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5 Clubs Set for Closest Relegation Finale in Premier League History

league table 5 Clubs Set for Closest Relegation Finale in Premier League History

A serious question. Is there anything better in the Premier League than the battle to avoid relegation? Just this past weekend, we saw two spectacular games featuring Blackpool against Bolton and Wigan against West Ham. Fans of other leagues would scoff at those teams, saying that they’d be boring matches with kick and rush long ball tactics. But we know the truth and that is that quite often they’re more open and entertaining matches than at the top of the table.

And now, this Sunday, the Premier League will feature an incredible end to the season with five teams fighting to avoid relegation.

When was the last time there were so many teams competing to avoid relegation on the last day of the Premier League season? The answer is the final day of the 1994 season when there were seven teams battling on the final day of the season to avoid the drop. However there have never been so many teams in the Premier League separated by the fewest points (one) battling to avoid relegation on the final day of the season.

This Sunday, these are how the final match-ups involving the teams trying to avoid relegation will play out:

  • Wolves vs Blackburn,
  • Tottenham vs Birmingham,
  • Manchester United vs Blackpool,
  • Stoke City vs Wigan Athletic.

One goal at any point in any of the above games can have huge implications on whether any of the five clubs will avoid relegation or not.

Even the goal difference is tight. Only eight goals separate the worst goal difference of the five clubs (Wigan at -22) from the best goal difference of the five (Blackburn with -14). We already know that West Ham is relegated, but if the final day ends up with teams being stuck on the same number of points to determine who gets relegated, it goes down to goal difference. If the goal difference is then the same, then it goes down to the number of goals scored (with the team scoring the most designated as the winner). If the number of points are the same, and the goal difference is equal and the number of goals scored is the same, the final tiebreaker comes down to a tiebreaker game between the two sides at a neutral venue. This has never happened before in the Premier League. But it is conceivable this could happen after Sunday’s results.

Out of the five clubs vying to avoid relegation, which two do you think are going down with West Ham United? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

39 Responses to 5 Clubs Set for Closest Relegation Finale in Premier League History

  1. Keith says:

    My question is does Man U show up? I could see them starting all their youth products and Bebe (still laughing at his purchase) and give Wigan the game.
    Or I could see them start all the old vets in case it’s their last Man U game.

    Just because Blackburn agreed to a draw last week I hope they go down by a single point. They gambled that a draw last week would be good enough and I really, really hope that comes back to bite them.

  2. James says:

    Blackburn has had difficulty closing out games period, so I’m still worried they’ll go down, even though their form has technically improved of late. I was a bit disappointed they took the point and the last ten minutes was anti-climactic but a loss would’ve doomed Rovers and I can’t blame them at this point considering their limping to the finish line.

    As it is I think Blackpool and Birmingham along with West Ham.

  3. gary says:

    I think Blackpool will get a draw at best at Old Trafford. Even with a reserve team United don’t lose easily at home. The problem with Blackpool is that they give up too many goals. I think they will go down.

    Wigan have to win to have any chance of staying up because of their poor goal difference. Stoke are difficult to beat at home and I just don’t see Wigan winning even though I would like to see them back in the EPL next season. Martinez is a class act but I’m afraid they will be in the Championship next season.

    • MNUfan1991 says:

      I think playing against the United B-team is the worst that can happen to Blackpool.
      These players are all out to impress Sir Alex and to secure their future contracts. No doubt they will all play out of their skins. These are United players and their technical ability is beyond reproach. It’s the lack of first team experience that holds them back.
      The regular starters would be all wary of injury and will no doubt hold back had they been asked to play the last PL game. Remember what happened to Hull City two seasons ago? Their fellow relegation competitors all complained about the unfair advantage Hull would receive by playing the United B-team. Hull lost 1-0 anyway. If not for the fact that all other bottom teams lost Hull would have gone down.

