm

Liverpool vs Tottenham 4.30pm

Monday 6th May

Crystal Palace vs Man Utd 8pm

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