  4. Mekias says:

    The last 5-10 minutes of the Wigan/WestHam game was breathtaking. I was so happy when the last goal went in and it set up this 5 way scrum for survival.

    Blackburn vs. Wolves – they’re hoping that 2 of the 3 teams at 39 lose and they’re never in danger. Blackburn thought they were clear two weeks ago. Will the sudden return to danger cause them to panic away from home? I wouldn’t be surprised if (wink, wink) they both play for a draw.

    Birmingham trying to win at White Hart Lane when Tottenham just downed Liverpool and barely hold on to the last European spot? That’s a seriously tough match. Is there any Carling Cup magic left? They’ll need it.

    Blackpool with their lives on the line at ManU. SAF won’t accept his team to lay down in front of the home fans but how can players get up for this game when it’s meaningless and there’s still the Champions League to think of? Club selection will be interesting in this one.

    Wigan at Stoke. Stoke won’t be anywhere near as open as West Ham were. I’m pulling for Wigan to save themselves but a lot will depend on what happens to Stoke in Tuesday’s game. If they get beat again, will they be able to bounce back?

    I think Birmingham and Blackpool go down with losses and Wigan survives with a draw. How do Birmingham survive in Europe next year with fewer players and less money?

  5. Attaturk says:

    I think Blackpool will be hard pressed to do better than draw ManU, but they’ll have a chance. But still, even ManU’s bench is better than Blackpools starters. They’ll be stuck on 39 and go down. Birmingham won’t beat Spurs on the road and they’ll be stuck at 39.

    Blackburn is going to rue settling for one, because Wolves are going to come through and get all 3, IMO.

    So…the question is what Stoke team will play against Wigan…one still bummed from losing the FA cup and tired from playing Man City 2x in 3 days, or one determined to give their home fans a chance to celebrate?

    Personally, I’d love to see Wigan stay up, they started out the season getting blown out nil-4 to Blackpool and 6-nil to Chelsea. The fact that they are only -12 in GD since then indicates to me they and Wolves are playing their best when it really matters.

    But the who the hell knows, last weekends Blackpool and Wigan wins were still two of the best games of the year.

  6. Jason says:

    I would love to see Blackburn Rovers go down, but I’m afraid their draw over the weekend against Manchester United saved them. Because they have the best goal difference even if they lose against Wolverhampton. They will probably make it. I dont see 2 out of the combination of Blackpool, Birmingham, and Wigan winning this weekend.

  7. Pakapala says:

    Back and forth goals between 2 teams don’t necessarily mean a spectalurar game Gaffer. The Bolton vs Blackpool game was amazing, but then again this has little to do with the team battling for relegation since we’re sued by now to Blackpool’s playing a good game. As for West Ham vs Wigan. It was a game that had its moments here and there but overall that was a very poor game with both teams showing why they’re at the spot they find themselves with 1 game to go.
    You asked if there is anything better in the Premier League than the battle to avoid relegation? And I answer YES! The battle to win the league and after that the battle to make it to the UEFA CL. Contrary to what you wrote I have recollection of those games being of better quality than the ones at the bottom end. At the bottom end of the table, in the last few games most of the teams tend play tight to avoid coming up with 0 points specially if they’re playing a top 6 team. What usually make a game at the bottom of the table interesting is what is at stake; but the games for the most part end up being poor.

  8. Soot says:

    Do we know which games were picked up for tv next weekend?

  9. Drew M. says:

    So if Adam’s corners are worth 10 mil alone, are they worth 2 mil and a draw?

  10. JW says:

    How does TV typically handle the final slate? I know non-American broadcasts typically ignore/avoid all mentions of other concurrent games, but with so much at stake with each passing moment, do broadcasts incorporate this? I’ve only been a viewer for three or four years and don’t have a good memory for it.

    • Dave C says:

      On British TV, the commentators definitely make mention of events unfolding at other games. They usually set up the broadcast so you can flick between two (or more) different games using the red button on the interactive control, or at the very least they’ll occasionally show quick replays of key events from the other game in an inset window panel.

      • Dave C says:

        Also, you can usually tell from the crowd reactions what is going on in other games. Eg. if Wigan and Blackpool both lose, then Birmingham will stay up regardless of their result. So if you’re watching the Birmingham game, and their fans suddenly start going crazy despite nothing happening in their own game, it’s probably because someone in the crowd has heard (via radio or cell phone) that Wigan and/or Blackpool have just conceded.

  11. Pedro says:

    The wonderful thing about these relegation battle matches is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s beautiful football or not – they will still be compelling because of the high stakes of the outcomes.

  12. IanCransonsKnees says:

    I listened to the BBC 5 Live commentary of the Wigan match yesterday and watched the highlights on MOTD2, it struck me that both commentators said that Wigan couldn’t deal with the high ball into the box or set pieces so I don’t think Sunday will be easy. Stoke haven’t lost at home in the league this calendar year so Pulis will want to preserve that stat at least.

    I said after Saturday we might beat Man City at Eastlands on Tuesday (am dead tempted to go, no idea why though), if we do and we beat Wigan we could finish as high as seventh.

  13. Mike says:

    I believe that United will field a lineup similar to the one that beat Schalke in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. Expect Berbatov and Owen up front, Anderson, Scholes, Gibson, and Nani in midfield, Rafael, Brown, Evans, and Smalling in back, and Kuszczak in goal. enough quality to beat Blackpool.

  14. JC says:

    Mike,

    I think you’re right. Is it enough to beat Blackpool? Most certainly. What I think could be interesting – as a neutral pulling for the Pool to stay up – is if they can lose by only 1 goal. Assuming Wigan loses to Stoke (another likely scenario given that Stoke is at home) and Birmingham loses to Tottenham by 2 goals, Blackpool can lose and stay up. They’d end up with a better GD than Wigan, and the better GS than Birmingham.

  15. harold says:

    I think that Wolves and Blackburn will play out a draw which should be good enough to keep them both up

    I think that Wigan will go down, Stoke is a difficult place to go and get a result

    I can see Blackpool losing 1-0 at Man United and Birmingham losing 2-0 at Spurs. Both teams would be level on points and level on goal difference, Blackpool would stay up on goals scored.

    In another twist if Fulham collect a few cards in their final game and Spurs qualify for the Europa League by finishing 5th, Blackpool could qualify for Europe via the Fair Play League!

    • Gaz Hunt says:

      “In another twist if Fulham collect a few cards in their final game and Spurs qualify for the Europa League by finishing 5th, Blackpool could qualify for Europe via the Fair Play League!”

      You’re reaching a little here, mate. :)

  16. Jon Sharp says:

    If Birmingham are to stay up, they have to do a heck of a lot better aginst Spurs than their abject display against Fulham. On the other hand, at some point they have to get a little more of the rub of the green. They showed great resolve against Wolves and Newcastle when playing with 10 men in each game for over an hour. Yesterday Fulham had 5 yellow cards and could have had a player sent off. But it was still Blues that finished the game with 10 men after Gudjohnsen’s “professional foul” took Hleb out of the game. Watching Blackpool and Wigan, I was impressed by their resolve, both coming from behind to win. On that kind of form, they both seem destined to win next week and stay up. But football is a funny old game. Past performance is no guarantee of future success in the relegation dog fight.

  17. Terry says:

    I think both Blackpool and Birmingham will lose and Wigan will get a draw. So West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham will be playing in the Championship next season.

  18. Football says:

    This is a really tough prediction to make but I expect Birmingham and Wigan to join West Ham in Championship next season. I can’t fancy any other result than a solid home win for Spurs and Stoke have dropped few points at home this season. Blackpool could really get a point on Old Trafford as United are already champions and will probably line-up a second team.

  19. Sean says:

    Can’t wait for Sunday. BBQ is ready to go and the invites are out for one of the most exciting last days of note.

    On a footballing note, United will be fielding a side that is stronger than the one used to be Hull City on the last day two years ago. Blackpool will have a match on its hands.

  20. Brad in SoCal says:

    Blackpool is a much better side than Hull City was. The scenario where all three “39″ teams lose and Blackpool squeaks in on GD and GS would be amazing. But I predict Blackpool goes ahead of Man U and then draws on a late Man U goal. Can’t wait for Sunday!

  21. JC says:

    No disrespect meant towards the Birmingham fans, but I don’t enjoy watching them play. I DO enjoy Blackpool – immensely – so I hope it works out with Birmingham taking the drop. Or Blackburn, who deserve it for playing like a point against Man United was good enough.

    I’ll be breaking out the beer early in Oregon for the Sunday games.

    • Jon Sharp says:

      JC – No disrespect taken – plenty of Bluesnoses have been less than impressed with the quality of the football – last week against Fulham being a prime example. However, there have been some great moments also in the last two years not least of which a gutsy and deserved win against Arsenal in the Carling Cup. If we do go down, I hope Blackpool (and Wolves) are the team (s) to benefit. Blackpool richly deserve another wild ride in the prem.

  22. Andrei says:

    i hope it goes to a playoff, that would be sick :D

  23. Attaturk says:

    The Wigan-West Ham match was probably the ultimate indictment of Avram Grant (Millwall Legend). Roberto Martinez makes changes at halftime by adding offensive firepower (not that he had much choice) and Grant responds with nothing until adding an injured Parker.

    Martinez may not be Alex Ferguson but he can manage on this level, Grant? Not so much.

  24. Der Kaiser says:

    Well lets see now, Manchester United owned by Malcolm Glazer, John Henry and LeBron James own Liverpool, Randy Lerner controls Aston Villa, Ellis Short the Mackems, and now Stan Kroenke at Arsenal. Maybe the Barclays Premiere League should change their title to the NFL, or maybe even Major League Soccer, having a laugh at the jugernaut that is or was English football. Although with the dominance of South America and your mighty England National Team ,well wait, you have’nt won shite since 1966, it is embarassing for you tea guzzling, muffin makers to have a go at any others countries domestic league. Your precious BPL needs to fortify it’s ranks with foreign talent not only on but off the pitch. Can count on one hand the number of English managers in the so called Premiership. For heavens sake your National team is run by an Italian. Its over for you guys, but to be fair it never really started. Deutscland Erwache!

  25. Der Kaiser says:

    Deutschland Uber Alles, Bomben auf Englund!

    • Jon Sharp says:

      ‘Uber’ is not spelt with upper case U, and it needs an umlaut. Or, if you are using a US keyboard, “ueber” is acceptable. ‘Bomben auf’ doesn’t make sense. Better to use ‘Bombenanschlag’ for which the correct preposition is auf. England is spelt the same in German.
      Thus your comment (though still incomplete) would better read
      ‘Deutschland ueber alles, Bombenanschlag auf England.’
      Hope this helps your German aspirations ;-)

  26. Der Kaiser says:

    What no muffin men up for a go!

  27. Harry Redknapp says:

    Next Gerry who opens his cake hole is gonna have his arse handed to him!

  28. Der Kaiser says:

    FC Bayern, Stern des Sudens!

  29. Kash says:

    Birmingham and Blackpool are going down..Wolves and Wigan would be safe…Blackburn are too good to go down

  30. Liam says:

    If blackpool and Birmingham both lose and say blackpool only lost 1-0 and Birmingham lost 3-0 the goal difference would be the same. Therefore blakpool would stay up on goals scored. FACT

  31. a.c khaw says:

    blackpool and blackburn will going down to english championship next season. double B….

  32. Jerome90 says:

    Do anyone know, if Birmingham relegate and Liverpool FC only obtain the 6th place, will Birmingham still qualify for Europa League as the winner of Carling Cup? Or their place will be replaced by the sixth position team?

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